Bir (Kentsel) Ütopya Olarak “Ankara” Romanı

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Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu's novel “Ankara” was written in 1934 as a utopian narrative that represents the hope for an ideal society arising from political and ideological connotations of the revolutionary transformations in 1930s. Aim of this paper is to discuss the connections and contradictions between utopian elements of the novel and socio-spatial context of the early Republican period in relation to the planning practice of Ankara.


'Ankara' is composed of three chapters. The first chapter represents the "spirit of national struggle" through the experiences of a young woman, Selma, in Ankara during the Independence War; whereas the second chapter represents the negation of this spirit after the constitution of the Republic through Selma's disappointment in her new life in Yenişehir. The novel satirizes the construction period of Yenişehir around 1926 as a community of superficial persons, who pursue their individualist desires of money and rent; thus the main theme of the utopia appears as the elimination of the individualist ambitions for private interest from the Republican revolution.


Along this theme, Karaosmanoğlu describes an "imaginary community" with its elements at different scales, such as industrial and agricultural development based on Statism, urban and rural interaction, workers and peasantry, arts, media, education, cinema and theatre, etc. Furthermore, he depicts the spatial implications of these elements in cultural and public life through the daily activities of the protagonists Selma and Neşet Sabit in Ankara. In this way, the city Ankara emerges as the spatial representation of the Authors' imaginary community. Its streets, public places, squares are depicted as the embodiment of the national solidarity, unity, hope and happiness.


Analysis of the utopian characteristics of these social and spatial elements reveals that Ankara is written as a literary expression of the ideas of Kadro (Cadre) movement, in which Karaosmanoğlu has a key role. In this respect, the novel Ankara reflects the Kadro's attempt to reformulate Kemalist ideology as a systematic doctrine of the Republican revolution and it functioned as a "pedagogical" narrative that aimed to disseminate Kadro's perspective into the public agenda. However, the conflicts between Kadro's ideological activity and the government party led to the "elimination" of Kadro movement from the political agenda in 1934. The utopian dimension of the novel reflects its authors' idealist viewpoint in which the existing class conflicts in the political community of the early Republic is negated by the means of its "imaginary community". Nevertheless, its utopian impulse is still worth reading as an expression of social hope inspired by its historical period.


Key Words: Ankara; Yenişehir; urban utopia; urban planning; imaginary community; early republican period; nation state

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