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The politics of spatial testimony: the role of space in witnessing martyrdom and shame during and after a widely televised and collectively perpetrated arson attack in Turkey

Çaylı, Eray ORCID: 0000-0001-8113-0349 (2020) The politics of spatial testimony: the role of space in witnessing martyrdom and shame during and after a widely televised and collectively perpetrated arson attack in Turkey. Space and Culture. ISSN 1206-3312

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Identification Number: 10.1177/1206331220906090

Abstract

This article engages with the spatial turn in the analyses of and activism against political violence. It does so through an ethnography of memory activism around an arson attack in Turkey, which took place in 1993 in the central-eastern city of Sivas before live TV cameras and thousands of onlookers, including law enforcement officers. The attack killed 33 guests of a culture festival organized by an association representing Alevism, one of Turkey?s demographically minor faiths. A prevalent approach to remembering the arson attack has hinged on mobilizing testimony?s cognates witnessing and martyrdom as spatial mechanisms, drawing on the site of the arson attack and/or its widely televised images. This mobilization has followed its contemporaries from around the world in that it has considered violence?s effects on the subjectivity of its spatial witnesses reducible to unambiguous subject positions adopted in discrete historical moments, using the affective trope of shame to rigidify and hierarchize this positionality. In-depth conversations with, and observations among, memory activists discussed in this article, however, indicate two reasons why this consideration might be limited. First, the mutual impact between activists? subjectivity and each in-person or visually mediated encounter they have had with the site of the arson attack has taken shape in entanglement with rather than in isolation from other such encounters. Second, the historical moments featuring in these encounters are also manifold rather than singular. The article argues that the politics of spatial testimony hinges on this manifoldness and entanglement.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/home/sac
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 10:48
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2020 16:15
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/103322

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