Middle East Studies

Asli Zengin – Caring for the Dead: Intimacy, Abandonment and Transgender Funerals in Turkey


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute
111 Thayer St.

Registration will be required and will open up closer to the date

Focusing on Sunni Muslim transgender people’s funerals and burial practices in Turkey, this talk discusses the relationship between mourning, intimacy and gender/sex transgression through the lenses of care for the dead. In funeral rituals, the state, religious actors, and members of kin and family hold the obligations and rights to the deceased, such as washing, shrouding, burying and praying for the dead body, which Asli Zengin characterizes as “care for the dead.” The practices of care represent the deceased body in strictly gendered ways. For instance, the coffin design, the prayers at the mosque, the washing ritual prior to burial and the rites of inhumation are different for women and men. However, when the deceased is a transgender person, their/her/his body may open an intimate social field for negotiating and contesting these practices of care. Zengin examines this social field of contestation in order to discuss the limits of gendered and sexual belonging in citizenship, the family and the practices and discourses of mourning and grief in Turkey.

Luncheon Seminars

Asli Zengin, Louise Lamphere Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies