A Conflictual Encounter: Turkish Conceptions of Syrians' Body, Health and Gender

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:15
Oral Presentation
Aysecan TERZIOGLU, Sabanci University TUZLA VD, Turkey
Since 2011, more than 3 million Syrian refugees fled to Turkey, and many of them prefer to live in major cities, such as Istanbul, which provides a large social network and more employment opportunities, as well as a better access to education and health care. However, the refugees often experience discrimination and endure violence during their daily lives and social interactions, which can be partly related with Turkey's own political and social polarisation, tensions and economic crisis. My talk aims at exploring the Turkish conceptions of Syrian bodies, gender and health, through a discoursive analysis on media and social media, as well as how the Syrians react to these problematic conceptions and negotiate with them in their daily lives in Istanbul, through the interviews I conducted with them.

I focus on the popular discourse on Syrians, "who bring only trouble and diseases from their own country", and discuss how the political, legal, economic, social and cultural factors lead to these victim-blaming, discriminatory discourses against the Syrians in Turkey, and how these discourses are reflected and reproduced in the health sector. Syrians have disadvantageous living and working conditions in Turkey which further deteriorates their health. Often the Syrian refugees do not know how to pursue their health care rights, and experience problems in the hospitals, because of the language issues, bureaucratic problems, and discriminatory attitudes of the health care staff. Syrians’ bodies is often seen as a political and social threat, and their health problems are evaluated as an extra burden for the health care providers. The talk also explores whether NGO’s can provide alternative, more inclusive discourses on the Syrians and their health conditions. The theoretical framework of my talk benefits from Hannah Arendt's banality of evil, Arthur Kleinman's social suffering and Paul Farmer's take on global health inequalities.