Accepted paper:

Living in a village guard in Diyarbakir province: practices of hospitalities and dependencies during political conflict


Veronica Buffon (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on hospitalities and dependencies I experience during fieldwork in Diyarbakir province, Turkey. I argue that the political conflict between Kurds and Turks contributes in shaping the ambiguities and contradictions embedded in local and temporarily specific forms of hospitality.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing from my ethnographic fieldwork in a village guard in Diyarbakir province, also known as the Northern Kurdistan, I propose a notion of hospitality, which is not generic and atemporal, but the result of a weekly negotiation and re-negotiation with a Kurdish woman, particularly a sufi healer, her family and her patients during the time I spent in the community. An encounter between strangers, the healer and I, the dimension of which was then extended to the community, became a daily practice of exchange and reflection over the political and religious aspects of our lives (and after lives) which show how my positionality could reinforce ambivalent aspects of hospitality and at the same time create space for the transformation of our status from 'guest' and 'host' to 'friends'. Insecurity dictated by the Turkish military presence and police control in the village and the impossibility I experienced of fully reciprocate hospitality reinforced both the control over me, the researcher, and at the same time my dependency over the healer and her family. Theoretically, this paper aims to reflect on the ethics in everyday life during field work from the researcher's perspective by taking into account the 'risks' imposed on the community in accepting a stranger and at the same time the moral dilemmas shaped around the pressure of firmly taking sides within an on going political conflict.

panel P09
Hospitality, dependence and mutuality: negotiating positionality and methodologies in the Middle East