SUMMARY:Festivals and fairs have attracted a great number of people from various backgrounds that include private and public figures, men and women, children and adults, civil and military authorities, religious and secular leaders, and big corporations and small enterprises in Republican Turkey.
Based on individual case studies that are in dialogue with each other, our panel intends to provide more nuanced approaches to the cultural, economic, and social history of festivals and fairs in Turkey. Although these meetings had similar cultural, economic, and social functions, and their formations were intimately interconnected, their significance for the residents of host provinces and participants, as well as their geographical representation and cultural scope, varied over space and time. Whereas certain fairs and festivals, such as the ones in Balıkesir and Izmir, continued for decades and grew in attendance and size over time, others, such as the Kastamonu Fairs, came to an end or transformed into new forms as a result of changing demographics and political decisions. While some fairs and festivals received national recognition and attracted spectators from all around the country, the attendance from abroad was small for others. Local or national, festivals and fairs have contributed to political and social transformation and negotiations of new social identities and livelihood in modern Turkey.
The overall purpose of the panel is to offer insights into the different dynamics of fairs and festivals in modern Turkey. We examine the extent to which festivals and fairs have influenced interactions between urban centers and rural hinterlands and capitalist development (the Balıkesir Fair), state-society relations across different social classes (the Izmir Fair), the formation of collective memories and everyday nostalgia (the Kastamonu Fairs), and connections and negotiations between religious and secular spheres (the Akşehir Festival). By doing so, we want to bring different aspects of festivals and fairs together as most of the existing studies have studied these gatherings individually.