Year of start: 2009
Subject: Social Anthropology
Research Topic/ Provisional Dissertation Title
On Boys and Borders: Transgressive Masculinities and the Dilemma of Liminality in a Turkish Urban Centre
2. Ruth Mandel
My doctoral research highlights the point of intersection between migration and masculinities among young men in the Sultanahmet district of Istanbul. The bulk of my informant community is made up of males who migrated independently to Istanbul as youths, motivated by a broad desire to ‘seek their fortunes.’ Endemic to this mode of migration or itinerancy is the cycle of risk and reward. In Sultanahmet, as some of the most visible occupants of one of history’s most cosmopolitan centres, now the point of entry into the world’s seventh most visited tourist destination, they are poised to capitalise on opportunities to overcome their socio-economic peripherality.
However, outcomes are rarely assured on such a path, and what they risk is nothing short of their status as men. Most of my informants have opted for paths that continue ‘forward’ and desire to be viewed as men on terms they dictate, which is frequently manifested as fantasies of emigration to Europe or other ‘Western’ countries. The central questions I have been exploring through the ethnography revolve around whether or not all boys can be said to become men, what alternative attestations of manhood look like, and how these are received both inside and outside of Turkey.
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