Cemeteries and memorials: violence, death and mourning in kurdish society
Aydın, Derya (2017) Cemeteries and memorials: violence, death and mourning in kurdish society. [Thesis]
This thesis analyzes the experiences of people who lost their relatives in the 1990s, specifically people from Diyarbakır and Dersim. People who lost their lives during intense conflicts were either buried where they were killed or were left unburied. Relatives who could not find their bodies started to search for them, only able to locate the ones buried in newly built cemeteries. For this research, in-depth interviews were conducted with the relatives who found and reburied their loved ones’ bodies between 2013 to 2015, and with the workers of these cemeteries. Critically engaging with these narratives, this analysis focuses on the process of how witnessing violence restructures practices of mourning. Thus far the voices of the relatives who’ve lost their loved ones, who were exposed to “violence,” a “hierarchy of mourning” and the politics of “death without grave,” have not been participatory voices in public space, public discussions as well as in the academic literature on this topic. However, how they experienced these multi-layered, common and systematic politics is an important part of this discussion. Beginning with the narratives of relatives who could not locate their loved ones’ bodies for years and thus could not bury them properly, this research scrutinizes how this experience and its structural process have affected personal and collective memories in Kurdish society, focusing on the ways subjects mobilize towards politics through the experiences of mourning, and the inability to mourn. Related with these experiences, the cemeteries that recovered bodies buried after 2013 form another point of analysis, as they became extraordinary spaces of tangible memory and mourning, becoming discursive sites upon which to analyze “the relation between human beings and space” and “the effects of space.” This study aims to humbly contribute to the literature by underscoring the testimonies and experiences of utterly muted subjects, as the result of the “discriminatory distribution” of mourning in public spaces.
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