Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, Sociology, Bogazici University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
The Invention of Africa in Turkey: National Sovereignty and Transnational Circulations of Knowledge, Capital and Affect

The recent "invention of Africa" in Turkey is a process that knits together multiple state and non-state actors across diplomatic institutions, business associations, Islamic NGOs, and universities. I will conduct a multi-sited research in Turkey and Senegal in order to study the various social actors, relations and practices involved in this process. Looking at sites where knowledge about Africa is produced and circulated, I will first map the spatial and political imagination pertaining to Africa in Turkey. Secondly, I will study the material practices and processes through which the state and private capital create an "African market". Finally, focusing on Islamic NGOs, I will examine how affective communities are built across borders in the process of collecting donations and redistributing them as aid in Africa. Drawing upon the scholarships on sovereignty and spatialized approaches to state theory, I argue that the mobilization of transnational flows to and from Africa is a strategy of reconfiguring sovereignty. In this research, I also trace the repercussions of this strategy for the conceptualization of South-South relations. The mainstream political and academic discourse has applauded the rise of Southern countries in global economy as a democratizing force and the transnational relations across the South as decolonizing. As an anthropological intervention in this debate, my research questions the basic assumptions of the South-South rhetoric through the study of the emergent relations between Turkey and African countries. Rather than juxtaposing South-South relations against that of North-South, I will analyze how Africa is invented as a category of otherness, Turkishness is reinvented in a dialectical relation and how the West is always already implicated in this relationship.