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States at the Limit : Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Borderlands of Southeastern… Harris, Leila 2009-12-31

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 EuropeanJournal of Turkish StudiesSocial Sciences on Contemporary Turkey 10 | 2009State-Society Relations in the SoutheastStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Borderlands ofSoutheastern TurkeyLeila M. HarrisÉdition électroniqueURL : http://ejts.revues.org/4122ISSN : 1773-0546ÉditeurEJTS Référence électroniqueLeila M. Harris, « States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Borderlandsof Southeastern Turkey », European Journal of Turkish Studies [En ligne], 10 | 2009, mis en ligne le 31décembre 2009, Consulté le 19 mai 2017. URL : http://ejts.revues.org/4122 Ce document a été généré automatiquement le 19 mai 2017.© Some rights reserved / Creative Commons licenseStates at the Limit: TracingContemporary State-SocietyRelations in the Borderlands ofSoutheastern TurkeyLeila M. Harris1 Ali lives in an Arabic speaking village of the Harran plain1 and owns a small plot of landwith his brother (17 decares).2 The brothers recount that they have had difficulty withweeds this year. Ali suggests that this is due to the fact that they haven’t rotated theircrops.  His  brother  disagrees,  and  says  it  is  because  the  state  subsidy  for  pesticidesassociated with cotton is insufficient, so they only had enough money to apply pesticidesonce. Despite these problems, they consider themselves to have benefited tremendouslyfrom irrigation. ‘With one year’s harvest, I now earn enough to buy a tractor,’ Ali says,explaining that  ‘culture’  and ‘development’  have also come to rural  areas  with stateirrigation provision.  2 Amit lives in a Kurdish-speaking village a few miles to the west of Ali. As someone whodoes not own land and who had previously been engaged in herding sheep and goats onthe plain, he and his family have very different experiences of irrigation. He explains, ‘Itwas said that GAP3 is happiness, GAP is survival, but it has been a suicide pill for those ofus engaged in animal husbandry. It prepared our end. Right now, (speaking about) GAPgives me discomfort.’ Others who had also relied on animal husbandry –selling yoghurt,cheese,  and animals for income, and using wool,  meat,  and dairy products for familyneeds– tell of increasing difficulties in terms of being able to make ends meet since thecoming of widespread canalet irrigation. With fields now dedicated to irrigated cottonproduction, there is no longer space available to graze animals.3 In another nearby Kurdish speaking village, Mufa takes great pride in showing me thedocumentation of the state subsidy he will receive for last year’s cotton crop. Although heonly owns 25 decares of his own land, he is entitled to 630 USD of cotton subsidy (basedStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20091on 9 cents per kilo of cotton, the subsidy in 2001). This is significant money in a plainwhere average household incomes are estimated as less than $5,000 a year.4 Mufa believesthat without the subsidy farmers would not be able to afford pesticides, irrigation water,or other expenses associated with cotton, and would likely revert to growing wheat orother  dryland  crops.  He  believes  the  state  must  benefit  from  cotton  production;otherwise they would not pay him to grow it.  I. Towards an Ethnographic Approach to States Attheir limits‘A state exists chiefly in the hearts and minds of its people; if they do not believe itis there, no logical exercise will bring it to life’ (Joseph Strayer, 1970: 5)4 As suggested by the brief vignettes above, state delivery of irrigation to the Harran plainin southeastern Turkey over the past decade as part of the large-scale GAP project hashad dramatic and varied implications for village life, crop selection and rural economies.My purpose here is to read the Turkish state and trace shifting state-society relationsthrough villager narratives in the Harran plain of the Southeastern Anatolia region–aborder region that has been historically and geographically marginalized since the initialestablishment  of  the  Turkish  Republic  (see  Map  1,  below).  