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Veiled memories: An Ethnography of the single-party regime in Turkey
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CitationRamazan, A. (2019). Veiled memories: An Ethnography of the single-party regime in Turkey. Middle Eastern Studies, 1-17.
Under the omnipresence of surveillance, control and fear of the state as ontological signifiers, not only agency but also subjective and collective memories of people become unspeakable, hidden and veiled. This paper aims to underline the difficulties of doing ethnographic research on the secular Turkish state formation and its diverse apparatuses with a particular focus on the single-party regime that started in 1923 and ended in 1950. This work claims that fear of the state, inaccessibility of the state archives, the inscription of protective laws such as lèse-majesté for founding figures of the state, and the senility of survivors result in muteness, the emergence of politics of forgetting and remembering that diminish the possibility of studying relations between the authoritarian secular state and its Muslim subjects. It is argued that the hegemony of emotions of fear of the state and insecurity have turned historical and ethnographic research on the subject matter into a difficult one. Based on a recently conducted large-scale oral history study in different parts of Turkey, this paper also analyzes the resistance, resilience, and silence of mass Muslim population towards diverse forms of state-sponsored authoritarian secular politics along with western and Turkish nationalist top-down regulations of the new regime.