Author:Zeynep Gursel (Macalester College)
Paper short abstract:
Coffee Futures weaves together the Turkish custom of coffee fortune-telling with Turkey's decades-long attempt to join the European Union, revealing the textures of a society whose fate has long been nationally and internationally debated. It investigates the collective psychology of anticipating an uncertain national future.
Paper long abstract:
Coffee Futures weaves individual fortunes with the story of Turkey's decades long attempts to become a member of the European Union. Promises and predictions made by politicians, both foreign and domestic, are juxtaposed with the rhetorics and practices of everyday coffee fortune telling.
The widespread custom of coffee fortune telling in Turkey is an everyday communication tool. Coffee fortunes are a way of dealing with hopes, fears and worries, and also a way of indirectly voicing matters usually left unspoken. Like any language, this narrative form has its protocols, rules and tropes, and yet simultaneously each telling bears distinct marks of the teller's personal style and the individual fortune seeker's condition.
So I set out to seek my fortune and flipped my cup for two dozen people, both friends and strangers. These amateur fortune tellers all read my individual fortune as they might any other day, except for the question I surprised them with at the end...
July 31, 2009 marked the 50th year anniversary of Turkey's application to apply to the ever elusive European Union (maiden name European Economic Community). On this long and seemingly endless path, the film echoes descriptions of a constantly invoked but not yet attained future. Coffee Futures attempts to render the emotional texture of a society whose fate has been nationally and internationally debated often in relation to Europeanness over a very long period of time, to hint at the psychology of collective waiting and anticipating a national future.