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November 16, 2011

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Academic Research and Turkey: the Case of Dersim as a Taboo Subject for Academic Research

Kurdish Studies Seminar 

You are cordially invited to the Kurdish Studies forthcoming documentary film screening and seminar on oral history  

Speaker: Dr. Sukru ASLAN, Lecturer at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University/ Istanbul/Turkey  Chaired: Ms Filiz Celik, PhD candidate at Swansea University  

Date and Time: 21.11. 2011 @18:00pm  Venue: School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG 

Organised by Kurdish Studies and Students Organization (KSSO) and Kurdish Society at SOAS (KSSOAS) 

Kurdish Studies seminars are open to interested students, academics and people who are interested in Kurdish matters 

Seminar abstract 

ACADEMIC RESEARCH AND TURKEY: THE CASE OF DERSIM AS TABOO SUBJECT OF ACADIC RESEARCH 

This extra ordinary seminar will focus on difficulties in doing research on ethnic and religious minorities in Turkey. As the case study, Dr. Sukru ASLAN will explore the issues related to people of Dersim who experienced the most organised Turkish state coercive violence at the end of 30s.  

Seminar will be accompanied by a documentary film screening. The documentary film called "38" ( by Cayan Demirel, 67min, 2006) provides eyewitness and defendant testimonies of the Dersim massacre which took place during the Turkish state nationalist and coercive policies in Dersim between 1937-1938 in order to “create a country speaking with one language, thinking in the same way and sharing the same sentiment…” (Law of Settlement 1934, TBMM Zab?t Ceridesi, Devre:IV, Cilt:23, ?çtima:3, 14/06/1934, p. 141). This documentary film is related to the oral history of people of Dersim and it is also a good example of visualizing Oral History. 

In this seminar, Turkey’s “nation-state” mentality, which to a degree still continues to be influential, will be discussed in terms of how it is interfering with bringing of certain studies into the academia such as discussion of some ethno/cultural matters. Dersim is on top of the list of such subjects. An academic researcher studied the topic for the first time in 1970’s merely from the perspective of “forced settlements/internal displacement” and how he has been treated since set up a typical example for illustrating the difficulties in researching the any subject related to Dersim. Today, taking it further from there to present time to show how the research regarding Dersim has progressed would not only shed a light into how such research influenced current circumstances of academia in Turkey but also would provide opportunity to bring the unique nature of the Dersim into light in terms of its history and culture.  

Biography 

Dr. Sukru ASLAN is a lecturer at Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Literature and Sociology Department. His research interests are urban sociology, migration, and social movements. He is the author of several books and numerous articles. His books are;   May Day District (Turkish: 1 May?s Mahallesi) (2004), ?leti?im Yay?nlar?, 2004  Sociological approaches on the City (Turkish: Kent Üzerine Sosyolojik Dü?ünceler) (2007) ?n?aat Mühendisleri Odas?.  The Secret Known By Everyone (Herkesin Bildi?i S?r: Dersim) (2010) ?leti?im Yay?nlar?,   Les Quart?ers Popula?res Et La V?lle (2010) Sukru Aslan, Mustafa Poyraz ve Loic Gandais .L’Harmattan  Remebering Dersim 1938 (Turkish: Dersim 38’i Hat?rlamak) ( 2011) Sukru Aslan, Bülent Bilmez ve Gülay Kayacan , Tarih Vakf?, 2011 

Documentary film "38", by Cayan Demirel, 67min, 2006 

This Documentary film is the first film of director Çayan Demirel and it explores violent events that took place in Dersim in 1937-38. There are detailed eyewitness and defendant testimonies and expert accounts from historians regarding the circumstances that caused great traumatic events in the lives of people from Dersim. Çayan Demirel's first and second documentary called "Prison nr 5/ 5 nolu cezaevi (2009)" have been screened widely at international festivals. 

---  The UK Kurdish Studies & Student Organisation is a non-political body that strives to promote greater awareness of the Kurds, their political and cultural situation in the Middle East and as a significant minority community in the UK. 

Email: mc@ksso.org.uk  Website: www.ksso.org.uk 

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