Prof. Dr. Nazan Maksudyan | Researcher

Dynamics and Experiences of Globalisation
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: maksudyan  ( at )  cmb.hu-berlin.de Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700

Home Institution : Centre Marc Bloch | Position : Researcher | Disciplines : History |

Biography

Nazan Maksudyan is Senior Researcher and head of the Centre Marc Bloch research team in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funded research project, “Ottoman Auralities and the Eastern Mediterranean: Sound, Media and Power, 1789-1914” (OTTOMAN AURALITIES; (replaced) ERC Starting Grant 2021; Principal Investigator: Dr. Peter McMurray, University of Cambridge). She is a Board Member of the Association of Middle East Children and Youth Studies (AMECYS), Journal of Women's History, and Journal of European Studies.

From 2019 to 2022, Maksudyan was an Einstein guest professor in the Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut at the Freie Universität Berlin. She was a »Europe in the Middle East – The Middle East in Europe« (EUME) Fellow in 2009 and 2010 at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin and an Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Postdoctoral Fellow at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin) in 2010 – 2011 and in 2016 and 2018. From 2013 to 2016, she worked as a professor of history in Istanbul and received her habilitation degree in 2015.

Her research mainly focuses on the social and cultural history of the late Ottoman Empire (18th–20th centuries) and modern Turkey, with special interest in children and youth, gender, sexuality, and the history of sciences. Among her publications are Ottoman Children & Youth During World War I (Syracuse UP, 2019), Orphans and Destitute Children in the Late Ottoman Empire (Syracuse UP, 2014), Women and the City, Women in the City (ed., Berghahn, 2014), Urban Neighborhood Formations (ed. with Hilal Alkan, Routledge, 2020).

Soundscapes of Late Ottoman Cities

My project is a comparative social and cultural history of the soundscapes of late Ottoman cities. The aim is to configure the sensory and subjective aspects of sounds. I intend to give a sense as to how Ottoman soundscapes were shaped by the over present sound of the Muslim call to prayer, but also to a certain extent by the sounds other religions, by street vendors who dominated the street life with their commercial activities, by dogs, by fires and firefighters, and certainly by the new infrastructural and communication technologies of train, tram, telegraph, and steamship in the turn of the century. The research also extends to the criticisms and awareness of certain segments of the society regarding noise and anti-noise regulations. The project is particularly interested in the implications of gender, class, ethnicity, religion, and human-animal encounters in shaping the sonic lives of the cities.

(UKRI) OTTOMAN AURALITIES and the Eastern Mediterranean: Sound, Media and Power, 1789-1922


The Project

A core idea of OTTOMAN AURALITIES is the notion of “auralities,” a study of sound, sonic culture and technologies that emerges both in dialogue with and critique of the field of sound studies (Gautier 2014). We also build upon a body of literature on global sonic cultures, either focusing on the aftermath of recording technologies (Denning 2015, Kheshti 2015) or in contemporary settings that employ ethnography as their main methodology (Feld 2012 [1982], Hirschkind 2006, Novak 2013). Two groundbreaking recent volumes of essays, Audible Empire (Radano and Olaniyan 2016) and Remapping Sound Studies (Steingo and Sykes 2019) exemplify these two important trajectories. Yet the historical study of sound and auditory cultures outside Europe and North America remains relatively underdeveloped. Thus in suggesting a “provincializing” of sound studies, to draw on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s classic term for postcolonial historiography (2000), we suggest that an emphasis on the Ottoman Empire and the Eastern Mediterranean, and the techniques and technologies of sounding and listening that were cultivated within those geographies, allows a crucial attempt to rethink notions of sonic modernity that valorize the West.

The study of sound within histories of the Ottoman Empire and the Eastern Mediterranean is beginning to emerge at the intersection of musicology of the Ottoman Empire and cultural history. Histories of recorded music in the Eastern Mediterranean (Ünlü 2016; Abbani 2018, 2022) and musicological works about the early Turkish Republic (O’Connell 2013) add important dimensions to this history as well. The shift from the history of Ottoman art/architecture toward a broader paradigm of visual studies in recent years (e.g., Ersoy 2015, Orkçuoğlu 2020) has inaugurated a wider conceptualization of visuality not rooted in monuments or obvious works of art, per se, but rather in a greater awareness of everyday sensory experience. Nina Ergin has also written key articles on the soundscapes of mosques in Ottoman-era Istanbul (2008) and on women’s sonic experiences of religious architecture (2014). Ziad Fahmy’s new book (2020) on Egyptian auditory culture around the turn of the twentieth century offers an important model for what this kind of sonic history might look like.

