Politics of Care and Reverberations of Trauma: Syrian Refugees in Izmir, Turkey
AuthorSanders, Mija Alice
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractFor Syrians in Turkey, displacement produces new relationships to governance and forms of care. This dissertation explores a broad framework of international, national, and local institutions—including care and assistance sectors (health care and humanitarian aid), the labor market, and urban settlement—that are part of the interface between Syrians and the Turkish state. Displacement also causes new anxieties, fears, and shocks—from war trauma in Syria to refugee camps and homelessness in Turkey, from housing scarcity and income precarity to attempts at irregular migration by boat to Europe, from medicalized violence in giving birth and fears of dismemberment to local xenophobia and violence and ad hoc strategies for survival in the everyday. The broad question asked is: Why did Syrians experience Izmir as such a dangerous, necropolitical space, even though the government provided many services to enhance their lives, and even though they were supported by the dominant ruling government party? In answering this question, this dissertation studies the following fields: humanitarian programming, a history of migration in Izmir and contemporary gentrification practices, the unregulated labor sector, gender politics, health care services, the processing of refugee bodies, forensic medical practices, and cemeteries on the Aegean. Most importantly, this dissertation connects Syrian affects and emotions to the institutions that regulate their everyday lives through multiple interventions. Specifically, I ask: How can history, politics, and displacement be read in the feelings encoded in narratives of displacement and trauma? This historical timeline is related to four central dynamics: (1) The 2016 attempted coup and resulting state of emergency in Turkey; (2) the 2016 Turkey-EU deal; (3) the violence and policies of military incursions on the Turkey-Syria borderlands; and (4) necropolitics on the Turkey-Greece (EU) borderlands. All four dynamics limited Syrian movement within Turkey and along its increasingly securitized borders. In relation to examining those dynamics, this work takes inventory of Syrian politics and historicizes the experiences of Syrian refugees in Turkey. Population management and emerging biopolitical projects feature in this study as elements that organize Syrian lives in particular ways. Among other affects, shock or trauma, articulated in Arabic as sadma, is an important node of analysis for Syrian experiences of migration. Here, Syrian experiences of trauma become part of an “archive of feelings” (Cvetkovich, 2003) about the politics of displacement, connecting systemic structures of exploitation and oppression to the fears and dangers one feels and associates with everyday living in displacement. Emotional reverberations of fear are political, and Syrian affects in Turkey tell us about the politics of displacement in important ways.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Middle Eastern & North African Studies