Museum Politics in Turkey Under the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP): the Case of the Istanbul Museum of the History of Science and Technology in Islam
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Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by its leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the Turkish State and society at large have been subject to significant changes. Besides the recent increasing authoritarianism of the government, Islam made its way through politics like never before, and a new national ideology promoted by the AKP, Turkish Muslim Nationalism, laid the cultural foundations for a new Turkey and new Turks. In this paper, I put forward the claim that new national museums play a relevant role in shaping this new Turkey. In particular, they function as performative cabinets exhibiting the national ideology of the ruling party. I have looked into one of these museums, the Istanbul Museum of the Science and Technology in Islam, researching the links between the AKP, which promotes Turkish Muslim nationalism, and new museums, which exhibit it. The outcome of this study suggests that the IMSTI functioned as the resource and the host of national symbols manufactured by and within the ruling class to be supplied to the masses. The political class, represented here by the AKP, commissioned the museum, whereas cultural agents that shared the party’s political ideology were appointed to make it. This collaboration benefited both parts, so much so that profit seems to have been a crucial ingredient in the making of this museum.
KeywordsTurkey Museums National identity Islam
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