The  time  period  underexamination is also significant as the region is undergoing rapid and extensive change aspart of the large-scale GAP project. Tracing variable responses and interpretations of the‘state’ in a region experiencing important state-led developmental changes reveals thechanging horizontal reach of the state (extending into regions and spaces where the statepreviously had little presence) and also shifting verticality of the state (providing a senseof the shifting intensities of state-society interactions in the village spaces of this borderarea). The evidence offered is also suggestive of changing state-society relations in waysthat are potentially important for issues of the legitimacy of the Turkish state, and alsoshifting possibilities related to the Kurdish question –an especially critical issue given thehistory  and  geography  of  this  region,  and  lingering  conflicts  related  to  separatistmovements and the Turkish state response. States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20092MAP 1: Southeastern Anatolia5 While  I  invoke  ‘the  Turkish  state’,  reading  the  state  in  relation  to  rural  residents’narrations is necessarily to also recognize ‘the state’  as a non-distinct,  indeterminatecontested sphere. Indeed, insights to be gained from this analysis are due precisely to thefact that I investigate and situate the state in relation to its most unlikely and contested‘sites’ and articulations –through that of the small, rural, marginalized, ethnically diversevillages of Turkey’s southeast. The extent to which the state ‘appears’ in this region, andis  narrated by  villagers  living in  this  region,  reveals  something about  the  degree  ofsuccess,  vertically  and  horizontally,  of  state  and  nation-building  projects  in  thecontemporary moment.6 My approach to questions of state consolidation, nation-building, and citizenship drawsheavily from a growing body of work on ‘ethnographies of the state’ (e.g. Gupta 1995;Moore 1993; Navaro-Yashin 2002; Secor 2007). In brief, ethnographic approaches to statesdetail the everyday practices, encounters, and lived effects of the state. As Navaro-Yashinnotes, an ethnographic approach to states allows an analysis of ‘people and the state, notas an opposition, but as the same domain (2)’ (see also Migdal 2001, 2004 for overview ofstate-society approaches). My study builds on these works in reading how the state islived and articulated in everyday life. However, I also extend these works by picking upon Gupta’s (1995) interest in understanding the ways that the state is experienced andlived in rural spaces. Pushing this a bit further, I provide an analysis of evolving state-society relations in spaces that are not only marginal in terms of their rurality,5 but morecentrally, with respect to state and nation-building projects over time. In the Turkishexample,  the  contemporary  southeast  is  emblematic  in  this  regard  –as  a  culturally,politically, and economically contested region that has increasingly frustrated Turkishstate  and nation-building  since  the  establishment  of  the  Republic  in  1923  (Kirişçi  &Winrow 1997; Dahlman 2002; Harris 2002, 2008a). As such, rural spaces of the southeastcan be understood not only as marginal to Turkish state and nation-building, but also assites of open contestation. I argue that it is only by reading the ‘state at its limits’ in thoseborder  spaces  where  Turkish  state  and  nation-building  have  often  been  contested,frustrated, and even overtly challenged (ibid) that we can begin to trace and understandStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20093both  illustrative  and exceptional  dimensions  of  state-society  relations  andunderstandings.7 The analysis provided focuses on the case of irrigation delivery as among the recentchanges that have fundamentally altered everyday village life in the southeast, and, withit,  the ever-dynamic character  of  state-society encounters.   The reach of  the state isanalyzed horizontally,  in terms of infiltrating new spaces and life practices,  and alsovertically,  in  terms  of  intensified  interaction,  for  instance  associated  with  increasedincorporation of rural residents into the Turkish economy or increased dependence ofvillagers on state services. Narratives analyzed include both ways that villagers invokethe state in relation to questions about irrigation and GAP-related changes, as well asfollowing questions that directly dealt with the state and villagers’ experiences of stateprograms and services.6 Taken together, my aim is to analyze how the state is lived, invery real terms, in the fabric of everyday village life in the