Women’s migration has long been neglected in research on labour migration from low- to high-income countries. Since the last decades of the twentieth century, growing numbers of women have been migrating for work—referred to as the ‘feminization of migration’. Nonetheless, as family members, women’s mobility is often assumed to be contingent upon that of men. My research focuses on the latter half of the twentieth- and early twenty-first-century women’s labour migration from Turkey and low-income countries to Germany and other Western European countries. It examines the sectors in which women are employed, the conditions under which they work, the forms of organisation they practice, and the struggles they face. This research can thus be considered a contribution to the history of recent migrant women’s labour from a feminist perspective.
I am a scholar of the digital humanities, whose practice-led research centres on the ways new media technologies reflect and refract the articulation, manifestation, dissemination, and transformation of emergent political subjectivities. As a maker and self-taught coder, I founded and participated in activist and archivist media collectives, and have lectured and organised workshops in Turkey, Europe, and the United States. Prior to coming to Germany, I worked in Istanbul as a lecturer and was the founding director of a research centre, until I was dismissed from my faculty position during the recent wave of ‘academic cleansing’ in Turkey.
Short-term fellow Spring 2019
I began my postdoctoral research as a Young Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre Nantais de Sociologie, France, and am continuing my fieldwork in Germany under the auspices of AiE. My current research looks at how ‘compound identities’ are constructed among the descendants of migrants from Turkey, and at the everyday contexts in which notions of belonging are expressed. The concept of ‘compound identities’ encompasses two aspects of identity: intersectionality among social classes and the relevance of the sociological concept of the ‘group’ to discussions about the descendants of Turkish migrants in Germany and France.
My research project intervenes in political economic discussions about regime transformation. Specifically, it attends to the relations between political regime change and labour politics. The project examines authoritarianism within the framework of labour politics and labour as a form of socioeconomic agency. It investigates authoritarian practices in the Turkish case by examining labour force management and production relations. The project aims to explicate the contribution that labour relations can make to authoritarian regimes.
My project, ‘Contemplating Images Today: A Critical Reading of Jacques Rancière’s, Georges Didi-Huberman’s and WJT Mitchell’s Ideas on Image’ aims to critique the distinction between image and truth that has been haunted by the history of western thought. According to Rancière, Didi-Huberman and Mitchell, we need to reconsider the concept of the image today, something that is directly related to the way in which we perceive, feel, and understand the world. The project holds that contemporary images have the potential to make radical changes in our perception of the world. Through concentrating on the afore-mentioned philosophers’ thoughts on the ‘image’, the project underlines the idea that the truth of the image does not lie in the fact that it is merely a mask, concealing the truth or distorting it for us, the image also has the possibility of transforming the truth into constituent parts.
Fellow since 02/2019
As a labour historian, my research focuses on the historical roots of the low female labour force participation in Turkey. Dealing with archival documents and other historical sources, my research evaluates the role of social values in this low participation rate. By way of contrast, no developed country in the world has a female labour force participation rate that is under 50 percent. My study investigates historical continuities and examines female participation in the labour force from the early attempts to industrialise the Ottoman Empire at the end of the nineteenth century until the present. Effectively demonstrating the historical roots of the problem will not only help shed light on the past but also propose solutions for the future.
My research deals with more-than-human collectives and ecologies, state violence, militarism, and constructions of manhood. Recent publications include a study of stray dogs in Istanbul, livestock killings in the Kurdish region of Turkey during the forced displacement of the Kurdish population in the 1990s, and the appropriation of forests during the early Republican period of Turkey. In addition to publishing three children stories, I am currently working on a book project.
Fellow since 2018
In the field of political philosophy, my research applies contemporary theories of recognition to post-genocide relations between the state and historically-excluded communities. Of specific interest are the shifting relations between the Turkish state and Armenians in Turkey. The politics of recognition that emerged in the 1990s are shown to have particular relevance for the communities that were displaced and politically functionalised by the state. Under investigation is the way in which this movement responds to the juridical and commemorative demands of Armenians in Turkey today.
As a linguist, my research deals with theoretical aspects of Turkish grammar from a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. However, given the centrality of language-related issues to social and political debates in Turkey, I also intervene in discussions about multilingualism, language rights and policies, native language education, and assimilation. This, too, constitutes part of my social responsibility as a scholar. My research and teaching foreground the importance of critical thinking and examine the ways in which Turkish political discourse manipulates our reasoning. This manipulation is achieved by manipulating our cognitive heuristics (i.e. the rules of thumb that guide us when we are thinking about the world) and by taking advantage of our cognitive biases (i.e. the systematic errors in thinking that mislead us).
My research investigates how certain economic tools have been developed and maintained by global governance institutions, and it traces the impact these tools have on people’s everyday lives. My current project focuses on the lives of poor, unemployed women in Turkey. The theoretical premise is that debt entails an economic relationship, as well as social and political ones. Archival and qualitative research reveals the global connections of debt creation in relation to the experiences of women at the local level.
My research is at the intersection of the history of state violence and the politics of emotions in Turkey. Focusing on what state-sponsored violence destroys and on what it produces, I analyse the role of racialisation and discriminatory religious policies in the construction of collective identities.