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Accepted Contribution:

Archives of anxiety and despair in the face of Cold War uncertainties: American anthropologists of Turkey in 1968  
Ali Sipahi (Ozyegin University)

Contribution short abstract:

The paper discusses methodological challenges of doing historical research about Cold War anthropology of Turkey. It focuses on (i) the process of assembling an archive of experiences from various venues and (ii) the ways in which unspoken anxieties are reached through individual life stories.

Contribution long abstract:

In this paper, I talk about two different methodological challenges I faced during my research about individual life stories of international ethnographers who worked in Turkey in the 1960s and 70s. First, the project inevitably requires a creative process of archive-making since the available archives hardly permit one to go beyond the institutional logic of the collections. The usual archival research must be combined with detective work to reach family members, field informants, personal letters, and photo albums. The new body of material defies the noble look and consistent harmony of an official archive as this montage would likely put side-by-side a juicy and nostalgic Facebook post with a secret report to the Secretary of State. Second, the creative process is not limited only to collecting different types of traces (like memories) related to the past. Conceptually more challenging is to resist the seduction of flashy events and to crack the window of historical ethnography open to possibilities, failures, and hope. The dominant narratives of the long 1968 and its repercussions in American academy tend to picture black-and-white characters who are either collaborators or resisters, either conservatives or liberals. In this paper, I would like to discuss the methodological challenges of dealing with people in the middle, who could not easily give up their Cold War sensibilities even though they embraced the critical look of the ‘60s. The resulting anxiety dodges even the unofficial sources, let alone the usual archives.

Roundtable RT06
Ethnography of and Ethnography in the Archive: A Creative Rethinking in the Context of Hope and Uncertainty
  Session 1 Thursday 28 July, 2022, -