Hafıza Kaydı: In Search of Mutual Stories

The protests that were held against the government’s uprooting of trees and construction activities at the Gezi Park to build the Topçu Military Barracks during the summer of 2013 spread to other cities. The protests were ended with a heavy-handed police crackdown and were transformed into neighborhood forums, solidarity organizations and urban resistance movements in time.

The idea for Hafıza Kaydı (Memory Records) as a civil initiative and an open platform emerged following a session in a forum held at Ankara Seğmenler Park to discuss issues such as social dialogue and collective memory. The notion of ‘collective conscience’ was on the agenda of the opening session of one of the forums organized in December. In this session, as participants from different social groups that had faced rights violations, discrimination or exclusion, listened to each others’ stories, they realized that they did not know much about the social and political problems faced by people from other social groups. Therefore, a very fundamental question stemmed from the practice of dealing with the past: “Why are we living the same thing over and over again in this country?”

Participants of the forum on ‘collective conscience’ held on December 29, 2013, has later developed an approach based on the idea that “everything is related to each other, therefore they are public and of concern to everyone.” Departing from this idea, on the commemoration day of Uğur Mumcu, Hrant Dink’s and Musa Anter’s photographs were carried. Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish intellectuals, who had been fighting for building social and political peace in Turkey, died in a similar fashion as a result of murders committed by unknown assailants. In some respect, all these multiple experiences were the result of the same neglect of the past.

Following many discussions, people in the working group, which would later become the Hafıza Kaydı team, decided that it would be a good start to do some information activism. Therefore, they started to create a digital archive which would consist of calendar pages presenting events that are important for the construction of social and political collective memory in Turkey. The planning for the Hafıza Kaydı website started in June 2014 and the website was launched on January 4, 2015 with the question: “Are you ready to deal with burdens on our conscience, denials and neglects which obstruct any chance for social peace?”

Scope and Purpose

Hafıza Kaydı (Memory Records) is an open platform established to build a collective memory on denials, neglects, incidences that have not been dealt with or remained unpunished. There are documentaries and fictional narratives and information presented in different forms on past rights violations and struggles against these on the website which can be described as an interactive digital archive.

The core team of Hafıza Kaydı consists of people who have different viewpoints and come from different disciplines. People who are not on the team can also contribute to calendar pages.

The first post was published on January 4, 2015. In each case, viewers are presented with relational networks, similar mindsets, violations and impunity practices, reminding that these are not singular, individual or coincidental events. This approach is expressed in Hafıza Kaydı’s slogan: “In search of the common story.” Social incidents that would then transform into calendar pages are selected from subjects that have not been studied before and from a large selection of fields.

Hafıza Kaydı also provides different methods and tools to tell truths with a consideration of varying needs and interests of people from different segments of the society. For example, they feature short films that are open to the general public as well as articles for scholars. In this respect, they say that they are trying to reach out to people from different segments of society, instead of a specific group of people.


As with many platforms working on collective memory, the major function of Hafıza Kaydı is to provide an “archive” for research. Information discovered or collected by the platform from existing sources is referenced especially in academic studies, as well as in other publications. Cases prepared by the platform provide access to the majority of information on a subject. Hafıza Kaydı’s slogan “In search of the common story” also summarizes the intended impact of the platform; Discovering the connections between seemingly independent and individual events from different periods of history…

Identifying their method as “information activism”, the platform lays out correct information on events and presents its users with the relations between these using different types of content. Even though there are no concrete examples on how they impact the collective conscience, this can be measured in the long run. Moreover, the work of Hafıza Kaydı pioneers the use of different types of content and communication methods in the field of collective memory. The information is presented in different forms of stories, videos/documentaries together with references, photographs, related culture and arts content and news articles etc., making it possible to convey it to users in creative and reproducible ways.

One of the impacts of Hafıza Kaydı is about production methods. Explained in detail on the website of the platform, their working method is geared towards disseminating collective forms of production. This method, which entails each individual being responsible for designing one type of content, followed by volunteers’ contributions and criticisms to these contents, exemplifies a democratic way of producing information.


According to the Hafıza Kaydı team, the challenges and obstacles they face can be summarized in two categories. The first is about the working method and self-governance of the team, the second is about direct or indirect external problems. The team encounters some difficulties in finding the common language and the planning the production process. Access to open source information and problems of archiving are other obstacles Hafıza Kaydı faces. The fact that the platform is based on volunteerism also pose some problems in terms of continuity and sustainability of the work. Externally, political polarization may hinder the dissemination of the content. Eventually, the content usually reaches to a homogeneous groups . On the other hand, the main purpose of Hafıza Kaydı is to make a dialogical and multi-layered memory accessible to anyone who seeks it. For this reason, they believe that instead of a rapid dissemination, “being there”, “being available” and “being accessible” are more important in the long run.