southeast, focusing on theperiod since the advent of GAP large-scale damming and water diversions, andhighlighting the experience of the Harran plain in particular. As I discuss in the latersections, ways that villagers narrate these changes sheds light on how the Turkish state isexperienced,  and lived,  but also necessarily exposes ways that rural  residents situatethemselves as part of, or in opposition to, larger economies and communities atregionalor global scales (cf. Appadurai 1996), including in relation to the Turkish state and nation.8 With  respect  to  broader  concerns  related  to  the  state,  nation-building,  the  Kurdishquestion,  or  contemporary  change  in  Turkey,  specific  contributions  of  this  analysisinclude 1) theoretical contributions in terms of specifying the value of reading state-society relations ethnographically,  and in particular,  through a reading that seeks tounderstand state-society encounters at the margins –in those liminal spaces where statepractices  are less  apparent,  or  may be actively contested.  This  contribution enrichesapproaches to the contemporary state, and responds to calls for qualitative analyses ofnation-building (Berger 2006) and for treatments of state practices and national identitythat take seriously negotiations of socio-spatial difference (cf. Radcliffe & Westwood 1996;Craske  2005).  2) Empirical  contributions  in  terms of  providing  analysis  of  ways  thatresidents of southeastern Turkey narrate and respond to Turkish state practices. Whilethere is a rich literature on the Kurdish question generally, or with respect to GAP relateddevelopment, there is very little that provides analysis of state-society encounters withattention to narratives and responses of residents living and working the region. As such,by  elaborating  the  ways  that  the  state  is  experienced,  lived,  and  narrated  in  thesoutheast,  this  analysis  adds significantly  to literatures  on Turkish state  and nation-building  (e.g. Secor  2007;  Kaplan  2006),  on  Kurdish  identity  and  historiography  ( e.g.Hirschler 2001; Yeğen 1996; Sömer 2004), to socio-political considerations related to theSoutheastern Anatolia project (e.g. Harris 2002; Çarkoğlu & Eder 1998; Öktem 2005; Erhan1997) or geopolitical  considerations related to the Kurds or the southeast (e.g. Harris2008a; Gunter 2004; Ergil 2000; Erhan 1997).  Furthermore, 3) the paper is not only ofsignificance spatially (in the rural, ethnically diverse spaces of Turkey’s southeast), butalso temporally –through focus on changes underway as part of widespread irrigationdelivery and other state-fostered changes associated with the GAP project. Finally, 4) as Ielaborate in the concluding section, the analysis is suggestive not only of the changinghorizontal and vertical reach of the state, but also of shifts in the ways that residents inthe region understand themselves in relation to broader notions of community. Alongthese lines, it is suggested that contemporary state-led change in the southeast is likely toStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20094hold symbolic importance precisely given the history of conflictual relations, and specificdiscourse related to exclusion of the region invoked in Kurdish separatist discourse. Assuch,  the  analysis  holds  promise  with  respect  to  broader  questions  of  citizenship,democratization, and changing citizen subjectivities.  9 With respect to method, the examination here draws from field-work conducted in theHarran plain, the first area to receive irrigation water through GAP. The plain is locateddirectly north of the border with Syria (see Map 2) and is home to Arabic and Kurdishspeaking minority populations,7 making it  both a literal  and figurative border of  thereach  and  extent  of  Turkish  language,  ethnicity,  and  state  influence.  Narratives  aredrawn from interviews  with  state  agents  associated with  the  GAP program,  both  inAnkara and Şanlıurfa, as well as over sixty open-ended interviews conducted in the newlyirrigated Harran plain and elsewhere in Southeastern Anatolia in 2001, 2004, 2005, and2007. A survey of 124 rural households in eleven different villages of the plain was alsocarried out cooperatively with a sociologist from Harran University in 2001.8 Admittedly,results from the Harran plain must not be understood as representative for the entiresoutheast region, as experiences here necessarily differ from those of other populationsand  spaces  of  the  region  (particularly  given  that  the  plain  is  dominated  by  Arabicspeakers,  and populations here face issues very different from those of  the Kurdish-dominated spaces to the north and east, particularly sites such as Diyarbakir, or smallmountain  villages  that  have  been  the  primary  sites  of  conflict  over  the  past  severaldecades).  