Nicholas Glastonbury is a student at New York University in the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, where he has an academic concentration in Human Rights and Public Memory. The thrust of Nicholas’ studies has examined the histories of state-minority relations in the Middle East, and particularly, in Turkey. He studied for a semester in the Turkish Language and Literature Department of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, and also completed a Critical Language Scholarship in Advanced Turkish during the summer 2011. In the summer of 2012, Nicholas worked as a research and outreach intern for Hakikat, Adalet, Hafıza Merkezi, or The Center for Truth, Justice, and Memory, a transitional justice initiative that aims to document the oral testimonies of the relatives of Kurds disappeared in the 1990s. While working at the Center, he also became involved with several LGBT advocacy organizations in Istanbul and Diyarbakır. Nick continues to work as a translator for the Center, and he is also completing a translation of a novel from Turkish into English.
In the last few years, major world powers have referred to Turkey as a model for democracy in the Middle East. Organizations and academics have noted as well a rising public interest in personal testimony, and have subsequently undertaken initiatives to use these testimonies to generate public dialogue about minorities in Turkey. While the work of these scholars and organizations is important, it has largely focused on ethnic minorities, excluding LGBT populations from these spheres of tolerance.
My project aims to conduct an oral history with LGBT activists in Turkey and to circulate this oral history with civil society actors, as well as with the public.
This project aims to accomplish the following:
• Generate dialogue about best practices among LGBT activists across different local settings;
• Strengthen networks of solidarity among LGBT activists and organizations on the local, regional, and national level;
• Integrate LGBT rights and social exclusion into the projects of larger advocacy and human rights organizations;
• Use existing infrastructures in order to publish and disseminate the oral histories among civil society, activist circles, and the general public.
In a place like Turkey, where it is easy to find instances of contested memory across a broad variety of spatial, temporal, ethnic, religious, and social boundaries, oral histories can serve as a means of bridging interpersonal and social divides.