Despite its architectural fame, the medieval city of Ani in eastern Turkey, once an Armenian capital on the Silk Road, was endangered until recently. Preserving the Medieval City of Ani: Cultural Heritage between Contest and Reconciliation traces the evolution of Ani since the late nineteenth century as an object of preservation and the subject of debate about heritage. As a primarily non-Muslim site in a modern, majority-Muslim country, Ani poses dilemmas shared by other cultural heritage sites in postconflict societies: it presents economic opportunity through tourism, but its history prompts questions about a painful recent past the state refuses to acknowledge. Analyzing the recent developments in cultural heritage management in Turkey involving international heritage organizations, especially for Christian and Armenian monuments, and highlighting the civil society debate about rediscovering long-suppressed episodes of Turkish history, Heghnar Zeitlian Watenpaugh argues that despite daunting difficulties beleaguering acknowledgment of the past, cultural heritage can provide a medium for reconciliation rather than contestation.
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