"As the contributors show, the past will not be suppressed. Even as individuals are now looking back into their multi-stranded history to find for themselves alternative identities to those prescribed by the supposedly homogeneous Turkish national state, past traumas remain a palpable force that sets the terms of debate and the limits of the permissible. The essays [here] cover a range of telling instances."—Times Literary Supplement
Turkish society is frequently accused of having amnesia. It has been said that there is no social memory in Turkey before Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded modern Turkey after World War I. Indeed, in 1923, the newly founded Turkish Republic committed to a modernist future by erasing the memory of its Ottoman past. Now, almost eighty years after the establishment of the republic, the grandchildren of the founders have a different relationship with history. New generations make every effort to remember, record, and reconcile earlier periods. The multiple, personalized representations of the past that they have recovered allow contemporary Turkish citizens to create alternative identities for themselves and their communities. Unlike its futuristic and homogenizing character at the turn of the twentieth century, Turkish nationalism today uses memory to generate varied narratives for the nation and its minority groups.
Contributors to this volume come from such diverse disciplines as anthropology, comparative literature, and sociology, but they share a common understanding of contemporary Turkey and how its different representations of the past have become metaphors through which individuals and groups define their cultural identity and political position. They explore the ways people challenge, reaffirm, or transform the concepts of history, nation, homeland, and “Republic” through acts of memory, effectively demonstrating that memory can be both the basis of cultural reproduction and a form of resistance.
Esra Özyürek is an associate professor in anthropology at the University of California, San Diego. She has published articles on the ideologies of the state, images of Atatürk, publicity and privacy, gender, and Islam in Turkey, and she is the author of Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey.
6 x 9, 240 pages, 6 black and white illustrations