Imperial Hauntings, Expansionist Desires: The Politics of ‘Love and Peace’ in Contemporary Turkey

Çiçek Ilengiz


This project elucidates the connection between material heritage sites and the cultivation of expansionist political visions in contemporary Turkey. It traces the political connotations of the popularization, and the different mobilizations of the image, of the Persian Sufi poet Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi (1207-1273), who has acquired global renown through the rediscovery of his teachings by neo-spiritual groups in the U.S. and in Europe. The liberal referencing of the teachings of Rumi on “love and peace” also became a common element in shaping both mainstream and oppositional political discourses in Turkey. Analyzing diverse instrumentalizations of the figure of Rumi and his teachings, the project aims at drawing mutual influences and convergences of imperial and national fantasies of territorial expansionism through heritage practices in contemporary Turkey. Focusing on ways in which Rumi became a part of Anatolian/Ottoman/Turkish/Kemalist heritage, the project engages with the question of how heritage sites contribute to the cultivation of expansionist political imaginaries.

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