Moral Silence of the Fighter or Traumatic Silence of the Survivor? Different Cultural Construction of Selfhood Among Former Revolutionists in Turkey

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:34
Location: Hörsaal 45 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Lorenzo D'ORSI, bicocca, university of milan, Italy
This paper is based on an ethnographic research about Turkish leftist revolutionaries and their families. It analyses different memory frames regarding the 1980-1983 military coup, a watershed that changed the political, cultural and economic features of Turkey. Former revolutionaries continue to denounce the violencethey suffered, contrasting an official history where they are represented as enemy of the country. Nevertheless, the Turkish memory field is far from being a hegemonic-resistance opposition, because counterhegemonic memories are characterized by a plurality of configurations. Also in Turkey Transitional Justice, talk therapy and the paradigm of trauma and PTSD spread, in the wake of contemporary global trends and in addition to the martyrdom and fighter pattern characterizing the Turkish left and defining a specific interplay between memory and politics. By presenting themselves as neutral and technical, these categories establish supposed appropriate ways of remembering, in public and in private space, and often classify memories that are not expressed through psychological language as “abuses of memory”. Collective self-narratives, emotions like suffering, and daily practices like silence are common behaviour among former revolutionaries and make sense within the moral economy of the “fighter”. The latter underlies ideas of personhood and selfhood that are quite different from the model of the “silence of survivor” suggested by the increasingly diffused paradigm of trauma.  The idiom of trauma is a poietic language that changes the reality it aims to describe fostering a model of westernized and individualized selfhood and influences the familial dynamics and intergenerational memory transmission.