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Yildiz, Emrah

Grant Type: 
Dissertation Fieldwork Grant
Insitutional Affiliation: 
Harvard U.
Status: 
Active Grant
Approve Date: 
October 12, 2011
Project Title: 
Yildiz, Emrah, Harvard U., Cambridge, MA- To aid research on 'Traffic in Value: A Road Ethnography of Pilgrimage, Contraband Commerce, and Border-Crossing Across Eastern Borders of Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Steven C. Caton

Preliminary Abstract: This research draws upon micro-historical and ethnographic approaches to transnational mobility to examine the increasingly popular Hajj-e Fuqara ('pilgrimage of the poor/modest') route that transports not only pilgrims but also smuggled goods from Iran, through Turkey, to Syria. I will study how a seemingly disparate set of social actors (pilgrims, smugglers, and merchants) employ the bus as a critical vehicle of mobility, and negotiate not only this transforming border, but also the seemingly distinct borders between religion, economy, and politics. Focusing on social actors' spatial practices not as products of predetermined protocols but rather as emergent forms of social action, I will investigate (1) the material conditions and social relations through which various actors and goods come together on the Hajj-e Fuqara bus route and (2) how this border landscape emerges through social actors' creation of religious, economic, and political value on the move. By accompanying and collecting narratives of the merchants, smugglers, and pilgrims on the bus, interviewing state officials, clerics, and local merchants at the route's major stops, I will illuminate how religious practice, economic activity, and political action are constituted through social actors' interactions on the Hajj-e Fuqara route.