Northwestern Events Calendar


MENA Monday: "Trauma" and "Victimization" in Life Narratives of Kurdish Youth in Turkey—Leyla Neyzi

Neve Gordon

When: Monday, November 6, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, The Forum (Kresge 1-515), 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Co-Sponsor: Keyman Modern Turkish Studies (Northwestern Buffett)

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Recent work in anthropology has problematized assumptions about the meaning of trauma. In this presentation, Professor Leyla Neyzi will argue that Kurdish youth in the city of Diyarbakir appropriate trauma as agentic discourse in stories they tell about growing up during the war between the Turkish military and the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party). Influenced by childhood experiences, stories passed on by elders, the Kurdish movement, and a global discourse filtered through NGOs and social media, these youth make repeated references to trauma and victimhood to create an empowering collective political discourse.

Leyla Neyzi, Fall 2017 Visiting Professor in the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program at Northwestern, is Professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Sabancı University in Istanbul. For her dissertation research, she lived with nomadic goat herders in the mountains of ancient Caria, now in Turkey’s Mediterranean region.

She is the author and editor of several books in Turkish. In English, she is the co-author of Speaking to One Another: Personal Memories of the Past in Armenia and Turkey (2010) and co-editor of Memories of Mass Repression: Narrating Life Stories in the Aftermath of Atrocity (2009) and Prospects for Reconciliation: Theory and Practice (2011).

As an anthropologist and oral historian, she listens to and archives the life stories of individuals from diverse backgrounds and communities. Her areas of interest include oral history, memory studies, European and Middle Eastern ethnography, nationalism and minorities, transnational youth and social movements.

Professor Neyzi and her team listened to and compared the life story narratives of Kurdish and Turkish youth in Diyarbakir (eastern Turkey), Mugla (western Turkey) and Berlin. The project’s products include a book, articles, a film, and a website:

In Fall 2017 she will teach a course at Northwestern called “Learning to Listen: An Introduction to Oral History.” Students will be trained in the methods of oral history interviewing, the ethics of doing qualitative research, how to write field notes and create a transcript, and how to write a reflexive, interpretative paper based on original research data. Students will also learn about theories in the fields of oral history and memory studies.

This event is co-sponsored by the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program (Buffett Institute for Global Studies).

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