E. Efe Çakmak

(b.1979 in Izmir) studied philosophy at EUP and English literature at Istanbul University. He is currently doing his graduate work in the department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia Universtiy. He was editor-in-chief of the Istanbul-based philosophical Journal Cogito until 2006. Apart from his Turkish translations of works by authors like Joseph Conrad, William Golding, and J.M. Coetzee, he has published philosophical essays, articles, and short stories in various journals and newspapers.

Articles

Forget Europe!

An interview with Homi Bhabha

An “interventionist, cultural-activist, pan-European community of journals” should not limit itself to an expanded Europe, Homi Bhaba suggests. The work of cultural journals is per se internationalist and has to link communities of intellectuals and activists around the world. This interview first appeared in “Crosswords”, a multilingual and transnational journal on multilingualism and digital networking, published in the context of “crosswords X mots croisés. 21st European Meeting of Cultural Journals” in Paris 2008.

Forget journals!

An interview with Mark C. Taylor

This interview first appeared in “Crosswords”, a multilingual and transnational journal on multilingualism and digital networking, published in the context of “crosswords X mots croisés. 21st European Meeting of Cultural Journals” in Paris 2008.

The Armenian genocide: Issues of responsibility and democracy

An interview with Susan Neiman and Andreas Huyssen

The conference “Ottoman Armenians during the decline of the empire: Issues of scientific responsibility and democracy”, held at Istanbul Bilgi University in 2005, marked the beginning of a fierce public debate on the “Armenian issue” in Turkey. Attempts to hold the conference at Bosphorous University were twice blocked by the Turkish government, and in a speech given to the members of the parliament before the conference, the Turkish minister of justice accused the conference organizers and participants of treason. The “Armenian issue” then emerged “full-blown onto the public sphere”.

The public debate has had tragic consequences and has eventually led to the marginalization of many Turkish intellectuals who argued that Turkey must come to terms with its past. Tensions finally boiled over with the assassination of the outspoken Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink. Many attribute the act to the increasing influence of nationalist discourses that are flourishing in the run-up to the general elections this year.

Hrant Dink’s murder marks a new phase in the history of the “Armenian issue” in Turkey. With the formation of a violent ultra-nationalist front opposed to any public discussion of the genocide, it is a taboo that has become ever more dangerous to break.

But the duties remain the same. The murder of Hrant Dink was an attempt to silence the voice of dialogue. It must be countered with more dialogue and more analysis. Insisting on the continuing relevance of issues of responsibility and democracy is a way of paying tribute to Dink’s memory, a way of translating his legacy “into the jargon of the living”.

In December 2005, in the wake of the above-mentioned conference, E. Efe Çakmak asked a number of scholars from various disciplines within the humanities to comment on Turkey’s official policy regarding the “Armenian issue” – a policy that has not changed since. We have merged two of these interviews into one text, in which Susan Neiman and Andreas Huyssen, both representatives of the first post-Auschwitz generation, talk about the role that can be played by the public sphere in reflecting and guiding a politics of memory.

Oh balmy breath...

A tribute to Hrant Dink

In the case of Hrant Dink, there was something that troubled the popular imagination other than that an outspoken Armenian journalist had become a prime-time figure, says E. Efe Çakmak. It was his contamination of the pure categories of Armenian and Turk, Christian and Muslim. But how are we to make sense of Dink’s murder without falling prey to an instrumental reasoning that claims that Turkish democracy has also been shot dead?

British feminist and psychoanalyst Juliet Mitchell talks to Cogito about her role in the British New Left in the 1960s. Mitchell was at the centre of the movement: as editorial board member of the New Left Review, as participant in Third World and anti-psychiatry movements, and as co-organizer of grassroots initiatives, including the “Anti-University”, founded on the steps of Shoreditch Church in East London. Here, Mitchell outlines her intellectual trajectory from her early Marxism, to feminism of the mid-1960s, and to psychoanalysis in the 1970s.

Myth, word, and writing

An interview with Jack Goody

The Cambridge anthropologist argues that in seeking to expose the “structures of the mind”, Levi-Strauss and the Structuralists projected the categorized worldview of literate cultures onto simpler societies. In analysing oral cultures, a more flexible approach must be employed to take in the inconsistencies in myth-making, something made apparent by modern recording technology in the 1960s. In the second half of the interview, Goody discusses language development and the pitfalls of the genetic approach; the processes of “naming” and “discovering” in relation to western ideological concepts such as “freedom” and “slavery”; and the reception of western religion in non-western and formerly colonized cultures.

On "Snow White"

Suicide attacks in Istanbul and the need for poetry

E. Efe Çakmak challenges our views on suicide-bombings – rather than submitting to the temptation of regarding suicide bombers as “personifications of the absolute evil” we should view them as our likes. According to Çakmak, works of art and poetry can serve to fulfil this function:
one example is the installation by Dror and Gunilla Sköld Feiler Snow White and The Madness of Truth which shot to fame after it was being attacked by the Israeli consul-general to Sweden, Svi Mazel. Read “why the insertion of poetry into this complex reality is different from other methods of rationalising and establishing cognitive links”.

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