Dissertation Abstracts

Ethnicity and Gender Dynamics of Living in the Borderlands: The Case of Hopa- Turkey

Author: Akyuz, Latife , latifekyuz@gmail.com
Department: Sociology
University: METU, Turkey
Supervisor: Assoc.Prof.Dr. Sibel KALAYCIOGLU
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: Border Economy , Ethnicity , Turkey-Georgia Border , Intersectionality
Areas of Research: Women in Society , Racism, Nationalism and Ethnic Relations


The aim of this dissertation is to investigate how the border economy shapes inter and intra group dynamics of ethnicity and gender for those who live in these regions. This study is based on qualitative research conducted in the town of Hopa in the Turkey-Georgia border region. The central argument of the study is that border regions have economic activities that are specific to these regions and the form of participation in these activities shapes the dynamics of social and cultural life. The field study which has been built around this argument raises questions about the socioeconomic relationships as well as family and kin relations involving two ethnic groups, the Lazis and the Hemshins.

This study shows the crucial role that gender and ethnicity play in determining negative and positive effects of the border economy. After the opening of the Sarp border gate, Hemshins and Lazis experienced the effects of the border in different ways. As a result, discourses of exclusion and othering between these two groups have deepened. Moreover, gender inequalities gained new dimensions when women from the post-Soviet nations across the border have entered the picture. Representations of the lifestyles of immigrant female workers employed in the so called “entertainment sector” enhanced imprisonment of the local women in the private sphere. However this difference between ‘local women’ and ‘immigrant women’ did not create any sense of solidarity among Hemshini and Lazi women to surpass ethnic divisions and gender inequalities.

This study focuses on the new inequalities that emerge at the intersection of gender and ethnicity in the border regions. It demonstrates the slippery ground upon which socioeconomic life of the border towns is established, eventually creating new forms of inequalities as a result of the changing definitions of winning and losing parties.

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