March 20, 2014, 4:30pm
Landscapes of Hospitality: The Istanbul Hilton and the Makings of an Industry
Presenter: Begum Adalet, University of Pennsylvania Middle East Center Graduate Student Colloquium 13-14
Location: David Rittenhouse Laboratory (209 South 33rd Street) Room:3C4

This paper chronicles the efforts to develop a tourism industry in Turkey during the early phases of the Cold War, with a focus on the design and construction of the Istanbul Hilton Hotel. The hotel was financed by the Turkish Pension Funds and the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) of the US government.  The actors involved in the implementation of the hotel alternately framed it as a safeguard against the perilous march of Communism, a turning point in the consolidation of the tourism industry or the signifier of a hospitable mindset, believed to be a necessary corollary to modernization. Rather than surfacing as a medium for the top-down imposition of an Americanized modernity or the material expression of the politico-ideological concerns of its builders, however, the history of the Hilton was marked by contention from the outset, in terms of its style, funding, and site, as well as the various meanings it was expected to communicate. While the hotel and attendant conceptions of hospitality were predicated upon openness to foreign aid and expertise, their implementation was offset by disruptions in the flows and allocation of capital, the hesitations of traveling experts, and misunderstandings between the various participants of the tourism initiative.