EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 15 Jun 2022 | 17:00–18:30

Commemorating Perpetual Violence: Open-Ended Mourning in Turkish Kurdistan

Çiçek İlengiz (EUME Fellow 2022), Chair: Zeynep Türkyılmaz (Universität Potsdam / EUME Fellow 2017-21)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Photo by the Author, 2018
Photo by the Author, 2018

This talk revisits the political and aesthetic frameworks of commemorative practices through an unconventional statue dedicated to a mentally unstable person who has been attributed holy capacities. The statue of Şeywuşen (Hüseyin Tatar, 1930-1994) was inaugurated in 1995 in Dersim (Tunceli), in the midst of military clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). In contrast to the literature on statues, as well as the intention of the mayor who commission it, the statue of Şeywuşen does not fix the biographical memory of the person it represents.


Varying according to the political positioning of different interlocutors, his madness and his death by murder have been associated with diverse acts of state violence that have marked the collective memories of the region. But what does it mean for a statue to fail forging a coherent or rather unified biographical narrative? Taking this question as its point of departure, the talk investigates the generative political power of holding diverse discourses of political injuries. It argues that the practices of remembering in landscapes of perpetual state violence require revisiting the notion of closure and the recognition of trauma as the end point. Instead, it proposes that memorials evoking open-ended narratives of injuries are potent in generating political imaginations by deconstructing ideas of bounded identities and bringing different communities of loss together.

Çiçek İlengiz’s work is situated at the intersection of state violence, cultures of commemoration, therapeutic practices and imaginations of political change. She completed her PhD in 2019 at the Research Centre for History of Emotions hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin. She joined to the research group ‘Empires of Memory’ hosted by the Max Planck for the Ethnic and Religious Diversity in Göttingen in 2019. Currently she is a short-term EUME fellow and revising her manuscript for publication tentatively entitled Magical Revolution: Holy-Madness in Post-Genocidal Turkey.

Please register in advance via eume(at)trafo-berlin.deDepending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via Soundcloud.

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