Þorsteinn Helgason: The Turkish Raid as Memory
The focus has been on events of a recent past in memory studies, mainly the last hundred years, with the Holocaust as a matrix theme. An event of a more distant past is under scrutiny in this article, the so-called Turkish Raid of 1627. During the summer of that year, corsairs of North Africa raided the southern coastal regions of Iceland, capturing around 400 people to be held captive for ransom and as slave laborers. Some ten percent of them were eventually ransomed. The event is deeply rooted in the collective memory of Iceland, both at the local and national level. The article investigates the pervasive individual memories which lie behind the written accounts of the Raid, the possibility of a „prosthetic“ memory of the events, the cultural memory reflected in place names, folk tales and fiction and the collective memory heralded in textbooks and official reports. The molding and manipulation of the collective memory of the Raid are examined, from the making of a common national memory to the different interpretations of recent times. The possibility of a transcultural memory of the Turkish Raid is considered, especially vis-à-vis Algeria where the French colonial period and the independence war is the overshadowing memory. In the wave of official apologies, France has (in a way) apologized for its colonialism in Algeria – but will Algeria ever apologize for the Turkish Raid in Iceland?
Keywords: Individual memory, collective memory, traumatic memory, social memory, corsair raid in Iceland