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Part-time smugglers: Kurdish Smuggling Economies in Turkey

Date and Time: 
Tuesday, November 28, 2017. 03:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Meeting Location: 
Humanities Center Boardroom
Workshop: 
Worlds of Work and the Work of Networks
Meeting Description: 

Various kinds of smuggling have historically existed across Kurds living in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Yet, there has been a dramatic increase in the scale of smuggling amidst armed conflict between the Turkish military and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which was deemed a terrorist organization by Turkey. The conflict has brought about the militarization of the Kurdish-majority borderlands, the establishment of military bases, military checkpoints, and security zones, as well as village evacuations and the forced displacement. These conditions have devastated the local economies of agriculture and ranching, and compelled many people to engage in smuggling. In addition to the full-time smugglers, various people have also engaged in smuggling occasionally. Thus, smuggling campaigns have often brought together people with different class and profession backgrounds. This paper explores how the conflict has re-shaped the trade networks, class subjectivities, and precarity embedded in the smuggling economies across Kurdish borderlands. Through ethnographical accounts of two ‘part-time’ smugglers, a border villager and a city-based construction contractor, I describe and discuss the new modalities and temporalities of wealth accumulation and debt relations as well as the new regimes of inequalities that the smuggling economies created.

Dr. Firat Bozcali is a research affiliate in the Stanford Department of Anthropology.

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