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Curious Steps: Gender and Memory Walks of Istanbul is a collective effort to mobilize memories through walking and storytelling. After more than two decades of feminist interventions in the gendered histories and memories of Turkey and the Ottoman State, and following recent initiatives like the virtual Women’s Museum of Istanbul that seek to create alternative memory sites, we—a group of young people, students and faculty—came together to create a “gender and memory walk” of the Beyoğlu neighborhood in Istanbul in 2014. Currently organized in three Istanbul neighborhoods, Beyoğlu, Kadıköy and Balat, Curious Steps brings together diverse groups of people for collective walks through urban spaces to listen to women’s and LGBTI+ stories researched and told by young volunteers. The walk has employed a growing repertoire of interventions to accomplish several interrelated goals: drawing attention to the silencing of women’s and LGBTI+ lives, contributions, and struggles in the city; making visible the nationalization and militarization of public spaces; introducing forms of alternative memorialization; co-witnessing and co-resisting with memory activists; exploring feminist and LGBTI+ struggles connected to space; making visible sites of gendered violence; exploring the gendered memories of recent cases of urban transformation; problematizing the marginalization of women and LGBTI+ in other rights struggles; and drawing attention to multiple layers of dispossession that mark public space.

 

Gender and Memory Walks Unearth Hidden Secrets of Istanbul