Quotidian Utopia: Orhan Pamuk's The Museum of Innocence and the Heritage of Love

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Orhan Pamuk’s 2008 novel The Museum of Innocence narrates a love story exploring themes of unstable identities, affective objects and obsessive collecting, set against the background of social change in Turkey and its manifestation in the urban landscape of Istanbul. In his museum of the same name, which opened in 2012, and its catalogue The Innocence of Objects, Pamuk articulates a clear political agenda through his “Modest Manifesto for Museums”, which expresses deep suspicion of the relationship between the narratives of the past told through grand museums and the power of the state. Pamuk’s valuing of the everyday - the quotidian materiality of ordinary human lives – can be read as a critique of the concept of heritage significance and a re-imagining of the field of heritage and museums where the material traces of the past are not uprooted from their neighbourhoods, but cared for at home and curated with love. I suggest that Pamuk’s Museum of Innocence imagines a Utopian future for heritage and museums which is centred on the constitution of empathic, materially mediated experiences of the everyday—particularly of joy, love and happiness— emotions rarely encompassed or made visible through the frame of heritage. Pamuk’s concern with experience and emotion, rather than representation, and with the vibrant materiality of objects, rather than the representative collections, links to the scholarly shift in interest from what heritage might mean, to what it might it might do.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)13-26
Number of pages14
JournalFuture Anterior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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