A Linguistic Ethnography in the Forced Migration Discourse: Iraqi Turkmen Women in Turkey

This talk will present linguistic ethnographic research which investigates the dynamics of everyday interaction between refugee and local women residing in a mid-size Turkish city. Focusing on face-to-face social gatherings of local and Iraqi Turkmen refugee women in domestic spaces, this talk will explore the dialogical processes through which these women construct and negotiate their stances and identities through the lens of language ideology. It will showcase significant findings garnered from an intensive 18-month ethnographic study, where regular field observations were supplemented by a total of 70 hours of audio-recorded spontaneous interactions in Turkish. The results indicate that while the Iraqi Turkmen participants’ skillful interactional moves offer them the opportunity to reframe their relationship with the local women, the prevailing nationalist and Islamic discourses, intertwined with Ottoman allegiance, lay the foundation of the women’s linguistic beliefs and judgments. These elements add complexity to the Iraqi Turkmen women’s pursuit of recognition. Therefore, this talk will argue that while the Iraqi Turkmen women’s efforts to capitalize on the shared identities resulted in the emergence of “brief moments of tight but temporary and ephemeral groupness” (Blommaert, 2017, p. 35), in the long run, their refugee identity overshadowed other identities which they claimed for themselves.


Blommaert, J. (2017). Durkheim and the internet: On sociolinguistics and the sociological imagination, Working Papers in Urban Language & Literacies (Paper No. 204). London: King’s College London.


Dr. Hasret Saygı holds a promising academic and professional background, with a doctoral degree from one of Turkiye’s premier institutions, Boğazici University, and a Master’s degree from King’s College London. Currently, she serves as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foreign Languages Education at Istanbul 29 Mayıs University. Dr. Saygı’s research focuses on the intricate relationship between language and identity in migration discourse, adopting a discourse analytical and ethnographic approach. Saygı has made significant contributions to various research projects that delve into areas such as workplace interaction in migration contexts, neighborly talks within the discourse of forced migration, and communicative practices in touristic service interactions. She has engaged audiences globally as a panelist and presenter at numerous international conferences, and her research has found its way into respected peer-reviewed journals.

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