- Face Value: Censorship and the Emergence of Mustafa Kemal in Turkish Political Cartoons (1921–1923)
- Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 5, Number 2, Fall 2018
- pp. 119-146
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Publicly visible forms of celebrating and commemorating Turkey's founding father predate his death and subsequent apotheosis in 1938. While markers of his visual ubiquity would increase with time, careful consideration of the full scope of visual materials from the earliest years of the republic demonstrate that the wheels of image-proliferation were in motion at the very earliest stages of the state's development. The widespread notoriety and fame that Mustafa Kemal's military victories gained him, coupled with the early and lively economy of images surrounding his likeness contributed to the development of his public image as early as 1921. More than photographs, cartoons constitute textual-visual puzzles that perform far greater functions than representing a subject in an objective manner. Their narrative qualities, short-hand dialect, and potential for inflection and subversion render them highly charged historical informants as well as richly loaded subjects of study that cater to a mass audience. The medium is also very flexible and highly skilled in evading detection when the threat of censorship looms. The complex nature of political cartoons and their frequent use of Mustafa Kemal in their imagery indicate both the level of the audience's visual literacy and the ubiquity of the new leader's pictures in print and public spaces.