Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Harvard University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Harvard University
Disobedient Mountains and Rivers of Revolt: Occupation and Insurgency by Other Means in Turkish Kurdistan

My dissertation research deals with the politicization of the physical landscape in Dersim, a Kurdish-Alevi province in eastern Turkey that has been one of the major centers of Leftist and Kurdish politics in the last century. I focus on the various modes of discursive and material struggles between the inhabitants of Dersim, state, and corporate actors over the region’s landscape. I examine how inhabitants locate politics in the physical landscape, working to forensically examine the land in order to imbue it with economic, political, and cultural value and subsequently to guard it. The state in turn responds to this politicization through attempts to contain resistance through strategies such as the building of an extensive network of military posts and hydroelectric dams which reproduce the topography of the region as isolated and contained and submerge material traces of sacred landscapes and past struggles. I accomplish this research through ethnographic fieldwork in three area villages, by following the itineraries of activists, and through archival research in state archives as well as drawing on the archives on the Kurdish conflict that are continuously being created and maintained by Dersim inhabitants as well as the other actors involved in the resistance. I ultimately ask how we can understand the physical landscape of Dersim as both a medium and mediator of political struggle and political identity. The political life of landscape in Dersim provides an opportunity to problematize the urban bias in prevalent analyses of how politics works in relation to space. My dissertation will produce an analysis that brings rural extraction and warfare to the heart of understandings of spatial politics, and the labor of resistance to the center of understandings of production of space in insurgent landscapes, both economically and politically.