This article focuses on the court documents produced during the 1980 military court trials of Kurds charged with crimes against the Turkish state. Tracing the unauthorized movement of documents to a group of human rights advocates, Kurdish activists, and defense lawyers, it asks how an archive of criminal proceedings transformed into an alternative one bearing political aspirations of various kinds. Instead of reading the archive as a textual artifact whose hermeneutic interpretation is under the strict control of the sovereign, this piece approaches it within a framework of action and scrutinizes how the textual form and symbolic meaning of an archive was altered as Kurds defended themselves before the court, inscribed their own stories on the documents in prison, and circulated them outside for archiving. I argue that despite the kind of semantic violence inflicted by the 1980 coup d'état, the material remainders of that period disclose that Kurds stitched together their world by construing a language of struggle that promises another form of social existence in the here and now. Thus, the archive-in-making is an archive of not only state violence, but also of revolutionary struggle and aspirations for the ordinary. This article views such archiving practices as a form of making that is conducive to new entanglements of life, violence, and law.


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pp. 107-138
Launched on MUSE
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