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Title: Constitutive ambiguities : subjectivity and memory in the case of Romeika-speaking communities of Trabzon, Turkey
Author: Saglam, Erol
ISNI:       0000 0004 6423 4818
Awarding Body: Birkbeck, University of London
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Studies in social sciences and humanities on Turkey tend to focus on margins and resistances (such as, modernist and nationalist impositions on minorities) and how the state was engaged in the construction of Turkishness as a homogeneous national identity. Although these endeavours are undeniably necessary and helpful, how Turkish subjectivities are constituted out of a multitude of local socio-cultural distinctions in different geographies has rarely been a matter of scholarly inquiry. Addressing this largely overlooked aspect of Turkish studies, this dissertation highlights different modalities of subject formation through the analysis of Romeika-speaking communities of Trabzon, in northeastern Turkey. Staunchly (Turkish) nationalist communities of the province have been “discreetly” speaking Romeika, a local variant of Greek with archaic linguistic features, in a number of valley systems for centuries. Through an ethnographic study conducted in 2015 in the Trabzon area, I demonstrate how subjectivities and socialities of these communities are configured in relation to historical, political, gendered, and religious dynamics in Turkey. In addition to producing an account of socio-cultural implications of an unstudied sociocultural phenomenon, this dissertation helps us to go beyond monist and homogeneous representations of Turkish subjectivities to highlight their distinct, fragmented, and heterogeneous constitutions. I first discuss the private and discreet status of Romeika to trace it through locals’ nationalist imaginaries, gendered configurations, and approaches to the landscape. Then, I argue how local masculine subjectivities are produced through gendering of bodies across the Valley in close connection to the state and politics. Finally, I discuss religiosities in the area to highlight local patterns of piety in relation to Romeika, nationalism, the state, and local customs. Through these successive themes, I demonstrate the heterogeneous, fragmented, and performative constitution of subjectivities that approximate different registers of Turkishness. I conclude the analysis with the claim that the theme of Turkish subjectivity should be scrutinised further in order both to reveal distinct sociocultural heritages within this parochial understanding of Turkish subjectivities and to account for how non-resistant subjectivities are produced out of these distinctions through alignments with nationalist and statist discourses in these local contexts in particular forms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available