To see modernization and nationalism from the lens of vizontele


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To see modernization and nationalism from the lens of vizontele

  1. 1. To See Modernization and Nationalism from the Lens of Vizontele By Erdal ERDOĞDU Aysu GÖKOVA Özge ÜÇTOP Submitted to Yrd. Doc. Gökçen KARANFĠL For MMC304 Sociology of Communication Faculty of Communication Ġzmir University of Economics (Spring 2010)
  2. 2. ABSTRACT: In our article, respectively we mentioned about modernization, nationalism, imaginary communities, discourses, ideologies and cultural studies from general to specific. In this analysis which was made for research it is seen that there is a hidden meaning beyond the scenes we saw in the movie and also some notions about communication are placed into the movie secretly which can be considered as an important communication concept. We analyzed this film in terms of modernization, nationalism, imaginary communities, discourses and ideologies which can be considered as important communication concepts according to our thoughts. It can be said that there is a negotiation between real and official culture in the movie. The characters in the movie portray past period events as a part of real life in our country and portray people who lived and witnessed these events personally. In this movie portrayed lives are faced with the ideological and sociological problems. Upon entry of television in their lives, which can be considered as a step for modernization for the people of village, as a first effect it makes people conflicted and it changes a lot of ideas in many fields. From the foundation of our country to 70s, it comes over 50 years, the country’s western regions examined the steps of modernization earlier the same as the general Western concepts of modernization, however it is seen that eastern regions of the country remained the rest. The director, writer and leading actor of this movie Yılmaz Erdoğan, who came from this region and witnessed the difficulties and realities of the region personally at the same direction of the movie, depicted all events of that time by agency of the movie.
  3. 3. To SEE MODERNIZATION and NATIONALISM from the LENS of VİZONTELE INTRODUCTION 1. MODERNIZATION DISCOURSES AND IDEOLOGIES Perspective of European discourse says us that what they want to be us. We produce criteria and criticize the other country, according to Europe. Why do we try to internalize or to accept as true what Europe says? The common denominator of all these studies is a belief in the modernity of nations and nationalism. According to this perspective, both appeared in the last two centuries, that is in the wake of the French Revolution, and they are the products of specifically modern processes like capitalism, industrialism, the emergence of the bureaucratic state, urbanization and secularism (Smith 1994:377 1995:29) Beginning with the Enlightenment, Europe had witnessed many technological developments, because of these developments Europe had gained power on a specific audience and had an important place in the free market thanks to these developments. In addition to this Europeans had shown a great progress in the field of communication in the world, had published their own magnificent stories, in these publications (according to Western) they created discourses which could be considered accurate and precise with respect to their own. “According to the narrative of Dialectic of Enlightenment Western rationalism or imperialism which is powered by logocentrism and which has led to the suppression of difference in a dominant, discipline world were dressed in a new set of clothes.” ( Garnham 2000: 21) In Turkey we don’t consider from where and how all these events had come out. We internalize what discourses say. Discourses decide what kind of living world we have. Ideologies and discourses are interwined. Since the early history of Western cultures, West have put itself into the center of modernization and it have been said that other civilizations modernized according to this center or they remained behind modernization. This point brings out the concept of West and the
  4. 4. Rest. In this direction, when we consider our country, people who live in the west are considered as following modern and modernity. On the other hand people who live in the east are considered as not modern and outdated. As Gellner has written “a quite special masochistic distaste for their own culture. All cultures are equal but one of them (their own) is a damn sight less equal that the rest” (Gellner 1985:2) 2. MODERNIZATION in TURKEY Since the foundation of our country, people have experienced various political, sociological and social events. While sometimes they faced with political chaos and corruptions, sometimes they faced with the crucial wars. In addition to this, the power groups in the society have wanted people who are outside of this group, to modernize and they have seen this desire as the same as elaborating on west. From 1923 to present Turkish society have given several opportunities like a train stopping at the station but while sometimes our people have got on the train, sometimes they have missed the train. According to Gellner, Thought of modernity as a distinctive from of social organization and culture. He considered nationalism to be function of modernity. He did not believe that history, with its descriptive and individualizing approach , could understand the modernity/ nationalism relationship. (1964 : ch1) Western culture that has a most effectively and creativity resisted that promotes logic of closure. We see in western history the rupture of this closure and questioning of everything such as institutions, symbols, beliefs and values. In addition, western defined to Orient east, virgin, uneducated and primitive. Enlightened as west, benighted as east are defined. According to Said, Without examining Orientalism as a discourse one can not possibily understand the enourmously systematic discipline by which European culture was able to manage – and even produse- the Orient politically, sociologically , militarily, ideologically, scientifically and imaginatively during the post- Enlightenment period. Moreover, so authoritative a position did Orientalism have that I believe no one writing, thinking or acting on the Orient
