The article is the result of an empirical research project that integrates historical, sociological and socio-psychological perspectives. The study is focused on the institution of religious leaders—dedes, the experts of oral tradition in Dersim, Eastern Anatolia. It attempts to trace back political obliteration strategies applied to these main agents of memory, by investigating their meaning and role for the maintenance of cultural identity. It analyses autobiographical memories of violence and persecution in narratives of dedes, especially in regard to their coping patterns and perceptions of history.
Drawing on theories of nationalism, two recent books by Dilek Güven and Ülkü Ağır engage with the September Pogrom in Istanbul on the 6th and the 7th of September 1955. To explain the pogrom’s emergence from its historical background both studies discuss the role of Young Turkish ideology, ethnic violence in the course of Turkish nation building, and the development of minority politics throughout the Turkish Republic. On the basis of interviews and archival materials, Dilek Güven meticulously reconstructs the course of events, the actors, their motives and the context. Ülkü Ağır analyses the Turkish press discourse in the pogrom’s preparatory phase focusing on the Greek Orthodox community. Critically discussing the two studies, this article scrutinises current conceptualisations of collective violence in research devoted to post-Genocidal Turkey.