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Harvard University

Bucerius Fieldwork Grant

Sacred Mountains and Rivers of Revolt: Occupation and Insurgency by Other Means in Turkish Kurdistan


The project deals with the politicization of the physical landscape in Dersim, a Kurdish-Alevi province in eastern Turkey that was one of the major centers of Leftist and Kurdish politics in the last century. It focuses on the various modes of discursive and material struggles between the inhabitants of Dersim, state, and corporate actors over the region’s landscape. The research examines how inhabitants locate politics in the physical landscape, working to forensically examine the land in order to imbue it with economic, political, and cultural value. The question is how we can understand the physical landscape of Dersim as both a medium and mediator of political struggle and political identity. The political life of the landscape in Dersim provides an opportunity to problematize the urban bias in prevalent analyses of how politics works in relation to the production of space.

Dilan Yildirim is a doctoral candidate in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, pursuing a secondary field in Critical Media Practice. She completed two B.A. degrees (Sociology and Political Science) at Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. At Bogazici, Dilan Yildirim gained an academic interest in issues of violence, post-colonial theory, narrative theory and political economy. At Harvard, she studied great works in social linguistics, political anthropology and critical thought. The intellectual environment at Harvard, from fellow students to professors, has challenged her thinking by reminding her of the significance of the concrete and the power of grounded knowledge. Dilan is also benefiting from Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab to explore her interest in Visual Anthropology in practical terms.

2012: The Kurdish Question in the Context of Turkey and Middle East Politics: An Interview with Noam Chomsky, Dialectical Anthropology, Vol. 36

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