'Wounds of difference': melancholy in Turkish film and popular music

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


In Istanbul: Memories of a City (2005), Orhan Pamuk uses the Turkish term hüzünto describe a collective form of melancholy that pervades Turkish culture. Through an analysis of films and popular music, this thesis interrogates wounds of difference that produce different modes of melancholy that Turkish films and popular music communicate. More significantly, I identify melancholies resulting from social, cultural, political, or economic differences. Through comparative analyses of films and popular music from the past 50 years, I trace both shifts and continuities in the cultural terrain of Turkey, and Turkish culture’s relationship with melancholy.

Over the past two decades, Turkey has undergone immense social, political and cultural transformation which has seen the emergence of new “imagined communities”, new middle classes, Istanbul as a global city, and new global citizens. These decades have also witnessed a renaissance in film and music. This thesis investigates collective states of melancholy in four dominant spaces; the nation, the habitus, the city and the diaspora. The selected texts, drawn fromacross a number of different film genres and styles of music, situate the nation and certain aspects of cultural identity defined by difference; between the east and the west, the homeland and diaspora, the urban and the rural, the new middle class and the working class.

This thesis argues that these differences produce collective sites of loss, and film and music provide rich grounds upon which to explore and make meaning from this affect. The visual and aural spaces constructed in these texts, both reflect and produce the tensions and conflicts that have been embedded within Turkish society for more than a century; issues so unresolvable that they create particular forms of cultural identity and belonging in Turkey.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Macquarie University
  • Simpson, Catherine, Supervisor
  • Crowdy, Denis, Supervisor
Thesis sponsors
Award date25 May 2013
Publication statusUnpublished - 2013


  • melancholy
  • Turkish cinema
  • Turkish music
  • Diaspora
  • Migration
  • National identity
  • Turkish culture


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