Conspiracy narratives and memory of political violence within Turkish leftist families
(University of Catania)
Paper short abstract:
This paper analyzes conspiracy narratives within Turkish families of leftists revolutionaries affected by State violence. It shows how such narratives are cultural frameworks through which a practical knowledge of the State and experiences of political subjugation are conveyed through generations
Paper long abstract:
Based on ethnography conducted in Istanbul, this paper analyzes the circulation and uses of conspiracy narratives within Turkish families of the leftist revolutionaries affected by State violence in the wake of the 1980-1983 coup. In the 1970s leftist movements had a considerable following in Turkey; following the coup they have been relegated to the margins of politics. Conspiracy narratives are interpretative-frames that circulate not only in leftist circles, but also in the wider Turkish public: the social and political life of the Turkish Republic has been marked by real or alleged conspiracies since its birth, reflecting both a top-down and bottom-up frames. Since the 1990s, conspiracies have become a synonym for power, and public opinion has become the "detective" of the "Deep-State". Recently, the AKP government has resorted to conspiracy theories to justify its authoritarianism.
My aim isn't to offer a study their circulation in the public sphere, but to analyze their uses within the family environment. By setting aside a true/false dichotomies, conspirational narratives can be seen as social practices conveying family and political values. I will show how they are cultural frameworks, through which a practical knowledge of the State, and a belief in the impossibility of challenging the "system", are conveyed. Together with cynicism and disillusion, conspirational narratives in leftist families offer "structures of sentiment", which shapes domestic life and political subjectivity. Their appropriation or rejection are crucial to comprehend how people experience the State, and how biographical experiences of political subjugation are conveyed through generations
Conspiracy theories and conspiracy practices: moving between rationalities