Hagia Sophia, which means “divine wisdom” in Greek, has been subjected to many worldly yearnings of power and symbolism. There is no doubt that altering the status of the great church has always meant domination through control of its symbolism. President Erdogan frequently uses the Ottoman conquest and the right of the sword as part of his symbolic political vocabulary. However, there is a world of difference between the Ottoman conquest and transformation of the Church and Erdogan’s reversal of Ataturk’s decision.
- “Society needs symbols, myths, narratives…and modernity cannot just be rationalization”, explains Jeffrey Alexander, Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology and Co-Director, Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University. “We need to understand the power, the energy and the glue that keeps civil society together and motivates people”, from Occupy to Tahrir Square, says Alexander, by trying to redefine the cultural in social theory. Myths, narratives and iconic symbols have disappeared in the course of modernization… But how can cultural sociology bring these important ideas back to the theory of democracy? Reset-Dialogues has interviewed Jeffrey Alexander at Istanbul Seminars.