Research fellow in the Department of Social and Cultural anthropology, University of Zurich
Anthropological Curiosities at the Frontier: Kars, Pamuk and Others
Ethnicity and nationalism are not easily separated from each other because both are constructed on the basis of shared culture through symbols and therefore create a sense of belonging (Eriksen, 2002). However, the difference of nationalism is that it is a construction, which aims to link a self-defined cultural group to a state through which abstract communities, different from kinship based communities, are created (Gellner, 1994; Anderson, 1995). The experience of globalization created neo-nationalism, which also found its response in Turkey (Gingrich, 2006; Bora, 2003), while local experiences of nationalism became more interesting especially at the borderlands. In this presentation, I will share findings of an ethnographic research done in 2009 in Kars, located North East Turkey, to examine the perceptions of the novel Snow written by Orhan Pamuk. I will discuss how Karsians perceive the Armenian question as the residents of a city which borders one of the historically constructed ‘others’ of the nation. Concerning the present political and economic interests at the global scale, I will show how the challenge of the nation state is experienced at the local level.