Politics of remembering the enemy: prisoner narratives of the 1980 military coup

Date
2022-05-08
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Source Title
Turkish Studies
Print ISSN
Electronic ISSN
1743-9663
Publisher
Routledge
Volume
24
Issue
1
Pages
126 - 149
Language
English
Type
Article
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Abstract

This article examines 64 autobiographical narratives written by erstwhile political prisoners who were forced to cohabitate with their adversaries in post-1980 coup military prisons of Turkey in the mixing-for-peace (karıştır-barıştır) program. Tracing these narratives published between 1988 and 2019, it argues that there are three recurrent versions of remembering the enemy: ‘the unjust’ is utilized in the identity reformulation of right-wing Ülkücü militants whereas ‘the miserable fascist’ reaffirmed the leftists’ superior self-image vis-à-vis the right-wingers. While these two are predominantly entrenched in far-right and far-left memory camps, remembering the enemy as ‘the fellow victim’ provides a case of multidirectional memory as it was expressed by both left-wing and right-wing political figures to narrativize their break from radicalism and to whitewash their responsibility in the past violence. This tripartite division in remembering the enemy suggests the addition of a radical/centrist axis to the conventional left/right axis for a more comprehensive understanding of post-coup memory in Turkey.

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Keywords
Incarceration, Prisoners’ narrative, Multidirectional memory, 1980 coup in Turkey, Mixing-for-peace
Citation
Published Version (Please cite this version)