What I Am Not. Violence, Displacement, and Liberation from 'origin' in the Kurdish-Turkish Conflict.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Location: Seminarraum Geschichte 1 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Katharina BRIZIC, University of Freiburg, Germany
In my presentation I am going to analyse a biography told by a female Kurdish refugee from south-eastern Turkey. Following unjust accusations of collaboration with the Kurdish PKK (listed as terrorist organization), the woman's native village was destroyed by the Turkish military.

Refusing to use any Kurdish, the woman narrates her story in the majority language Turkish. Initially, she provides a myth-like tale identifying herself as being of Non-Kurdish, yet unknown origin; only the male family members ’are Kurdish’. Dry descriptions of male domestic violence follow. Simultaneously, experienced accusations of political violence, i.e. terrorism, are passed on and re-ascribed to the family’s males.

At the core of the narration, the register changes radically. We are now told the emotional story of a woman: the narrator’s mother. It is her who withstands domestic and political violence, thus embodying the myth of Non-Kurdishness in flesh, blood and (Turkish) language. Inmidst a life story, we are witnessing an ethnopoetic key event, with lines, stanzas and chorus, and of emotional beauty: a poem singing of the mother, and of liberation from origin.

This self-representation is made up of what ’must not be’, reinterpreting deprived ’origin’ as 'guilt’ and as 'male', to be overcome by 'Turkishness', 'morality' and 'female voice'. This is specifically relevant for the interdependence between individuality and collectivity: discourse and narrative analyses of multiple parents' and children's biographies show the wider, transgenerational modellings of (in)justice and conflict, and might allow for an assessment of the conflict's future course. My study is thus driven by the idea of a biographical-sociolinguistic contribution to peace and conflict studies, here on the example of Turkey and the Kurds.

Hinrichsen, H. / Rosenthal, G. / Worm, A. 2013, Biographische Fallrekonstruktionen. In: Sozialer Sinn (2), 157-183.

Hymes, D. 1996, Ethnography, linguistics, narrative inequality. Toward an understanding of voice.