Collective Memory As a “Weapon of the Weak”: The Constuction of the Collective Memory of the 68 Generation in Turkey

Monday, 11 July 2016: 11:15
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Demet LUKUSLU, Yeditepe University, Turkey
There is a rich literature on the 60s and youth movements in the 1960s in the West but it seems important to study that period in different geographies in order to see the bigger picture as well as to better comprehend the different colors of the youth movements all around the globe. The study of the 1968 generation in Turkey offers a very interesting case since the 68 in Turkey was experienced in extremes leading to the political polarization and political violence in late sixties and seventies. The response of the “establishment” to the 68 generation in Turkey was the military intervention, military coup of 12 March 1971. At the end of the military regime, almost all leaders of the 68 generation were killed either in executions, operations or torture cells. With the end of the 12 March military regime and the declaration of amnesty in 1974, the surviving members of the 68 generation were all released from prisons. Since the leaders of the movement were killed, it was the time of “apostles” using Gün Zileli’s words (2002) and there was a fragmentalization of the movement continuing the “struggle” even more strongly joined by the members of the 78 generation. Thus, social movements continued to rise and the result was the military coup of September 12, 1980 leading Turkey into an authoritarian military regime.   

This paper discusses how the 68 student movement in Turkey, after its “defeat” by the political regime used literature (mainly biographies, autobiographies but also novels and poems) as a “weapon of the weak” and achieved to construct the generation’s collective memory. In that sense, they did not only re-construct and re-present the past but also created the myth of the 68 generation in Turkey.