Political Misuse of Hagia Sophia as the Lost Object of the Istanbul Conquest

Gür B. F.

Space and Culture, 2023 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/12063312231159198
  • Journal Name: Space and Culture
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Communication & Mass Media Index, Communication Abstracts, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Keywords: Hagia Sophia, Islamist-nationalist imagination, melancholy, Ottoman conquest of Istanbul, paranoia, remembering Istanbul’s conquest, the lost object
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


For Islamist-nationalist circles in Turkey, Istanbul’s conquest in 1453 is a significant triumph inherited from the Ottoman Empire that denotes the Turkish nation’s founding moment. In this article, the Islamist-nationalist rhetoric of Istanbul’s conquest is read through melancholy as a politically manipulated project, which fixes the conquest in (spatial) images of its own “mourning” and produces “lost objects” to use as a tool of political propaganda. What are the melancholy, or lost, objects of the Islamist-nationalist rhetoric of conquest? Architecture, as the bearer of clues to the search for the conquest rhetoric’s lost objects, becomes the article’s subject. Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, whose status as a prayer space (mosque) and secular space (museum) has been the central issue of controversies, is brought forward as the lost object of the conquest rhetoric. The political misuse of the building as the lost mosque by Islamist-nationalist circles is the main focus.