From 'people's education' to people's entertainment: the changing role of cinema in Turkey's People's Houses (1932-1950)

Adadag O.

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.56, no.3, pp.453-468, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 56 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2020.1716338
  • Title of Journal : MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES
  • Page Numbers: pp.453-468


This article analyzes the use of cinema by the People's Republican Party in the early decades of republican Turkey. It focuses on cinema activities in the People's Houses, which from 1932 onward opened in different regions of the country and operated as the party's cultural organ. Relying on a range of archival materials, it shows that from the mid-1930s, cinema came increasingly to be used by the party as a propaganda device for promoting 'people's education'; from the mid-1940s, however, the party began to turn to cinema as a source of revenue to keep the People's Houses financially afloat. While this change owed much to the political and economic conditions of the period following the Second World War, it was equally a product of the different expectations locals had of the cinema, as distinct from those of the People's House administrators and the party leaders in Ankara. Where the latter group viewed cinema as a tool for 'people's education', People's House administrators saw it as a source of income, and the locals who visited the People's Houses saw it as a means of entertainment.