Affective Geopolitics: Entangled Encounters with Syrian Refugees in Turkey

October 27, 2017

Anna Secor

Friday, October 27, 6:00PM–8:00PM, Room 7000, SFU Harbour Centre

Co-sponsored by SFU's Institute for the Humanities and the Lacan Salon.

This presentation explores how affective political spatializations demarcate territories and boundaries.   Our premise is that Turkey’s geopolitical orientations with regard to the Syrian refugee crisis unfold not only in changing immigration law, national policies, and international agreements, but as embodied and affective relations.  The talk focuses on encounters between nationals of Turkey with both the embodied presence of Syrian refugees and the discourses that frame or contest Turkey’s official ‘open door’ policy. Our project asks: how do men and women, Sunnis and Alevis, Turks and Kurds, in three different Turkish cities (Istanbul, Konya, and Malatya) encounter what has amounted to the influx of more than three million Syrian refugees over the course of the past six years? We focus on three dimensions of what we call the affective geopolitics of the Syrian refugee crisis in Turkey: (uncomfortable) identification, threatening proximity, and what Sarah Ahmed calls “the politics of pain.” We conclude by considering how the imminent, embodied, and affective challenges posed by the influx of 3 million Syrians into Turkey open the ethical problem of how to hear and respond to the pain of others.


Anna J. Secor is Professor of Geography and the Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Islamic Studies Professor at the University of Kentucky. Her research on religion, politics, and difference in Turkey has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.  She is an editor of the journal cultural geographies (Sage).

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