Getting Turks to Talk About the Past: A Social Psychological Perspective

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The present review explored Turks’ unwillingness to engage in intergroup dialogues about the injustices and violence to which the non-Muslim communities of Turkey have been subjected during the 20th century. On the basis of recent social psychological research on intergroup reconciliation, I suggest that complicating existing historical narratives by focusing on intergroup compassion and helping in addition to aggression could break Turks’ defensiveness about historical dialogue. I focus on 2 cases of mass violence in Turkish history: the 1915 deportations and massacres of Ottoman Armenians and the events of 6–7 September 1955, and I explore the potential of recent historical scholarship on the “just” Turks who helped non-Muslims in both of these cases for facilitating intergroup dialogues in Turkey.

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