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Berlin Anthropology Seminars (4): Hilal Alkan (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient): 'Like an adult tree': Emplacement, intimate care and human-plant relations in migration

13.12.2023 | 16:15 - 17:45
BAS_winter23_Hilal Alkan

BAS_winter23_Hilal Alkan

Lecture by Hilal Alkan (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient) within the Berlin Anthropology Seminars

'Like an adult tree': Emplacement, intimate care and human-plant relations in migration

People-plant relationships are multi-faceted and range from purely utilitarian to highly affective. In my research I work with Turkish and Kurdish migrants on their relationships with the plants they grow in Germany. Within the migration trajectories and processes of my research participants, the affective relationships with plants have two affordances: Firstly, the intimate care given to plants facilitate the emplacement of both the plants and the humans. Secondly, plants lend people the metaphors to reflect on their migrant conditions. Through these two affordances and under the circumstances of climactic and societal difference, xenophobia and precarity, plants and people grow closer and survive together, while the human participants of these relationships draw reciprocal parallels between themselves and their plant companions. These parallels—anthropomorphisms and phytomorphisms—unfold as modalities of intimacy within the lives of my interlocutors.

Hilal Alkan is a researcher at Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin. Her research mainly concerns migration and care in contemporary settings. Her most recent project is about the relations migrants form with the plants they grow as part of their home-making practices. Her articles appeared in the American Ethnologist, Citizenship Studies, Migration Letters and in other collections. She co-edited Urban Neighbourhood Formations (Routledge, 2020) and The Politics of the Female Body in Contemporary Turkey (IB Tauris 2021). Her monograph Welfare as Gift: Local charity, politics of redistribution and religion in Turkey (De Gruyter) is coming out by the end of 2023.

This lecture is part of the bi-weekly Berlin Anthropology Seminars. This series constitutes a joint initiative by anthropologists from the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at FU Berlin, ZMO, and Ethnologisches Museum. It intends to shape and cultivate an inclusive platform and open regular meeting point for exchange and discussion on current research by Berlin-based anthropologists. Please spread the word among colleagues, junior or senior, who may be interested. For further questions contact m.oschwald@fu-berlin.de
Organizers: Paola Ivanov, Claudia Liebelt, and Kai Kresse.

Zeit & Ort

13.12.2023 | 16:15 - 17:45

FU Seminar Centre, Otto-von-Simson-Str. 26, 14195
Berlin, room L115. Or online in our Webex room.
meeting ID: 2730 256 0409; password: BASwinter2023-24

SFB 1171 Affective Societies
Berlin Southern Theory Lecture