Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
POLITICAL SCIENCE SEMINAR SERIES
Collective Memory and Competition over Identity in a Conflict Zone: The Case of Dersim
(Istanbul Policy Center, Sabancı University)
April 13, 2017, Thursday
12:30 FASS 2034
Abstract: Nations are not becoming conflict-free zones as once envisioned. They remain zones of conflict and of competition. In some cases, competition brings more competition, leading only to fragmentation. When such competition continues without producing a definite outcome, the question remains: why is there continuous competition? My research answers this question through a case study, that of Dersim in the Turkish Republic. Despite appearing from the outside to be a unified zone of insurgent conflict against the Turkish state, Dersim is, in fact, a contested ground and a zone of conflict where multiple insurgent movements struggle not only against the state but also against each other. Why is it that Dersim remains a conflict zone in which the number of conflicting groups simply increases? Why do we not see a victorious or dominant movement but, rather, continuous competition that does not strengthen the nation but engenders new, ‘sub-nation(alism)s’? I argue that competition continues because nationalist movements impose concepts of ethnicity and nationalism on the region in order to homogenise what remains a heterogeneous community. The outcome of this competition may not be ‘nation-building’ nor ‘strong collective identity,’ but neither does Dersim totally fragment.