Ankara 2014

Ethnographic Fieldwork Exchange Seminar 2014

Report on the Ethnographic Fieldwork Exchange Seminar 2014 (June 3-15, Ankara Turkey)

Between June 3 and June 15, eleven students from the Institute of Social Anthropology of the University of Bern (UB) and eleven students from the Sociology Department and its Graduate Program in Social Anthropology of the Middle East Technical University (METU) took part jointly in the first Ethnographic Fieldwork Exchange Seminar in Ankara, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sabine Strasser, Assist. Luisa Piart (UB), Assoc. Prof. Ayşegül Aydıngün, Assist. Prof. Katharina Bodirsky, and Assist. Prof. Besim Can Zırh (METU).

The exchange started with three lectures entitled ‘Neoliberal Urban Transformation: A Look at Ankara’ (Katharina Bodirsky), ‘Secularism in Turkey’ (Ayşegül Aydıngün), and ‘A self-fulfilling prophecy: Making Gezi a Sectarian Rising’ (Besim Can Zırh), as well as a workshop on ethnographic methods (Sabine Strasser, Luisa Piart). The next days of the exchange were devoted to fieldwork in four mixed teams of students from both universities with regular meetings with the lecturers. Lastly, students prepared poster presentations to discuss their findings. The exchange included informed ‘site-seeing’ (Alevi Culture Center and Cemevi in Batıkent, Anıtkabir Mausoleum, Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, urban transformation in Ulus), as well as a social gathering on the last evening.

Students created posters in order to present the findings of their ethnographic fieldwork on the following topics:

  • Transmitting dissent, social media, censorship and activism
  • Hydropower in Turkey
  • Education of Syrian underage non-camp refugees in Ankara
  • Did the Gezi movement keep its promise for the Kurds?

For students, the learning outcomes of the project were the ability to:  

·       discuss and carry out research proposals,

·       practice ethnographic methods and strengthen fieldwork experience,

·       develop international collaboration among students

It also opened up new possibilities for exchange and collaboration between our departments.


We thank all participants of the exchange, and the Institute of Social Anthropology and the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Bern, the Department of Sociology and the Dean Prof. Dr. Ersan Akyıldız of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Middle East Technical University for their generous support that made this project possible.

(September 2014)