Burak Gürel / Political Mobilization in Turkey in the 1970s: The Case of the Kahramanmaras Incidents

An abstract of the thesis of Burak Gürel for the degree of Arts from the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History to be taken September 2004

Political Mobilization in Turkey in the 1970s: The Case of the Kahramanmaras Incidents

This thesis examines the low-intensity civil war in Turkey in the 1970s by exploring the background of the conflicts and massacres that occurred in Kahramanmaras on 22-25 December 1978. The emergence of radical left/socialist movements was witnessed along with the rise of a workers’ movement, peasant struggles and student opposition from the mid-1960s onwards. The extreme rightist movement that organised itself as an anti-communist reaction to that rise and became a mass movement in the mid-1970s in parallel to the search for alternatives among the parts of the population that lived in central and eastern Anatolia who were bothered by the cultural modernization and economic expropriation of the capitalist modernization. This thesis discusses the Kahramanmaras Incidents by analysing the effects of this division on the both national and local levels. Emphasizing the political side of this division separates this work from essentialist approaches that perceive the events only as a religious and ethnic conflict by removing the events from the context of the 1970s. The second aim of the thesis is to cast light upon the traumatic effects of the efforts of the power holders for the loss of memory after the 12 September coup d’etat, by following the traces of the Kahramanmaras Incidents in the collective memory. The traumatization of the collective memory, while it has sought to erase the radical alternatives of the 1970s from popular memory, has also had the effect of increasing the risk that Turkish society will face events similar to the ones in Kahramanmaras once more. Therefore, this thesis carries out the idea of an intervention into the traumatized social memory through an analysis of the political struggles in the 1970s on both the national and regional levels.

Atatürk Ilkeleri ve Inkilap Tarihi Enstitüsü’nde Yüksek Lisans derecesi için Burak Gürel tarafindan Eylül 2004’te teslim edilen tezin kisa özeti

1970’ler Türkiye’sinde Politik Mobilizasyon: Kahramanmaras Olaylari Örnegi

Bu tez 22-25 Aralik 1978 tarihinde Kahramanmaras’ta meydana gelen çatisma ve katliamlarin arka planini arastirmak yoluyla Türkiye’nin 1970’li yillarda yasadigi düsük yogunluklu iç savasi incelemek amacini tasimaktadir. 1960’larin ortalarindan itibaren isçi hareketinin, köylü mücadelelerinin ve ögrenci muhalefetinin yükselisiyle birlikte radikal sol/ sosyalist hareketlerin de ortaya çikisina tanik olundu. Bu yükselise karsi anti-komünist bir tepki hareketi olarak örgütlenen asiri sagci hareket ise özellikle Iç ve Orta Anadolu’da yasayan ve kapitalist modernlesmenin ekonomik alanda mülksüzlestirici, kültürel alanda modernlestirici etkilerinden rahatsizlik duyan kesimlerin alternatif arayisina paralel olarak gelisti ve 1970’lerin ortalarinda bir kitle hareketi haline geldi. Bu tez, Kahramanmaras Olaylari’ni bu saflasmanin hem ulusal hem de yerel düzeydeki etkilerini incelemek yoluyla tartismaktadir. Saflasmanin “politik” yönünü vurgulamasi bu çalismayi bu olaylari 1970’lerin baglamindan koparip sadece dini ve etnik kimlik çatismasi olarak ele alan özcü yaklasimlardan ayirmaktadir. Tezin ikinci amaci Kahramanmaras Olaylari’nin toplumsal bellekteki izlerini sürerek 12 Eylül darbesinde sonra iktidar sahipleri tarafindan yürütülen belleksizlestirme çabalarini kolektif hafizadaki travmatik etkilerini açiga çikartmaktir. Kolektif bellegin travmaya ugratilmasi 1970’lerin radikal alternatiflerinin hafizalardan silinmesine yol açtigi gibi, Türkiye toplumunun Kahramanmaras’takine benzer olaylarla karsi karsiya kalma riskini arttirici etki yapmaktadir. Dolayisiyla bu tez 1970’lerdeki politik mücadeleleri ulusal ve bölgesel düzeyde inceleme yoluyla travmaya ugratilan toplumsal bellege müdahale etme kaygisi tasimaktadir.