For Turkey Scholar, Photos Tell the Story

Duke's Erdag Goknar is using Pinterest to keep a running, photographic timeline of the political unrest in Turkey

Duke Professor Erdag Goknar's Pinterest page collects daily images of the Turkish protests.
Duke Professor Erdag Goknar's Pinterest page collects daily images of the Turkish protests.

As he watched the recent protests in Istanbul, Turkey scholar Erdag Goknar wanted to create a photographic timeline to help tell the story.

He turned to Pinterest, a social media bulletin board tool, and began "pinning" images of the political unrest. Goknar has posted about 50 photos thus far, and many are dramatic: bloody faces, hordes of protesters waving fiery flares, and, of course, The Lady in Red, the now-iconic image of a woman in a red dress getting blasted by a police officer's pepper spray.

"I think, as a form, the photo essay is a powerful medium," said Goknar, an assistant professor of Turkish Studies at Duke. "The story is constituted out of the immediacy of images taken in turmoil. When juxtaposed, political images begin to tell a larger story, one that is multifaceted and at times fragmented."

This is Goknar's first time using Pinterest. He has found photos through Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, and when he pins them to his Pinterest board, he adds captions. Eventually, he intends to use the images in classes, starting July 1 when he begins teaching in the Duke in Turkey program, which he directs.

"My choice of Pinterest was random, but the effect was greater than I imagined," said Goknar, who has also blogged about the Turkey unrest. "I've only been doing this for a few days. I'd like to reach the widest audience possible."