Special Thanks: Anthropology Association


May 25-27, 2007, Istanbul-Turkey

Being Minority in Turkey

The concept of minority is an outcome of specific dynamics of the European history. The concept and the issues related with it are founded on a particular sociocultural reality and become presented with a legal content that has been determined internationally. This sociocultural reality is the phenomenon of being perceived as “different” or as the “other”. The other is sometimes defined in terms of religious differences and sometimes in terms of linguistic-cultural or other differences. In this presentation a method will be proposed for evaluating the situation of the minorities within a particular social context. This method different from the legal definition which can be seen as fairly unidimensional. Although the concept of minority involves a status imposed from above, a group’s readiness to accept this status is also an important factor. Therefore, an anthropological approach is needed for understanding the self perceptions of groups and communities who are prone to being categorized as minorities. At the same time, there is the need for a historical-anthropological approach to study the historical circumstances that have shaped these self perceptions. Without these approaches an efficient discussion of the concept of minority  does not seem to be possible.



Intersecting Anthropologies? Anthropology of Turkey and Anthropology of Europe

My paper aims to reflect upon the past and the present status of anthropology of Turkey. It scrutinizes the paradigms in the development of anthropology of Turkey in the light of anthropology of Europe. What can be said about Turkey in terms of “home” and “field” as anthropological locations? What are the  “important” and not “so-important” topics that have been chosen as sites of anthropological knowledge for the European anthropologists and how these issues impacted their “cultural missions?”  My paper weaves together the ethnographies of native and foreign scholars alike, focusing on several issues, such as “language” in textual production, “audience” in the textual reception, and “representativeness” of the anthropological texts.   It is a critical reflection of long-standing hegemonic dualities, differentiations, and hierarchies such as “home/field”, “active/passive” or “subject/object” in the academic discourse. Last, I will consider the anthropology of Europe by posing an important question:  can it embrace the anthropology of Turkey, while the concept itself is an area of debate?




Ayşe DURAKBAŞA, Meltem Karadağ, Gül Özsan
Eşraf Families in Provincial cities in Turkey: Family Strategies and Narratives

This paper draws on insights from an ongoing research called ‘The Role of Local Notables in the Formation of Provincial Bourgeoisie in Turkey and Middle Classes in Provincial Cities’ funded by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey). The paper will focus on the data related to family strategies, obtained from oral history interviews with the members of locally notable families in the five cities (Muğla, Aydın, Denizli, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş). We aim to analyze family narratives that we have collected during the interviews conducted in Denizli, Gaziantep ve Kahramanmaraş. We have two main objectives; first, we will focus on the methodology of the research and secondly, we will concentrate on family strategies and family narratives.

In the first part, we will discuss the ethnographic and oral history methods used in this research and the research scope these methods have provided us. The research design itself; that is, the interviews carried out by three researchers, the narratives of the informants and the different interpretations of  the researchers have rendered us with the qualitatively rich data that we searched for. We want to interpret the differences in construction of  family narratives with regard to two basic concepts: “family myths’ and ‘family metaphors’. We have designed to analyze “personal narratives”, “family narratives” and “firm narratives” in relation to each other and taking into the gender dimension into consideration.

In the context of the thematic focus of the paper, we plan to desciribe the form of relationship characteristic to the locally notable families, which still has a marked influence on the social-cultural scene of the provinces in Turkey. What kind of strategies do these families exploit to become visible in the social and cultural life?  The sources of local power and influence in the provincial towns and the characteristics of the local elite, power based on land-property, relationship to the state bureaucracy and politics, religious influence (whether they position themselves according to the official religious ideology in Ottoman and Republican Turkey), the forms of cultural and symbolic capital (educational, philanthropic activities, paternalism, sports, etc.) Finally, we want to hint at the new dynamics of local power in the provinces which might explain some indications of  the “new conservatism” in Turkey.