In  particular,  it  must  be  born  in  mind  that  the  Harran  plain  stands  outpolitically  from the  rest  of  the  southeast  region,  as  an Arabic  speaking pocket  withdistinctive regional political trends (i.e. that shuns pro-Kurdish politics that might bepopular elsewhere in the region and with tendencies to favor Islamic and even Turkishnationalist  political  parties).  Nonetheless,  I  ask:  While  the  Turkish  state  has  beenanalyzed ethnographically in the centers of Ankara or Istanbul (see Navaro-Yashin 2002;Secor  2007),  or  within  specificstateinstitutions,9 what  is  the  reach,  extent,  andconstitution  of  the  ‘state’  at  its  margins  –in  the  impoverished,  Arabic  and  Kurdishspeaking, rural southeast? Furthermore, how are state-society relations evolving in thecontemporary  moment,  particularly  with  regard to  irrigation and other  recent  GAP-related efforts? States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20095MAP 2: Recent Irrigation Projects in Southeastern Turkey: Harran Plain II. Situating state-society relations in a Border Region10 With even a cursory understanding of Turkish history and politics, the salience of thesoutheast,  and specifically the rural  southeast,  as an ‘extreme’ site to investigate theTurkish  state  should  be  clear.  In  brief,  it  can  be  argued  that  Turkish  modernistaspirations, concerns over territorial integrity, and efforts to gain access to the EuropeanUnion  highlight  the  southeast  region  as  a  central  space  that  is  the  locus  of  theseinterrelated issues (Harris 2008a). Perhaps with the exception of border disputes withneighboring  Greece  over  Cyprus  and  the  Aegean  sea,  the  southeastern  border  withneighboring  Syria  and Iraq  is  a  primary  cause  of  disquiet  for  those  concerned withsolidifying and maintaining the borders and integrity of the ‘Turkish state.’ As the onlymajority Kurdish administrative region in contemporary Turkey, southeastern Anatoliahas been the primary site of the decades-long conflict related to Kurdish separatism –oneof the most direct oppositions to Turkish state legitimacy and territory in the history ofthe Republic (see Kirşçi & Winrow 1997; Watts 2007; Harris 2002; Dahlman 2002). Morerecently, the southeast has also been a focal point for rising Islamisms, a contentiousstaging  ground  for  US-led  attacks  against  neighboring  Iraq,  the  site  of  continuingskirmishes between Turkish military and separatist forces, and a region that experiencesfrequent charges of state corruption and human rights abuses. All of these issues makethe southeast of particular importance for Turkish state and nation-building, also servingas a locus of concerns frequently highlighted with respect to European concerns aboutpossibilities for Turkish accession to the EU (see also Gunter 2004; Ergil 2000).States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 2009611  I highlight the importance of the southeast together with other scholars who argue thatthere is theoretical significance to studying states and nations at their metaphorical andliteral ‘borders’ (see Jones 2009; Paasi 2005 and other authors for recent examples of thegrowing interest in border studies). As Kaplan et al. assert with respect to nationalism(1999),  there  is  a  lot  to  be  learned  by  considering  borders,  those  sites  which  aresimultaneously both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the nation, revealing precisely how it is thatnation-building  processes  come undone  (or,  are  also  maintained  and  consolidated).10Referring to ‘border’ sites as transgressions that disrupt the very idea of the nation-state,these authors write, ‘in attempting to consolidate its nationalist power for the well-beingof the people, thenation-state often overlooks the effects its decisions and consequentevents  may  have  on  diverse  populations  whose difference,  often  marked  throughconcepts such as sexuality, gender, race, ethnicity, and class, may situate them adverselyto a center’ (Kaplan et al. 1999: 5). Focusing on the ‘border’ of the GAP region