“Memory, Nostalgia, and the Turkish Centennial”
PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Ohio State University
Tuesday, February 21, 2023, 12:30 p.m.
The 2023 centennial celebrations of Turkey will prompt the nation and the world to discuss the significance of the republic’s first century and debate its contemporary trajectory. As stakeholders compete to determine what it means to be a citizen, a national polity, a regional power, and a global neighbor, they will draw from both Turkish and Ottoman history to articulate various futures. Nostalgia is a way of perceiving and utilizing ostensible “pasts” for projects of the present. Since the nation’s inception, nostalgic sentiments for Turks and Turkey have been leveraged for socio-political goals. My current research “Nostalgia, Memory, and the Turkish Centennial” investigates the interplay of streams of national memory, especially the secular, republican achievements of Atatürk’s generation, and the religious, imperial glory of the Ottoman epoch. By employing folkloristic methodologies, I foreground vernacular testimony about the centenary to offer perspectives alternative to mainstream media. Narratives of nostalgia will be contests in storytelling among those competing for influence, power, and position. As such competitions evolve, the discourses of Turkey’s centennial year become case studies for how individuals, organizations, and governments shape the past to fuel their agendas of the present and their visions for the future.
Nathan Young completed his master’s degree in Turkish Folklore at Ege University (2014) and his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the Ohio State University (2020). During dissertation research, he gathered qualitative data related to the Turkish village and villager including personal testimonies, media depictions, consumer practices, and municipality initiatives. He asserts that theories of nostalgia demonstrate how such materials produce personal and national identities, critique a modernist teleology, and define an idyllic “good life.” Additionally, he contends that nostalgia concepts interpret how conflicting notions of the village and villager within social-cultural imaginaries form critical aspects of Turkey’s nation-building project. Nathan’s current research focuses on how nostalgic sentiments about the nation’s past emerging during the 2023 centennial are being articulated and subsequently leveraged for agendas of the present and visions of the future. He currently serves as lecturer at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A.