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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Political Symbolism and Conspiracies in Turkish State-Sponsored Historical TV Series: A Case Study of Payitaht Abdulhamid

Thursday 2 March 2023
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What's New?! Spring Lecture Series 2023
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Turkish TV shows are the second most popular cultural product sold on the international television market. Since the 1990s, the Middle East and the Balkans have been the main places where Turkish TV shows have been sold. However, political actors had not discovered this new trend until the 2010s. After that, TRT (the Turkish state television channel) became the hub for Ottoman-themed television dramas. TRT's historical drama series not only serve Neo-Ottoman propaganda by glorifying the Ottoman past, but also pave the way for the Turkish public to establish a new cultural hegemony known as "New Turkey." Using the series "Payitaht: Abdulhamid (2017–2021)," which depicts the last decade of Sultan Abdulhamid II's reign (r. 1876–1909), this study examines how four distinctive symbols (the Turkish flag, the Star of David, the Keys of Heaven, and the pentagram) contribute to the construction of a radical otherness with contemporary political counterparts within the producers' political agenda.

About Mustafa Çolak

Mustafa Çolak (m.o.colak@hum.leidenuniv.nl) is a researcher and Marie Curie Fellow at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies and an external PhD candidate at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society. Born in Istanbul (Turkey), he studied sociology at Bogazici University (Turkey) and holds a master's degree from Istanbul Sehir University (Turkey, 2017). He worked as a teaching assistant and research assistant at Istanbul Sehir University (2013-2016). He also worked as a departmental assistant at Bahcesehir University (Turkey, 2016-2019). His research mainly focuses on the state-sponsored Turkish historical fictions and the global reach of Turkish TV series. Now he is a junior researcher under Innovative Training Network (ITN) 813547, Horizon-Europe Marie-Curie Action (2019-2023), Mediating Islam in the Digital Age.

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