Memory politics in 21st-century trauma site museums in Turkey
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This research focuses on the memory politics of the Justice and Development Party through the reading of trauma-site museums that focuses on the past’s political violence. Based on the fieldwork conducted in four different trauma-site museums opened between 2010 and 2021, the research argues the specific formation of these memory spaces and the instrumentalization of trauma sites are a case of a populist memory regime. The fieldwork includes Ulucanlar Prison Museum (Ankara), Memory July 15 Museum (İstanbul), July 15 Democracy Museum (Ankara), and Kahramankazan Martyrs of July and Democracy Museum (Ankara). The four museums chosen for this research symbolize different phases of the JDP government’s populist memory regime; the Ulucanlar Prison Museum display’s narrative, which aims to construct a people vs. establishment axiom, while the post-July 15 museums’ narratives aim to establish a people vs. traitors axiom. Overall the research focuses on the constituent role of collective trauma in populist identity politics and how trauma sites are instrumentalized in the mnemonic strategies to construct memory communities.