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Disorienting the Oriental(ist): Reading the Mists of Istanbul
Join Dr. Esra Almas in a discussion on how a focus on the Orient would impact the understanding of disorientation and what would disorientation signify when it comes to discussions of the Orient and Orientalism.
Esra Almas completed her PhD at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam, where she also taught in the department of Literary Studies. Her dissertation explored the links between literary capital and Istanbul's literary cityscape in Orhan Pamuk's work. Her research interests include Turkish and Turkic diaspora, exile narratives, urban imaginary and critical theory. She currently teaches literature and communication at Dogus University, Istanbul.
I argue in this lecture that these terms inform the work of the Turkish novelist and 2006 Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk's current international significance mainly derives from his complex representations of Turkish cultural identity and his resulting role as an intermediary between East and West. Pamuk's work has a peculiar relevance: characterized by a narrative and content that clouds the cognitive skills of the reader, it draws from the Ottoman past to problematize the Republican present. I trace Pamuk's disorienting Orientalism in the hazy cityscape of his memoir Istanbul: Şehir ve Hatıralar (Istanbul: Memories and the City) (2003) to explore, problematize and aestheticize the hierarchies the discourse and the city are associated with.
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