KEY THEMES

Given the ubiquity of sound in most all domains of life, we offer thematic areas that will help structure research and allow the project to maintain focus yet think inclusively about whose sonic lives and experiences constituted the Ottoman Empire and Eastern Mediterranean.

1. Circulation: While sound and “soundscape”-oriented projects have often conceived of sound as being connected to a particular location, this project emphasizes from the outset the circulation and mobilities of sound, as well as those people who make or perceive sonic processes.

2. Space and Ecology: Related to the question of circulation is that of space, whether architectural (Ergin, 2008), urban (Fahmy 2020), or rural and/or located in a broader environment (Mikhail 2013). The resonance of various religious buildings, both inside and outside, created defining sensory experiences for many Ottoman subjects and also made cultural difference audible (or intentionally not). Noise, a key dimension of urban sound, will figure prominently in the project, such as in accounts of the packs of wild dogs roaming Istanbul.

3. Voice: Voice studies has emerged as a robust discourse at the intersection of sound studies, psychoanalysis, and the natural sciences (Eidsheim and Meizel 2019). Besides poetry, religious vocal practices play a key role in the project.

4. Infrastructures: Media theorists have increasingly emphasized the centrality of infrastructure (Peters 2015), including both material/inanimate infrastructures (roads, canals, railways) as well as humans involved in labor, maintenance, and societal upkeep. Institutions such as telegraphy stations, railroads, the Ottoman Translation Office (Tercüme Odası), schools (including those for the deaf), early telephone stations, and the Sultan’s court itself all offer important areas for study.

5. Bodies, Gender, Sexuality: Focusing on sound and auditory culture allow new considerations of bodily practice, gender, and the performance of sexuality. Here related subjects of music, performance, and medicine will play a greater role.

6. Techne: This thematic area suggests both material technologies of this period (e.g., telegraphy, photography, gramophone, film, radio) and the “native” techniques people developed to make use of these technologies.

The OTTOMAN AURALITIES-research-team consists of Dr. Peter McMurray, Principal Investigator (University of Cambridge); Prof. Nazan Maksudyan, Senior Researcher (CMB); three Post-Doc researchers: Dr. Vanessa Paloma-Elbaz (University of Cambridge), Dr. Jacob Olley (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Onur Engin (University of Cambridge); two PhD researchers: Hande Betül Ünal (University of Cambridge), Benedict Turner-Berry (University of Cambridge); and affiliated researchers: Dr. Carole Woodall (University of Colorado); Salih Demirtaş (Orient-Institut Istanbul); Dr. Martin Greve (Orient-Institut Istanbul); Dr. Esther Voswinckel (Orient-Institut Istanbul).
In order to secure high standards in research, our Advisory Board consists of Dr. Ziad Fahmy (Cornell University); Dr. Deniz Türker (Rutgers University); Dr. Martin Stokes (King’s College London); Dr. Ahmet Ersoy (Boğaziçi University); and Dr. Nina Ergin (Koç University).
Zeynep Kacmaz Milne (Cambirdge) is the Project Administrator. This transnational research project is made possible with funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)  (EP/X032833/1).

Virtual stories

The project aims to create new digital platforms of virtual arts for children & youth to be able to speak up and tell their own stories through novel and unorthodox mediums. The youth we are in contact with think that the virtual reality is the technology of the future, and are curious about new forms of storytelling that get them beyond the binaries of contemporary scientific thought and practice. The project also aims to create channels for Middle Eastern youth to engage with young people in Europe, and especially those in Berlin, through interregional connections built by the project partners.

https://www.virtualstoriesberlin.com/

Refuge in Research: Walter Ruben’s Exile and Internment in Turkey

May 15, 2024

Nazan Maksudyan

Edition: Springer Link

https://www.zmo.de/fileadmin/Inhalte/Publikationen/PDFs/workingpapers/zmo_working_paper_29_2021.pdf