  5. 5. could do so without taking account of the limitations on throught and action imposed by Orientalism. (1985:3) When we consider Turkey which has been like a bridge between western and eastern civilizations for centuries, it is possible to see the traces of different civilizations on our country. In the western part of Turkey, we can observe the western modernity, on the other side the properties of orientalism can be easily seen in the eastern part of Turkey. The focus power in our society has been shaped as themselves and the others in according with the mind of some bureaucrats and a certain number of political elites. That is to say the cities and people located in the western part of our country are described as modern; the others who live in the eastern part of the country are described as not modern. 3. NATIONALISM and CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS When we look at the general characteristic features of Turkish society, it is obvious that they are aware of their traditions and they adhere to their national identities strongly. That makes them a nation of traditional. Gellner insist that, nation and nationalism are not natural because they are not a permenant feature of the human condition but came into being with the transition to industrialism. Neither are they arbitrary, in the sense of being accidental or avoidable; they are have a close, almost necessary , link with industrialism. Indeed , this is what makes them appear natural to the members of industrial society and it id that 'naturalness' which gives nationalism its power.(1983: 23) Mass media sometimes can use the power which has in this way. To give example, in the media, it is rarely be encountered news and discourses which are against to generally accepted jurisdiction of the Turkish community. At the same time in the media, we can witness the big organization including nationalist discourses for some special days. According to Çınar” building of nation state involves the drawing of both material and metaphorical boundaries, including territorial, national , ethnic, racial , cultural and religious boundaries” (2005: 34) To be played Atatürk into the commercial of Anatolian Insurance Company, which can be a good
  6. 6. example for nationalist commercial, destroy the thought that the concept of Kemalist (adherent of Atatürk’s policy) started to be forgotten. The concepts of nationalism are sometimes used as an object in the media. For example; the slogan of Cumhuriyet newspaper “ let’s take care of our republic”. Actually by means of this slogan the Cumhuriyet Newspaper intend to increase its circulation by using power of nationalist nature of Turkish people. 4. IMAGINED COMMUNITIES Even the incidents occurred in a small village in the film express the view that people in this small village are essentially as the same as people who live in the modern cities; they live different lives, they themselves are sheltering more than one community. We remind the concept of imagined communities in the sociology of communication by means of this direction. In addition to this like the speech of Anderson the dreamed of isolation is limited, because it is said that there are always designated boundaries among all neighboring countries. According to Anderson, Things would be easier if it is seen as belonging to the same family as 'kindship' or 'religion'; hence his definition of the nation as ' an imagined political community – and imagined as both inherently limited sovereign '. It is imagined because 'the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them , yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion. (1991:6-7) In a scene of the movie the president Nazmi ( Altan Erkekli; 1.08 sec.) says; foreigners coming here always ask us this question: how do you live here, why do you love here? It is difficult to answer. Why do people love their countries? To be inspired by the words of writer of Radikal newspaper Nuray Mert. According to her: …apart from this thesis many arguments about the foundation of nations and nationalism exist. Anderson’s imaginary communities can be put in the category of modernist theories. In these theories nations are products of social communication and they belong to the requirements of modernity. Some philosopher like Geertz and Isaacs claim that in the emergence of the concept of nation some natural data exists before modernity and each individual is inherited some things unintentionally (skin color, body, language, faith etc.) and they also argue that fictional in the nation remains extremely marginal. On the other hand some philosopher like Barth thinks that nation is composed to reach for any other purposes. According to the only thing describing a nation is its borders and it is not only a geographical border but also it is a border of identity. The question “who is from us or not” is dynamic. Answers to this question vary horizontally (in geography) and vertically (in time). Armstrong making the best synthesis of these three theoretical frameworks
  7. 7. applies progressive theory to nation. According to him, nation exists before the nationalism but nationalism is the process of being aware of nation. 5. ANALYSIS OF VİZONTELE It was written by Yılmaz Erdoğan and shot by Yılmaz Erdoğan and Ömer Faruk Sorak. The film problematises the experiences of modernization in Eastern region of Turkey in 1970s. In this movie, in eastern region of our country which participated in the process of modernization very late people’s first encounter with television and various problems of this encounter was sometimes reflected by different scenes that sometimes make people laugh and sometimes make them think and cry. In the movie there are a lot of people living in a small village but many of them have different lives from each other. On the first scene; leading role player Yılmaz Erdoğan is seen as character Emin. Emin is one of the most remarkable characters in this village. He maintains a life style that is different from the standards and conditions of the village. This character trying to improve himself can be considered as the closest and susceptible person to modernization. Being different from people of society make Emin odd and mad, also he becomes the rest in the eyes of people. As Çınar claims that, the state carries out these self -constitutive task by tightly monitoring and controlling the formation the national public sphere. It is also in this public sphere that the contestations of official national ideology are carried out and alternative national identities emerge. It is in this field of contending national subject comes into being in the public sphere.