Narrating the Attacks

  • Gül Özateşler


Residents of Bayramiç in the late 1960s and the beginning of 1970 recalled the attacks on Gypsies as a time of great violence. Their houses in the town were attacked, some were beaten, and as a result hundreds of inhabitants fled. The perpetrators were villagers and townspeople, including friends and neighbors of the attacked, and the targets were “the Gypsies.” The same crowd also beat the attorney of the town almost to death in the municipality building.


State Representative Dominant Discourse National History Turkish People Violent Attack 
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  1. 7.
    See Dinka Corkalo, Dean Ajdukovic, Harvey M. Weinstein, Eric Stover, Dino Djipa and Miklos Biro, “Neighbors Again? Intercommunity Relations after Ethnic Cleansing,” in My Neighbor, My Enemy: Justice and Community in the Aftermath of Mass Atrocity, edited by Eric Strover and Harvey M. Weinstein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 143–161, for difference in remembering, interpretations and representations between different communities after the war in Bosna and Herzegovina, and Croatia. Corkalo et al., “Neighbors Again,” for example 157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jan T. Gross, Neighbours: The Destrcution of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland, 1941 (London: Arrow Books, 2003), unveiled a similar type of fear especially felt by the protectors of the Jews in the town of Jedwabne, Poland. See his work also for a similar case in the sense of experienced violence between neighbors in a scale of a small town. Also see van Arkel, The Drawing, for power of terrorization by perpetrators in such violent attacks. In the concluding part, I will demonstrate more on Gross’ and van Arkel’s points.Google Scholar
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    Anastasia N. Karakasidou, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Blood: Passages to Nationhood in Greek Macedonia, 1870–1990 (Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1997), recognized the different layers of historical narratives in her work with local people in a town in Greek Macedonia. Her account has strong parallels with my perspective on narratives in my field. Her conceptualization and articulation overlapped with my own considerations with slight differences. Thus, in this part on exploring the different strands of narratives, I combine Karakasidou’s and my own account in the field.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Bergmann, “Exclusionary Riots” pointed at the construction of a Jewish threat in his study following the power approach. The collectivization of opposing interests and individual conflicts into ethnic antagonisms would be essential to generate collective violence according to this approach: “A participant in exclusionary violence operates within a friend-foe schema as a victim of an injustice, discrimination, or aggression and reacts, under certain circumstances, with violent forms of social control.” (166) In this context, changes in the balance of power between different groups of people are critical, but it also needs to be transformed to a threatening scenario to generate collective violence (167). For the legitimization point, also see 172. For the demonization of Jews in the Polish town, Jedwabne, see Gross, Neighbours. For the significance of representation as threats in Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India, see Stanley J. Tambiah, Leveling Crowds: Ethnonationalist Conflicts and Collective Violence in South Asia (London: University of California Press, 1996).Google Scholar
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    For self-victimization of perpetrators involved in racist violence, see Larry Ray, David Smith and Liz Wastell, “Understanding Racial Violence,” in The Meanings of Violence, edited by Elizabeth A. Stanko (London; New York: Routledge: 2003), 112–130.Google Scholar
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    The term of symbolic violence is borrowed from Bourdieu. See Pierre Bourdieu, “Social Space and Symbolic Power,” Sociological Theory 7, no. 1 (Spring 1989), 14–25. Bourdieu defines symbolic power as “a power of world making”(p 22). In this sense, the reformation of categories, certain values, perceptions and legitimate areas in the social order is up to the space of symbolic power that can be attained violently.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  18. For the construction of nation in relation to gendered body, see Nira Yuval-Davis Gender and Nation (London: Sage Publications, 1997).Google Scholar
  19. 39.
    On the other hand, Danacioglu in her research on the experiences of 1919– 1922/23 questioned the construction of Greek neighbors as national enemy in the official historiography through oral narratives from 58 different settlements of Izmir in Turkey. The exact sayings of “they were spoiled” and “the wet wood was put into the fire with the dry ones” dramatically repeated in those narratives as well. Esra Danacıoğlu, “Işgal, Gündelik Hayat, Kurtuluş: Yunan Işgali Altında Izmir” (The siege, daily life and salvation: Izmir under the siege of Greeks). In Kuşaklar, Deneyimler, Tanıklıklar: Türkiye’de Sözlü Tarih Çalaşmaları Konferansı (Generations, experiences, witnesses: oral history works conference in Turkey), edited by Aynur Ilyasoğlu and Gülay Karacan (Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı, 2006), 149–156.Google Scholar
  20. 40.
    The expulsion of the Jews is not a story that is even mentioned in the town. They are mentioned as having left on their own will. She might have included the Jews for the sake of power in her narrative or she might have revealed her feeling about the departure of the Jews. Although it had not been forced, the feeling and the atmosphere might mean as such for her. However, it is also very probable that she heard discriminative and violent attitudes against the Jews if not in her town in the city center. For the instances in Çanakkale from the year of 1934, see Rifat Bali, 1934 Trakya Olayları (Istanbul: Kitabevi Press, 2008).Google Scholar
  21. 45.
    Navaro-Yashin 2002 in her work argues on the public space in Turkey being not exempted from the impact of the state and people and state not as different entities but sharing the same domain. See her work also for the construction of public life in the country especially in the 1990s: Yael Navaro-Yashin, Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
  22. 47.
    Another narrator also claimed about a Gypsy arranging an adoption for himself to be a commissioned officer. In the State classification of Ottoman time, the category of Gypsyness appears in the Ottoman tax enumerators after the conquest of Constantinople and the “Gypsy sancak” in the 1520s in Rumeli (See Marushiakova and Popov). Kemal H. Karpat, Ottoman Population 1830– 1914: Demographic and Social Characteristics (Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), indicated that the first modern population census in the empire was conducted in 1828/1829 where they also categorized the population according to collect taxes. In the censuses, the population was referred to as Muslim, Christian, Armenian, Jewish and Gypsy (Kıpti). Karpat pointed at the separate recording of Gypsies although other Muslims would not be registered with different terms such as ethnic names (p. 20). The first initiation of Ottoman identity cards (tezkere-i Osmaniyye) was issued and distributed as 20 million in 1866 [p 24]. However, the establishment of General Population Administration [Nufus-u Umumi Idaresi] was in 1881/1882 (p. 29) to register the population. In the last Ottoman census in 1905/1906, each registered individual was decided to have a tezkere (p. 35). For detailed information, see Karpat, Ottoman Population. Through our academic collaboration, the historian specialized on Gypsies in Turkey Adrian Marsh asserted that the practice of having the sign of K for Kıpti has ended in the 1950s while some older Gypsy people have told him their cards remained with the “K” until the 1970’s. Researcher Ali Mezarcioglu also affirmed the information with two oral narratives.Google Scholar
  23. 49.
    See Chapter Two. B. Ali Soner, “Citizenship and The Minority Question in Turkey,” in Citizenship in a Global World: European Questions and Turkish Experiences, edited by E. Fuat Keyman and Ahmet Içduygu (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), 298.Google Scholar
  24. 60.
    Also see Peter Alford Andrews, Ethnic Groups in the Republic of Turkey (Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1989), 68–71.Google Scholar
  25. 63.
    Also see Roni Marguiles and Ergin Yıldızoğlu, “Agrarian Change: 1923–1970,” in Turkey In Transition: New Perspectives, edited by Irvin C. Schick and Ertugrul Ahmet Tonak (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 269–292.Google Scholar

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