Internal migrants and everyday Islam in the Turkish context

Yılmaz, Hasan Ali and Fortier, Anne-Marie and Knott, Kim (2018) Internal migrants and everyday Islam in the Turkish context. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis explores the interplay between internal migration and religion. Specifically, it examines internal migrants’ reconfiguration of boundaries and spaces of belonging, as well as the impact that migration has on the religious lives of migrants and those who are left behind. These topics are investigated in relation to the historical and political environment in Turkey. The study focuses on migrants coming into the Gebze urban district from the provinces of Giresun and Erzurum, and it considers the experiences of both migrants and their family members who have remained in these provinces. A multi-sited ethnographic research model is used that incorporates a translocal analytical framework, which enables the relationship between internal migration and religion to be conceptualised. Using the ‘everyday lived religion’ approach and a translocal lens, life history interviews are analysed in order to elucidate the relationship between internal migration and religious life. The concept of ‘everyday lived religion’ permits a consideration of aspects of religion that are otherwise invisible, such as experiences and actions in migrants’ lives that are not necessarily seen as religious in nature. Furthermore, the examination of life histories enables the structural, individual and local factors behind migrants’ experiences (the continuation and reinvention of their religious lives, the remaking of homes, or the reconstruction of boundaries) to be revealed. In addition, the translocal lens facilitates scrutiny of the subjective experiences of both migrants and their relatives in the place of origin. The perceptions, emotions and practices of individuals and groups are studied here, with the importance of connections between and across spaces, places and locales being taken into account. The results demonstrate that migrants’ home- and boundary-making ideas and practices are reconfigured via the interactions, relationships and connections that occur both in the place of settlement and the place of origin. Moreover, institutional factors shape – and, indeed, are shaped by – religion and migration. The thesis makes empirical and conceptual contributions to the field of internal-migration research by arguing that religion in both the hometown and the destination is created, formed and influenced by the migration experience. As such, this study challenges the mainstream view that Islam is a product of the local setting, as well as indicating that the dichotomy between the rural and the urban is insufficient to explicate the complexity of the migration context. Further still, religion, with its transcendent aspect, translocalises migrants’ lives so that ‘here’ (the place of settlement), ‘there’ (the hometown) and ‘elsewhere’ (the spiritual world) become relevant to migrants’ definitions of the self and others, as well as their reconfiguration of spaces. Ultimately, a fusion of the ‘everyday lived religion’ and translocal approaches enables us to see that religion is used, articulated and performed in everyday places, being negotiated and contested by migrants and those who are left behind.

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Thesis (PhD)
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31 May 2018 08:48
Last Modified:
18 Apr 2024 23:43