( 2005: 34 ) There is only one cinema hall in the village, and for people of this village it is the greatest means to see the modern life. With cinema people start to take part in the concept of mass, because of that they watch the same movies at the same time and so that they begin to have common ideas, common topics to discuss. That is to say, the village has not enough information about the other parts of the country and other people living in these areas. They only find opportunity to take information about the lives in the other regions of the country from people who go outside of the village under the pretext of military service or work. Cinema is the only place for them to face with different perspectives which differ from their own point of view. In the 19th century cinema spread
  8. 8. the modernization and reflected the answers of such questions; how to be modern, how modern life should be. Clothing styles of women in the cinema, their relationship with men, decorations of places where people live, buildings, speaking styles and their accent (Ġstanbul accent) are actually the symbol of how they modernized. In Vizontele Yılmaz Erdoğan reflected this phenomenon successfully. 'Modernity' and 'cinema' are not sacred words to be used only in secret council among a holy elite. They are invocations of our shared public lives together. After mechanization, after the intermittent device that made possible the opening and closing of the camera's and projector's apertures, after the widespread availability of electrical illumination (...) modernity is in and around all of us ,and cinema embodies, reflects, and recharges that modernity everywhere.( Pomerance, 2006:15) In the movie, the cinema hall and its owner represent the monopolization. In addition to this, cinema, which fills the leisure time of many people, brings them close together for a common enjoyment. At soldier sendoff or by going to the cinema, people having no idea about each other create the imaginary communities by coming together. As Anderson says that; Nationality and nationalism are cultural artefacts of a particular kind. In order to understand them properly , we need to find out how they have come into being, in what ways their meanings have changed over time and why they command such profound emotional legitimacy. Nationalism emerged towards the end of the eightteenth century as a result of the 'spontaneous distillaction of a complex “crossing” of discrete historical forces' and once created,they became models which could be used in a great variety of social terrains, by a correspondingly wide variety of ideologies (1991 [1983] :4) Of course, with the emerging of television, it will take cinema’s place. Because the cinema is composed by love, drama and accounts of daily life, on the other side on television people can follow current topics, they can watch the news or instead of seeing the film characters they can also meet other people. For a long time as the first and only television channel TRT (Turkish Radio Television) had broadcast according to state’s ideology because of being the state’s monopoly. However people communicate through megaphone in the town and they get in contact with outside world through phone connected to an operator. Official culture is spreading through TRT. By the middle of the 19th century, as the “modern” world took form numerous developments in numerous places reflecting new ways of thinking about numerous aspects of human endeavor,
  9. 9. public illumination characterized every social change, marking, in a way, the artificiality and limitless possibility of the photographic act and also the desire to move into unknown territories and see the hitherto invisible, only imaginable, realities of life. (Pomerance, 2006: 11) People come together in the center of the village to welcome the TRT council. President gives a speech, sacrificial animals are prepared to be cut. All these incidents show us how respectful people of village are to the council and its represented power. Not only with their clothing styles but also with their speech styles they represent Ankara and the state. The woman in the board who is arrogant, bareheaded, made-up, dapper is considered as a modern woman by the citizens of the village. Mrs. Ġsmihal is the mistress of one of deputy managers in TRT. She is sent to Van for a mission described by her as an exile. Here, upon the people representing modernization and Europe the immorality of modernization is also emphasized at the same time. The reason for sending television to Van is the state’s efforts to establish his authority over people. The state is in the war; to protect hierarchical system and the authority of state it owes an explanation to families from each region of country whose children are taken from them for the military services. How will the public accept the war? What kind of sacrifices will be wanted from public and which routes will be followed to persuade them? As seen in the film there are easy ways to achieve this goal; the cinema achieved by the citizens of the town with their own efforts is not enough for them which feel forgotten and excluded or to solve the infrastructure problems of the town and to support local administration. Television with its qualities is the most appropriate tool for the state’s goals. With coming of television instant communication with the world begins, they will have notice of what is going on in the world as headman says. They try to modernize by means of television but it is not enough. Television replacing the cinema is a great communication device to get information about outside world. But they face with many problems in the process of installing television. Whether with some unconscious thoughts or with dominant religious feelings they try to overcome
