Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks

Where do women stand in the history of this city, this district, this site? Where are the LGBTI+? How does gender shape the story and social memory of a city? What about the silenced parts of social memory  – how are they reflected in the city’s landscape, streets, and parks? Where, among the layers of urban memory, can we find the traces of women, LGBTI+, and gender in general? How can we narrate these traces and share them with others? What new doors open up when we research, narrate and share these stories, and walk the city in their path? In what ways do these acts transform our relationship with the city and its spaces?

As Sabancı University’s Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender), we have been pursuing these questions since 2014. Together with storytellers who share our curiosity, we have created the Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks Program, and organized walks in the neighbourhoods, Beyoğlu, Kadıköy and Balat, of Istanbul.

Through these walks, we hold up a mirror to the past, enabling us to reimagine and reshape our present and future. Each story we share uncovers the witnessing of the streets we traverse and the parks where we find solace. From a dilapidated building to the plaque on an apartment complex, or even the name of a street, a century-old sycamore tree, or a displaced cat, these everyday elements become the starting points from which we weave captivating our stories. The inaugural walk took place in Beyoğlu in 2014, followed by the Kadıköy walk in 2015 and the Balat walk in 2016. Besides, the Curious Steps team curated another Beyoğlu route, titled Curious Steps: In the Footsteps of the Artist Women of Beyoğlu, in 2022, in collaboration with the Meşher Art Gallery, Istanbul. The route includes a selection from stories of artist women who have left powerful marks on art history in Ottoman and republican times, and yet could not find the space in public memory which they very much deserve.

We would cordially invite you to join us on Tuesday, September 5, 2023, for our Balat: Gender and Memory Walk. The event will be in English and it will start at 6:30 pm after our gathering at Women’s Works Library and Information Center Foundation. Participation is limited to 25 individuals.