Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Leyla Keough -- 'Driven Women': Gendered Moral Economies of New Migrations to Turkey

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

4 p.m. – 6 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

"'Driven Women': Gendered Moral Economies of New Migrations to Turkey," with Leyla Keough, Ph.D. Anthropology, Visiting Lecturer, Bridgewater State College.

In the past decade, Turkey, best known as the provider of guest workers from Germany, has become a recipient of undocumented female migrant workers from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. While media, NGOs, and governments alike are concerned with the alarming rise of sex-trafficking in this region, much less attention has been paid to other irregular migrations of women, such as those migrating voluntarily for various types of informal labor (such as domestic work, trading, and sex work) to help their families survive, whose numbers are also on the rise. Who are women migrants in this region and how best can we understand and explain their labors and migrations? In this talk, Dr. Keough, a cultural anthropologist, details her book project, entitled, "Driven Women: Gender, Migrations, and Moralities," which draws upon 14 months of transnational ethnographic research on Moldovan migrant domestics in Turkey. She illuminates new patterns of migration that increasingly involve women shuttling transnationally between home and work in these geographic peripheries of Europe. She argues that ethnographic research on the subjective experiences of migrants and their employers is key to understanding the gendered nature of the supply of and demand for this kind of transnational labor. Moreover, through such research, we may better interrogate received notions about the geography of globalization and agency of women migrants, and better assess policies regarding their mobility.

Leyla Keough is a cultural anthropologist whose research interests focus primarily on gender and new forms of transnational labor migration taking place in Postsocialist Europe and Turkey. After completing her Ph.D in 2007, she spent one year in Washington, DC as a resident scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute. In 2008-9, she held a post-doctoral research fellowship at one of the top universities in Istanbul, Sabanci University. While there, she taught, helped to organize an international conference on gender and ethnicity, and conducted follow-up research on Moldovan migrant domestics in Turkey, the topic of her dissertation. She is currently working on an ethnography based upon this research and tentatively entitled 'Driven' Women: Gender, Migrations, and Moralities. She also holds a position as Visiting Lecturer at Bridgewater State College. This summer, she plans to begin a new project in Istanbul on how cultural diversity is being newly imagined and implemented in Turkey today.

Location:  McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute, 111 Thayer Street.