Lahore is the second largest city in Pakistan after Karachi. It is the cultural capital of Pakistan. It is an ancient urban centre. It was one of the major cities of the Mughals in the 17th century. Its location as an important crossroads in the northern Punjab brought riches as well as invading armies. As a result the city cultivated a rich architectural heritage that reflects the political fortunes of its conquerors. The modern city of Lahore, however, is organised along a pattern set mostly by the British during their approximately one hundred years of colonial rule over the Indian sub-continent.
Today Lahore has almost seven million inhabitants plus innumerable migrant workers from the surrounding small villages. Its precarious location between the Ravi River to the West and North and the Indian border to the east forced the city to grow mostly southward.
The Walled City of Lahore covers an area of 256 ha with a population of 200,000. The city walls were destroyed shortly after the British annexed the Punjab in 1849 and were replaced with gardens, some of which exist today. The Circular Road links the old city to the urban network. Access to the Walled City is still gained through the 13 ancient gates, or their emplacements. The convoluted and picturesque streets of the inner city remain almost intact but the rapid demolition and frequently illegal rebuilding, which is taking place throughout the city, is causing the historic fabric to be eroded and replaced by inferior constructions. Historic buildings are no exception and some have been encroached upon. The few old houses one can still see in the city are usually two or three storeys tall, with brick façades, flat roofs and richly carved wooden balconies and overhanging windows.
G. Haider Ali, Navin. “English abstract of 'The Chishti Memorial: The Castes and Customs of Lahore'". Translated by Navin G. Haider Ali. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi, 153. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Şenol Cantek, L. Funda. Yaban'lar ve Yerliler: Başkent Olma Sürecinde Ankara. İstanbul: İletişim, 2003, 373pp.
“Strangers” and Natives: Ankara in the Course of Becoming a Capital City
Yaban'lar ve Yerliler: Başkent Olma Sürecinde Ankara
Şenol Cantek considers the transformation of Ankara during the transitional period which marks the end of the Ottoman Empire and the beginning of the Turkish Republic, emphasising its reconstruction as the capital city of the new regime. The book aims to offer an alternative discourse to official history. Therefore, it refers to a wide range of sources encompassing not only those which represent the dominant state discourse but also the written and oral testimonies reflecting a variety of perspectives. The book consists of twelve basic chapters in addition to an appendix which includes brief biographical accounts of those interviewed by the author.
Şenol Cantek focuses on the shift of identity during this period. The Ottoman identity was portrayed as “other” during the establishment of the Turkish Republic. The new regime was determined to become a part of Western civilisation, detaching itself from the bonds of Islam and tradition, which resulted in a conception of national identity based on “Turkish” ideals. According to Şenol Cantek, Ankara, which was considered an alternative to Istanbul, became a capital city as an important phase of this nationalisation project. A rural city that offered a life style determined by traditional and religious values became the starting point of “Turkish” urbanisation, a living space for ideal Turkish citizens, and Westernised and modern everyday practices. The author details the clashes between the natives of the city and those who came from outside to actualise this project; he uses the equivocal Turkish word yaban, which means both “stranger” and “savage”. Şenol Cantek concludes that the natives were exposed to the orientalist gaze of those who came to construct Ankara, while the outsiders were viewed as strangers by the natives. As a result, Ankara became a meeting place of “the savages” and “the strangers”.
Yaban’lar ve Yerliler is a study which accomplishes its goal of offering an alternative narrative to the official history to a large extent. It is a unique book as it views written and oral accounts not just as historical documents, but as sources that deserve discourse analysis within their own contexts and conditions. Its approach to the subject from an interdisciplinary perspective with substantial references to architecture, history, sociology, communication, and literature renders the book exceptional.