VOL: 10 NO: 1  5-16  2013-1


Memory of metropolis / remembering and forgetting in metropolis



Işıl Ekin ÇALAK

Yıldız Technical University, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul, TURKEY


Received: August 2012         Final Acceptance: February 2013






The word ‘Metropolis’ is a shorter version of the word ‘meterpolis’, itself derived from the Greek word ‘meter’ (mother) and polis (city, town). It is identified as the ‘center city’ which is more developed than other cities in terms of culture and economy (1). Hence, the metropolis is a depiction of hybridity and multi-layering; and while it is related to the city, it is not solely derived from the space. Even though the concept of a metropolis carries spatial references related with urban density, its real quality is super-spatial, in the sense that as Gideon describes as the cities as “social constructs”.

The most particular characteristic of a network society makes itself visible through changes in space and time. All relationships, regardless of time and place, can be facilitated through networks. They are also capable of connecting the whole city as a single skein. Each relationship has its own channels of interactions and these channels do not intersect even though they sometimes overlap. As a result, this fragmental network structure creates a collage of relationships within the city. This collage, relating to the previous orders and networks and conducting different relationships with them, causes a dynamic palimpsest structure.

The metropolis is considered a palimpsest because they carry the qualities of a world city. In other words, while metropolises carry the historic marks of the geography that they are located in social and spatial manners, they transform rather quickly within the multi directional flow fed by the whole world. Even though this flow continues to create city and metropolis images that are similar to each other, each metropolis still continues to be itself due to this unique palimpsest and its layers.

The integration of speed with the city could be considered as an important aspect distinguishing life and social from the pre-modern period. The transforming impact of speed and mechanical movement on social life leads to an analysis of the metropolises within the context of memory.

The metropolis is a post-modern concept one realized through spatio-temporal transformations of the post-industrial era. In a metropolis, man’s interaction with the world he lives in seems to be quite different from other cities. Hence, understanding the disconnection of man from the space of the metropolis generated modernity is important for deciphering the mentality and memory of the life in the metropolis.


As a result, this article focuses on how an individual, who is detached from space, performs the acts of remembering and forgetting within the metropolitan life. The text also hopes to shed light on the topography of a metropolis which inclines towards forgetting and ephemerality rather than stability and permanency. From this perspective, the article will suggest new ways of analyzing Istanbul in the context of memory.



Keywords: Metropolis, memory, remembrance, forgetting, palimpsest


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