Archives as Fields of Heritage-Making in Istanbul's Historic Peninsula

Aykac P.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE, vol.9, no.2, pp.361-387, 2020 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 9 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1386/ijia_00018_1
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Art Source, Avery, Design & Applied Arts Index, Index Islamicus
  • Page Numbers: pp.361-387
  • Keywords: archival research, access, heritage, Istanbul, statecraft, Turkey, POLICIES, MEMORY, SPACE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Heritage-making is a process of valorization carried out using complex exchanges, contestations, and negotiations between various actors. State actors attempt, through various strategies, to employ heritage-making in order to construct a unified heritage discourse and avoid multivocality. One of these strategies is the control of state archives, an approach that seeks to dictate what is accessible and inaccessible and thus to dominate conceptualizations of heritage. This paper discusses how research in state archives sheds light on heritage-making in Istanbul's historic peninsula and how the state's tendency to restrain access reflects the contested nature of Istanbul's heritage. The restriction or denial of archival access becomes a significant component of heritage-making in Turkey, shaped not only by the past but also by the present. Therefore, archives and the practice of archival research become both a tool for the researcher and at the same time a subject worthy of research in and of itself. This paper argues that the attitudes of state institutions and the discourses they adopt in restraining access to archives are in fact objects of enquiry in the understanding of the precise boundaries of their scope of authority and, as such, can provide further insight into the fragmented nature of the state and state archives.