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Halil Can

Building on a long-term, multi-sited ethnographic research project, this article illustrates and interprets the transformation processes and empowerment strategies pursued by an originally Zazaki-speaking, multigenerational Alevi family in the Turkish-German transnational context. The family, which includes a number of Alevi priests (seyyid or dede), hails from the Dersim4 region of eastern Anatolia, and their family biography is closely bound up with a traumatic mass murder and crime against humanity that local people call “Dersim 38“ or “Tertele.“ Against the background of this tragedy, the family experienced internal migration (through forced remigration and settlement) thirty years before its labor migration to Germany. This family case study accordingly examines migration as a multi-faceted process with plural roots and routes. The migration of people from Turkey neither begins nor ends with labor migration to Germany. Instead, it involves the continuous, nonlinear, and multidirectional movement of human beings, despite national border regimes and politics. As a result, we can speak of migration processes that are at once voluntary and forced, internal and external, national and transnational. 5 In this particular case, the family members, even the pioneer generation labor migrants who have since become shuttle migrants, maintain close relationships with Dersim even as they spend most of their lives in a metropolitan German city. At the same time, they confront moments of everyday in- and exclusion in this transnational migration space that define them as both insiders and out- siders. Keeping these asymmetrical attributions in mind, I examine the family's sociocultural, religious, and political practices and resources from a transna- tional perspective, paying close attention to their conceptualization of identity and belonging as well as their empowerment strategies.