193.3 Ethnic identity patterns in rural Turkey: Life histories of lazi and Hemshin women

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 3:10 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Mehtap TOSUN , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Elif UYAR , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
Meral AKBAS , Sociology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey
In Turkey, the development of a national polity and the accompanying acceleration of modernization and of capitalist social relations established a new national culture and society, which has affected even the most remote areas of the country. However, despite this trend toward a greater uniformity, local traditions and local loyalties still retain a vitality that is seldom fully appreciated.

The Lazi and the Hemshin people are known as two neighbouring people of the eastern Black Sea region. With their histories, pasts, cultures and economic lives, and also with their mutual relationships stemming from their status as neighbours such as tension/solidarity, conflict/competition, these two neighbouring people of the region are living a fairly closed life. These aspects of their lives are constantly affecting and defining their present.

Lazi and Hemshin women are subjected to a multi-layered exploitation within the framework of the life conditions, experiences and patterns determined by historical-political-economic-social conditions. This multi-layered exploitation mechanism has come into being, continues to be and is reproduced by the positioning of the patriarchal system, the socio-cultural restructuring of the society in the process of nation-state building and the gendered property-work relations in rural life. The reproduced gendered work relations in rural life manifest themselves through the fact that women are the main labour force in the agricultural production and housework.

This study, by following the narratives of these women that are full of life experiences neglected from the official history, attempts to make a critical revelation of the social history of Turkey with an emphasis on how the Lazi and Hemshin women have told their life-stories in the context of conflicts and alliances in socio-political history of Turkey, of poverty, of oppression in gendered agrarian relations.