Banu Karaca
2017/18 Mercator-IPC Fellow

Banu Karaca is a sociocultural anthropologist working at the intersection of political anthropology, art and aesthetics, nationalism and cultural policy, museums and commemorative practices. Karaca received her PhD from The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. Her manuscript “The National Frame: State Violence and Aesthetic Practice in Turkey and Germany” examines the entrenchment of art in state violence based on extensive research in the art worlds of Istanbul and Berlin. Some of her recent publications interrogate the politics of intercultural exchange programs in the EU, freedom of expression in the arts, the visualization of gendered memories of war and political violence, and visual literacy. She is the co-founder of Siyah Bant, a research platform that documents censorship in the arts. Since 2015, she has been a Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, first in Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices and then in Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe (EUME) Research Program. She is currently co-editing a volume entitled “Women Mobilizing Memory: The Arts of Intervention” with Marianne Hirsch and Jean Howard for Columbia University Press and continues her research on how lost, dispossessed, and misattributed artworks shape the practice of writing art history in Turkey.

“Turkish Foreign Cultural Policy at the Crossroads: Potentials and Challenges”

This research centers on the shifts in Turkish foreign cultural policy in view of the multiple crises that Turkey and Europe are currently facing. As the idea of cultural and artistic exchange has been revitalized after September 11, 2001 as conducive to both “global security politics” and economic trade, the project asks what kind of potentials and challenges cultural diplomacy holds in the currently strained relationships between Turkey and the EU in general and Turkey and Germany in particular.

The research focuses on two specific areas within foreign cultural policy that have come to uniquely reflect these strains: Firstly, Turkey’s renewed restitution claims of historical artefacts from international museums and, connectedly, archaeological excavation permits for international teams that have recently been entangled in a series of diplomatic crises; secondly, contemporary artistic production and exchange programs that have tied Turkey to the EU arena for more than a decade but that are now at risk with Turkey’s withdrawal from Creative Europe in November 2016. This research proposes that this is not simply a loss for Turkey’s vibrant arts and cultural scene but also for the EU, for which Turkey has become a vital laboratory for nascent, if embattled EU cultural policies.

Activities as a Mercator-IPC Fellow: