Friday, October 11, 2019
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
112, Giddings House
128 Hope St.
Organized by Ayşe Şanlı, PhD student in anthropology
Precarious Hope: Migration and the Limits of Belonging in Turkey (forthcoming in August 2019, Stanford University Press) is an ethnographic study of the historical and legal production of hope among ethnically Turkish labor migrants from Bulgaria. Shifting the focus away from those most vulnerable migrants and refugees who hope against the odds, Precarious Hope trains its lens on a group of migrants who have historically been considered desirable for Turkey’s citizenship regime. Exploring the significance of relative privilege in structuring hope, the book considers the terms and limits of belonging in Turkey through the perspective of migrants for whom legal and cultural membership is systematically promised but who nonetheless remain precarious in the labor market.
What happens to hope as a category of analysis and experience when we consider hope in relation to structural privilege and precarity? Based on five years of ethnographic fieldwork among ethnic Turks who migrate from Bulgaria to Turkey and who are trying to legalize their status, the author explores the tensions between ethnic privilege and economic vulnerability. Turkish immigration policies have worked in lockstep with national aspirations for ethnic and religious conformity, offering this group of migrants in Turkey an advantage over others. She thus considers the limits of belonging in Turkey from the perspective of labor migrants for whom citizenship is intimated and promised—but not guaranteed. As much as hope enables dignity and perseverance for these migrants, it is also used by the Turkish state to reproduce a migration regime that categorizes some as “kin” and desirable and others as “foreign” and dispensable. The experiences of the Bulgaristanlı migrants also speaks to our global predicament in which increasing numbers of people are forced to manage both cultivation of hope and relentless anxiety within structures of inequality.
Department of Anthropology colloquium