Dispossessed by Culture: From the Fabiato Mansion to the Büyükada Culture House
Bringing together scholarly discussions on heritage and state violence, this article analyzes the multilayered structure of dispossession in contemporary Turkey. Through a combination of archival and ethnographic material, it documents the journey of the Fabiato Mansion situated in Büyükada, Istanbul becoming first a ruin, then a state property, later a culture house run by the Touring Automobile Company, and now the local courthouse. It argues that, although heritage and waste have been conceptualized in opposition to one another, the case of the Fabiato Mansion reveals that ruins and heritage sites are deeply connected through practices of dispossession. Conceptualizing the layered modalities of dispossession that led to the transformation of the Fabiato Mansion into the Büyükada Culture House, it illustrates the experience of the dispossession of sense of belonging through the life story of Aurora Fabiato. Then, it analyzes the abandonment of the mansion as part of the process of elimination of possible inheritors and it illustrates how the Mansion's dilapidation was operationalized in the politics of redistribution. Focusing on Touring Company's practices of preservation and repurposing it puts forward that by obscuring property relationships, the Büyükada Culture House generates a nostalgic political ideology that operates as way to avoid reckoning the violent past. While civilizational discourses on culture facilitated justifications of contested regimes of inheritance, they could not successfully end the mansion's agonizing presence between heritagization and disinvestment.