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Lecture series, Lecture

Contesting the Redevelopment of Istanbul’s Pierre Loti Hill (1980s – 2010s): Cultural Heritage, Religious Places and the Public Interest

HISDEMAB seminar with Annegret Roelcke

This presentation analyses the contestations around an urban development project for Istanbuls Pierre Loti Hill between the 1980s and the 2010s. In particular, it examines how bureaucratic categories and frames such as the public interest, cultural heritage and religious significance have been mobilised and negotiated among diverse stakeholders in this context. Located next to the Eyüpsultan Shrine in Istanbuls Eyüp neighbourhood, which many regard as Turkeys most sacred Islamic place, the hill attracts numerous tourists due to its view across the Golden Horn. An urban development project from the 1980s aimed to transform the hilltop into a tourist site, but crucially, places attributed heritage and religious significance by different actors are located in the project zone. Based on the analysis of urban development plans, petitions to the municipality and the states heritage protection institutions, media coverage and interviews, the study traces the struggles of an Alevi foundation claiming a Bektaşi religious convent there and of the Pierre Loti Cafés owner to maintain authority over their plots in the context of unequal and changing power structures. It shows that the framing of places as religious or heritage in this context is intimately entangled, often strategic and shifts according to the context.

Annegret Roelcke is a PhD candidate a the Institut für Islamwissenschaft at Freie Universität Berlin and a research affiliate at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin. Her research investigates urban development, heritage politics, religious places and the politics of identity in Turkey and Lebanon, combining anthropological and historical approaches. Her dissertation project Contesting Eyüp: Heritage, Religious Places and Urban Development in Istanbul analyses republican era urban heritage politics in Istanbuls Eyüp neighbourhood. She studied Arab and Islamic Studies at Leipzig University, Boğaziçi University Istanbul and Freie Universität Berlin, from where she holds an MA in Islamic Studies. In 2016, she received a residency scholarship by the German Orient Institute Istanbul.


Further Information

This event is part of the lecture series:
Lecture series in the academic year 2022/23
The Historicity of Democracy Seminar