30 Aralık 2010 Perşembe

Freedom to Identify with Different Anatolian Histories

Türkçesi için Farklı Anadolu Tarihleriyle Özdeşleşme Özgürlüğü

When one starts to speak about the past, that is, the history or histories, of the present-day Turkey, or the present-day Anatolia, to use the usual but geographically wrong expression,  then various, sometimes rather unpleasant, discussions may generally ensue. The source of these clashes is almost always that someone sees, wants to see, a genetic, biological, relationship between those who live here today and those who lived here in the past. A connection between these two is usually not wanted by most and therefore, a claim is usually put forward that those who were here before were replaced entirely by those who are here now; in other words, there was no mixing.

Present-day genetic studies indicate the opposite is true. More or less some mixing seems to have taken place. But, everything aside, let us assume, for a second, that the hypothesis put forward is correct; that is, when some people were entering Anatolia from one side in 1071, some others, those who were living here at the time, were leaving from the other side and therefore nobody mixed with nobody. Would this bring us to the conclusion that we should not concern ourselves with or not enjoy the past of this land where we currently live? Does there have to be a “blood” or genetic connection for us to concern ourselves with the different pasts of this land, with the pre-1071? And does there have to be, once more, a biological connection for us to identify ourselves, just because we live on the same land, with the things these people did, built.       

My personal opinion is that it does not have to be. The only means of forming a connection does not have to be blood, genetics or biology. It can be through our feelings and thoughts as well. In fact, since we all belong to the same species we do have a biological connection with the peoples of these pasts anyway. We could think about this matter in the much larger context of all humans, rather than this or that ethnic group or nation, and its past. Unfortunately, we are unable to do this. We are not raised as such. We are not encouraged to think in such terms. We automatically jump to the divisions that separate us, to discrimination. For example, we are unable to identify ourselves with the past of an English person. If there were creatures from other planets similar to us, then we could probably manage to feel closer to our own kind, but at the moment, we are unable to do this.

However, to repeat one more time what mentioned above, even if we assume that there are no genetic connections (but the current research indicates otherwise), there can still be connections of different sort. We are able to form various connections through our feelings and thoughts, but there are also other factors that assist in this matter. First of all, we live in the same environment with those who came before us; we are part of the same world with regard to the climatic and geographic conditions, though our world seems to be warming up lately. Therefore, we produce a similar culture, but, on the other hand, even if we assume that we all came from the Central Asia or that direction, this arrival was into a culture that was similar to the one we are currently producing. At our arrival with a different culture, we encountered what can be called the Anatolian cultural environment, and since the environment we are in is still Anatolia, we are living and producing more or less a similar culture. This cultural connection or the connections naturally lead us to forming relations, through our feelings and thoughts, through what we feel and think, with those who lived here before us, even if we assume that these people had left upon “our arrival” and we never had a chance to mix with them. We see ourselves as part of them; we tend to do this. 

But in our case there is more; for not only we eat the same types of fish, but we have the same names for them as well. Therefore, there was an encounter, an exchange, a mixing. Yet, even if we assume this has never been the case, just being on the same land, under the same climatic conditions and similar factors put us in a similar cultural process and thus, we feel closer to this past; we find, see, many common points between ourselves and this past. This naturally pushes us towards interacting with and writing about this past, without thinking whether or not there we have a blood connection with them, on the one hand, but as if there is one, on the other hand. 

Therefore, I conclude, those who currently live on this land can go after various histories; they may identify themselves with various histories, various pasts. They may either adopt all of them by equally embracing each of them. Or they may identify with them through a certain hierarchy, adopting some of them more than others. All in all, this relationship does essentially have to be, contrary to the claims of the modern discourse and its state, of personal kind. There should not be an authority between the individual and the past with which this individual wants to identify (even construct). In other words, I claim that the domineering attitude of ‘this is your past’ is wrong. It needs to be and it is about what kind of relationship a person sees between him/herself and the world he/she is in; this relationship cannot and should not be imposed.  

1 yorum:

  1. Timuçin, you've got to the root of the matter, bravo. Today, there are a lot of French who identify more or fully with ancient Gauls than with Romans, or Central Italians who identify more or fully with Etruscans than with Romans, or Pontic Greeks who identify more or fully with pre-Greek peoples of Pontus than with ancient Greeks, or Macedonian Slavs who identify more or fully with ancient Greeks than with Slavs, or Iraqis who identify more or fully with Babylonians than with Arabs, we can give many more such examples. We shouldn't be surprised if an Anatolian Turk identifies more or fully with ancient Greeks and Byzantines than with Seljuqs/Ottomans, and in today's free world these kinds of things shouldn't be repudiated or found odd, on the contrary, they should be regarded as intellectual wealth.

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