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Temporary street shrine for imagining a different world: the march for Hrant Dink
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies, Stockholm University Institute for Turkish Studies (SUITS).
2018 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Based on an ethnographic investigation carried out in Istanbul, this contribution analyses the annual commemoration for the Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who was killed in 2007. It sheds light on the role of a temporary street shrine in creating a moral community that crosses previous political, ethnic and religious belongings, and shows the sacred and the ritual as central categories for understanding the formation process of political participation in Turkey. According to many, state apparatus was behind the murder of a journalist who challenged the Turkish state official history. His death provoked an unexpected  “moral shock”, whereby thousands of people - antithetic for political, religious, ethnic positions - coagulate around a shared feeling of outrage and give life to an annual march that stops in the place where Dink was assassinated. Turkish memory field is highly politicized: despite the changes from a secularized to a pro-Islamic state narrative, official state history continues to be a repressive tool against minorities; the latter give life to counter-memories that ask for themselves the monopoly of suffering. Unlike other Turkish counter-hegemonic memories, Dink commemoration stands as mobilizing force able to re-write the relationship between public emotions and political protests, allowing to differently encapsulate a memory at margin.

This paper retraces the narratives of vulnerability and innocence that have made appear Dink figure different from other victims of state violence, and enabled the identification of a large audience. Though may appear spontaneous, street sanctuary of Dink reveals a rich symbolic grammar, through which protesters break their identity boundaries and search for alternative connections with the “others”. Sounds, colours, memorabilia, ritualized actions, all concur to a mise-en-scène of mourning that (re)produce feeling of sorrow and moral indignation. My contribution shows how the sacred and the rite, here-in understood in Durkheimian terms of extra-ordinary spaces/times, do not merely “express” nor simply “reflect” collective values and social ties, but generate them. The sacred in Dink march creates an alternative moral order, draws a line between justice and injustice and transforms a street corner into a space of contestation, where participants express criticism of the state and society, bring forth a community of memory and remind themselves that ‘a different world’ is possible.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018.
Keywords [en]
Hrant Dink, sanctuary, religion, turkey, memory
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-161794OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-161794DiVA, id: diva2:1261279
Conference
13th International Conference of the SIEF Ethnology of Religion Working Group: Religion and Politics - Conflict and Peace, Siena, Italy, September 20-22, 2018
Available from: 2018-11-06 Created: 2018-11-06 Last updated: 2019-04-08Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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