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“I Would Have Recognized You from Your Smell”: Racialization of Kurdish Migrant Farmworkers in Western Turkey
The racialization of Kurds is prevalent in everyday life, not only in the cities of western Turkey but also in rural contexts, where labor relations and hierarchies between Turks and Kurds create significant social tensions. This chapter focuses on race and racialization as they are experienced by Kurdish farmworkers, and examines how racialization draws on the emotional, affective, and embodied social registers. Turkish farmers and supervisors re-signify the class antagonism with their Kurdish workers through the racial/cultural affects of aversion, disgust, anxiety, horror, and resentment. As I illustrate, the racialization of Kurds is also tied to the fantasmatic image of the “terrorist”. However, Kurds are not mere victims in these processes, they also participate in these racializing logics and react in ways that do not necessarily challenge the racial hierarchies pervasive in society. In that sense, racialization is not only a process of exclusion but also a process of embodied self-making. This chapter explores how Kurdish migrant farm workers become racialized, gendered, and classed subjects by sometimes identifying with, at other times differentiating themselves from the figures of “the Syrian” and “the Gypsy”.
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