1232) Challenging National History: Competing Discourses About Conference By Didem Turkoglu

Central European University Nationalism Studies Program, Budapest, Hungary

Table Of Contents
Chapter 1.
Turkish Nationalism And History Writing
Historical Context And Theoretical Framework
Chapter 2
Official History: A Continuous Debate
Actors In The Discussions About The Conference
Challenging The Official Discourse: A Conference
Collective Memory
Wind Of Change (?)
Impact Of Eu
Reactions To The Challenge
Reproduction Of The Discourses: Voices Rising From The Columns
Discourse And Nationalism
Discussions About The Conference: Initial Stage
Themes In The Discourses Of Columnwriters
Sevres Syndrome : Enemies, Conspiracy, Betrayal
Challenging The Official Discourse: Polarization, Intellectuals, One-Sidedness, Us
Versus Them
Lines Drawn About The Discussion In The Media
Original Program Of The Conference


“For nationalists themselves, the role of the past is clear and unproblematic. The nation was always there, indeed it is part of the natural order, even when it was submerged in the hearts of its members. The task of the nationalist is simply to remind his or her compatriots of their glorious past, so that they can recreate and relive those glories.”1 . .

As Smith points out, from the perspective of the nationalist, history has a vital role to play in terms of providing the necessary link between the past, present and the future of the nation which ‘naturally’ existed from the time immemorial. Thus, history serves as a book of guidance from which the glories of the past of the nation can be derived to tailor the future of the nation or to warn the future generations about the enemies of the nation. Since it is the duty of the nationalist discourse to build this relationship between the past and the present, nationalism offers a framework through which this politicized relationship would be imagined/ interpreted/invented. Consequently, it is necessary to analyze the narration of the past in relation to its connection to nationalism as a political doctrine which brings the dimension of history writing as nation building .

This dimension is not only important to explain the emergence of nationalist historiography but also the creation of the foundational myths and taboos one of which has only recently been challenged , in the context of Turkey, by a conference held in September 2005 with the title of ‘Ottoman Armenians during the Decline of the Empire: Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy’2. In this respect, an analysis of the discussions regarding this conference, which in itself can be considered as a turning point in ending a taboo, is very important to see the complex relationship of nationalism and history in general and the dynamics. . .

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