I noticed that the sheer expanse of the city meant that people only really lived in a few neighbourhoods of it. In everyday life, there seemed to be no single Istanbul, but more of a series of passages through, and dwellings within, more particular settings. People regularly attributed their lack of time for meeting up to the long travel times between different places they had to be. And although I realise this condition isn’t specific to Istanbul (the same probably happens in any city, especially one on this scale) I nevertheless had the feeling that any singular idea of the city as a whole evaded me.
To understand the historical, political, and emotional resonance of this migration, we must first analyse such categories as gurbet and gurbetci. The gurbetci – one who lives in exile, diaspora, or away from the homeland – lives in a state of gurbet. It is a relative term, one that might describe the state of those living in Frankfurt, as well as Turks living in Istanbul, who feel that their primary identification is with their natal village rather than the city. The emergent literature and musical genres produced by Turkish artists in western Europe, although addressing this relatively recent phenomenon, actually draws upon a long tradition of exile and gurbet experiences. Throughout history, Turks have known many types of exile and migration. Thus, there is an established paradigm for the cultural structuring of contemporary labor migration.
Chapter 8 “Shifting centers and emergent identities: Turkey and Germany in the lives of Turkish Gastarbeiter,” by Ruth Mandel in “Muslim Travellers: Pilgrimage, Migration, and the Religious Imagination” by Dale Eikelman and James Piscatori (1990) University of California Press, Berkeley
The first people I spoke with in Istanbul mentioned the protests outside the Turkish consulate in Rotterdam. This demonstration had followed the Dutch authorities’ decision to disallow Turkish ministers entry into the Netherlands to campaign for the “yes” vote in the Turkish referendum. This didn’t surprise me, since the affair was international news. But what struck me was that a few of them spontaneously referred to one video from the protest, which they had watched online via social media posts. This same video came up in a total of five different conversations I had with people during my one month stay. And remembered having seen it because friends of mine in the Netherlands had also shared it on Facebook while I was still in Amsterdam.
I’m very happy to share that my book has been released. The full title is “The Internet and Formations of Iranian American-ness: Next Generation Diaspora,” and it’s about how various digital media applications and platforms come to be embedded within the lives of second-generation Iranian migrants in LA. It argues that digital media become such an important part of identity formation for these young people that “digital styles” of being Iranian American take shape. Continue reading “My book is out: ‘The Internet and Formations of Iranian American-ness’”→