“I guess I am still dealing with the same questions that I had when I was a child“ – 5in10 with Deniz Yonucu

Deniz Yonucu (photo: private)

Deniz Yonucu received her PhD degree in Social Anthropology from Cornell University in 2014 and is currently an Alexander von Humboldt post-doctoral fellow at Leibniz-ZMO and Forum Transregionale Studien (EUME) and a visiting lecturer at Freie University’s Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology. She holds two MA degrees in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and in Sociology from Bogazici University. She is currently completing a manuscript that builds on her dissertation project funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Middle East Research Competition of the Ford Foundation. The manuscript, entitled „War Against Politics: Law, Sovereignty and Terror at the Margins of Turkey“, focuses on marginalized Alevi populated working class neighborhoods in Istanbul and analyses the complex and constitutive relationship between law, state violence, counter violence and sovereignty in Turkey.

What was intriguing to you when you were a child? What is it that you always wanted to know about the world?

As a child born and raised in a shantytown of Istanbul, class differences and socio-spatial differentiations intrigued me the most. The differences between our makeshift neighborhoods and the neighborhoods of the wealthy and the middle class struck me. I was very curious about the conditions of possibilities of such sharp differences. Given the fact that I have been working on working class neighborhoods for years, I guess I am still dealing with the same questions that I had when I was a child

Young people are throwing stones at armoured vehicles that spew tear gas in their neighbourhood (photo: Sinan Targay)

How would you explain your current research to a stranger in an elevator?

I would tell her that I am writing the stories of the people, who are not wanted and respected, seemed redundant, criminalized and desired to be taken away from the sight. I would also add that I am also writing about the structural inequalities and on the relations and processes that paves the way to and legitimize the violence against the stigmatized, racialized and the colonized.

Which stations of your academic journey were extremely formative to you?

I guess the first time when I started reading and understanding (these two does not always go together) Marx and Althusser. It has been 19 years now and I still remember my excitement when I read Althusser for the first time. That was definitely a formative experience. The other formative experience was in 1999, when I went to Turkey’s Kurdistan for the first time as a student-researcher. There, I, as a Turkish person, realized what kind of a privilege being Turkish, in a profoundly nationalist and anti-Kurdish Turkey, is. That experience made me consider the position of the privileged researcher and left me with tons of questions about research ethics in particular and ethics in general. Those questions have guided my research since then.

How is it to do research in Germany?

I cannot say much about Germany. But, it is great to be a part of an international academic community in Berlin. With this vibrant international intellectual environment, it seems like Berlin is going to compete with London and New York in the near future.

If you had one wish, what would you wish for the further development of your subject?

My wish would be the development of social sciences and humanities in a way to open up plenty of space for the people of the colonized and oppressed communities as researchers, analysts and narrators.

 

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Citation: Deniz Yonucu, „I guess I am still dealing with the same questions that I had when I was a child“ – 5in10 with Deniz Yonucu, in: TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research, 18.05.2017, https://trafo.hypotheses.org/6719


Forum Transregionale Studien

The Berlin-based Forum Transregionale Studien is a research organization that promotes the internationalization of research in the humanities and social sciences. The Forum provides scope for collaboration among researchers with different regional and disciplinary perspectives and appoints researchers from all over the world as Fellows. In cooperation with universities and research institutions in Berlin and the rest of Germany, it carries out research projects that examine other regions of the world and their relationship to Germany and Europe systematically and with new questions.

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