In this episode, I am hosting Selin Altunkaynak Vodina. 

We will talk about the gendered and racialized discourses that are reproduced during the social encounter between Syrian and Turkish women living in the South East of Turkey. Selin will start with one of the most reproduced discourses; the sexist and racist claim that Syrian women go after and “steal” Turkish husbands. The discourse, unfortunately, has been reproduced in the media in various forms. However, Selin will take a novel approach and trace such discourses as they are reproduced within the daily social encounters between Syrian and Turkish women.

Selin is a PhD candidate in Humanistic Studies at Rovira i Virgili University in Spain. She is currently conducting research about the social relations between Syrian and Turkish women living in the South East Region of Turkey. While advancing on her PhD, she has been also assuming different positions within humanitarian organizations in Turkey since 2015. Her work in the humanitarian sector helped her gain diverse experiences in the areas of refugee protection and social cohesion of refugees.

Selin will utilize Deniz Kandiyoti’s famous concept ‘patriarchal bargain’ in analyzing the racially charged discourses directed at Syrian women. She will argue that different images of Syrian women have caused a perceived disturbance in patriarchal order within Turkish society. Such sexualized and racialized images include Syrian women being “well-groomed”, wearing make-up and so on. Selin will reveal that in an effort to bargain with the patriarchy and sustain their own limited power within a patriarchal system, Turkish women depict themselves as dedicated mothers and wives who are better than Syrian women in taking care of their houses, children and husbands. Thus, the patriarchal bargain effectively reproduces two discourses at once; the sexualized and racialized discourse directed at Syrian women and the discourse of wifehood and motherhood as the proper signifiers of womanhood. 

Finally, Selin will share her candid accounts of the patriarchal bargains she had to do in order to conduct her research. As a woman researcher in Turkey, Selin had to bargain with the patriarchy on many levels for example as a daughter of a middle-class family and as an unmarried young woman conducting research on her own. She will mention how she navigated patriarchal expectations in the field and in her personal relations. 

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