Silenced memories: notes on remembering in new Turkish cinema

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This article aims to discuss different modes of remembering in new wave Turkish cinema with a specific focus on the question of the representation of non-Muslim minorities in Turkey. It argues that in new popular films, questions of history and politics are often downplayed and the past is remembered merely in a nostalgic mode, whereas in new political films, subjective remembrance of the past is strongly interconnected with questions of history and politics. To this end, it examines two recent films as examples to the categories of new popular cinema and new political cinema: Serdar Akar's Dar Alanda Ksa Paslamalar/Offside (2000) and Yeim Ustaolu's Bulutlar Beklerken/Waiting for the Clouds (2003). Despite their differences, Offside and Waiting for the Clouds share a new perspective on the question of Turkey's traumatic past with regard to its non-Muslim minorities. Both films resonate with a sense of loss and a concomitant silence. Instead of offering an unequivocal picture of the past, both films direct attention to absences, gaps and silences in the stories. Finally, offering subjective memory accounts, they both provide alternative narratives to official historiography and nationalist discourses.

Keywords: memory; new wave Turkish cinema; nostalgia; political cinema; popular cinema

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Sabanc University, Istanbul.

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.  
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