"Ilginç değil” – “it's not interesting”
: a material culture and landscape analysis of political graffiti in Istanbul between 2015-2017

  • Joel L Geraets

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis analyses the critical place of graffiti in two neighbourhoods in Istanbul: Moda in Kadikoy, on the Asian side of the city, and Bozkurt, in Şişli, on the European side, during the political events between May 2015 and April 2017. Exploring this graffiti within a material culture analytical framework, and the wider landscape with reference to archaeological- anthropological Landscape theory, this thesis has two main aims: to investigate this material as the product of an author, symbolizing, and/or communicating a particular message, and as an active and dynamic source of agency in the political process. Uniquely with respect to graffiti, the interdisciplinary framework of modern conflict archaeology is applied to those aspects of the material and landscape that relate to conflict or its art, including the memorialisation of those who suffered violent deaths.
By defining this material in terms of its relationships and collaborations with the experiential world of its production, it is possible to overcome the ontological dualism present within the human/object divide: graffiti can then be evaluated as a contributing factor to the political situation, along with human agency. This situational analysis of graffiti, and other political material, can illuminate a host of contemporary struggles in Turkey: minorities and their access to democracy, problems facing marginalised communities, and broader issues of political discourse, between opposition groups, and between the state and its citizens. Graffiti, alongside other political material, was central in inaugurating dialogue between political groups during the Gezi Park Protests (E. Çolak 2014; Yanık 2015; Gürcan and Peker 2015) – events which amounted to a fundamental change in the dynamics of Turkish politics (Göle 2013). The analysis of graffiti and human agency presented here aims to be a powerful interdisciplinary contribution to understanding current Turkish political dynamics through their visual and material expression.
Date of Award23 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorNicholas J Saunders (Supervisor) & Fiona M Jordan (Supervisor)

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