Collective memory and the populist cause: the Ulucanlar Prison Museum in Turkey
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This article focuses on how political actors appropriate the past by utilizing collective traumas for their populist cause. We demonstrate how the Ulucanlar Prison Museum in Turkey and the oppression of military interventions, for which it served as a backyard, became a tool for the AKP’s (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi Justice and Development Party) populist agenda. Through a particular narration of history embedded in the museum, the AKP aimed to forge an internal frontier within the society between an envisioned homogenous body of people on the one hand and the elite on the other. Situating itself as the people’s authentic voice against this elite, the AKP tried to further its popular appeal and legitimize its extension of power. What appeared as coming to terms with the past was instead the instrumentalization of the past for a singular political agenda, eager to remove the complexities and pluralism of the past for the sake of telling a politically useful story.