Narratives of home: home-making practices and political violence in a Kurdish border town in Turkey




Ozcan, Omer, M.A.

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This essay analyzes a series of home narratives I gathered in Yüksekova (Gever in Kurdish) district of Hakkari (Colemêrg), a small Kurdish town located on the Iraqi-Turkish border. This essay presents and discusses the ways in which people have been struggling to create, maintain, and talk about their homes during and after a series of violent moments that have marked the local time-space of Yüksekova over the last century. Drawing an ethnographic picture of survival and home-making practices, I will trace the changing semantics of home and the social/spatial relationships and cultural imaginaries associated with it. To this end, I will focus on home-making in three violent moments in the cultural and political history of the town that are most emphasized in the narratives I gathered: 1) The massacre and deportation of Armenian and other non-Muslim peoples of Hakkari in 1915 that turned the region into a home only for Muslim Kurds 2) the destruction of homes as rural Kurds of Hakkari were displaced as a part of the recent counterinsurgency warfare against Kurdish guerillas; and 3) the struggles of people to make homes in Yüksekova. Informed by a body of literature on space that defines space meaningfully only in and through social relations, this paper aims to take an ethnographic look at home as a space that is situated in human agency and practices and which is open to change as it is shaped and reshaped as part of the dynamism of social, political and daily life.



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