Roberta Micallef

Turkey: Identity and Belonging

Dr. Roberta Micallef, Boston University
September 29, 2017

In its 93 years as a Republic Turkey has suffered from three coup d’etats and most recently an attempted coup which are indications of social, cultural and economic distress. Micallef will talk about the ideological currents and divides that engrossed the Ottomans at the end of WW I as the Empire was disintegrating and trace them to the present. The debates about Turkish identity and its implications which started then continue to this day, impact current perceptions of belonging and identity and create shock waves in the Republic of Turkey.  Using poetry, novels and film Micallef will address key issues that have caused conflict through the history of the Republic of Turkey: the official and unofficial minorities, Armenians and Kurds, as well as the role of religion and gender, and internal and external migration in the era of globalization. She will draw upon award winning films such as Jin, Uzak and Mustang and novels such as The Bastard of Istanbul (Shafak), Istanbul Memories of a City (Pamuk) Memed My Hawk (Kemal) to provide a nuanced discussion of these important issues as they are reflected in the public arena. An appreciation of these continuous debates about the Turkish identity is critical to understanding the current tumultuous situation in Turkey.

Dr. Roberta Micallef is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Middle Eastern Literatures and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1987 and her M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies (1990) and PhD in Comparative Literature in (1997) from the University of Texas in Austin. She is particularly interested in the intersection of the arts, history, and politics. She has published numerous articles on Turkish and Central Asian literature. She has edited a volume on Persianate travel narratives. Her edited anthology of global travel narratives titled Illusions and Disillusionment: Travel Writing in the Modern Age is in Press. She is working on a book about Turkish women’s first-person narratives, capturing their writing from the early days of the Republic to the present.

Supported by New Mexico Humanities Council, Sandia National Labs & Los Alamos National Bank