Photography and multi-Locale Ethnographic Inquiry into Sites of Critical Heritage: Reflections from a Local History Project in Turkey and Armenia
Salim Aykut Ozturk
(University College London (UCL))
Paper short abstract:
This paper and photography presentation aims at discussing the role of different social sensibilities and collective memories in the production and circulation of photo-narratives by a group of young amateur photographers from Turkey and Armenia.
Paper long abstract:
Recently, some 20 young people from Turkey and Armenia have participated in a local history project about the city of Mush, in contemporary Eastern Turkey. The participants spent 15 days in the city and its surroundings, took photos, and conducted interviews with the locals. Later, they visited Armenia where they met people of Mush origin who survived the Genocide and settled there permanently. At the end of the project, the group produced oral history texts, photo-essays, a stage performance and a book. This presentation provides insight about how Turkish and Armenian participants discussed issues of belonging (among themselves and with the locals) in relation to the landscape of Eastern Turkey, and how these discussions were reflected on their photography. While the city and its surroundings are considered to be one of the most important historical centres of Armenian cultural production and religion, for most Turks (and the local Kurds) the city does not connote any cultural and historical significance at all. This is why for both the participants and the locals what is imagined as heritage has had varying connotations. Consequently, one of the major aims of the presentation will be to elaborate on the processes in which the dialectical relationships between the photographer/researcher and the informant reflect on the production of the photographic image in both emotionally and politically challenging encounters. During the presentation photos taken by the participants of the project will also be demonstrated.
Critical Heritage and Photography