Woven Assemblages: Globalization, Gender, Labor, and Authenticity in Turkey's Carpet Industry
AdvisorAlonso, Ana Maria
Committee ChairAlonso, Ana Maria
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis dissertation examines the politics of labor, gender, and heritage in Turkey's carpet industry, drawing on thirteen months of comparative, multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork among carpet weavers, manufacturers, designers, exporters, and tourists. The project contributes to the debates on globalization of work and labor, in particular stressing the importance of gendered and place-specific analyses of discourses, practices and material flows. It also argues for a historically situated, genealogical understanding of agency and subject formation through the nature of relationships that develop between the actors participating in the Turkish carpet industry and the ways in which both transparency and secrecy are employed as strategies of survival within diverse sites of production and sale by culturally-defined agents.As Turkey implements social reforms vying for membership to the European Union, the culmination point of the modernization and secularization processes that started even before the formation of the nation-state, the structural economic shifts result in increasingly complex gendered power relations and negotiations in Turkey's carpet industry. This dissertation argues that a detailed analysis of Turkish carpet industry in global economic competition discloses that globalization needs to be understood as a productive discursive practice that is heavily implicated in disciplinary programs and in the ubiquity of power politics that define and justify productivity and liberalism as emancipatory universals to be emulated and ultimately reached. Yet, as this study shows, both men and women taking part in the Turkish carpet industry actively participate in several balancing acts that traversed presupposed boundaries such as public and private, informal and formal and were experienced in thresholds that constantly questioned these naturalized boundaries. Investment in fictive kinship ties as well as friendships proposed relations that depended on networks of allegiances assembled with bonds of obligation and proper ethical conduct, which resisted easy incorporation into globalist, liberal narratives of "free" individuals and workers dis-embedded from the local and assembled into the global.