similarlyhighlights the betweenness, indeterminacy, and double-movements of the Turkish nationand state,  simultaneously writing these peoples and spaces as outside of Turkey,  andattempting  to  incorporate  them  more  fully  into  Turkish  economies,  politics,  andidentities (see also Radcliffe & Westwood 1996; Craske 2005; Zurcher 2005 for analyses ofnationalism attentive to socio-spatial difference).12 Consideration  of  contemporary  state  interactions  and  bordering  processes  in  thesoutheast necessarily requires some attention to the history of these issues. While themap of contemporary Turkey was officially drawn in 1923,11 it wasn’t until the 1940s and1950s that the southeastern borders between Turkey and its neighbors were solidifiedwith the arrival of state agents to police the territorial limit of the Republic. Prior to thattime, residents of the region would pass across the plains into present-day Syria withoutconcern for official passports, state agents, or internationally recognized maps of whatconstituted ‘Turkey’. As Yeğen (1996) has described, the solidification of the border insoutheastern Turkey served to cut off traditional trading routes including those that hadlong been established between Kurdish areas in Turkey and those farther to the south andeast.12 In  this  sense,  efforts  to  create  a  ‘Turkish  economic  space’  proceeded  bymarginalizing traditional economic relations and possibilities. In a similar fashion, thesolidification of the official borders between the states cut off transhumance routes ofnomadic pastoralists who had traditionally summered in the high mountains of easternTurkey and wintered in the plains of Syria. Indeed, many villages of Turkey’s Harranplain were only established after the formal creation of the border between Turkey andSyria.  With  the  formal  establishment  of  the  border,  nomadic  populations  weresystematically settled and animal husbandry livelihoods gave way to settled agriculture.1313 The relatively recent solidification of the international border is an important issue tohighlight,  both  to  emphasize  state  attempts  to  consolidate  the  mapped  territory  ofTurkey  as  distinct  from that  of  its  neighbors  and  to  indicate  the  consequences  theextension  of  the  Turkish  state  apparatus  throughout  the  border  areas  has  had  forresidents of the southeast. 14 Throughout Turkish historiography, there has been a great deal of emphasis placed ondemarcating Turkey from its ‘Arab’ neighbors, specifically following the dismantling ofthe  Ottoman Empire.  As  described  by  Navaro-Yashin  (2002:  49)  ‘no  affinity  betweenTurkish  and  Arab  cultures  of  the  Middle  East  was  allowed  in  official  accounts  ofgeography and history,’ instead a cultural border between Turkey and the Arab world wasconstructed and policed. For instance, schoolbooks were very careful to separate ‘Turks’States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20097from ‘Arabs.’ As she explains, much of this insistence resulted from portrayals of Arabs ashaving  threatened the  integrity  of  Ottoman rule.  Rising  Arab  nationalisms  explicitlychallenged the Islamic Caliphate under the sultan, resulting in portrayals of Arabs asthose  who  betrayed  their  Ottoman  brothers.  Such  discourses  continue  to  this  day,deliberately  writing  the  Arab  world  as  outside of  and  even  oppositional to  Turkey  orTurkishness,  with  implications  for  Turkey’s  contemporary  regional  geopoliticalaffiliations (witness current efforts to gain entry to the European Union or hostilitiesbetween Turkey and Iraq or Syria of the past several decades).15 Consideration  of  these  nationalist  discourses  is  important  to  situate  the  ways  thatcontemporary residents in my study area may understand themselves in relation to thestate. As an isolated ‘Arab’ pocket within Turkish territory the Harran plain is a critical,and problematic, target of contemporary state interest and intervention with irrigationdelivery and the GAP project. With 80-90 percent of the Harran plain as Arabic speaking,the plain extends the Arab populations from Syria into Turkish territory, creating anethnically and linguistically minority Arab population.The plain is thus both the literalborder area between Turkey and its Arab neighbors to the south, and also a site thatdisrupts those very distinctions,  instead demarcating the existence of ‘Turkish Arabs’within Turkish territory. Thus, the insistence