The Musealisation of Istanbul in Orhan Pamuk's Museum of Innocence

Uzma Abid Ansaari
2017 Journal of contemporary poetics  
This essay examines Turkish author Orhan Pamuk's work of fiction The Museum of Innocence and his memoirs Istanbul: Memories and the City. It explores the motif of the fetishistic collection of mundane paraphernalia from urban living and the subsequent musealisation of the material culture of the city of Istanbul. It first looks at the concept of musealisation, and its historical connections with the process of modernisaton and the formation of the nation state since it helped institutionalise
more » ... e narrative of the state. It traces the development of the museum from a pedagogic urban space to a state institution which perpetuates the myth behind the nation state. It then examines the role of Pamuk himself as expository agent in his private museum, the Museum of Innocence, based on his work of fiction by the same name. Pamuk's subjectivity as expository agent is identified as being self-reflexive. This essay explores the possibilities this self-reflexivity creates for Pamuk's work with respect to his manifesto for creating "small museums" as opposed to grand state museums, and thus creating a counter-narrative to that of the state narrative. Lastly, it analyses the motif of 'hüzün' deployed time and again by Pamuk in order to paint a picture of Istanbul which embodies the melancholy of the city. This essay demonstrates the ways in which hüzün functions as an emotional space which blurs the boundaries between public and private spaces in the city, and also effectively delinks the private museum from the grand public museums sponsored by the state by creating an ambivalent space which is both public and private within the private museum.
doi:10.54487/jcp.v1i2.769 fatcat:cluwd7cnvneebp4saj7og3pqiy