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The politics of cultural change Contested meanings of dress.

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Presentation on theme: "The politics of cultural change Contested meanings of dress."— Presentation transcript:

1 The politics of cultural change Contested meanings of dress

2 The Ottoman Empire in 1683 – diversity and variety

3 Dress and space in creating Royal Majesty

4 De Busbecq, Austria-Hungarian Ambassador to the Porte, 1554-1562 The Turks were as much astonished at our manner of dress as we at theirs. They wear long robes... and [as a result] are not only more imposing but seem to add to the stature; our dress, on the other hand, is so short and tight that it discloses the forms of the body, which would be better hidden, and for some reason or other, takes away from a man’s height and gives him a stunted appearance.”

5 Power disparity and the meaning of dress Thus, among the Turks, dignities, offices and administrative posts are the rewards of ability and merit…this is why the Turks succeed in all that they attempt and are a dominating race and daily extend the bounds of their rule. Our method is very different; there is no room for merit, but everything depends on birth…


7 contested meanings and the function of dress in “Modernizing”




11 Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, (on the necessity of removing the fez) “It was necessary to abolish the fez, which sat on the heads of our nation as an emblem of ignorance, negligence, fanaticism, and hatred of progress and civilization, to accept in its place the hat, the headgear used by the whole civilized world, and in this way to demonstrate that the Turkish nation, in its mentality as in other respects, in no way diverges from civilized social life.”

12 On the necessity of removing the veil “In some places I have seen women who put a piece of cloth or a towel or something like it over their heads to hide their faces, and who turn their backs or huddle themselves on the ground when a man passes by. What are the meaning and sense of this behavior? Gentlemen, can the mothers and daughters of a civilized nation adopt this strange manner, this barbarous posture? It is a spectacle that makes the nation an object of ridicule. It must be remedied at once.”

13 Rector at al-Azhar Madrasa, response to Turkey’s sartorial reforms “It is clear that a Muslim who seeks to resemble a non-Muslim by adopting the latter’s distinctive form of dress, will also come to take the same way as he in his beliefs and actions…is it not folly to abandon one’s own national way of dressing in order to adopt that of other people, when this desire for imitation can lead to the disappearance of our nationality, the annihilation of our own identity in theirs, which is the fate of the weak.”

14 The politics of cultural admonition “ Taking our inspiration from an article on the proper way to walk in a city that appeared recently in the celebrated Parisian magazine Matin, we too should make our feelings clear to people who have yet to learn how to conduct themselves on the streets of Istanbul and tell them, “Don’t walk down the street with your mouth open.” [Turkish newspaper, 1924]

15 “civilizing pains” “Yesterday it snowed, and did anyone in the city board a tram from the front or indeed show any respect to their elders? It is with regret that we note how quickly the city forgets the polite rules of society that so few of our inhabitants knew in the first place” [Turkish newspaper, 1927]

16 Problems unresolved… “Victor Hugo was in the habit of riding from one side of Paris to the other…to see what his fellow citizens were doing. Yesterday we did the same and we were able to establish that a large number of Istanbul residents take little notice of what they’re doing when they’re walking down the street and are forever bumping into each other….

17 …everywhere there are pedestrians walking in the roads and cars mounting the pavements, and – not from poverty but from laziness and ignorance – everyone in the city is badly dressed” [Turkish newspaper,1952]

18 If this constitutional amendment gets passed, I want to enroll in political science at Ankara University … Ataturk’s Legacy

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