Speaking to One Another

Initiated in August 2009, and implemented via three consecutive stages, the main aim of the Speaking to One Another project is to use adult education methods, intercultural exchange and oral history projects to form a bridge between Turkish and Armenian societies and to contribute to the reconciliation process of the two communities.

The first stage of the project that began with a meeting held in Istanbul, continued with a students' camp realized in the city of Dilijan in Armenia, and with oral history projects carried out between Turkey and Armenia. Young people from both countries, who took part in the camp, received training on oral history and actively contributed to the research process. The oral history training and research were led by Prof. Dr. Leyla Neyzi of Sabancı University and Associate Professor Hranush Kharatyan-Araqelyan of the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Archaeology and Ethnology Institute. The outcome of the research was published in two editions, a bilingual Turkish-Armenian edition and an English edition titled Speaking to One Another: Personal Memories of the Past in Armenia and Turkey.

In the second stage of the project, a summer camp was organized in Turkey. Young people from Turkey and Armenia who came together in Antakya to receive training in the use of photography and video equipment, and project management, went on to realize their own oral history projects after the camp. The participants also had the opportunity to enrich their experiences at a work visit to various public institutions and NGOs in Germany, and to share them with participants at an international conference held in Yerevan. Declarations presented by speakers from the USA and European countries in addition to those from Turkey and Armenia were brought together in book form under the title Prospects for Reconciliation: Theory and Practice. In addition to the work carried out by the young participants of the project, data accumulated during the research in the first stage of the project was re-compiled in an exhibition co-curated by Önder Özengi from Turkey, and Taron Simonyan from America. The exhibition formed of texts, sound, photography and videos travelled to Istanbul, Diyarbakır, Antakya, Yerevan, Gyumri, İjevan and Vanadzor.

In the third stage of the project, which continued until February 2013, the existing travelling exhibition was restructured for international circulation. The revision and the curatorship for the new period were implemented by Carmen Beckenbach from Germany, and the exhibition travelled to Tbilisi and Batumi in Georgia, Nicosia in Cyprus, Berlin, Germany and Paris, France. In addition to the exhibition, the work carried out with young people continued with two local history workshops held in Turkey and Armenia. Participants explored the history of cities through oral history, photography and performance, and co-wrote articles for the book to be published at the end of the workshop. A professional documentary team formed of filmmakers from Turkey and Armenia shot a documentary based on the experience of the participants throughout both workshops.

The Speaking to One Another project was organized in partnership with Hazarashen, the Armenian Center for Ethnological Studies, the Armenian Actors' Union, dvv international (the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association) from Germany and Anadolu Kültür from Turkey and was financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany.