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21 Eylül 2011 Çarşamba

The Difference between a Good Turkish “Citizen” and Slave: on Fanon's Wretched of the Earth

As Fanon argued, colonization is the worst thing that one nation can do to another; it’s worse than killing, worse than opening a war, and even, worse than de-humanizing. It is not merely about one’s hegemony and exploitation upon other to benefit economically, yet, there is the cultural dimension of colonization which creates the “psychopathy of colonized”. Because many of them have no language, no history on their own (therefore no memory), and nothing starts with “nation”, due to that a specific form of action performed: Violence. The black intellectuals, on the other hand, stand much more dramatically within the frame of “power”; once they see problems with their people and the kind of action preferred by them must be civilized “civilized”, since than the quotation marks comes into scene! They become “English” or “French” or whatever you put into this particular space, the only language that they can use and the dominant and prestigious identity they can give are actually alien to them. Because of that, in many ways they themselves are being considered as alien to their people.

Jamaica Kincaid’s famous book A Small Place is essential to understand, “what really colonialism can possibly do”. She argues that racism, as one of the tools that serves to masters[1], was used to get rid of the moral responsibilities upon the colonized people, it is a certain way of categorizing the living things as; human or not. Since the colonized was considered as “travesty[2] of mock humans”, it was, of course, okay to erase and neuter their identity, culture and memories of them. This trauma, unfortunately, cannot be overwhelmed by colonized even though they politically declare their independence.

These two writings provoked me a lot to think about “Turkey’s colonization”, I use this “radical” term because I consider colonization not only as political, but also as a cultural process. In our “colonial” history three things are essential; namely, Imperial Edict of Gülhane, character of Bihruz Bey[3] and revolutions in the early years of Turkish Republic. By the first, Turks recognized the equal power to theirs, and after that, started to defame their own culture and eventually got rid of “traditional”, “back warded”, “irrational”, “degenerated”, “uncivilized” national narratives and heritage. If decolonization occurs from bottom up, then colonization has top down direction, which we’ve seen in all these three incidents. In the eyes of undemocratic persons who occupied the democratic institutions, children of Turkey “unified”, “modernized”, and “saved” by their “glory and intelligent” policies and strategies. And FOR SURE! All the terror, massacres, killings, and evacuations in this period are just little, trivial, not-worth-to-think about, coincidental problems. And we all ought to life-long gratitude these people.

[1] See Lorde, Audre. [1984] 2007. “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House. Pp. 110–114 in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, C.A: The Crossing Press.

[2] The term used as unqualified imitation.

[3] European wanna-be character in Turkish novel Araba Sevdası (lit. Trans:Love of Car) by Recaizade Mahmut Ekrem, who sees Ottoman as “barbarian” whereas Frank is civilized. See Şerif Mardin. 2000. Turk Modernleşmesi. Istanbul, Turkey: İletişim.

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