Erdoğan GEDİK
Different Perceptions of the “Alamancı” Identity

One of the most important processes of identity formation of the transnational migration of the people from Turkey in Germany is that of from the “Gastarbeiter” to the “Almancı” identity. For a long time, the migrants from Turkey had been conceived as people “who were caught in between two cultures.” Recently, new artifical identifications had been invented; such as the  “Euro-Turk” and “Euro-Muslims.”  As one might guess, all these “identity badges” had been given to the people from Turkey, based on the etic categories which have been shaped according to the social, cultural, and political agendas.  The social actors of the transnational spce have been identified as Gastarbeiter,  Auslander, and then Mitburger by the Germans, while people in Turkey used “Almancı” for them.  However, none of these identifications had been sufficient to discuss the multiplicity of the identities they perform.  The term “Almancı” refers to only one of many identities of these people.  This paper looks at other forms of identities the so-called “Almancı”s both in Turkey and in Germany, in the process of transnationalism.  This paper mainly aims to consider the emic and etic identifications of the overlaps and differentiations of these categories, by analyzing the social, cultural, and political borders as well as the porosity between these borders.




Anthropology and Anthropologists in Turkey

This presentation covers the current concerns of anthropologists, the readers and “receivers” of anthropological studies and the anthropologists’  relations with society and state. Since the  1st International Anthropology Congress is emphasizing concepts such as boundaries, images and Europeanness along with the discipline’s classical concern with culture, this presentation will also touch upon the same concepts and deal with the development of anthropology in Turkey as well as its current state in this country and in the world. Are the cognitive and physical boundaries disappearing? What is the meaning of “image” in the age of information and communication? What does “studying of the other” mean in the contemporary context of international competition and violent wars? What is becoming of the methodological tradition of anthropology in the face of the increasing interest in the discipline? What can be said about Anthropology’s future in the context of intensifying national and international relations and of increasing interdisciplinary studies?




Changing Europe, Changing Anthropology

This presentation will discuss wider changes in European society and European academic life, and relate them to the particular goals and circumstances of the anthropological discipline. Two areas will receive special attention. One is the continuing shift of European national societies toward increasing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, on the basis particularly of migration within as well as from outside the continent, and recent reactions to this in public life. The other is the growing impact of the neoliberal culture complex, with its academic components of auditing, standardizing, and ranking. Such matters will be linked to concerns with the public face of anthropology, recruitment to the discipline, and anthropological styles of work and publication.




Europe and the Global Hierarchy of Value: Geographies and Dynamics of Cultural Authority

Polarities of north and south or west and east reflect a cartographic orientation that reveals powerful assumptions that both underlie and reproduce the patterning of cultural hierarchies associated with colonial power. Anthropologists can investigate such historically segmented dispositions only by combining a judiciously microscopic ethnography of the relations between human bodies and architectonic space on the one hand and the critical analysis of “globalization” on the other. In countries that lay particular claim to “oriental” or “occidental” identities, or exhibit a diagnostic tension between these poles, the reproduction of self-stereotypes in everyday life can lead us to an understanding of the politics that retrospectively appear to justify deterministic models of passivity, laziness, arrogance, and obdurate traditionalism, often contrasted with a putatively “European” or “Protestant” model. I seek a systematic understanding of such self-fulfilling political tautologies – the basis of religious, cultural, and other forms of fundamentalism – emerge, and how anthropology might engage them in a sympathetic but (mutually) critical debate.




Barbro KLEIN
Anthropology, Ethnology and the European Disciplinary Landscape

In most European countries, two scholarly spheres have co-existed and continue to co-exist in ways that make the European disciplinary landscape quite different from, for example, the North American one. On the one hand, there is the anthropological sphere which, under various names and guises (Völkerkunde, ethnography, ethnology, and others), at one time was concerned with exploring the world outside Europe and bringing back evidence of exotic life far away.  On the other hand, there is an ethnological sphere of disciplines (folklife studies, folkloristics, Volkskunde, European ethnology, and others) that were long devoted to building up national museums and archives and to studying cultural varieties within or between European nations.

In this paper a few aspects of the relationship between these two spheres will be examined. While in some countries and during some periods, the two have been close, there has often been a gulf between them - a gulf that has sometimes involved considerable hostility. The last few years may be characterized as a period of truce or mutual collaboration, a period in which both spheres, silently or loudly, acknowledge anthropology as the winner in an intellectual power struggle. Still, although many scholars are convinced that the anthropological and ethnological spheres will and must fuse, others think that the gulf between them has not been truly bridged; they point out that, to a great extent, European anthropologists and ethnologists continue to work in separate departments.

