Memory of Voices or the Voice of the Memory: An Outlook on Collective Memory in Recent Turkish Cinema

Salman C.

International Conference on Film Studies: Identity, Projection and the Other, London, United Kingdom, 09 February 2019, pp.13

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: London
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Page Numbers: pp.13
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Memory is mostly referenced to time. But, we have known at least since Bachelard’s Poetics

of Space or Nora’s Places of Memory that space is as a constituent of memory as time. As a dialect

of existence and any moment of the human action, chronotope, that Bachtin conceptualized, is the

basis that memory was shaped on. So, how the memory is attached or embodied to time? Actually,

almost by anything: Concrete and physical, abstract and non-material (Nora). It means that we can

take the voice as an element of collective memory, too. As Bijsterveld and Dijck remarked, despite

increasing number of studies on the subject of sound technologies and cultural practices, a few of

them has specifically focused on the relations between sound, music, and memory. In fact, voice is

an element of narrative memory (J. Assmann) as a way of express and transfer of thoughts,

feelings or experiences; and voice recorders are places of memory (Nora) as concrete materials.

In this study, I am going to discuss the relationship between voice –as a way of remind or

efface- and the collective memory over three films that are conspicuous pieces of recent,

independent Turkish cinema: Voice of My Father (2012), The Song of My Mother (2014), and Zer

(2016). Directed by three different directors, common characteristic of these films is that each of

them has used the same metaphor, recordings or missing songs, to recall a social incident that

engraved traumatic traces on recent political history of Turkey. These social traumas of the last

century, incidents of Dersim-1938 and Maraş1978, and forced displacement from South-East

villages of Turkey in early 1990’s, has been desired to efface from the people’s memory in Turkey

and are still difficult to speak on. Narratives of these films are similar: All three younger

protagonists are one of the child or grand-child of families who directly experienced one of these

traumas. Protagonists trace tragic incidents or deeper traumas while they are chasing a song or a

recording to seek the story of their family. Thus, over the voice or music metaphors, directors call

audiences to remember these incidents that occurred in a certain time and place, and to dust the

collective memory.