Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2018
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, City University of New York (CUNY) / Graduate Center
Syrians in a Turkish City: Improvising Care Beyond the Refugee Camp

This 12-month ethnographic project investigates the emergent social relationships and networks of care forged between Turkish citizens and Syrian nationals in the working-class neighborhoods of Istanbul that currently host the largest Syrian population in the country. As of October 2017, 3.2 million Syrians live in Turkey. Contrary to common assumptions, only a small minority of Syrians reside in refugee camps. The majority live on their own in different cities throughout Turkey as urban refugees. Variously referred to as "guests" (misafirler), "our Muslim sisters and brothers" (Müslüman kardeslerimiz), "townspeople" (hemsehriler), "neighbors" (komsular), and as "refugees" (mülteciler), Syrians in Istanbul are in the process of integrating into local communities and trying to gain recognition as well as moral entitlements despite their legal and economic precariousness. Using participant observation, open-ended interviews, and social network analysis, my project will trace the ways historically and morally charged social categories such as "guest," "neighbor," "townsperson," and "Muslim kin" are deployed by Turkish nationals and Syrians to study emergent networks that link Syrians to each other and to Turkish citizens. My goal is to explore where and how care materializes in this context, and examine if a new kind of urban citizenship is being formulated in the process. By placing questions of care – ethical concerns over who matters, to whom, and why and how they matter – at the center of my analysis, my proposed research project moves beyond "the bare life/camp" paradigm and opens up a space for analyzing modes of relationality between citizens and refugees, solidarity networks formed between them, and new forms of social life flourishing at the peripheries of the city.