Branding the city through culture: Istanbul, European Capital of Culture 2010

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Abstract (2. Language): 
As cities compete on an international scale to attract visitors, investors, talented people and inhabitants city branding is gaining much more interest. The European Capital of Culture (ECoC) is a city designated by the European Union for a period of one calendar year during which it is given a chance to showcase its cultural life and cultural development. Istanbul (Turkey), one of the most important cities both in the Middle East and Europe, was the ECoC 2010 along with Pécs (Hungary) and Ruhr (Germany). This paper aims to go into the cultural reflections of ECoC 2010 Istanbul with a semiological approach, focusing on the extent to which the city is represented through cultural facilities and events. After looking at the historical and socio-political background of Istanbul, official ECoC Web site and programme book of the city are analyzed. Themes, logos, slogans and the content of the programme are questioned from a critical point of view, with the objective of unveiling the symbolic cultural elements in differentiating city brand. What kinds of associations are based on its urban culture and heritages? Furthermore, the study questions if these cultural elements point the public a specific city portrait drawn by an understanding of culture overlapping with the idea of the authorities holding the political power and dominating the current ideology.



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