01/10/2019 | Writer: Aslı Alpar

The first session of the Workshop in the scope of the International Memory and History Conference sought answers to the question of “What is the current state of memory practices in Turkey”.

Is a fugitive archive possible? Kaos GL - News Portal for LGBTI+

The International Memory and History Conference organized by Kaos GL Association started on September 27th with the Workshop held in Izmir.

In the first session of the workshop, the question "Where are we in memory, memory and history studies in Turkey" was discussed.

Cooperation of activism and academia

Göze Orhon took the first floor in the workshop. While stating that memory studies have started in recent history, Orhon stated that this is a field surrounded by traumas and losses. After saying “Memory studies are similar to the feminist movement in the sense of cooperation of academia and activism. It has a pretty activist side”, Orhon stated that the memory studies are getting stronger with the activism.

The remaining, the newcomers…

Ayşin Zoe Güneş, who took the floor from Orhan, said that the UrbanObscura team was thinking about "remainders" and "newcomers" in their work on spaces and memory. Using technological infrastructure, Güneş said that they are working on Jewish settlements and sustainable city in Ankara and İmir and that their latest work is also tracing the history of LGBTI+s with Lambdaİstanbul.

Turkey has failed on archiving

Starting their speech by reminding that Hrant Dink was also tracing the Jewish settlements, Gülay Kayacan said that their work is more on gender and memory. Kayacan said, “Everybody is trying to write history based on their own identity. It is good to have discussions on the venues of memory but Turkey has failed in the subject of archives” and mentioned the problems of archives.

“The more people there are, the more stories there are”

Yıldız Tar mentioned the problems of mapping in the scope of LGBTI+ memory studies. Göze Orhon underlined that archives could also pose a threat to the security of the LGBTI+ community due to their being of a mechanism of inspection. Orhon said, “Not only to symbolical venues but the story of each individual must be placed on a spatial dimension too. Let’s leave the archives dispersed, in that way we can reflect the pluralism and at the same time we can break the mechanism of inspection. We have to not to forget that The more people there are, the more stories there are”.

Memory and database

Işıl Demirakın started their speech by saying “I think that it would be beneficial to distinguish the memory from the database and gave examples on how to secure the personal information, Demirakın said, “A mechanism developed for the incidents in Syria, data regarding human rights violations that took place in or out of Syria are being collected. Data derived from primary and secondary sources take place in this database. The important thing here is how did the categories in this database have been formed. Understanding the security issue from this point of view could be better”.

“You wouldn’t want to leave a trace”

Onur Çimen took the floor regarding the personal security and memory studies issue. Çimen proposed a “volatile” model for memory studies: “It shouldn’t be forgotten that the very existence of the subjects of memory studies are criminalized and these individuals are fugitives in a sense. Leaving a trace is very dangerous and you don’t want to leave a trace anyway. I am wondering if this archiving issue supposed to be more fugitive, less traceable and practiced in a way that it would exterminate itself after a while? We should seek an answer to the question of if these practices in such a country that has not a stable future can threaten the lives of the individuals, and accordingly, maybe there should be a more volatile type of archive.

The transformative effect of technology

Yasin Erkaymaz referred to the exposure of the spaces in memory studies. He attributed the exposure of the spaces to the purposed use of the space. Erkaymaz said, "I think we are frightened by the possibility of encountering negative incidents in the places that are exposed. Another issue is the destruction of technology. I don't have the need to go to a bar anymore, so I enjoy going online instead. We have a new approach to having and experiencing everything without leaving the house."

Breaking points of the movement

Yeşim Başaran mentioned the women's existence in the LGBTI+ history as follows: "We wanted to create a space in the LGBTI+ movement where only women can enter. When women got together, we realized we had a lot to talk about. After a while, we realized that in some part of history, most people in the field were women."

After Başaran, Okan told that they received many narratives from various cities of Turkey with the establishment of the call center of Lambdaİstanbul. Then, Öner Ceylan spoke about the use of archives in memory studies without causing ethical violations.

The story being told is your story too…

The Workshop prior to The International Memory and History Conference has come to an end. The conference that set off with the call of “Maybe the story that is being told is your story too. Maybe we are tracing something together, maybe we sang songs told stories to leave a trace. With respects to the ones that we walked together, to our separating paths, and to lives that gushes from letters…” continued till September 29.

*Photography: Semih Varol / Kaos GL*Photography: Semih Varol / Kaos GL

**Translation: Yiğit E. Korkmaz

Tags: arts and culture, life