Disastrous Politics and Counter Politics of Disaster in Turkey: Lecture by Firat Bozcali

Keller 2112, 1307 E 60th St Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023 4:30 – 6:30 pm

On February 6th, 2023, two devastating earthquakes struck Turkey, Syria, and Kurdistan, leaving thousands dead and hundreds of thousands without homes. Amidst the rescue efforts in the aftermath of the disaster, people used social media to expose the inadequate support of the Turkish government. The Erdogan government’s initial declaration of national emergency was accompanied by efforts to criminalize independent solidarity initiatives to the disaster, to monopolize relief efforts, and to restrict the use of social media. The unprecedented damage that has unfolded in the aftermath of the earthquakes has been magnified by the region's political and historical repression of marginalized groups. This talk discusses how multiple temporalities and shifting spatial scales in which the earthquakes are experienced deepen the ongoing political and economic crises of authoritarianism in Turkey. It asks about the possibilities and limitations of dissident politics in the background of unfolding political disasters.

About the speaker: 

Firat Bozcali is a political and legal anthropologist with a focus on the modern Middle East. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto, where he is working on his book project. Based on 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Van, a predominantly Kurdish-populated province on the Turkish-Iranian border, the book examines how Kurdish smugglers and their lawyers negotiate and rework the official borders of commodity markets through techno-legal practices that range from official paperwork to expert witness processes.