Abstract This paper follows the plight of Walter Ruben (1899– 1982), an Indologist who had begun his career in Frankfurt am Main and later became one of the leading Indologists of the German Democratic Republic. In mid-1930s, he escaped Nazi persecution by seeking exile in Turkey. Relying on archival research in the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the Prime Ministry’s Republican Archives (BCA) in Istanbul, the Turkish press, and oral historical sources, together with the publications of Ruben during his Ankara years, I bring to light Ruben’s life trajectory during his exile and internment with a balanced analysis of his ‘production of knowledge’ as a scholar at risk. The scholarly pressure and difficulties Ruben faced as an endangered scholar hired by a single-party authoritarian state delineate the precariousness and vulnerabilities of life as an exile academic. His original research and writing during his forced internment in Kırşehir, on the other hand, marks another dimension of his exile years, namely his endless effort to look for a real refuge within his intellectual production.

Pages 101-128 of "Academics in a Century of Displacement" which contains sections of a lot of other CMB Assoiates such as Leyla Dakhli, Pascale Laborier, Frank Wolff, Isabella Löhr


Afterlives of Ottoman Orphans in Germany during World War I: Microhistorical and Biographical Approaches to Technology, Expertise, and Labor in Turkey

May 01, 2024

Nazan Maksudyan


https://muse.jhu.edu/article/927858

ABSTRACT

This article applies a (micro)biographical approach to the life stories of two Ottoman orphans sent to Germany to receive vocational training during World War I, Ali and İsmail Dağlı. Coupling family archives, oral and visual sources with state documentation, I elaborate on the post-Ottoman afterlives of German know-how, education, and capital in the social and economic history of Turkey. Biographies of Dağlı brothers show that the successors of both empires restored former channels of circulation of expertise, technology, and labor. Especially seen in the context of Jewish emigration, the life and work history of the brothers elucidate the positive reception of their German education, the importance of their position as “cultural intermediaries,” and the extent of Turkish-German business entanglements.


‘Sound-Writing’ Technologies and Early Field Recordings in the Ottoman Empire

April 04, 2024

Nazan Maksudyan

Edition: DergiPark Akademik

https://dergipark.org.tr/en/pub/srtc/issue/84330/1449023

Abstract

The history of early sound recording technologies in the Ottoman Empire has been studied mainly from the perspectives of music production, comparative musicology, and ethnomusicology. In fact, while hundreds of commercial and musical cylinders were being produced in Istanbul, Beirut, and elsewhere, European anthropologists, ethnologists, linguists, orientalists, etc. were traveling throughout the Balkans, Anatolia, and the Caucasus collecting audio data for scientific purposes. In order to contribute to the Ottoman history of science and technology from the perspectives of sound studies and auditory history, I focus on the first field recordings in the Ottoman Empire, namely during Paul Kretschmer's (1866-1956) study trip to Lesbos in 1901 and Felix von Luschan's (1854-1924) research in Zincirli (Sendschirli, Aintab) in 1902. Thus, this paper aims to fill a research gap within Ottoman Studies with regard to non-musical recordings and the impact of sound reproduction technologies on the history of the (colonial) sciences, especially anthropology, ethnology and linguistics.


Mediatized Witnessing, Spectacles of Pain, and Reenacting Suffering: The Armenian Genocide and Humanitarian Cinema

December 29, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan


https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-031-36753-3_5

Abstract

Focusing on the conception, production, distribution (and disappearance) of Ravished Armenia (1919) and Alice in Hungerland (1921), two silent films on the Armenian Genocide from a gendered perspective, this chapter combines media history (“technologies of witnessing”) with the history of global humanitarianism. These two oldest movies on the genocide were shot with the initiative of the Near East Relief in order to raise donations and international awareness through the reenactment of suffering, sensationalization of violence, and victimized Armenian bodies. Both films enjoyed a short-lived fame and revenue, followed by disappearance and subsequent oblivion. The early humanitarian cinematic representation of the Armenian genocide sheds light on the ferocious mediatization and marketing strategies of humanitarian agencies, specifically as to how they targeted the corporal bodies of their lead orphan actresses, Arshalouys Mardigian and Esther Razon, through extensive bodily interventions, enormous workload, and reenactment of suffering.


