Orientalist Representations of Antakya (Antioch-on-the-Orontes) in Digital Media Narrations

Orientalist Representations of Antakya (Antioch-on-the-Orontes) in Digital Media Narrations

Feride Zeynep Guder, Tulay Atay
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7180-4.ch047
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This study aims to criticize the definition and misinterpretation of “the East-the Orient” in the scope of Antakya city according to Orientalist approach and to analyze how this approach put into practice by the narration of the Westerners via scrutinizing digital media platforms. To uncover this dominant narration, Said's Orientalist theory has been explored for the main arguments of the study. With the help of cognitive semiotics benchmarks, three digital media platforms are analyzed to indicate how Orientalist perspectives dominate the narration and representation of Antakya. Although the city conveys modern lifestyle and outlook, these perspectives are omitted, and these narrations fail to represent the core and unique characteristics of Antakya. Examples found in digital media prove the lack of such representations, including particularly the absence of images, narrations, and portrayals of inhabitants. In conclusion, close and critical reading of digital tourism genres are recommended, and although these platforms are new and digital, the way they narrate have echoes of the old.
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Conceived as new digitalized guidebooks, tourism websites play a very big role by retelling the old stories and old attitudes in their own digital frames. Cities are digitally introduced, advertised, narrated, evaluated, criticized via these digital platforms. If a city has green parts and a lively social activity, that city life is characterized peaceful and modern. Every city has its own visual identity. Its visual identity is mainly shaped by its narrators. What is proposed in this study that digital touristic websites have orientalist representation of Antakya. Over millions of personal users upload their own images in those travel websites by sharing their own experience to the city. As Zhou explained that those images contain a huge amount of information about the cities are not only used for landmark detection and reconstruction but they are also used to monitor ecological phenomena and human activity happening in the narrated city (Zhou, et al, 2014, pp. 519-520).

City attributions on this web sites are properties observable in images that have human-designated names such as smooth, natural, and vertical. It is, therefore, play high and significant role to define those cities from the mouth of these users. In other words, attribute-based representation of cities has shown great potential for object and scene recognition. These recognitions are generally human-labeled attributes. Millions of opinions act as supervised information to describe and organize images. Zhou here underlines the same semantic space with the common attribute dimension despite the fact that they represent images with a wide variety of image contents, from different cities. So all these photos, narrations and images actually reflect those visitors’ personal perception of the city (Zhou, et al, 2014, p. 521-522).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Antioch-on-the-Orontes: The ancient name of the city which is currently called Antakya. It is now part of Hatay Province in Turkish Republic. The city has been a home for many civilizations through centuries. The River Orontes, “Asi” in modern Turkish, halves the city. The name of the city is called “??t???e?a ? ep? ????t??” in Greek and “ Antiochia ad Orontem” in Latin as historically and Antioch-on-the-Orontes has been identified as “ Orientis Opicum Pulcrum (The Queen of the East).”

Digital City Narration: Digital Media provide a wide range of contents that tell stories, explain the important places, locate the cities. All these city guide narrations now have new digital platforms.

Orientalism: It is the explanatory term which is coined by dedicated literature scholar and critique Edward Said who adapted Michel Foucault’s discourses. Orientalism explains how European and North American (US & Canada) sees the Middle Eastern culture and how “West” tries to construct “East” with superior attitude using literature, arts, media, etc.

City Identity: It is the unique character of the urban place. As Ali Cheshmehzangi puts that “identity to place is like light to colour” in his newly published book called “Identity of Cities and City of Identities”. City identity has been formed by the inhabitants/settlers through years. Each city distinguish herself from others by her identity.

Visual Representation: Visual representation is mainly the direct or symbolic reflection of something in the format of photos, the images, memes, graphics to represent people, things, a place, or a situation.

Digital Media: It is the any form of encrypted and electronic machine readable “middle (p)layer” which one can reach Internet based news, information and knowledge by means of electronic devices such as smart phone, laptop, desktop computers.

Meta Narration: Meta narrations are the stories we create by ourselves to narrate ourselves. They are important as they are highly authentical in the sense of its real and rich content.

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