It seemed like a very good idea at the time. A period of research leave in Barcelona would allow me to put everything I knew about nationalism to the test. I would see up close how competing nationalist visions corrode harmony and peaceful coexistence among culturally diverse groups. I would understand how the principle of national self-determination could inspire a people to seek their own independent state. But also grasp how the idea of national unity threatened diversity. More specifically, I could find out how the mood in Barcelona, once a bastion of multiculturalism and conviviality, had turned to such anger and how Spain’s exceptionalism in not having a far-right political party was coming to an end.… Seguir leyendo »
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I wasn’t much of a connoisseur, I admit, in the matter of Nordic cultural differences before I moved to Sweden from Turkey in 2011. Narcissism of minor differences, I’d always thought, complacent in my half-baked knowledge of Viking history and Norse mythology. It took me several years and two seasons of The Bridge (Bron/Broen), the riveting Scandi-noir TV crime series, to realise that the Danes and the Swedes neither resemble nor necessarily like each other.
At first I felt closer to Martin Rohde, the Danish police detective in the series who has to work with his Swedish counterpart, Saga Norén, after a corpse is discovered exactly in the middle of the Øresund Bridge which connects the two countries.… Seguir leyendo »
I have never been an exile in the strict sense of the word. I left Turkey voluntarily – mostly for professional reasons – in 2011, long before the crackdown on academics began. The country was still being described as “partly free” by the Freedom House Democracy Index, though the early signs of the regime’s authoritarian slide were already clearly evident.
The rest is history. Or a suspenseful horror flick with many twists. While I was enjoying the peace of a Swedish university town where the front page of the bestselling regional newspaper Sydsvenskan reported the “tragic story” of an undergraduate student who filed a police complaint about a local hairdresser who over-trimmed her split ends, Turkey was rocked by country-wide protest movements, an increasing police clampdown, mass purges and a failed coup, all topped off by half a dozen elections and a change of regime from a parliamentary to a (super-)presidential system.… Seguir leyendo »
I was born in Turkey and am now based in Lund, on the southern tip of Sweden. Most of my life I’ve probably been the quintessential cosmopolitan, and proudly so. But I’ve also spent too many hours in the consulates and airports of various EU countries coveting a multiple-entry Schengen visa, or enduring the suspicious looks of customs officers, to believe that I could be a “citizen of nowhere” with a Turkish passport.
My cosmopolitanism was more a moral ideal based on compassion, and did not preclude a yearning for belonging or roots. It simply defined them in a different way.… Seguir leyendo »