Various Representations of Jews in Turkish Cinema

  • Author(s): Melih Çoban
  • When: 2016-01
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • Concerning the representation of non-muslims in movies, Turkish cinema can be studied under two different periods, namely pre-1980 and pro-1980 with respect to the rate of appearance and character typologies. While in the first period Greek, Armenian and Jewish minorities in Turkey were presented under characters based on their former representations in traditional and authentic sources like ortaoyunu, meddah, Karagöz and theatrical plays, this situation began to change in the period after the 80s. The increasing number of movies giving place to non-Muslim characters in this period, while reproducing the traditional typologies, also brought forth new types of non-Muslim characters which had been developed in accordance with the changing political and social conditions. In the period before 1980, Jewish characters in Turkish movies were fewer than Armenian and Greek ones. This situation began to change after the 80s with Jews being represented more frequently in movies and television series when compared to the previous decades. In this period, Jews have been represented at a secondary level in movies related to the histories of non-Muslims in Turkey when compared to Greeks and Armenians, but instead, they have been given more place in television series and movies based on current political developments. In this new era, the Jewish characters which were heavily based on the traditional stereotype of the Turkish Jew began to leave their places to new characters such as the Israeli Jew or hybrid versions of these two. This situation is an outcome of the socio-political survival strategies of Turkish Jews and the changing trend in Turkish politics concerning the relations with Israel.

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