Between Coup, Earthquake, and Pandemic: Modes and Mechanisms of Remembering in Contemporary Turkey

Authors: Timur Hammond*, Syracuse University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Political Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: Turkey, memory, pandemic, earthquake, materiality, temporality
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 18
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper compares and contrasts the modes and mechanisms of remembering as they have played out in relation to three distinct events: Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt; the frequent earthquakes that occur in Turkey, most recently the October 30, 2020 quake centered near the Aegean city of Izmir; and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic that has led to over 11,000 deaths. Bringing these events into dialogue opens up three insights. First, it helps us think about multiple kinds of temporality. If many geographies of memory are oriented toward what Benedict Anderson described as the homogeneous empty time of the nation, both the earthquake and the pandemic challenge us to consider issues of duration, repetition, and anticipation. How might these multiple temporalities expand how we conceptualize the temporalities and thus the geographies of memory? Second, it pushes us to consider the multiple materialities – from the geologic to the viral – that might operate to form geographies of memory. What is the place of material (im)mediation? Finally, it expands our think about agency and authority. Who or what remembers how? Putting coup, earthquake, and pandemic in conversation both enables a critical analysis of ‘top-down’ memorial narratives and help us beyond simple conceptualizations of authoritarian ‘imposition’? In the process, this paper contributes to broader conversations about the geographies of memory and materiality.

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