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Osvaldo Croci

Since the mid-1980s Italy’s relations with the United States (US)

have been characterised by occasional periods of tension, usually

following some unilateral American initiative in the Mediterranean.

At the beginning of 1999 it seemed that the two countries

were again on a collision course. The US was uneasy about Italian

diplomatic overtures to Iran and Libya. Italy, for its part, ignored

American advice that it extradite Kurdish nationalist leader Ocalan

to Turkey where he was wanted for terrorist activities, and it

repeatedly and publicly expressed strong reservations about the

rationale and effectiveness of the periodic Anglo-American bombing

of Iraq. Then, in early March, came the verdict of an American

military court acquitting the pilot responsible for the Cermis accident

of February 1998. The Italian government, backed by practically

the whole of parliament, reacted by calling for a review and

possible re-negotiation of the treaty regulating the use of NATO’s

military bases in Italy.

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Dreams from Beyond as Politics from Below

The Social Life of Dream Stories within the Hizmet-AKP Conflict in Turkey

Ida Hartmann

Building on ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul in 2015, this article traces how certain people within the Hizmet community drew on dream stories to understand and manoeuvre within the escalating falling-out with the AKP government. It suggests that, in this context, dream stories were circulated within the community to reframe the conflict against the horizon of the afterlife but prevented from spilling into the wider public sphere out of fear that Hizmet critics would use dream stories to denounce the community as a threat to Turkish republican tradition. The article thus proposes to see the social life of dream stories as a ‘politics from below’ through which relations between the religious and the political refracted and notions of national and religious belonging were negotiated and contested.

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The Mahalle as Margin of the State

Shifting Sensitivities in Two Neighbourhood Spaces of Istanbul

Urszula Woźniak

The neighbourhood-based battles over norms and values in the ethnically diverse as well as sexual and gendered urban landscapes of the Istanbul neighbourhood (mahalle) spaces of Tophane and Kurtuluş reflect the complexity of the current political transformations that have been shaping Turkey as a whole and Istanbul in particular before and after the 15 July 2016 coup attempt. The analysis of the mahalle as the state’s margin reflects on how public moral talk, including the notion of ‘sensitivity’ (hassasiyet), reverberates in the making of public morality in both neighbourhood spaces. This article specifically focuses on the role of rumours in mediating ideas on behaviour deemed as in/appropriate in the mahalle as ‘moral territory’ and the mundane practices of self-appointed old and new ‘guards’ of the mahalle.

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Introduction

Ecology and Migration in the Middle East

Soheila Shahshahani

In this special issue, not only is the human-environment relationship addressed with a few types of environmental adaptations in rural and urban contexts, including governmental measures and disaster situations, but also the process of culture making is explored through the use of vocabularies in forming mind sets. In this way, a wide spectrum of ideas and situations is portrayed, and the role of culture in making these processes meaningful is shown. The articles in this issue concern Egypt, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and they also consider migration. While environmental problems are partial causes for migration, yet symbolic reference to parts of that same environment can symbolise the lost land. The role of poetic language is seen here, while poetry itself becomes a means of better adaptation for a migrant.

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L'événement et le quotidien

Une ethnologie du salon dans un quartier de gecekondu d'Ankara (Turquie)

Benoit Fliche

This article analyses the evolution in the ways of managing the event and the everyday in a gecekondu (squatter’s house) neighbourhood in Ankara, Turkey. It focuses on the sitting room as a space of reception and a space of life located at the crossing of the event and the everyday. In the village, the selamlik (the room of reception) was clearly separated from the room of intimate life (haremlik). Thus, the event and the everyday were spatially separate. In this new space configuration, how is the passage of the everyday to the event marked? In order to answer this question, it is necessary to address the genesis of the urban sitting room as a new articulation between intimacy and public representation. It is also relevant to study by which behaviours the event is distinguished from the everyday.