Two questions will be of particular interest.  Are there today, in fact, any real differences between the two spheres and, if so, what do these mean to scholarly discourses and knowledge production in Europe? Can one speak about the relationship between the two spheres as an on-going creative tension with special potential for understanding Europe and Europeanness?




Hürriyet KONYAR
Hybrid Identities and New Cultural Environments Reflected in the Turkish Media in the Context of Postcolonial Relations

Within the framework of global relations the media as factors influencing the cultural context are being reshaped for commercial purposes. A discussion of the issue of Europeanness should also focus on this new shape and new function of the media. The new function is to protect the hegemony of the dominant culture by transforming and hybridizing different cultural elements and incorporating them into the hegemonic structure. Therebye, the media gradually colonize the ideological and cultural spheres.

The culture of Europeanness is under the influence of new technologies of global communication. While incorporating and hybridizing different elements, this culture also uses them to protect its hegemony. Close contacts with the Asian and African cultures result in their hybridization and in the transformation of the European identity into a “multicultural” identity. However, “multiculturalism” in this case is under the control of the European culture. Like other migrant groups living in Europe, the Turkish diaspora is also trying to redefine its culture with reference to the European culture, and a hybrid is the inevitable outcome.

In Turkey after 1980, the media have been reshaped in accordance with the global media strategies and have assumed the function of enabling the diffusion of the hegemonic global culture. These media also present to Turkey the hybrid culture of the Turks living in Europe. They introduce to us the new European and Turkish identities. On the other hand, the global media of communication may enable the cultural hybrids resulting from the incorporation of different cultures into the European to turn into global hegemonic cultures. In Turkey, the European and other elements ought to be carefully differentiated. This is especially relevant for temporary cultural forms which come about because of the young people’s tendency to quickly adopt new fashions.

In this presentation the issue of Europeanness will be treated considering the facts that, the media shape and direct culture and elements of the European culture shaped by the media are being reflected in Turkey.




Europe and Europeanness

Starting with the Hellenic and Christian myths of Europe, this talk will focus on the emergence and development of the Idea of Europe with its multiple meanings and various values that have been assigned to it during its history. Europeanness as an upper-identity and it’s others, in history and today, within the scope of the European Union, will also be analyzed in the text from two different receiving subjects, that is the Europeans and the Turks, which reflects partially overlapping but two different points of view.




Be European, Be Different

The concept of Europeanness refers to a variety of cultural and social forms.This presentation aims to discuss what is so distinctive about being European.

Does Europeanness as a categorical concept refer to a cultural unity which Turkey desires to become a part of? Which are the characteristics of the European who actually belongs to this cultural unity? Is European citizenship founded upon these characteristics? How is anthropology being affected by them? Is anthropology in Turkey going to acquire a new identity and to orient herself towards identity problems? Will new investigations about identity supply a sufficient comprehension of the “nature” of Europeanness?

Questions such as the above will be dealt with in this presentation and different perceptions of Europeanness will be discussed.




It may now be safely stated that multiculturalism, as a policy orientation towards the acceptance and the encouragement of the de facto cultural diversity within nation-states is in a deep crisis, at least in the countries of the European Union. Formation of a group within the European Parlement, of parties of extreme right who do not dissimulate their racist inclinations, the rise of xenophoby and racist agression within the countries, the undertakings of governments in view of limiting the immigration, the complication of the procedures of citizenship, and lastly, the election of Mr. Sarkozy, notorious for his harsh measures against the non-European immigrants during his state ministry, all may be considered as the indicators of such a crisis.

In this paper, the capacity of the notion of muticulturalism to face such a crisis and its inherent weaknesses, as well as the relation of these weaknesses to the conception of “culture” will be discussed, based on a comparison with its non-European variants, particularly, those of Latin America.




Henry RUTZ
Education and the Reproduction of the İstanbul Middle Class

This paper adresses some of the methodological issues that arise during collaborative research of an American anthropologist and Turkish political economist. It adresses issues related to the significance of “Europeanness” in the context of class formation during the neoliberal era.




Anthropology of Rural Turkey

In spite of a number of notable ethnographies, many of which are rightly renowned, the anthropology of rural Turkey is still remarkably underdeveloped, perhaps even more so in recent years than before. In this brief presentation, I try to offer a number of admittedly speculative reasons why this might be so, and what consequences this may have had in terms of the way anthropological literature has presented itself intellectually. In conclusions, I offer tentatively too some thoughts as to possible ways forward.




