Narrating the prison: master and counternarratives of the 1980 military coup
Based on 344 written autobiographical accounts of erstwhile prisoners, this dissertation examines carceral counternarratives in the memory of the 1980 military coup in Turkey. At the outset, I argue that although the junta’s initial narrative reversed with the emergence of an anti-coup wave in the following decades, the dominant conception of prisons as a place of decimating political actors endured. The three counternarratives examined in this study, narrate prison not as a place of decimation, but as a place of strengthening and discovery. According to the militant counternarrative that was employed by the members of radical leftist organizations, the post-coup prisons were valuable in the sense that they tested the discipline of organizations, and eliminated the false revolutionaries. For the gendered counternarrative employed by the women of the Turkish left, women discovered their identities in prisons as the coup brought them together and disrupted the masculine domination of the leftist organizations. Finally, for the religious rebirth counternarrative which was employed by the Ülkücü militants, prisons were evaluated as places to discover Islam and find meaning in their shocking incarceration.