23 Ocak 2011 Pazar

Close but far, similar but different Anatolian pasts

Türkçesi için Yakın ama uzak, benzer ama farklı Anadolu geçmişleri

It is possible to approach the past of Anatolia from various directions. As I mentioned it in my previous blog-post, we should try to think in terms of a freedom that enables us to choose from among different pasts; and in fact, in this period when all kinds of nationalisms are spreading again and at least as strong as the previous ones, this seems to be an important potential freedom or right to be placed under legal protection. 

First of all, the ambiguity surrounding the term Anatolia (in fact, this is rather a choice or preference in itself) imposes the obligation to make a choice right from the very beginning. But, even if one thinks that there is no ambiguity, the past itself, because it can be traced back through more than one line, pathway, leads one to more than one approach regarding how and from where to start; therefore, because of the discontinuities between regions, it is not easy to study the oldest Anatolia or older Anatolia as one great undivided or homogeneous region. Anatolia can be easily divided into three pieces as the western, central and eastern sections; perhaps the eastern section can be further divided into two other regions. Or, one may take another approach and divide it into four different sections named as Anatolia, the Aegean, the Caucasus, and the Mesopotamia.  

However the pieces may be defined, in conclusion, one should accept that the region that is called Anatolia cannot be thought of, in the older periods, as one single region. The best solution is probably to stick to the place names of whatever period one is studying. But considering that the present-day reader may be lost in these terms, there is need to connect them with the new ones used today. However, this process should not be confined into a discourse of one never changing Anatolian People, regardless how meaningful this may sound. For, whatever connections may be formed, in the last analysis one is actually talking about different groups, peoples. Even though it is possible to form a genetic connection between someone who lived two or three thousand years ago and one who is living today, in the end, one is really talking about two very different individuals. They do not really belong to the same people or group; this genetic connection would be all there is between them, and such genetic connections can actually be formed with others who lived in different places and times, though each would be different from the other one.     

One should not forget that every person is also an historical being, belonging to a particular time period and participating in a particular culture, social organization and life style. These are what make people different from each other and, contrary to the general opinion, the differences people have are more than their similarities with others. When all my differences are eliminated in order to make or find me similar to someone else, then I am no more who I am; I would be someone else, better yet, something else. The same is the case for cultures as well. Two cultures cannot be declared relatives, just because of some genetic and linguistic similarities. The closest relatives of the present-day cultures are actually those with which they share the same world, the same time period (by the same time period or the term today I mean at most four generations). It would be very difficult to form a connection with those cultures that are outside of this range, regardless of whatever biological and linguistic links there may be between us and them, since we are actually much further away from these others that I define as them than those cultures I include within the four-generation wide us. For, whether or not we accept it, our values, discourses and practices will have changed considerably during this seemingly short time to make those outside of this range nearly complete strangers; especially in the case of modern cultures.  

Thus, one should not forget that in spite of all the connections we will or may form, the older Anatolias or older worlds will be very different. But if the choice to be made is between an older world of where we exist currently and an older world of completely different place than our own region, then we will perhaps, as I have already explained in my previous post, be closer to the one from our own region just because we share the same geographical area. Since modern histories, especially their nationalistic versions, concentrate more on finding similarities than differences, this dimension of the subject that I am discussing is usually missed. In fact, there are probably at least ten differences for every one similarity found, and these similarities are usually the result of too much trying. Therefore, one should look at the past taking into consideration this, in my opinion very important, point. I will keep this in mind in the small essays I will be posting soon about the past of Anatolia: Close but far, similar but different pasts.      

1 yorum:

  1. Let Anatolianists and Turkists quarrel to death. In no time I have had and will have any part in their ideological disputes; all I care about is science.

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