Past Event

The Time of Performance: Embodiment and Archives of (Un)Belonging in Turkey

June 23, 2016
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

The Time of Performance: Embodiment and Archives of (Un)Belonging in Turkey

Date and Time: Thursday, June 23, 2016 19:00-21:00

Location: Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul

The phenomenon of the archive has been of particular interest to scholars of performance writ large. On the one hand, performance practices have been positioned in opposition to written archives, as spaces of “embodied” memory that seemingly evade official transmissions of knowledge. On the other, performance practices have been understood to function as alternative archives, storing fleeting experiences of embodiment, visuality, and orality. Common to both understandings is the central role of temporality, the manner in which tangible and metaphorical archives both look back in nostalgia and gaze forward in hopes of a utopic elsewhere. This panel seeks to think through the relationship between embodied archives and the question of belonging in the context of 20th century Turkish performance.

Under the rubric of performance, we begin with a focus on early Republican Turkey, examining the first major fashion shows of the 1920s and 30s and the promotion of a “national style” through the vocational schools for girls. We then consider the modern public appearance of the era’s first theater actresses and their disidentification with the figure of the prostitute as a discursive maneuver. As we move into the 1960s and 70s, we turn our lens to the emergence of Kurdish cinema produced in Turkey and examine how it creates a fictive archive for the unrepresented histories and daily lives of Kurdish people. We end with a focus on Galata Perform’s recent production Iz and consider the play’s use of spatio-temporal archives that seek to respond to projects of urban transformation.


Rüstem Ertuğ Altınay (New York University), “Dressing for Utopia: The Girls’ Institutes and their Diplomatic Fashion Shows”

Özgül Akıncı (University of British Columbia), “The Haunting Presence of the Prostitute on the Stage in the Early Republican Turkey”

Özgür Çiçek (Binghamton University),“The Fictive Archive: Documenting Hidden Histories and Unrepresented Daily Lives through Kurdish Cinema”

Emine Fişek (Boğaziçi University), “Tracing the Past: History, Space and Performance in an Istanbul Neighborhood”

Respondent: Zeynep Devrim Gürsel (Macalester College)