Children at the Margins of Labour Migration in Füruzan’s Works after Germany

December 27, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan


https://iupress.istanbul.edu.tr/en/journal/tuded/article/children-at-the-margins-of-labour-migration-in-furuzans-works-after-germany

In 1975, novelist and short story writer Füruzan came to West Berlin following the invitation of the German Academic Exchange Service and spent the next five years on and off in Berlin until 1980. Following her travels, she published her journalistic essays/memoirs Yeni Konuklar (1977) and Ev sahipleri (1981), her children’s book Vom rotgesprenkelten Spatzen (1980), and her novel Berlin’in Nar Çiçeği (1988). While she gained a transregional perspective on issues concerning labour migration and class during her time in Germany, her works resulting from it introduced these subjects to her readership in Turkey. Her Yeni Konuklar and Ev sahipleri in particular provide a significant amount of data on the subject of labour migration to Germany, while her Vom rotgesprenkelten Spatzen and Berlin’in Nar Çiçeği elaborate upon the inherent large cultural shifts on both sides resulting from labour migration. This article examines the works Füruzan produced following her stay in Germany in the 1970s. It discusses the ways in which she presents the perspectives of the children as previously underexplored material on issues concerning global labour mobility. It looks at how children’s experiences reveal a more complicated reality in regards to social and cultural integration with an emphasis on the difficulties that they face and go unnoticed. Moreover, it also argues for the distinct potentialities of integration rendered possible through the relationship between the immigrant children and the elderly Germans due to a shared experience of marginalisation.


"Great War and the State Orphanages (Darüleytam)"

October 10, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan

Edition: Campus Verlag

in Familie und Krieg: Erfahrung, Fürsorge und Leitbilder von der Antike bis in die Gegenwart, Alexander Denzler, Andreas Hartmann, Kathrin Kiefer, Markus Raasch (Hg.) (Farkfurt: Campus Verlag, 2023), 111-139.


The fall of a city: Refugees, exodus and exile in Ernest Hemingway’s Istanbul, 1922

August 07, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan

Artikel

Edition: Journal of European Studies

Ernest Hemingway arrived in Istanbul on 30 September 1922 to cover the end of the Greek–Turkish War for the Toronto Star. From late October to mid-November 1922, Hemingway wrote 20 articles about the last days of the war and the re-constellation of political legitimacy in the region. There are four distinguishing features of Hemingway’s reports from Constantinople. First, they provided an eloquent depiction of the city, suggesting the charm and squalor of old ‘Constan’ for the young writer. The second was a clear expectation of a ‘second disaster’, which was assumed to be a replica of Smyrna. Hemingway clearly observed the fears of non-Muslims and foreigners in the city, who were panicking over possible new massacres and pillage. Third, Hemingway quickly realized that the exodus of people – the desperate flight of Christian refugees – and Turkification of the country would be his main subject. His repeated emphasis on refugees permanent loss of a home is reminiscent of Hannah Arendt’s famous essay ‘We Refugees’, as well as a precursor to Agamben’s point that refugees are reduced to ‘bare life’. Lastly, his prose relied on irony and cynicism, as a cover for his disappointment and shame for humanity and modern civilization. Juxtaposing his writing with contemporary local accounts, I intend to situate his witnessing into the larger historiography of ‘Armistice Istanbul’ and the homogenization policies of the winning Turkish nationalist leadership. Hemingway’s critique of (homogeneous) nation-state formation after the war and the favourable involvement of the Allied countries and humanitarian agencies in the mass production of refugees was quite exceptional and ahead of his times.

Link to the article


Erna Eckstein-Schlossmann’s exile years in Turkey, 1935–1950: a biographical and gendered approach to migration history

May 23, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan

Artikel

Edition: Women's History Review

Erna Eckstein-Schlossmann (1895–1998) and Albert Eckstein (1891–1950), a pediatrician couple from Düsseldorf, had to hand in their official resignations after being declared as ‘Jews’ according to the laws of 1933 and 1935. Albert Eckstein accepted the offer of the Turkish government to become the head of the pediatric clinic of Ankara Hospital. Relying on a biographical approach and utilizing ego-documents, such as memoirs, letters, and travelogues at the Eckstein family archives, together with Turkish state archives, and Erna Eckstein-Schlossmann’s research publications, this paper conceptualizes Erna’s exile years in Turkey along gendered lines and provides an intersectional interpretation of migration. This microhistorical reconstruction acknowledges her agency and subjectivity as a high-skilled migrant woman; intertwines her life story with the larger dynamics of the migrant networks in Turkey; and brings it into dialogue with macro-level structural factors with regards to the war, the mass murder and the global movement of European Jews.

