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Accepted Paper:

Remembering through Places: Treasure Hunts, Hauntings, and Abjected Memories  


Erol Saglam (Istanbul Medeniyet Univeresity)

Paper short abstract:

Landscapes have profound implications on the ways socialities and memories are forged. Drawing on an ethnographic research in Turkey, this study explores how memories are engaged through hauntings and treasure hunts.

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary discussions on landscapes underline how they might play significant roles in communal identities and how abjected memories are accommodated in public culture (Navaro Yashin 2012; Gordillo 2014) in different modalities. Studies across different contexts demonstrate that places constantly induce affects and are deeply implicated in the ways the past is remembered (Fontein 2011) through ruins, ghosts, material traces, and uncanny (Freud 1919) objects. Materialities and places, hence, are not comprehended solely as passive backgrounds of social interactions but actively shape these relationalities. Conducted in 2012 and 2015, my ethnographic research in northeastern Turkey deals with haunted (Gordon 1997; Frosh 2013) topographies and hunts for "possessed treasures" through the case of rural communities ‘discreetly’ speaking a local variant of Greek with archaic linguistic characteristics. Through my research I note how this cultural heritage is strictly secluded into the private and remains invisible in public. Still using old Greek toponyms to orient themselves across the Valley, locals incessantly circulate narratives around treasures supposedly left behind by Greek and Armenian communities whose very existence has been denied by the official historiography. These treasures, local claim, are protected and possessed by ghosts that protect them locals' intrusions. Through this paper, I explore how locals' relations to the places they dwell in are configured through unaccounted past memories. Local narratives around buried Greek/Armenian treasures and their subsequent haunting of the intimate spaces, hence, can be explored as alternative modalities of remembrance through which locals engage with unaccounted memories of the past.

Panel B10
Unearthing Memories: Remembering and Forgetting as Subterranean Practices