Elif Sari

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Cornell U.

Grant number

Gr. 9475

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

Sari, Elif, Cornell U., Ithaca, NY - To aid research on 'Waiting Amidst Violence and Uncertainty: LGBTI Asylum in Turkey,' supervised by Dr. Saida Hodzic

Preliminary abstract: The international asylum system represents sexual asylum as a continuous journey from home country to host country, past to future, and oppression to freedom. However, even those refugees who are granted asylum, such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) from the Middle East, spend many years waiting for asylum in so-called ‘transition’ countries such as Turkey before they are resettled in the United States or Canada. My dissertation project examines LGBTI asylum in Turkey, investigating how the practices and processes of the transnational asylum system shape individual and communal experiences of LGBTI refugees during the period of waiting. On the one hand, due to their sexual orientation and gender identity, LGBTI refugees are subject to multiple forms of violence and discrimination while waiting in Turkey. On the other hand, the third countries and international humanitarian organizations prioritize LGBTI asylum applications and expedite their resettlement. By using ‘waiting’ as a conceptual tool, I examine this particular configuration of LGBTI asylum in Turkey, where LGBTI refugees are stranded between multiple asylum authorities, the past and a yet-to-come future, and prioritization and vulnerability. I explore how LGBTI refugees construct, perform, and negotiate their sexualities during numerous encounters with multiple asylum authorities. I also examine how they cope with violence and uncertainty by forming new sociality and solidarity networks and political communities. Data collection involves participant observation, textual and discursive analysis, and in-depth interviews with LGBTI refugees, asylum lawyers, and staff members of international asylum organizations and their domestic implementing partners.