Link to the article


For the Holy War and Motherland: Ottoman State Orphanages (Darüleytams) in the Context of the First World War and the Armenian Genocide

March 28, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan

Artikel
Special Issue "Kinder in Heimen", ed. by Anelia Kassabova, Sandra Maß (Hg.)
Edition: L’Homme. Europäische Zeitschrift für Feministische Geschichtswissenschaft 34/1 (2023): 39-59
Collection: Special Issue "Kinder in Heimen", ed. by Anelia Kassabova, Sandra Maß (Hg.)

Youth Cultures of Activism and Politics

January 26, 2023

Nazan Maksudyan

Zeitschriftenartikel
The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture
Collection: The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture

Youth cultures’ engagement with activism and politics, through which young people attempt “to initiate and resist change in the social order,” has produced a sizable literature. A discussion of this topic traces this engagement and its changes over time. First, nationalist youth cultures of the early twentieth century stressed duty, responsibility, and idealism. Later, the anti-establishment youth cultures of the 1960s and 1970s aspired to change the world on a global scale. Anarchistic and nonconformist youth subcultures of the 1980s and 1990s cultivated apathy toward traditional politics. Finally, globally dissenting millennials focus their concerns on democratic governance, ecology, and global social justice.

Maksudyan, Nazan, 'Youth Cultures of Activism and Politics', in James Marten (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Youth Culture (online edn, Oxford Academic, 14 Apr. 2021), https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190920753.013.27,


Commemorating the First World War and Its Aftermath: Neo-Ottomanism, Gender, and the Politics of History in Turkey

December 14, 2022

Nazan Maksudyan , Hilal Alkan

Zeitschriftenartikel
Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe
Edition: Neo-Ottoman Imaginaries in Contemporary Turkey
Collection: Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe

This chapter discusses the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) neo-Ottomanist history politics with a focus on commemoration and memorialisation of the First World War and the “Independence War” in Turkey. These commemorations refer to a mythical Ottoman past that stresses Sunni-Muslim-Turkish imperial legacy and the prominence of Muslim faith, solidarity, and martyrdom. While they undermine the hero cult around Mustafa Kemal and pluralize heroism by including women (and other male warriors), the commemorations consciously omit the existence of non-Muslim soldiers and ethnic violence against non-Muslims. The chapter traces incorporation of mythical narratives of women warriors into the centennial memorialisation in order to explore the shift in the construction of masculinities and femininities. Although the recognition of women’s participation in the war effort is a step towards pluralisation, women’s heroic representations reflect the same neo-Ottomanist obsession with “Muslim martyrdom” that rests on a masculinist notion of heroism, and a homogeneous ethno-religious identity.

Maksudyan, N., Alkan, H. (2023). Commemorating the First World War and Its Aftermath: Neo-Ottomanism, Gender, and the Politics of History in Turkey. In: Raudvere, C., Onur, P. (eds) Neo-Ottoman Imaginaries in Contemporary Turkey. Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-08023-4_7


Racial Anthropology in Turkey and Transnational Entanglements in the Making of Scientific Knowledge: Seniha Tunakan’s Academic Trajectory, 1930s–1970s

June 15, 2022

Nazan Maksudyan

Zeitschriftenartikel
International Journal of Middle East Studies 54 (1)
Edition: Cambridge University Press
Collection: International Journal of Middle East Studies 54 (1)

This article situates the trajectory of the academic life of Seniha Tunakan (1908–2000) within the development of anthropology as a scientific discipline in Turkey and its transnational connections to Europe during the interwar period and up until the second half of the 20th century. Relying on the archives of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, the archive of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes in Germany, and the Prime Ministry's Republican Archives in Turkey, it focuses on the doctoral studies of Seniha Tunakan in Germany and her life as a female PhD researcher in the capital of the Third Reich, as well as her entire research career after her return to Turkey. Through Tunakan's career, the article also provides an analysis of the perpetuation of German race science in the Turkish context, shedding light upon the success of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik (Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics) and its transnational impact.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies/article/revolution-is-the-equality-of-children-and-adults-yasar-kemal-interviews-street-children-1975/EEDD34BF2A44F4D436EF65B2E90DA3CB#article


Embracing Embodiedness, Desire and Failure: Women’s Fluid Gender Performances in Sevgi Soysal’s Oeuvre from the 1960s.

