Home as Memory and Horizon


Death, Dumplings, and Displacement
Megan Steffen (Tsinghua University)

This presentation uses encounters with the Jias, a working-class family in Beijing, to explore the effects of two different forms of displacement in the People’s Republic of China: a political one that makes products from elsewhere gateways to the future and a psychological one that uses one set of desires or goals to shield the self from more troubling feelings. I draw on repeated instances of making dumplings with the Jias, their request that I bring them an iPhone from America, and footage from a therapeutic television show to examine how Auntie Wang’s death shifted the family’s dynamics.

“The Village”: Space/Place in Life Story Narratives of Displaced Kurdish Youth in Diyarbakir, Turkey
Leyla Neyzi (Northwestern University)

Since the PKK emerged in 1984, the war between the Turkish military and Kurdish guerillas transformed everyday life. Several million civilians fled the countryside. In this multimedia presentation based on ethnography and oral history, I focus on the ways young people of rural origin in the city of Diyarbakir represent the countryside. Born in villages, forcefully displaced as children, these youth remember the countryside with nostalgia, which derives from childhood memories and is mediated by the Kurdish movement. Memories and post-memories of violence also mark narratives of forced displacement and the experience of return.

Metaphors of Violence in Izmir: Rumor, Orientalism and Stories of Syrian Refugees
Mija Sanders (University of Arizona)

I examine the relationship between cultural encounters, Orientalism, and rumors about organ trafficking and kidnapping amongst Syrian refugees in Izmir, Turkey. The Turkish kidnapper and organ smuggler of Syrian children in Izmir is indeterminately real, but the first hand experiences of Syrians have reifying effects in structuring Syrian experiences. How do the possible truths of these rumors give legitimacy to other truths and possible truths about the problems of their lives in Turkey? What do these rumors have to do with the negative cultural encounters Syrians have had in Turkey?

Presence in Times of Erasure
Sanderien Verstappen (Leiden University)

PRESENCE IN TIMES OF ERASURE is an experimental video in the form of a visual collage. In line with the conference theme, I ‘displaced’ images from the public domain, appropriating them through editing techniques of juxtaposition, magnification, and reduction. As the world moves towards more authoritarian and repressive regimes, with a proliferation of images that promote exclusivist national ideologies while rendering invisible more diverse histories and experiences, this video is a personal attempt to reflect on ‘how to be present’ in times of erasure, as human being and as anthropologist.

Recursive Displacements: Memories, Objects, People in Motion
Onder Celik (Johns Hopkins University)

Drawing on ethnographic material from Turkey’s Kurdistan, this paper explores the current socio-economic conditions in the Kurdish region of Turkey and the perceptions that these conditions create concerning the Armenian past of the same region. Specifically, it considers the figure of the “returning Armenian” in relation to treasure stories and search activities.

Scents and Subtle Sounds: Memory, Senses, and Home
Thomas Albright (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)