State of the Art: Exhibiting 'Nation' in the Early Republican Halkevleri, 1932-1950



Lynch, Michelle, “State of the Art: Exhibiting 'Nation' in the Early Republican Halkevleri, 1932-1950,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed December 4, 2020,


State of the Art: Exhibiting 'Nation' in the Early Republican Halkevleri, 1932-1950


Lynch, Michelle




In 1931, the Turkish Republic began laying the foundations for a network of institutions, formally instituted the following year, as part of a larger social engineering program to unify the nation under the nationalist, modern, and Western perimeters of Kemalism, the dominant political ideology associated with the Republican People’s Party (Cumhuriyet Fırkası, 1923; Cumhuriyet Halk Firkasi, 1924-1935; Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi; 1935-present), the single-party regime of the Republic’s early years. These institutions, known as Halkevleri (sing. Halkevi), or “People’s Houses” had to both imagine and confront the idea of a national geography and peoples, neither of which existed in any fixed or singular context, prior to the program’s implementation. Spreading across Anatolia between 1932 and 1950, the Halkevleri adhered to their official mission by developing social and cultural programs to disseminate their vision of modernity. Using a variety of archival resources, like official institutional publications and by-laws, as well as unpublished sources, like correspondence and programs, this thesis examines how these programs functioned, specifically by narrowing in on one aspect of Halkevi programming; arts and exhibition making. Ultimately, this thesis challenge the notion that these institutions functioned purely in the context of indoctrination. It also questions official representations of the program as unparalleled tools of modernization. Instead, by using a comparative framework between centralized exhibition in Ankara and the creation of provincial programs, this thesis suggests that the Halkevleri were sites of personal and private interest, where motivations of the state, academy trained artists, and sometimes, even local participants, congealed or competed.


Simmons College (Boston, Mass.)


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Masters Theses