May 09, 2022

Nazan Maksudyan , Burcu Alkan

Zeitschriftenartikel
Journal of European Studies
Collection: Journal of European Studies

The ‘women’s liberation’ of the global 1960s did not entail a full range of women’s rights, feminist politics and sexual freedoms in Turkey. On the contrary, the Turkish 1960s were characterised by a patriarchal heteronormative order that imprisoned women in a passive and essentially asexual identity and denied them control over their bodies. In Turkey, women’s emancipation was postponed. At the same time, the 1960s offered a juncture of literary renewal in women’s writing and representation, embracing the dictum ‘the personal is political’. This article focuses on three works by Sevgi Soysal (1936–1976), a key name of this period whose writing is concerned with the problematisation of what Judith Butler calls ‘the compulsory order of sex/gender/desire’. Relying on queer theory, we examine how Soysal’s Tutkulu Perçem (The Passionate Forelock, 1962), Tante Rosa (Aunt Rosa, 1968) and Yürümek (Walking, 1970) represent female characters’ growing awareness of their rich spectrum of gender performances, as they embrace their desires, transformations and confusions. In this way, Soysal’s works not only take the female body ‘out of the closet’ but also explore its multitude of desires and fluid possibilities.

Maksudyan, Nazan, and Burcu Alkan. “Embracing Embodiedness, Desire and Failure: Women’s Fluid Gender Performances in Sevgi Soysal’s Oeuvre from the 1960s.” Journal of European Studies, (May 2022). https://doi.org/10.1177/00472441221090705.


Encounter and Memory in Ottoman Soundscapes: An Audiovisual Album of Street Vendors’ Cries

April 01, 2022

Nazan Maksudyan

Zeitschriftenartikel


Nazan Maksudyan, "Συνάντηση και μνήμη σε οθωμανικά ηχοτοπία: ένα οπτικοακουστικό άμλπουμ των φωνών των πλανόδιων πωλητών", μτφρ. Κατερίνα Στάθη, Τα Ιστορικά, τχ. 74, Απρ. 2022, σ. 32-60.

Nazan Maksudyan, “Encounter and Memory in Ottoman Soundscapes: An Audiovisual Album of Street Vendors’ Cries”, trans. by Katerina Stathi, Historica 74 (April 2022), 32-60 [in Greek].


Revolution is the Equality of Children and Adults”: Yaşar Kemal Interviews Street Children, 1975

December 17, 2021

Nazan Maksudyan

Artikel
International Journal of Middle East Studies
Edition: Cambridge University Press
Collection: International Journal of Middle East Studies

In 1975, the world-famous novelist Yaşar Kemal (1923–2015) undertook a series of journalistic interviews with street children in Istanbul. The series, entitled “Children Are Human” (Çocuklar İnsandır), reflects the author's rebellious attitude as well as the revolutionary spirit of hope in the 1970s in Turkey. Kemal's ethnographic fieldwork with street children criticized the demotion of children to a less-than-human status when present among adults. He approached children's rights from a human rights angle, stressing the humanity of children and that children's rights are human rights. The methodological contribution of this research to the history of children and youth is its engagement with ethnography as historical source. His research provided children the opportunity to express their political subjectivities and their understanding of the major political questions of the time, specifically those of social justice, (in)equality, poverty, and ethnic violence encountered in their everyday interactions with politics in the country. Yaşar Kemal's fieldwork notes and transcribed interviews also bring to light immense injustices within an intersectional framework of age, class, ethnicity, and gender. The author emphasizes that children's political agency and their political protest is deeply rooted in their subordination and misery, but also in their dreams and hopes. Situating Yaşar Kemal's “Children Are Human” in the context of the 1970s in Turkey, I hope to contribute to childhood studies with regard to the political agency of children as well as to the history of public intellectuals and newspapers in Turkey and to progressive representations of urban marginalization.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies/article/revolution-is-the-equality-of-children-and-adults-yasar-kemal-interviews-street-children-1975/EEDD34BF2A44F4D436EF65B2E90DA3CB


Publications in PDF format