Date: May 23, 2016
Place: santralistanbul Campus, Energy Museum-Seminar Room
Currently, it's estimated that about three million Syrians live in Turkey and it's very likely that this number will be increasing in the near future, which signals a serious change in the demographics of Turkey. On the other hand, as the Turkish society, we don't really know our Syrian neighbors, we don't have any real con-tact with them and even worse, we don't actually want to have any contact with them. However, we be-lieve that we should always keep in mind the fact that we are talking about “real” people who are/will be our next-door neighbors in every city and almost every neighborhood. Besides, we regrettably see that the Syrians in Turkey, especially in mainstream media, are represented as mere numbers, mostly criminal-ized, and subsequently, the xenophobia against the Syrians find grounds in a wider scope of the society.
Based on what we mentioned above, we think that even a shift of paradigm in the minds of the “ordi-nary” people that the Syrians are also “ordinary” people would contribute to the struggle against xeno-phobia. These people bring a variety of cultural and social values with them. We believe that if Turkish people become familiar with these positive values, that can mean a big step forward in the struggle against xenophobia.
As İstanbul Bilgi University Center for Migration Research, we would like to organize the screening of a series of the video portraits and an open forum with the participation of the members of the Collective and the subjects of the portraits in order to meet and talk to each other.
The event will be held in English and Turkish.
“WelcomeToTurkey” is a collective effort that intends to listen to the stories of the Syrians living in Turkey through their very own words. It is an outcome of a personal discomfort on the dominant representation of the refugees; a wish to make a small contribution to the struggle against the increasing xenophobia. It never claims to “represent” the Syrians living in Turkey, but attempts to uproot the negative stereotyping about them.
It does not have a deadline or so, but it is to be carried on as long as we can. It is, indeed, a tool to con-struct a continuous contact in solidarity; an “excuse” to chat.
“WelcomeToTurkey” is a naive, personal, yet collective desire to get in touch with our new neighbors; a projection of the word we want to utter to the people who decide to live here in Turkey. In order to live together as long as they wish to…
İstanbul Bilgi University Center for Migration Research