Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationKoc U.
Grant numberGr. 10043
Approve DateOctober 2, 2020
Project TitleCan, Basak (Koc U.) "Forensic Fantasies: Doctors, Documents and the Limits of Truth in Turkey"
BASAK CAN, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey, received a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2020 to aid research and writing on “Forensic Fantasies: Doctors, Documents, and the Limits of Truth in Turkey.” Forensic Fantasies draws upon an ethnography of doctors specialized in torture documentation, and archival research on forensic documents of torture in Turkey. The book traces the parallel and intersecting formations of official and alternative forensic institutions and practices in Turkey against the backdrop of political transformations ensuing the 1980 coup. Mapping out the relationship between forensic documentation, state violence, and political imagination, the book maintains that forensic documentation works through a fantasy – namely the belief that medical witnessing to violence produces scientific and objective truth, puts an end to undue state violence, and subsequently holds the possibility of delivering justice. With these premises, the book demonstrates that forensic fantasies founded the field of human rights in Turkey as the politics of veracity. Rather than opposing facts and fantasies or truths and emotions, the book suggests that finding facts about human rights violations is a fantasy-induced political project. These fantasies of forensic documentation, I further argued, have been pivotal to the formation of human rights system in Turkey and the state’s imagining and projection of itself in public life as a state respectful of human rights and democracy until very recently.