Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Hayes, Joy

First Committee Member

Algan, Ece

Second Committee Member

Peters, John D.

Third Committee Member

Havens, Tim

Fourth Committee Member

Khandelwal, Meena


In my dissertation I critically analyze and evaluate how the Turkish nation and culture is `performed' and `constructed' in two Turkish Festivals in Chicago: The Chicago Turkish Festival and The Chicago Turkish World Festival. I examine what this representation suggests about the complex national and cultural identity politics the Turkish Diaspora negotiate, with both their native and adoptive countries. My study draws on theories of nationalism and transnational nationalism, as well as critical cultural studies concepts including the `tourist gaze', (cultural) `spectacle', and `internal colonialism.' Because nationality festivals are public demonstrations involving a mass audience, my dissertation investigates how representations of Turkey (visual and verbal) are dependent upon the images and narratives popular among the American audience that are targeted.

In an era of globalization, the cultural representation of Turkey in these two Turkish festivals in Chicago is used for political and commercial ends to: a) form good relations with the local U.S. state officials and to help lobby for the Turkish community in Chicago; and b) open up new means of income for local artists and entrepreneurs as well as transnational businesses that attend these festivals from Turkey and other countries. The Turkish American cultural organizations, The Turkish American Cultural Alliance (TACA) and the Turkish American Society of Chicago (TASC), that organizes these festivals, in many ways take part in nationalism from abroad (transnational nationalism) when they promote the official national discourses of the homeland and receive material and moral support from the Turkish Consulate of Chicago and the Tourism and Culture Ministry in Turkey.

My dissertation demonstrates how Turkey's representation in these festivals by the two leading Turkish American organizations have become dependent on both European Orientalist discourses of the Ottoman Era that are internalized by the Turks today, as well as the very singular and monolithic nationalist discourses of the Turkey's founding fathers. I include a historical analysis of Chicago's Turkish community, including the way it was represented at Chicago's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (Chapter 2), an ethnographic analysis of the Turkish American organizations that have organized the Turkish festivals in Chicago (Chapter 3), and a critical analysis of activities and live performances that take place at both festivals (Chapter 4 & 5). My methods of study are field note observations, interviews conducted with the festival organizers and volunteers, and surveys conducted with festival participants. My research reveals that although the two Turkish American organizations, TACA and TASC, use similar national and cultural narratives, symbols, and representations, they differ in their choice of glorifying either Ottoman history or the history of the Turkish Republic, and on the degree to which Islam constitutes Turkish culture and national identity. This serves political ends as it reflects the ongoing political debates in Turkey over what social and cultural identities make up the Turkish nation.


Gulen Movement, homeland festivals, nation branding, transnational nationalism, Turkish American Organizations, Turkish immigrants in the USA


viii, 253 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 242-253).


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Copyright 2011 Ozge Girit Heck

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Communication Commons