Connecting citizens: The fused identities of Nusaybin, Turkey and Qamishle, Syria
This project explores how the populations of the historically contiguous towns of Nusaybin, Turkey and Qamishle, Syria articulate citizenship in the everyday.
As the violence in Syria ever-escalates, media outlets report their outlook on what the future of Syria holds. This coverage rarely uses historical and anthropological methods to understand the increasing violence between the inhabitants and the growing international intervention in the region. This project addresses these deficiencies by exploring how the populations of the historically contiguous towns of Nusaybin, Turkey and Qamishle, Syria articulate citizenship in the everyday. It does not ignore differences amongst and between them, but specifically seeks to understand their interactions beyond their ethnic, religious, sectarian, and national categorizations.
By looking at family and trade networks that supersede these rubrics, this project aims to inform both the academic and non-academic worlds about the ongoing shared experiences between Syrian and Turkish citizens. This corrects both media and academic representations that depend on the populations' legal categorizations as citizens of two distinct states, Syria and Turkey. In so doing, it will also contextualize the current crisis in Syria, offering new ways to understand the connections between its inhabitants and those in neighboring countries.
Studying modes of citizenship contributes to the writing of alternative histories by exploring how transnational phenomena affect the "practice" of nationality and how this influences government criteria for belonging in Turkey and Syria. Methodologically, the project is premised on the belief that mixed-methods research--data collection, interviews, ethnographic observation--together with multi-sited fieldwork in Nusaybin and Qamishle (and also in Beirut and Yerevan where some refugees from Qamishle are currently residing) provide the best way to produce accurate representations of and explanation for how the inhabitants in the border region challenge nation-static definitions of belonging. My work is critical and empirical, combing insights of critical theory, ethnography, politics, with rigorous historical methods of archival research.