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Introduction

Material Culture of the Middle East, Its Intangible Dimensions and New Museums

Janet Blake and Danila Mayer

In this issue of Anthropology of the Middle East, we present contributions that deal with museums, museology and their approaches to the new social situations through which they must navigate. Cutting a swathe very generously around the Mediterranean and the Middle East – from Tunis to Qatar, Turkey and, as an extension, to Austria – we bring together articles that look closely into some acute issues of today: the transformation from colonial to post-colonial and its reverberant impacts, from national to post-national and transnational societies both in Europe and the Middle East, and to the stringencies of material culture, cultural heritage and ‘meaningful objects’, and how to preserve, to analyse and to exhibit them. All contributors dedicate their works published here to the social, cultural and economic changes affecting societies and communities, and to the demands that increasing diversity presents as challenges to cultural institutions and their personnel.

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Sexy Shapes

Girls Negotiating Gender through Popular Music

Ann Werner

This article is based on ethnographic fieldwork done with a group of 14 to 16 year-old girls in a medium sized Swedish town. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between everyday music use and gender, ethnicity and sexuality. The question posed here is: "What negotiations take place when the girls discuss their favorite music and artists?" Research in response to this question shows that the identity work of negotiating how to be a teenage girl often relates to popular culture. The sample focuses on girls from Swedish, Bosnian, Turkish and Syrian backgrounds. In this article I report on the local ideas about gender and ethnicity claimed by the girls to influence their discussion of music, dress and behavior, as well as the desires that I argue structure such discussion. This research supports contemporary findings that mainstream popular music has cultural and social significance in young girls' lives.

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Laila Prager

The concept of nafs is frequently mentioned in the Qur'an and in post-Qur'anic literature, where it is identified with the idea of the soul and individual moral behaviour. Accordingly, this concept appears in a number of Islamised societies, although it is usually associated with a wide range of different, localised socio-cultural meanings and understandings. In the Alawi-Nusairy society of south-eastern Turkey, the notion of nafs is a polysemic focal concept that encompasses ideas and practices simultaneously relating to the person, the society and the cosmos as a whole. To understand these notions and values, this article analyses the way in which the Alawites/Nusairies conceptualise the emergence of the nafs within the overall process of procreation and examines local beliefs in rebirth, 'metempsychosis' and 'gendered' souls.

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Aaron Eckstaedt

Klezmer Music and Yiddish Song in post-war Germany developed in three phases, which are clearly divided through repertoire and style of interpretation: Yiddish song from the 1960s to the 1980s was followed by Klezmer as instrumental music, until Klezmer as World Music became part of the intercultural scene. This corresponds with the way the audience and the musicians attribute meaning to the music: Protest against the fathers generation and coping with the past by singing and hearing Yiddish song in both parts of then divided Germany was followed by the liberation of the 'unpolitical' and cheerful Klezmer as a meeting with the missing Jewish reality in reunited Germany. With Klezmer making up only one facet of the rich multicultural musical scene of Tango, Salsa, Turkish Music and many others, it is suddenly turning into something it has not been in Germany for some hundred years: a symbol of Jewish identity.

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To Russia with love

Hope, confinement, and virtuality among youth on the Georgian Black Sea coast

Martin Demant Frederiksen

Among young unemployed or underemployed men in the port city of Batumi, the regional center of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara in Georgia, the Black Sea is a social and imaginary horizon that signifies both geographical mobility and confinement. Since Georgia gained independence, Batumi went from being a Soviet borderland to being an opening to the West. However, due to visa regulations, “the West”—and the opportunities associated with it—has long been limited to the other Black Sea countries of Turkey and Ukraine. Following the August 2008 war, Russia, although being a much more desirable destination, became out of reach for the majority of these men. Through the notions of social and geographical horizons, this article argues that the young men, despite their sense of confinement, manage to forge alternative connections to Russia via Internet sites, where the online dating of Russian women was used as a means to gain access to Russia via marriage.