Beyond Gallipoli: From Commemorating the Past to Celebrating the Future
Gallipoli occupies a significant place in the national memories of Australian and Turkish people. The peninsula is remembered as a place of violence, but for both countries it also symbolises the beginnings of nationhood. Much has been done to commemorate this conflictual past — through Anzac Day in Australia and, on a very different basis, through Martyrs’ Day in Turkey. However, there have been no more than limited attempts at on either side to reflect systematically and symbolically on the cultural, political and economic futures that might be forged between our two nations. As a result, the possibilities offered by the post-Gallipoli movement of people between the countries as immigrants, settlers, visitors, tourists, and mourners are yet to be developed.
Since that first encounter in 1915, and especially following the signing of an agreement between the governments of Australia and Turkey in 1967 to allow Turkish citizens to immigrate to Australia, the relationship with Turkey has been a deeply ingrained component of the Australian identity. There are an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand people with Turkish roots now living in Australia. Significantly, this population has grown most rapidly during a period in which the legacy of Gallipoli was being transformed cross-generationally in both countries. This complex relationship is one of key stimuli of this project.
Beyond Gallipoli has arisen from the conviction that the commemorations to be undertaken in 2015 should not only take the form of sombre reflections on the past but also provide a resource for the creation of a rich and creative future. This future will no doubt have different resonances for our various participants. Both Turkey and Australia have gone through many changes since 1915 and they have a lot more to offer for a more cooperative future. Gallipoli might be one of the first things that come to an Australian’s mind when asked about Turkey. In reality, the country is so much more than Gallipoli. Its dynamic young population, rapidly growing economy and rich social and cultural resources are likely to open new windows of opportunity and channels for more productive relationships between the peoples of the two countries. Similarly, for many Turks, their imagining of Australia and Australians is likely to be limited to the arrival of soldiers who came to fight from the other side of the world. This project is centred around the belief that Australia and Turkey have a lot more to share. These areas of possible collaboration which may benefit both sides should be identified. We hope that in each case the contribution will help illuminate possibilities for deeper and more productive relationships.
The project seeks to achieve the following aims:
1. to explore the possibilities of developing closer and stronger relationships between the people of Turkey and Australia on the occasion of the centenary of the Gallipoli battle of 1915 through exchanges at multiple levels.
2. to produce an anthology of reflections and exchange of ideas from leading figures (such as academics, scientists, diplomats, business people, artists) and young people in both countries to stimulate discussion about the Gallipoli traditions and to use these as the basis for creating new partnerships and collaborations.
3. to facilitate discussion and realisation of what might be possible for the future, how new person-to-person and group-to-group relations can be forged to continue our “accidental relationship” and extend it in a comprehensive and sustainable way.
4. to contribute to the processes of inter-cultural dialogue, empathy and accommodation through face-to-face interactions that are likely to encourage our participants to share their views about each other’s country and culture and reflect on multicultural practices and experiences in Australia and Turkey.
5. to enable Australia-born young Turkish people to know more about their home country and culture and explore the ways in which they may develop more effective ties with Australian culture.
6. to provide a reference point to initiate constructive and sustainable processes of inter-cultural dialogue between the people of the two countries.
7. to offer a practical framework for fostering cooperation in a range of areas such as science, medicine, education, the arts, politics and business.
This project aims to produce the following outcomes:
1. An Interactive Website and Edited Volume: An interactive and regularly updated website will be created to explore the potential ways in which stronger and more effective relations can be developed between the peoples of Australia and Turkey. On this website, our contributors with expertise in different areas will look forward to the future of the relationship between Turkey and Australia, with special reference to exchanges in fields such as health care, the arts, science, engineering, sport, business and education.
They will share their ideas in the following formats:
• Short texts
• Cultural activities (such as musical and audio-visual performances, extracts from short movies and documentaries)
These contributions will then be collected in an edited volume. Through including thinkers and activites from both countries, the book will contribute to discussion of multicultural perspectives on the centenary of the Anzac, the legacy of Gallipoli and the ways in which memories of these past events can be mobilised as a resource for the future. It will be published in Turkish and English and launched prior to 25th April 2015.
The book will provide both an appreciation of a rich, shared past and a guide to a yet to be imagined future. It will seek to foment debates in both places about the significance of the legacy and how the relationship might continue to unfold. It will examine the opportunities and promises that arose at Gallipoli and now extend beyond it. It will also consider whether a new kind of nationhood can be formed that respects difference as a generative source of creative possibilities or whether we face a return to dark, anachronistic nationalisms. And it will help determine whether 2015 itself can be extended from a site of well-rehearsed, sombre commemorations to the stimulus for on-going, novel and fecund, reciprocal, mutually negotiated exchanges.
2. Youth visits and workshops: 15 Australian and 15 Turkish university students will get in touch in a web-based environment. They will share their ideas about each other’s country and how they view the Gallipoli tradition and will reflect on the future. In addition to these exchanges, audio-visual artistic contributions will also constitute a significant element of the youth contributions to the Beyond Gallipoli project.