Journal of Narrative Politics | Volume 1, Number 1, Fall 2014
Originally published September, 2014

Remains of the Day at Cappadocia and Dalyan, Turkey

by Nergis Canefe

For many years, I have been taking street photographs in the places where I do my art and academic work. I try to see through the lens what otherwise may be omitted from our vision. It is an exercise committed to witnessing everyday life around us. These photographs are a testimony to the hope that is found in the textures of suffering, survival, perseverance, and endurance. At times, they are a testimony celebrating existence of ‘other’ or ‘alternative’ life practices, protection of honour in communities otherwise crushed under the weight of late capitalist forms of flexible accumulation and profiteering, and globalization of exploitation in ever renewed, myriad forms.

Cappadocia (Kapadokya) is a UNESCO World Heritage area located in Central Anatolia, Turkey. To the outside world, it is best known for its unique moon-like landscape, underground cities, cave churches and houses carved in the rocks. It opened up for tourism in the 1980s and today it hosts close to 1,000 boutique and international hotel chains. However, similar to other tourism booms in the global south, very little of the income accrued from tourism reaches the hands of the local populations. Thus, there is another Cappadocia that visitors often do not see or even notice. Across the valleys, canyons, hills, and unusual rock formations created as a result of the eroding rains and winds of thousands of years, and surrounded by the volcanic mountains Erciyes, Melendiz and Hasan, the rural populations of Cappadocia earn their living through small and mid-scale agriculture, animal husbandry, stonework for the rich, masonry for the international hotel chains, and service sector employment for the flowing crowds of tourists from around the world. Cappadocian children hardly ever see the museums, rock carvings, or other attractions of the region. The weavers cannot afford the carpets they work on. At 200 euros per night, the masons never get to stay in the rooms they carve. And locals do not take the famous balloons rides but more so worry about the debris left from the 200 odd hot air balloons effecting their vineyards as they take off every morning. These photographs try to capture the spirit of this ‘Other Cappadocia.’

Cappadocia Gallery

Dalyan is an Anatolian town on the southwest coast of Turkey. The photographs in the Dalyan Gallery were taken in 2013. Dalyan came to be known to the outside world in 1987 when developers wanted to build a luxury hotel on the nearby beach, a breeding ground for the endangered Mediterranean Loggerhead sea turtle species. This incident created a major international reaction from conservationists, including June Haimoff, Peter Günther, Nergis Yazgan, Lily Venizelos, and Keith Corbett. In the Dalyan Special Environmental Protection Area, traditional rural communities have been earning their living from fishing, orchards, and reed cultivation for centuries. These photographs are from the Dalyan Çayı River, which flows past the town and the adjacent local lake. The boats that ply up and down the river, navigating the maze of reeds, are the only means of transport to all the local sites. During winter nights, the waters sleep as the community goes about their living underneath the ancient rock-carved mausoleum of the Lycean city states that once existed in the area.

Dalyan Gallery

Nergis Canefe (Ph.D York, 1998, SJD candidate, Osgoode Hall Law School) is Associate Professor of Political Science, Public Policy and Law at York University, and associate director of Centre for Refugee Studies. Her areas of interest are transitional justice, memory and trauma, minority and human rights, critical citizenship studies, and crimes against humanity. She has more than fifty scholarly articles in books and in journals including Citizenship Studies, Nations and Nationalism, Balkanologie, South East European Studies, Turkish Studies and Rethinking History. She co-edited the volume Turkey and the European Integration (Routledge 2004), edited the volume Jewish Diasporas (Libra 2014) and wrote (in Turkish) Anavatandan Yavruvatana: Milliyetçilik, Bellek, ve Aidiyet (English title: Citizenship, Identity and Belonging: Limits of Turkish Nationalism) (Bilgi University, 2006). She is currently working on a manuscript on Transitional Justice Unbound: Crimes Against Humanity in International Law. She can be reached here.