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More than a sovereign symbol? The public reception of the early monumental statues of Atatürk in Turkey


Nations and Nationalism

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["Nations and Nationalism, Volume 27, Issue 4, Page 1149-1164, October 2021. ", "\nAbstract\nThe early monumental statues of Atatürk in Turkey have so far been studied from the perspective of the state and its ambition to disseminate a national consciousness. While this state‐centric approach has been helpful to understand the role of symbolism in nation‐building, it ends up reducing people to a passive recipient of symbolic indoctrination. We, in contrast, approach public perception as an active component in the discursive construction of these monuments over time. We first analyse the period until the death of Atatürk in 1938 during which the democratic possibility of conflicting with the official narrative remained quite minimal. We then look at the aftermath of Atatürk's death, which coincides with the introduction of the multiparty democracy in Turkey where there were more critical engagements with these monuments, particularly by the right‐wing constituents and politicians. We conclude that such resistance was still discursively bound by the nationalist context within which it operated. Our analysis of the politics of symbolism in Turkey taps into the theoretical works of Hanna Pitkin and Warren Breckman.\n"]