Refugees in Turkey and the United States

I'm interested in analyzing the feminist geopolitics of refugees and asylum-seekers and resettlement in this area of research.  How are refugees represented in geopolitical discourses and policies? What role do refugee bodies and bodily acts play in these representations? How do the discourse about refugees contribute to the making of borders and territory? Part of this project is located in Turkey where non-European (mostly from Syria and Afghanistan) refugees and asylum seekers are represented as gendered and racialized Others. 

A second related project focuses on North Carolina, USA. to examine the role of volunteering and community sponsorship in refugee resettlement.  This study  explores the implications and effects of new policy initiatives created in response to the influx of several refugee groups– including but not limited to Afghans, Ukrainians, Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans, and Venezuelans– since 2021. In particular, community sponsorship programs, such as Sponsor Circle Program and Welcome Corps, require new processes and increased reliance on established community members in the placement and resettlement process. We aim to investigate why these policies were implemented, how they are being implemented, and why various organizations and community members in North Carolina are called to do this work. Many of the refugees that have come to North Carolina have been established in the Triangle area as well as the Triad.

A billboard from 2014 in Umraniye, Istanbul. The large text reads: I am cold, help me! The smaller text above it reads: If there is persecution by Asad, there is brotherhood in Istanbul.  Photo by Lacin Tutalar 

Encountering Difference, Embodying Boundaries, and Unsettling Borders: Middle Eastern Refugees in the European Union 

This virtual conference explores how refugee experiences provide insights into the production of difference, boundaries, and borders by unsettling established understandings of identity, statehood, and territory. In this conference, we seek to explore questions that arise in this political context about who refugees are and how they position themselves (or find themselves positioned) within systems of power operating at multiple scales and across a variety of spaces. We center the embodied Middle Eastern refugee experiences to understand and theorize subjects, political spaces, and technologies of governance along and within the borders of the EU. 

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Duke Middle East in Europe Summer Program

This program explores  the place of migrant, refugee, and Muslim-Germans within the context of broader public debates concerning public space, liberal democracy, and the rise of right wing political movements. This examination includes a critical perspective on how Muslims, Turks, and Islam have been framed as a “problem” in mainstream media and by politicians and how Berliners have countered such portrayals by mobilizing in support of refugees and immigrants. Our approach foregrounds the perspectives of Muslims and how they have created spaces of belonging while also attending to the gendered, classed, ethnic, and political differences and tensions among this population. We ask: What are the modes and spaces of citizenship, belonging, and identity for Muslim populations in Germany? How do Muslim populations produce their own spaces in Berlin? What are the everyday practices and spaces of living together in neighborhoods like Kreuzberg? What kinds of tensions and solidarities emerge through the experiences of living together in places like Kreuzberg?

In addition to scholarship related to these questions, this program also provides unique hands on opportunities to develop grounded experiences of Kreuzberg through observation and field study and to work as an intern at Kiron, a non-governmental organization that guides and supports refugee access to online higher education.

I worked with students in this program to develop storymap projects that explore Kreuzberg in 2018 and Dynamics Spaces and Faces of Berlin in 2019.