Term Paper: Construction of a Collective Memory

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[. . .] " (Connerton, p.73) Connerton notes the importance of postures "for communal memory" and that "power and rank are commonly expressed through certain postures relative to others: from the way in which people group themselves and form the disposition of their bodies relative to the bodies of others, we can deduce the degree of authority which each is thought to enjoy or to which they lay claim." (Connerton, nd, p.72)

Halwbachs writes that memories are preserved by the individual "of epoch" in their lives and these are reported to be such that are reproduced continually and through them "as by a continual relationship, a sense of our identity is perpetuated." (p.47) Halwbachs states that because these memories are repetition, because they are successively engaged in different systems of notions, at different periods of our lives, they have lost the form and the appearance they once had." (p.47) Taken from this view, the Turkish Jews and Turkish Muslim have somehow separated what they experienced from that experienced by the Armenians and have lost the image that they once held of their own homelessness and haven taken refuge in the country of Turkey.

V. Assignation of Meaning to Memory

Kansteiner (2002) writes in the work "Finding Meaning in Memory: A Methodological Critique of Collective Memory Studies" that the "memory wave in the humanities has contributed to the impressive revival of cultural history, but the success of memory studies has not been accompanied by a significant conceptual and methodological advances in the research of collective memory processes." (Kansteiner, 2002, p.179) Kansteiner reports that this is because the majority of studies on memory have as their focus the "representation of specific events within particular chronological, geographical and media settings without reflecting on the audiences of the representations in question." (Kansteiner, 2002, p.179) The result is that "the wealth of new insights into past and present historical cultures cannot be linked conclusively to specific social collectives and their historical consciousness." (Kansteiner, 2002, p.179)

VI. Jewish and Islamic Turks: Incorporating Practice and Inscribing Practice

In 2009, Newsweek magazine reported that a tiny Jewish community in Turkey was reaching out to Muslims who were faced with a growth in prejudice. The story relates as follows:

"Istanbul's Neve Shalom synagogue is tucked away on a winding street near the Galata Tower. The synagogue isn't as easy to spot as the landmark turret with its panorama of the city's iconic mosques, but that hasn't stopped terrorists from finding the Jewish house of prayer over the years. In 1983 gun- and grenade-wielding attackers stormed worshipers, taking 23 lives; in 2003 a car bomb outside a bar-mitzvah service killed more than a dozen and injured hundreds -- mostly Turkish Muslims who lived and worked nearby." (Alaikum, 2009, p.1)

The story goes on to relate that a 2008 Pew survey on European attitudes toward Jews and Muslims found that

"76% of Turks surveyed had a negative view of Jews -- an increase from 49% in 2004. In addition, a recently published study on radicalism by Yilmaz Esmer, a professor at Bahcesehir University, found that 64% of Turks in 34 different cities say they do not want Jewish neighbors. Led by Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva, the 23,000-strong community is preparing to say shalom -- and salaam (the Hebrew and Arabic words of greeting) -- to its Muslim neighbors. In March, they launched a project to introduce the community and its culture to non-Jewish neighbors. Using funds allocated by the European Union for human-rights projects, Jewish leaders are working to curb spreading anti-Jewish prejudice and to underscore that they're Turks as well as Jews" (Alaikum, 2009, p.1)

It is additionally noted that a key program is teaching Muslim theology students about Judaism. Rabbi Haleva, 69 who was educated in Istanbul and Jerusalem will be teaching the Hebrew classes and notes that Hebrew "shares many similarities to Arabic." (Alaikum, 2009, p.1) Prior to these classes, there was very little communication that took place between the Muslim and Jewish communities. Haleva is noted as having stated that the distance between himself and the students "…was bridged as we became familiar with each other. I was teaching a language course, but we were talking about Qur'an, Torah, and life; religious and philosophical matters. We never talked about politics." (Alaikum, 2009, p.1)

"I am a Muslim Turk," says Yildirim. "I have my red lines, and learning from someone who is outside these lines made me a bit uneasy. The images drawn of members of each religion are scary for the members of the other religion. But when you get in touch with them, when you learn their culture, you realize that your fear is pointless." Yildirim now laughs at friends who criticize him for taking courses from a chief rabbi. "When it comes to learning, a true Muslim does not underline the ideological differences," he says." (Alaikum, 2009, p.1)


The memories of the Jewish and Islamic Turks of their own taking of refuge in Turkey have brought these two groups together in the formation of a collective grouping and ultimately a collective cultural memory about their lives as Turkish citizens. When consideration is given to the historical fact that both of these groups sprang from the same forefather, and specifically from the tents of Abraham, it is not so strange nor is it so unexpected that the two religious and cultural groups should form a collective memory and culture in order to survive contemporary political events and mindsets. While each of these groups represents only a small percentage of Turkish citizens separately, together they form a more formidable citizenry of Turkey.


Alaikum, Shalom (2009) Faced with growing prejudice, Turkey's tiny Jewish community is reaching out to its Muslim neighbors. Newsweek. The Daily Beast. 30 Jun 2009. Retrieved from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2009/06/30/shalom-alaikum.html

Assmann, Jan (2001) Collective Memory and Cultural… [END OF PREVIEW]

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