City and Culture

Sevindi, Nevval. Kent ve Kültür.
İstanbul: Alfa Yayınları, 2003, 312pp.



City and Culture

ve Kültür


This book deals
with the concepts of ‘city’ and ‘culture’. The author is an anthropologist who
maintains that cultural and social relations in Turkey are overshadowed by the
political and economic problems, and that solutions are sought in political
organisations. According to the author, ‘Turkey’s problem is due to the lack of
a particular cultural view and the entanglement of politics with culture’. In
his view the urbanisation problems should not only be evaluated in terms of
engineering, but also be considered in terms of social values and human
relations. Moreover, it is necessary to organise social projects in order to
change the social structure of the city as only in this way can unhealthy and
unstable growth in cities be solved.


In the second
section, titled ‘Narratives of Istanbul’, the past and present of the city are
recounted. Istanbul, once the capital of an empire and has, the author states,
always been the home of people from various nationalities, countries,
languages, and faiths, but it has never achieved a unified social identity as a
city. The author maintains that today’s Istanbul has lost its spirit and
identity and that compared to its past status, contemporary Istanbul is
populated by a restless society due to people following the tradition of their
original hometown despite choosing to settle in the city.


The third
section is entitled ‘Anatolian Cities and Culture’. The urban life and culture
of cities such as Konya, Malatya, Şanlıurfa, Van, Antalya, Adana, Mersin, and
Ankara are depicted. The author takes the view that not only Istanbul, but also
other Anatolian cities with valuable cultural, artistic, and natural beauty,
face the threat of losing their intrinsic and cultural heritage due to lack of
protection coupled with a paucity in architectural esthetics. According to the
author, the only city to preserve its spirit and identity is Izmir. Izmir is
described as a city which 'experiences social and economic fluctuation but
which is always faithful to its cultural heritage’.


In the last
section, titled ‘World Cities and Culture’, a number of cities such as Buenos
Aires, London (famous for its entertainment industry), Rio (where poverty and
abundance co-exist) and St. Petersburg (a cultural symbol), are depicted.


In City and Culture, the author criticises
urban projects, which ignore social relations, and cultural and artistic
values. As a social scientist she tries to address the problems of
urbanisation. Although the author aims to provide her analysis from an
anthropological point of view based on her own expertise, she instead tends to
use a literary style throughout the book, which is not always suitable. Another
shortcoming of the work is that the section titles do not always represent the
themes they purport to discuss.


Bilge Gökter

Translator Gülşah Dindar


Gökter, Bilge. '"English abstract of 'City and Culture'". Translated by Firas Alhawat. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 72. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
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