Developing Memory, Memories of Development

ISID invites you to its upcoming full-day conference at Thomson House, "Developing Memory, Memories of Development".  Full information and registration information can be found here: 


State-Building and Borderlands. Informal Control of the Turkish State on an Everyday Level

Thursday, February 16, 2023 12:30to14:00
Arts Building Rom 160 (Arts Council Room), 853 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Montreal, QC, H3A 0G5, CA

A guest lecture by Dilan Okcuoglu, a non-resident visiting fellow at CUNY Middle East and Middle Eastern American Centre, and a consultant at the Council on Strategic Risks.

Abstract:  I use the case of Turkey’s Kurdish borderlands to revise theories that address the role of informal practices and unwritten norms in state-making. I conducted twelve months of a political ethnographic study of Turkey’s Kurdish borderlands next to Iraq and Iran between 2013 and 2014, employing participant observation, and semi-structured interviews. By exploring people’s everyday practices of state-making, my article uses informal control as an analytical category to engage with the scholarship on the micro-study (bottom-up) of ethnic conflict and war. I found that people’s lived experiences of manipulation, uncertainty, and contingency were pervasive in the borderlands and that informal control is not a state weakness; on the contrary, it is a source of state-making in contested borderlands where multiple actors interact but also compete with each other.

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