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‘A great bliss to keep the sensation of conquest alive!’: The emotional politics of the Panorama 1453 Museum in Istanbul

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Gonul Bozoglu



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The quotation in the title is from a comment endorsing the Panorama 1453 Museum, made upon its opening in 2009 by Özleyiş Topbaş, wife of the mayor of Istanbul Kadir Topbaş. Today the comment is used to market the museum on its website, alongside others by prominent members of the Conservative-Islamist AKP administration. The AKP has focused significant effort on fostering public memory of the capture of the Byzantine city of Constantinople on 29 May 1453. Festivities, re-enactments, public imagery and the spectacular Panorama museum itself tell a glorious story of the Ottoman victory and the magnanimous treatment of the defeated Byzantines. In these narratives, public audiences are invited to identify with the Ottomans, and to celebrate a ‘Turkish’ claim to presence reliant on the Hadith in which the conquest is prophesised. Through the populist rhetoric and cultural interventions of the AKP the historic, expansionist encroachment on others is glorified, and Islam is placed at the heart of the story of Turkish identity and homeland. Seen from another perspective – that of the Greek population in Istanbul and its diaspora – the ‘Fall’ of Constantinople can be understood differently, as an act of invasion and colonization, resulting in subjugation and loss. This is exemplified in museal displays about 1453 in Athens and in interviews collected from Istanbulli-Greek communities there and in Istanbul. This chapter uses perspectives from theories of cultural memory and dissonant heritage to contrasts the memory cultures of 1453, exploring its significance for majority-minority relations

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bozoğlu G

Editor(s): De Cesari, C.; Kaya, A.

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: European Memory in Populism: Representations of Self and Other

Year: 2020

Pages: 91-111

Print publication date: 15/10/2019

Online publication date: 08/10/2019

Acceptance date: 02/04/2018

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: Abingdon



Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781138318113