“Haunted Heritage: Ruination and Commodification of Stone Houses in Mardin”, Public Seminar, LSE, 11 March 2015

We would like to inform you about the public conference entitled “Haunted Heritage: Ruination and Commodification of Stone Houses in Mardin” which is organized by LSE Contemporary Turkish Studies. Dr. Z. Özlem Biner from University of Cambridge, will give a talk in the public seminar. Associate Professor Esra Ozyurek, Chair of Contemporary Turkish Studies, LSE, will chair this event.

This event will take place from 17:30 to 19:00 on Wednesday,11 March 2015 at Room COW1.11, 1st Floor, Cañada Blanch Room, Cowdray House, LSE

This event is free and open to all with no ticket required.  For any queries please email to euroinst.turkish.studies@lse.ac.uk.

Abstract of the Talk

Drawn on a decade of ethnographic research in the province of Mardin, South-eastern Turkey, Dr. Biner’s work provides a detailed account of politics of life in the protracted war between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from the perspectives of Kurds, Arabs, Syriac Christians. She focuses on the experience of the locals who own, live, at the same time dig their stone houses in the old city of Mardin. She explores the tensions and dilemmas that emerge in the attempt to (dis)possess these houses regarded as the emblem of the cultural heritage of the city. She analyses the practice of digging through its affects that refer to forces of relations, such as apparition, dreaming, attachments, fantasies that haunt persons, places and things. She describes that regardless of the ethnicity and religious background, for the Mardinities, digging is pervasive lifelong practice where they continue their search for the unknown across time and space. The daily rumours, dreams, international visitors, archaeologists, experts, the previous Christian owners of the houses, rocketing prices of the property, the long lasting infrastructural work that leads to the disclosure of the narrow alleys, the dust, the rubble, the stone, the beliefs about the jinn as the guardian of the treasure would all add up to the list of the evocative objects and subjects that would trigger the action of digging. In this conflict-ridden environment, Dr. Biner argues, people project their desire of survival into the obsession of finding the treasure as if the search for the hidden or the absent would suspend the current conditions of poverty, structural inequalities, political violence and past atrocities that caused the ruination of the lives and houses.

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