“This Chapter Has Not Been Treated Yet: The Education in Turkey and the Problem of Representation”
Oral History Project
The education in Turkey has been designated to create docile and monolithic “citizens”. Although the content and the norms of this “citizen” change through the time, it always contains discrimination in ethnic and linguistic levels (besides sexual, religious and class-based discriminations).
Some of these discriminations are taken for granted by law and some of them succeeded to survive in practice until today. In Turkish “national” education system, Turkish identity and Turkish nationalism were always highlighted as primary values and the groups who didn’t express themselves within the Turkish national identity have always been undermined and ignored in the cultural and historical levels.
Today in Turkey, the place of minorities in Turkish education system came down to a simple language problem. However, the schools of Armenians, Greeks and Jews are still working in service of the reproduction of the Turkish national history. Thus, these schools, which seem to have independent education system, are still dependent to transmit their own history and cultures.
Furthermore, Kurdish is not recognized by Turkish State as a language and by this way, the chance of an education in Kurdish totally collapsed. All these arrangements are clear signs of the assimilation and “turkification” politics in the educational system. Apart from all, the mandatory education curriculum contains many examples of hate speeche and discriminative/humiliating expressions against certain groups. So this is an attempt to prevent the representation of the culture, history and identity of some groups more than a basic choice of language for the education.
If we think on the role of the education in the nation-state building process, we could easily understand how people get affected by the educational system and the speech created by it. Considering the fact that, people who are members of these groups are also passing from the same education; we can reach the conclusion that the goal is to create a monolithic and exclusive memory more than having a national identity.
“This Chapter Has Not Been Treated Yet” oral history project will be composed by the records of people who are members of the different groups (Armenian, Kurdish, Greek, Jewish, Alewi) which are not represented or misrepresented in the Turkish national education system. Through the testimonies, this project will focus on how people remember this issue, rather than examining directly how these groups are represented or misrepresented in the educational system. By this way, it will be sorted out how alternative pedagogies are developed to cope with this monolithic education besides the possibilities of multilayered and plural education.
Within the project, the oral history interviews will be conducted by a particular focus on the childhood memories and the educational life of the informant and it will be questioned how the Turkish national education shapes the narratives of today.