Family Photography and Post Memory in Turkey
Family photographs are not only a part of everyday life of a family, but also they have an important role in constructing the family’s memory. Families’ memory and photography practices could provide various insights on to the researcher on what it means to be a family. Additionally, family photography are also directly related to the issues of identity and the traumatic past.
The purpose of this study is to focus on the memories of the families who were excluded from the hegemonic national history. Since the Republic of Turkey adopted the idea of nation state and Turkish nationalism we witnessed that many ethnic groups who were living in Turkey were oppressed and their identities as well as memories were excluded from the national memory. Despite these oppressions, memories of these groups were conveyed through remembrance. For these people photography has also become a very important medium to cope with their traumatic past.
It is in this scope, I aim to focus on Armenian families who live in Turkey and their family photos and albums. With the help of the concept of post memory by Marianne Hirsch we can explain the process of Armenian family memory. Hirsch defines post memory as the “relationship that the ‘generation after’ bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before-to experiences they “remember” only by means of the stories, images, and behaviors among which they grew up. But these experiences were transmitted to them so deeply and affectively as to seem to constitute memories in their own right”. According to her, “these events happened in the past but their effects continue into the present”.
There is a certain difference between the reading of photography by us and the talking to the user of photography as a researcher since the family photography is a part of family memory and also may be a part of the trauma. For this reason, ethnographic methods will be used in this research. With the help of ethnographic techniques, the researcher could understand how memory is constructed and how the family members remember through photography. We can also witness to their past and stories. It may be arguable but if we participate in their ritual of looking at their photography and observe their photography practices in their space, we have a chance to understand the situation from the inside and we could hear the voices of their memory with the help of photography. Finally, this study also questions whether the family photography could be understood as a medium of resistance both in everyday life of these families and national history.