Wednesday, 8 December 2010


The Marmara Hotel stands in the center of Taksim Square and it has three hundred seventy six rooms. It is a deluxe five-star hotel and it is a good palce for business trip and entertainment in the city for the people who always want the best. It has a unique bosphorus view and it is close to center of luxurious shopping district, Nişantaşı and it is close to Lütfü Kırdar Congress Center. In the hotel, there are distinctive dining facilities with the stunning views of Istanbul. The hotel also provides an elegant setting for hosting high-level meetings and upscale private events. There are different kinds of rooms in the hotel. For example; The Marmara Club rooms are at the fifth floor and have the most panaromic Istanbul views. There are the lounge services which include all day dining and lively cocktails, snacks, afternoon tea and these are served at various times of the day. In the hotel,there is a spa and it encourages a complete spa experience for the body and mind and offers natural therapies and treatments. This study includes the interpretation of The Marmara Hotel with the addition of photos taken from different aspects to supports the points that are discussed, which are, kinds of cultural meanings being generated, and kinds of meanings concerning power relations being implicated within the environment.

As it is told, the properties of the hotel, it has a luxurious place in the center of Taksim Square and it stands like the luxury symbol. In Istanbul, there are many poor people and even their monthly income can’t afford its daily price and we can consider it as a symbol of injustice in the heart of Taksim Square.In front of hotel and around the hotel there are many workers and salespeople who are working and standing for their daily incomes while the rich people are doing their gymnastic exercises and enjoying the luxurious and comfortable accommodation. This is the best example of the injustice in our country. We can call the hotel as a symbol of capitalism and this high building looks down on people. The masters of capitalism can afford the price of those comfortable rooms in this hotel and they look down on people who spends all their energy just for their basic needs for living. This injustice cause cultural conflict between high and low cultures. This conflict makes people unhappy because they believe in justice and want to have the same opportunities. This class injustice causes all the problems in the society.

As a cosmopolitan city, Istanbul incorporates many different cultures; and because of this gap, there is a lack of communication among the people of Istanbul. In some counties, one of which is Taksim, this lack of communication is bitingly apparent; because the cultural construction has been shaped by cultural diversity. The cultural construction can be formed and attributed a meaning with language or visual and cultural codes. Language is the basic factor for culture; but visual codes can also carry a meaning. One of the most important visual codes in Taksim is The Marmara Hotel and its cultural effect.

When you arrive in Taksim Square, The Marmara Hotel, a huge building, salutes you with its all magnificence. It is the biggest building in Taksim Square and it should be, why? Because the area, where it was built is different than the other areas in terms of the different lifestyle of people. The lifestyle of a citizen is determined by the society and the place where he/she lives. Similarly; the cultural atmosphere and the cultural construction of Taksim prepared the ground for the “construction of The Marmara Hotel”. The Marmara Hotel serves for wealthy people; that is for “high culture”. It means that an ordinary citizen cannot afford the price of a night or having lunch or dinner in this hotel. However, even if he had the money, he wouldn’t adapt himself to the situation because of the cultural diversity. There are some important reasons for this matter, then let’s ask that question again: Why was The Marmara Hotel built in Taksim?

In Turkey, we have two Istanbul : one of them is “European” , the other one is “Anatolian” or “Asian”. But, they have different cultures and different lifestyle. For instance, even if the counties of Fatih and Taksim or Pera are in the European side of Istanbul, the people’s attitude, their behaviors or their speaking can change. According to many people, thanks to the counties such as Pera, Taksim, Bebek, Moda etc… Istanbul is like a western city. People living in these counties interpret the life in Istanbul differently than the ones living in Sultanahmet, Fatih, Eyüp, Üsküdar etc… When a tourist comes to Istanbul from West, he/she sees the western counties of Istanbul and behaves according to the atmosphere of these counties. In “west” Istanbul, people are walking in İstiklal until the first lights of morning, they are drinking alcohol freely in the pubs in Nevizade, and the bars are open until the morning. So then, instead of Taksim, where will you build this hotel, which addresses to the people living like these ones? You can also build this hotel in Moda or Bebek, but it can be thought that it will not be easy to build such a hotel in Sultanahmet because of the religious atmosphere it has.



