Part of the Spring 2019 Middle Eastern and North African Studies Colloquium Series
Irina Levin, Postdoctoral Fellow at Melikian Center, Arizona State University
Ahiskalilar, Ahiska Turkleri, or simply Ahiska from various parts of the former Soviet Union have been arriving in Turkey since the early 1990s. While Turkish politicians have generally been willing to claim Ahiska symbolically, referring to them as "our Turkish brothers" or "our citizens arriving from other countries," their experiences with state institutions and employers have often left them feeling like foreigners or less than human. Based on fieldwork conducted in 2013 and 2014, this papers argues that, in this context, Ahiska have framed their migration to and presence in Turkey as a nationalist movement. Given their long history of displacement and the essentialist nature of their claims to belonging, they challenge both settled ethnonational renderings of the Turkish nation that exclude them and civic and humanitarian versions that include a variety of non-Turkish others.
Irina Levin is an anthropologist whose research and teaching interests are in migration studies, the anthropology of law, sovereignty, mobility, gender, labor, and Eurasian and Middle Eastern studies. Dr. Levin's ethnographic fieldwork was with Ahiska/Meskhetians, a forcibly displaced community in Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey. She explores contemporary issues of disputed citizenship, legacies of displacement, narratives of collective trauma, and the social and political work of identity documents. Her work traces tensions in human rights, immigration, and citizenship as they echo across both “east” and “west,” market and command economies, and national law and humanitarian praxis. Dr. Levin is currently working on her book manuscript and planning her forthcoming research project on female labor migrants from the former Soviet Union in Turkey.
Co-Sponsored by the Arizona Center for Turkish Studies