SUMMARY:The Cold War era was experienced as a very hot period not only because of proxy wars but also thanks to world-historical moments such as the global outbreak of protest waves, religious revivalisms, decolonization movements, and the crises of welfare capitalism. As a result, the historiography of the Cold War has predominantly concentrated on macro-politics and analyzed striking events. However, beyond its eventfulness, the Cold War was also a cultural frame that challenged existing worldviews and proliferated new perspectives that were deeply enduring and mostly contradictory. Most of the social actors, individually or collectively, bypassed rigid ideological positions of the period and carved out versatile responses and ambivalent attitudes. This panel aims to bring such confusions to the center of the Cold War literature by focusing on peripheral (yet not marginal) encounters in Turkey. It seeks to ‘cool off’ the Cold War literature by putting emphasis on patterns of experience rather than series of events.
The panel will cover subjects as diverse as religion, security, sports and academia. By unearthing individuals’ experiences and worldviews, the panelists will examine the re-shaping of social institutions such as Sufism, military bases, soccer and ethnographic fieldwork in the 1960s and 70s. How did a Rifai shaykha accommodate her exclusionist stance with the universalist teachings of Sufism? In what ways did a local employee of a U.S. base combine the feelings of resentment and excitement about American involvement and Cold War secrecy? How did a retired professional soccer player utilize competitive sport categories of the Cold War in the struggle of coaches against physical educators? How did an American anthropologist become supporter of local cause in Turkey yet still embrace international policies of his homeland? These are stories of paradox, confusion and ambiguity, stories that are not included in conventional Cold War narratives imbued with oppositions such as universalism vs. nationalism, or resistance vs. collaboration. This panel rather points to uncertainties in the very heart of life during the Cold War.
The panel adopts an anthropological perspective towards history by weaving webs of meaning between individual stories and collective/institutional trajectories. The panelists will decode ordinary imaginaries regarding ethical life, patriotism and relationship to social others in the context of Cold War. They address how the socio-political disruptions during this period were encountered by a variety of historical experience engendering ambivalence, contradictory impulses and confusions.