Dr Zerrin Özlem Biner (University of Kent). Online Seminar.

In this seminar, I focus on the lives of people who own, repair, and dig for buried treasure in their stone houses in Mardin’s Old City in southeast Turkey. Drawn on jinn narratives that emerge at the scene of digging, I discuss the ways people search through and distribute the historical in between the material and spiritual, the human and nonhuman. Rather than creating causal relations between violence and its effects, jinn manifestations in the city of Mardin create a disruption in the interpretation of significant events, particularly that of the 1915 Armenian genocide and its aftermath. They, on the one hand, release tensions by turning the experience of haunting into an ordinary experience of living in a violent environment made of ruination. On the other hand, they recall multiple perceptions of justice over the right to property ownership, which combine the principles of Islamic theology and the official discourse of the Turkish state about the Armenian genocide.

Zerrin Ozlem Biner is a lecturer in Social Anthropology at School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent. Dr Biner’s research focuses on themes about state, citizenship, violence, materiality, memory, justice and reconciliation processes. For over a decade, she has engaged ethnographically with the political, social and psychic effects of the protracted conflict in Southeastern Turkey through the perspective of Kurds, Arabs and Syriacs/ Assyrians, as well as diasporic communities residing in Sweden and Germany. She is the author of States of Dispossession: Violence and Materiality in Southeastern Turkey (UPENN, 2020).