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Global Engagement Lecture: "Armenian Migrant Children in Turkey: Acces to Education and States of Exception in a Post-genocidal Society"

Wednesday, February 19, 2014
5:00 AM
1014 Tisch

A recent revision to the regulation on education seemingly grants Armenian migrant
children access to education in Turkey regardless of their legal status. However, rather than constituting an actual right, the revision in question limits access to “guest status,” and thus adds yet another state of exception to the migration regime in Turkey that primarily operates through amnesties rather than rights for undocumented migrants.

Although Turkey has ratified the UN Declaration on the Rights of Children, which
ensures access to elementary education for children regardless of legal status, the very recent 2013 law on the Protection of Foreigners does not address the question of the education rights of undocumented children. Given this general legal impasse, which concerns all undocumented children in Turkey, Parla’s research is particularly concerned with the additional states of exception that pertain to the specificity of being an Armenian undocumented migrant. Besides the problem of “guest status,” what other reasons underlie many of the Armenian migrants’ reluctance to send their children to the Armenian minority schools in Istanbul?

Why do they opt for the informal school in Kumkapi instead? What is the role of language, social class, and the legacy of the Soviet experience in shaping their decisions? While attending to the distinctive educational predicament of the
Armenian migrant children vis-à-vis Istanbul Armenians, Parla also examines the overarching structural violence that affects both groups with regard to “minority education” in a national culture marked by the denial of the genocide as well
as the systematic injustices that have since continued.

Ayse Parla received her B.A. from Harvard and her Ph.D. in anthropology from New York University. Since then she has been teaching at Sabanci University, where she is associate professor of Anthropology. She has completed a three year TUBITAK project on the legalization strategies of Turkish migrants from Bulgaria. As a 2011 recipient of the Turkish Academy of Sciences Exceptional Young Scholar Award (TÜBA-GEBIP), her current research project involves a critical examination of the “Europeanization” of the field of migration in Turkey through a focus on undocumented migrants’ children’s access to education. She has published her research on questions of migration, citizenship, labor, and ethnicity in various journals including Alternatives: Global, Local, Political; American Ethnologist; Citizenship Studies; Cultural Anthropology; Differences; and International Migration.

Sponsors: Rackham Global Engagement for Graduate Education and Armenian Studies Program.


Ayse Parla, Sabanci University