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Re-Imagining and Re-Placing New York and Istanbul

Exploring the Heterotopic and Third Spaces in Paul Auster's and Orhan Pamuk’s City Novels

Hatice Bay

The author re-examines the urban novels of Auster and Pamuk in the light of Foucault's heterotopia and Bhabha's the Third Space, respectively. Furthermore, for the discussions of the nature of the relationship between the self and the other, this present study deploys Emmanuel Levinas's ethics. This book argues that examining the urban spaces and characters of Auster and Pamuk through the prisms of Foucault, Bhabha and Levinas establishes a new critical framework that gives a constructive and ethical angle to the negative late twentieth-century and early twenty-first century discourses on the city and its inhabitants. The reader of this book will discover urban subjects who actively transform their respective cities into either heterotopic or Third Spaces and thereby become response-able for and attentive to their immediate surroundings, to their national or personal histories and, most importantly, to other people. At the same time, by bringing these two different cities, cultures and authors that are poles apart together, this book aims to problematize commonly held beliefs about Americanness and Turkishness and thus pave the way for looking at discourses such as «clash of civilizations», «margin» (Istanbul) and «center» (New York), the belated and the advanced from a critical point of view suggesting that there is a common discursive affinity with similar outlooks on life, personal, historical and physical spaces on both sides, rather than a «clash of civilizations». The arguments presented here will be of interest to students and scholars of city literature, comparative literature and history of ideas as well as to readers who have an interest in theory and close reading.

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1 Theorizing the Third Space within the Turkish Context


This chapter is an extended discussion on Bhabha’s conception of the Third Space and its associated and subversive notions of ambivalence, the stereotype, mimicry, the uncanny, hybridity, cultural translation and performing the nation. In this context, my contention is that Bhabha’s concepts help bring new angles on our reading of Orhan Pamuk’s oeuvre, potentially enabling us to approach his works from a more nuanced and affirmative point of view. Before explicating Bhabha’s concepts and elaborating on their relevance to Pamuk’s work, in the following discussion, I seek to give a brief overview of the socio-cultural and political transformations Turkish society and Istanbul in particular have gone through since 1923, when the Turkish Republic was founded.

1.1 Transition from the Islamic Ottoman Past to the Secular Modern Present: The Socio-cultural Context of Turkey

In this section, I want to consider the modernization period and its larger consequences and implications on Turkish culture, society and identity. The process of modernization actually started in the eighteenth century, when the Ottoman Empire decided to acquire technical knowledge from the West in its attempt to consolidate its military force. With the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkish Republic, initiated a series of drastic reforms that attempted to separate the society as sharply and extensively as possible from its Ottoman Islamic past because, as Bobby S. Said writes, the Turkish political elites aligned the Ottoman culture and Islam with backwardness, obscurantism,...

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