World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Localising the global: recent trends and changing approaches in cultural heritage conservation in Turkey (476) - Panel

· Date: FRI 23, 2.30-4.30 pm

· Institution: Middle East Technical University (Turkey)

· Organizer: B. Nilgün Öz

· Language: English

· Description: Global discourse in cultural heritage conservation is constantly evolving to encompass new ideas and changing conditions. Conservation is no longer seen as a physical enterprise but rather a process with social, economic and political dimensions. International documents on conservation have developed to promote value-based decision-making and community engagement in efforts to sustain cultural heritage for future generations. As with other countries in the Middle East, Turkey is adjusting its cultural heritage legislation in relation to world developments. The past decade especially has seen significant changes including, for example, management planning for designated areas, public participation in conservation processes, renewal projects to reconstruct and restore dilapidated townscapes, allocation of new funds for restoration of listed buildings, privatisation of services in archaeological sites and museums, and encouragement of sponsorship and investments for cultural heritage conservation. However, it is open to question whether these kinds of processes are properly applied and whether they indeed provide local applications to globally accepted approaches. At another level, there are certain issues, such as provisions for the conservation of industrial archaeology and 20th century architecture, which have not found widespread support. This panel opens out for debate these new prospects and concerns in cultural heritage conservation in Turkey and discusses recent developments in archaeological sites, museums, urban areas, industrial heritage and modern architecture by presenting some of the latest projects and evaluating the implications of recent legislative changes for their respective subjects. Chair: Jason Wood, Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, UK

Chair: Jason Wood (Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity, University of Birmingham, UK)

Paper presenter: B. Nilgün Öz (Middle East Technical University, Turkey), “Recent developments and their impacts on the conservation of archaeological sites in Turkey”
Since 2004, with the amendment of the Cultural Heritage Law, important changes have been introduced affecting archaeological sites. These include management for conservation and presentation, encouragement of public participation, privatisation of public services, increases in funds made available for excavation and conservation and the greater involvement of NGOs in awareness-raising. Using a number of case studies in different parts of Turkey, this paper discusses and questions the impacts these changes are making in archaeological conservation.

Paper presenter: Pinar Aykac (Middle East Technical University, Turkey), “The Role of Museums in Heritage Conservation in Turkey”
Museums are conventionally seen as institutions for the storage, conservation and presentation of artifacts for the public, but recent developments show a shift from the museum concept of “an archive of artifacts” to “a public institution covering research, education, and interaction in the service of society”. Having a museum tradition of more than a century - a legacy from the late Ottoman Period, which started with the use of Hagia Irene and the Tiled Pavilion to display historic materials, and culminated with the Imperial Museum in 1891 - this new perception, has not been fully embraced by museums in Turkey until the last decade. This paper focuses on Turkish museums’ current role in the conservation of movable cultural and natural heritage as well as discussing their prospective contribution.

Paper presenter: Sermin Cakici (Uludag University, Turkey) “Historic Urban Centres in Transformation: The Case of the Commercial District in Bursa, Turkey”
The historic commercial centres of Ottoman cities, which reflect the social, cultural, and economic developments in the Empire, have been transformed dramatically over the past century mainly due to commercial pressures and lack of adequate legislations. Recent changes in related laws in Turkey introduced urban renewal and regeneration to historic city centres but these caused a lot of debate about whether they provide sustainable conservation. Considering the latest developments in urban conservation in the global context, this paper discusses Turkey’s situation focusing on Bursa, one of the capital cities of the Ottoman Empire. The paper presents the architectural and urban phases of the historic commercial centre and evaluates conservation decisions and related implementations in the area correlating them with global changes.

Paper presenter: Aysem Kilinc Unlu (University of Pennsylvania, USA), “Approaches for Conservation of Industrial Heritage in Turkey”
Industrial heritage has been continuously under threat since the 1950s when industrial functions moved out of city centres and left their original sites unoccupied. Remaining buildings were and still are seen as “visually contaminated environments” and face danger of demolition in the name of “urban renewal”. Turkey’s industrial heritage is relatively recent, industrialization having started in the Ottoman Empire a century later than in Europe, but fortunately conservation efforts began in the 1990s. At present, there are no legal provisions for the conservation of industrial heritage in Turkey. The future of this heritage mostly depends on the efforts of local administrations, volunteer groups and individuals. This paper discusses various success stories of public and private initiatives, as well as failures to save significant industrial heritage, through case studies from different parts of Turkey.

Paper presenter: F. Nursen Kul (Izmir Institute of Technology, Turkey), “The Conservation Status of 20th Century Architecture in Turkey”
International debate increasingly attaches more importance to the conservation of all built forms of 20th century architecture. However, in Turkey, an exclusive and selective approach, mostly recognizing landmark examples, the importance of which are acknowledged by architectural historiography, leaves the remaining majority of the 20th century building stock excluded from conservation status. Although steps are being taken to remedy this, the initiative is limited to academics rather than the responsible authorities. This paper aims to explore the reasons behind this, contrasting the current approach in Turkey with the global scene.