The Republic of Turkey, heir to the Ottoman Empire and (still) official candidate for E.U. membership, has been both laboratory and field of projection for all sorts of discourses about modernity and Europe. Anthropology has of course not been unaffected by this over-determined categorical field. Earlier work thus approached Turkey primarily through a culturalist and orientalist gaze, finding and representing ‘Turkey’ through ‘traditional’ village ethnographies. Yet, over the last three decades anthropological enquiry has mostly moved away from seeking to understand local and regional peculiarities towards embedding particular research questions within transnational and global dynamics and developments. This seminar will provide an overview over contemporary, critical research on Turkey, mainly, but not exclusively by anthropologists. It will engage with emergent scholarship seeking to make sense of the current political and economic transformations in Turkey in both their national and global dimensions. It will cover long-standing research and enquiries into dynamics of orientalism/Occidentalism, secularism/Islam and modernity under the ever-present spectre of Europe as historical reality and haunting figure. And it will focus on a range of more specific fields: neoliberalism, urban space, infrastructure and energy politics, intimacy, feminist and queer movements, political violence, minorities, history and memory, and lastly Rojava and the Kurdish movement. A number of guest researchers will come and join us to talk about their respective research. All in all, students will become familiar with the history and the political and social dynamics of Turkey, but also with fields of research and enquiry that are in no way peculiar to Turkey alone.
The seminar will be in English as will be the readings. However, students are welcome to speak German in class as well as submit their course requirements as well as their MAPs in German.