  10. 10. a lot of work. For instance, as in a scene of the movie in the conversations between Imam and Siti Ana, by using religious feeling of Siti Ana, Imam tries to convince her that television is work of devil so it should not come to their village. During the founding years of the Turkish state such interventions served the establishment of a modern, West - oriented public sphere where a modern national subject was created. During the 1990s with the emergence of the new Islamic veiling in the public sphere, the religious headscarf as a particular type of clothing served to destabilize the public – private distinctions maintained and monitoring by the secularist gaze , forcing the negotiation of alternative conceptualizations of the public and the private. (Çınar 2005 : 57) For them the description of television is a radio including pictures. Because they have little contact with the outside world, they believe or describe as true what they see on television, at the cinema and in the newspaper. They have no chance to compare which one is real and true or wrong and imagined, they are not inquisitive, judgemental, deliberative society. The reason for being forgotten and excluded is the lack of effort to think about possibilities for going beyond the boundaries and is not having enough desire to achieve it. Always they expect something to be done for them. They don’t show any effort to improve themselves. They don’t compose any discourses, they don’t questionize why they become excluded and they accept the imposed discourses. When we consider the modern life, it is obvious that they remain far behind the west. With coming of television a new cultural value is imposed in to the lives of village people. They are so unfamiliar with this culture that when Zeki Müren is seen on television, they begin to question what to wear. Besides this, they are already so distant and so foreign to technological instruments that the president doesn’t know how to handle microphone when giving a speech. Also in the last minute of the movie there is a scene which illustrates the cultural change; the time and place of people gathering change, their only mutual interest becomes television. This also indicates the changes in our traditions with the technology. At the wedding ceremonies people give television as a present instead of giving gold and jewelry. On the other hand, the Imam and owner of the cinema hall who can be considered as opinion leaders of the village, try to restrict people’s freedom of information by increasing domestic
  11. 11. disorder, by making people believe that television is the tool of devil. For example in a section of the movie Sati Ana learns his son’s dying a martyr from television. For believing inauspiciousness of television from the beginning, she put the blame her son’s death on television. Emin comes to house of Sati Ana as soon as he learns the death news. He tries to tell that television is not guilty but he doesn’t convince her. Rıfat is under the ground so that television has to be under the ground. Sati Ana and Emin climb on a hill and burry the television. Actually it is the state and modernity to be buried not television because television belongs to the state and represents modernity. Moreover it can be mentioned about imaginary community; for instance, the Imam and owner of the cinema hall are not sincere but they come together because of that they don’t keep pace with television in other words modernity. For Anderson 'imagining' does not 'falsity'.(...) There are 'real' communities which can be advantageously compared to nations. In fact, however, all communities larger than small villages of face-to - face contact (perhaps even these) are imagined. Communities should not be distinguished by their falsity/ genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined. (1991:6) Conclusion To sum up; in the analysis of Vizontele by Yılmaz ERDOĞAN in which we tried to examine the efforts to modernize in 1970s Turkey, we have seen once more that communication includes important sociological and ideological concepts. We saw in this movie analysis once more how much the sociological and ideological concepts, which are part of communication, take place in real life even though it is not known and we tried to describe what we examined. In this movie (Vizontele) it can be seen clearly that how the modernization like a bolt from the blue was taken to the citizens via the state and how people reacted the movements of modernization. In the sociological and ideological concepts we have seen include general concepts of communication sociology like modernism, modernization efforts, nationalism, discourse, west and the rest.
  12. 12. References: Anderson, B. (1991) [1983] Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso , 2nd edn. Appadurai, A.(1996) Modernity at Large. London: University of Minnosota Press Çınar, A (2005) Modernity , Islam and Secularism in Turkey. London: Minnosota Press Garnham, N. (2000) Emancipation, The Media and Modernity. New York: Oxford University Press Gellner, E. (1964),(ch1) 'Time and Validity' , Thought and Change. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Gellner, E. (1983) Nations and Nationalism. UK : Blackwell Publishing Gellner, E. (1985) Relativism and The Social Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Mill, J. S (1996) [1861] 'Nationality', in S. Woolf (ed.) , Nationalism in Europe, 1815 to the Present: A Reader. London and New York :Routledge , 40-7. Mert N. (2008) Radikal 2 Archives 5.2010&CategoryID Pomerance, M. (2006) Cinema and Modernity. USA: Rutgers University Press Smith, A. D. (1994) ' The Problem of National Identity: Ancient, Medieval and Modern?' , Ethnic and Racial Studies. 17(3), 375-99. Smith, A. D. (1995) Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era. Cambridge: Policy Press