Being without Belonging: Seattle's Ahıska Turks and the Limitations of Transnationalism for Stateless Diaspora Groups
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Within transnational and diaspora populations, there are subsets of groups that are stateless and have been displaced multiple times and have complex origins and migration histories. Existing frameworks of transnationalism and diaspora literatures assume national attachment and do not anticipate or properly theorize the complexity of stateless diasporas. The Ahiska Turks typify these limitations and can serve as a case study of the exclusion of groups with complex origins. The US-based Ahiska Turks are a segment of a diaspora and are refugees that have been through three displacements or forced migrations. The Ahiska Turks live in simultaneity, existing in the fluid and context-based social world between incorporation into the US and enduring transnational attachments outside of it. I use qualitative research methods to map the networks and relationships that comprise the social field of the Ahiska Turks in Seattle. The Ahiska Turks negotiate the identity and boundaries of their group in different social contexts by emphasizing language, culture, group history, and Ottoman roots. While the group has found ways of "being" transnational in their social field; they have a harder time "belonging", in part because the path to belonging is neither straightforward, nor uniform in the absence of a nation-state and recognized nationality. This work demonstrates the relative invisibility of groups with complex origins and migration trajectories in the transnational paradigm. Additionally, this paper illustrates the impacts of sociopolitical instability, increased dispersion, and community fragmentation on the Seattle-based Ahiska Turkish identities and boundaries.
- Sociology