Viewing Europe(anness) from Istanbul: City, Spectacle and “Civilizing Process”

Though not certain, Turkey’s membership in the European Union is no longer a hypothetical question but for real. Seen from Europe, prospective inclusion of Turkey into the Union is rather contentious and borders on the dangerous, bringing Europe to the borders of war and cultural otherness. Seen from Turkey, membership in the EU implies a rightful conclusion to the nearly century long experiment in modernization and nation-building, actualized in accord with the universal (European) principles of laicism, democracy and equal rights for woman. Either way Turkish question motivates visible sensitivity and unease on both sides of the EU border. My aim in this paper is to present a framework for understanding the process customarily known as Europeanization and an outline for mapping the cultural topography of the new Metropolis. I will introduce what I see as the key dimensions of what makes a contemporary city a City today. My focus will be on Istanbul—and through Istanbul, I will be implicitly referring to the transformations in Turkey and Europe.  Cities today come to prominence less and less by being the capital or industrial hub of a nation-state but seek their fortunes and fame elsewhere. As emerging icons of Europeanness, they rely on spectacles of culture, art, fashion, science, sports, and various other forms of entertainment in fashioning themselves as world” or “global” cities. In conclusion, I will draw upon Norbert Elias’ notion of “civilizing process” in order to frame the transformations of the Metropolis and Turkey’s quest for Europeanness. The same notion, I will suggest, rightly describes and explains the making of the new Europe.




Reflection of a Multicultural Society: Turkish Writers in the Contemporary German Literature

In the early 1960’s Germany demanded labour force from a number of Mediterranean countries, including Turkey. The Turkish government considered labour migration as an effective solution for her demographic and economic problems and until the mid 1970’s hundreds and thousands of Turkish people migrated to Germany. Although the demand for labourers ceased over thirty years ago, the laws permitting the reunion of the migrants with their families and their willingness to stay in Germany resulted in the emergence of a persistent Turkish minority.

In the beginning both the host society and the so called ‘guest labourers’ assumed that, this was a temporary situation. By now, a considerable number of the first generation of the Turkish workers are retired, but continue living in Germany. The second and third generations who have been brought up in the country have a much greater tendency to settle there permanently. Today, about 2 million Turks are living in Germany, constituting the largest non - German minority in the society. From the early 1970’s until today, about 650.000 of them have received citizenship rights. Together with the labour migrants and refugees from a number of other countries, they have led the German society to review and discuss her notions of citizenship, nationhood and culture. The term ‘guest labourer’ is a category of the past and ‘integration’ is the major issue now.

The Turkish migrants initially had many problems in adapting themselves to the host society and finding an identity in it, as well as in reshaping their relations with their original culture. Although some of them are observed to tend to isolate themselves from the host society and to become increasingly conservative, many others seem to have succeeded in adaptation. With their relatively high birth rate and their various commercial enterprises, they constitute a dynamic section of the German society. Despite the difficulties and obstacles in the system of education, there is an increasing number of successful Turkish people in the German academia, professions, media, arts, sports and politics. Emphasizing the chances rather than the risks of migration, the construct “Euro-Turks” has been used in the social scientific literature.

This presentation will cover a part of the insights gained from an ongoing study on the literary publications of the Turks living in Germany. The works of six contemporary female authors will be discussed with regard to how identities are being constructed in the allegedly multicultural society and how the elements of the original culture reflect themselves in the migrant literature. The presentation will also relate some concerns about the notions of ‘integration’, ‘multicultural society’ and ‘hyphenate identity’.



Jenny B. WHITE
Urban Anthropology of Turkey

The story of urbanization in Turkey has three story-tellers: the individual migrant, the state, and the scholarly observer. Their three visions or interpretations have to a large extent defined and shaped one another, although their interests and aims are not the same.  All are subject to the opportunities and barriers thrown up by history, and have responded to political and intellectual currents from abroad. The Marshall Plan, for instance, reshaped the existence of the individual farmer in Turkey.  The introduction of multi-party politics changed the nature of interaction between the government and illegal squatters, who became voters to be wooed. Each stage in the urbanization of Turkey has been accompanied by scholarly analysis, shaped and reshaped by intellectual currents from abroad. And, finally, the media and the market continue to shape new urban identities today.

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