Mehmet Fatih Tatari
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Davis, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9435
Approve DateApril 18, 2017
Project TitleTatari, Mehmet F., U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Farmer Organizing in Northeastern Turkey: Making Cheese and Reimagining Borders,' supervised by Dr. Marisol de la Cadena
Preliminary abstract: Through ethnographic fieldwork in Northeastern Turkey, this research investigates everyday animal husbandry and cheesemaking practices that make boundaries, which differ from – and at times challenge – state imposed borders. In so doing, I focus on a nascent, almost unfathomable, collaboration between Armenian, Kurdish, and Turkish small farmers as they engage in a process of acquiring Geographical Indicators (GI) for local cheese products. The geographical borders that these farmers attempt to define through GI legislations are deeply entangled with the contentious political borders in the region — due to the legacy of the Armenian Genocide (1915) that is officially denied by the Turkish State, and the ongoing armed conflict between the Turkish army and Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). This research first interrogates the relationship – frictional or collaborative – between everyday pastoral practices and the ways in which the nation-state exercises its sovereignty. What are the practices through which cheesemaking enables local communities to reimagine boundaries and negotiate violent memories in a context of ongoing militarization and armed conflict? How do these practices circumvent state enforcement of borders? Secondly, this research is concerned with the materiality of cheese, as farmers and scientists mobilize it through their collaboration in GI processes. What kinds of new regional boundaries are produced through the practices of local cheesemakers and microbiologists, and how? I thus aim to approach cheese as an important node – and perhaps agent – in different practices of border-making by the nation-state and local communities on the one hand, and by scientists, animal husbandry practitioners, and dairy producers on the other.