As it is mentioned; the lifestyle and the culture of high class has determined all the circumstances in these counties. we want share an interesting story to elaborate the situation. When my friends and I went to a bar to drink something in Nevizade, some of my friends ordered beer, but the rest, especially boys among the girls ordered cherry juice to drink. However, the waiters were laughing and talking by goofing off, maybe the situation enjoyed them so much! They behaved us as if there was an obligation to drink any alcohol in the bar. we mean that the culture, in which they were brought up, shaped them and they found their truths in this culture. we cannot blame them, because the atmosphere and the society are suitable for experiencing such things. Namely, The Marmara Hotel , has the same effect upon the people, in Taksim it is the symbol of high culture with its luxury rooms and its unique scene of Bosporus and it is one of the doors of Turkey opening to Europe. For instance, “The Meeting of News Agency in European Capital of Culture” was carried out on November 26 in The Marmara Hotel , Taksim and this conference introduced the historical, natural and cultural richness of Turkey to Europe in their news. For such an event, The Marmara Hotel was chosen, because it was meeting all the needs of high culture while Turkey was hosting for an important event, including people from high class.

Before examining means of power relations that can be derived from the Marmara Hotel, it is better to see what power and power relation mean. Power is a measure of an entity's ability to control their environment, including the behavior of other entities and power relations are the domain of latent power that makes it possible for entities to interact in a way that temporally manifests that power among them. To understand their meanings it would be better to take a look at Marx’s and Foucault’s views of power and power relations.
Karl Marx divided power into two as essential power and political power, arguing that man inherently possesses "essential powers" that are his to use while also being subjected to the influences of political powers employed by elites within society (Tucker, 88-89). This view of the human condition suggests that there are elements or forces within any given society which seek to delimit the capacity of an individual or a group (or even a gender) to exercise power. Marx's theory depends upon the assertion that society is divided into classes of the oppressed and the oppressors who remain in constant opposition to one another.
For Foucault, power is distributed throughout socail relations. Foucault suggested that we need to develop an ‘analytics’, as opposed to a ‘theory’, of power relations (Foucault, 1981a: 82), or at least ‘theory as a toolkit’ (Foucault, 1980a: 145). In other words, instead of attempting to say what power is, we must attempt to show how it operates in concrete and historical frameworks, in the sense of ‘By what means is it [power] exercised?’ and ‘What happens when individuals exert (as they say) power over others?’ (Foucault, 1982: 217).

When The Marmara Hotel taken into consideration through Marx’s theory, it is the political power held by elites within society. All of its customer is from higher classes who have statue and wealth. In the website of the hotel it clearly and “frankly” states its customer profile; “The Marmara provides an elegant setting for hosting high-level meetings and upscale private events.” It also delimits and outcasts rest of them people who are out of its definition. In that sense The Marmara Hotel is also the oppressor. Here are some photos of it which helps us to see its various faces more clearly.

These photos show the backdoor of that magnificent building which is right next to its dumpster and used by the hotel stuff. The backdoor and the dumpster capture,in the next page, shows the Marmara Hotel as the oppresor.

And in this photo we see the stuff leaving the hotel for lunch and heading through the backside of the Taxim square which is cheaper and not classy enough for The Marmara Customers.

To sum up; The Marmara Hotel is a symbol of power, hierarchy and richness in Taksim. It is the castle of high culture and capitalism. Because of the Taksim’s effect on area, while people are walking in front of it, they feel themselves as inferior ones compared to those enjoying inside of the hotel. As you know 37 people was killed in 1977, in Taksim while protesting the system of capitalism. They were killed from The Marmara Hotel to keep the system alive. Therefore, under the beautiful face of this hotel, so many different, effective and hierarchic meanings are concealed.
Gülhan Sungur,
Gülşah Köken,
Kadir Saydam,
Merve Sevinç,
Meryem Yıldız,
Salih Köseoğlu,
Yasin Kanbur..

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