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Turkey: Theatre journal banned from city library

8 August 2012

The Academic Journal of Mimesis on Theatre Translation and Research has been banned from a city library in Turkey because it is found to be ‘obscene’.

The journal Mimesis is delivered to city and town libraries in Turkey by the country’s Ministry of Culture.

The formal brief sent by Elazığ City Library Administrator, Ahmet Pirinççi, to Bosphorus University Press declares, “It is established by our readers that the 19th Issue of Mimesis Journal on Theatre Translation and Research contains some obscene pictures and drawings”.

The brief states that the city library received three parents’ petitions of redress claiming that the journal corrupts children’s morals. Elazığ City Library administration, who also finds the journal ‘obscene’, states that they have banned the journal from the city and town libraries of Elazığ, and the journal shouldn’t be sent again to these libraries even by donation.

Mimesis is an academic journal and the mentoined article is an academic article written by Sarah Culpepper Stroup, who is an associate professor at Classics at the Universtiy of Washington.

The administrator of the library interpreted the drawings dated to 5th century BC as ‘immoral’, ignoring their context, and an academic journal is removed from the shelves of the mentioned libraries by being labeled as ‘obscene’ just by looking at the drawings in it.

Immediately after the press release of Mimesis Journal, (mimesis-dergi.org/2012/06/mimesis-yayin-kurulundan-sansur-olayina-dair-aciklama/) the banning has had a wide media coverage. National newspapers reported the ban as a censorship. Also there had been impressive criticism in the social media against the banning.

Also,  institutional statements have been released; remakable establishments such as Turkish Publishers Association, Association of Thearte Critics, ASSITEJ (International Association of Theatres for Children and Young People), Contemporary Drama Association, Nar Arts Center condemned the ban.

(For these data, see mimesis-dergi.org/konu/1-haber/mimesis-mustehcen-bulundu/)

The writer of the article, Sarah Culpepper Stroup, has sent a letter, reflecting her disturbance, but also historicizing the bans on the play “Lysistrata” which is an anti war play but constantly labeled as immoral by the conservative and military mentality. She states that “this is the first time that an article on the play is labelled as immoral” . (mimesis-dergi.org/2012/06/47577/)

Last statement has come from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism Head Office of Libraries and Press, apologizing for the mentioned banning against Mimesis. They declare that they haven’t been informed about this banning and they do not approve it at all.

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