that Turks are distinct from Arabs that hasbeen  so  foundational  to  Turkish  nationalist  discourses  exposes  attempts  to  fix  theterritorial mapping of Turkey to fundamental challenge, as these populations are claimedsimultaneously as both within and without ‘Turkey’ (cf. Kaplan et al. 1999). Thus, withinthe broader context  and importance of  the southeast  as  a  Kurdish site,  the peculiargeography  of  the  Harran  plain  is  also  important  to  expose  the  limits  and  tensionsinherent to Turkish state and nation-building projects. Attempts to solidify and fix theborder,  and  to  extend  the  reach  of  the  Turkish  state  throughout  the  southeast,necessarily exposes tensions, fissures, and ambivalences inherent in such a project(Harris 2008a).1416 Before turning to contemporary illustrations of changing state-society relations in thisregion, it is also necessary to briefly mention other aspects of state-society interactions inthe rural spaces of the southeast, as well as to provide some general context on socio-economic considerations in the region and for the Harran plain.15 In the early days of theRepublic, the Turkish state first demonstrated interest in Anatolian village life by sendingagents to villages in order to discover ‘authentic’ Turkish language and culture. Over thepast several decades, many would characterize the predominant focus of state-societyinteractions as militaristic, dominated by the Kurdish conflict, the state’s burning andevacuation of villages, limits on assembly and cultural-linguistic expression, and state-imposed curfew (see Yavuz 2001; White 2001; Mutlu 2001; Kirşçi & Winrow 1997 for moredetail  on the Kurdish issue and for understanding of  ways in which this  has been apredominant feature of all state-society questions for the region, and even for Turkey onthe whole). In terms of state-led developmentalism, recent state interest in the area hasincluded electricity delivery, drinking water provision, and more recent interventionsrelated to irrigation, health, and agriculture associated with the large-scale SoutheasternAnatolia Project (GAP) (see Ünver 1997a, 1997b; Carkoğlu & Eder 1998; Erhan 1997; Harris2002; Akşit 1996, for overviews of the GAP region, the GAP project, and related socio-cultural considerations). While the bulk of the research discussed in this article focuseson irrigation and other GAP-related interventions, many villagers in the Harran plaininvoke the coming of electricity as an initial state intervention of great import. TheyStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20098attest that it  has only been since the recent delivery of electricity that the state hasextended its reach and concern to include their villages. As such, narratives related toelectricity suggest that this made villagers feel as though they were not entirely forgottenby the state, implicitly suggesting as well that prior to the 1970s and 1980s, these villagersfelt themselves to be ‘outside’ of state interest and concern. Stronger connections to theTurkish state in these village spaces were further solidified with the ensuing arrival oftelevision and telephones throughout the region. Whether watching news of the Turkishparliament, learning the Turkish language through TV, encountering state agriculturalextension agents on GAP TV,16 or maintaining telephone contact with sons in the military,the contact zones between the state and rural residents have clearly been extended andintensified over the past several decades. The empirical material presented below mustnecessarily be understood in relation to these long-standing state interventions in theserural areas,17 as well as in relation to the ongoing discourses of exclusion and differencethat mark the region as Arab, Kurdish, underdeveloped, or a modern (again, see Harris2008a).17 Part of  my argument is  that the recent establishment of canalet irrigation up to theborder, but not beyond, is an important recent intervention that marks the boundary ofwhat lies ‘within’ and ‘without’ modern Turkey, and serves as a recent chapter in thecomplex and evolving history of state-society relations in this contested region. Turkishstate agents are again traveling to small Anatolian villages, this time not to rediscover anauthentic Turkish past, but to forge a modern Turkish future. The coming of irrigation tothe Harran plain required a flurry of activity to prepare the fields and villagers for whatwas to come; state agents from DSİ (State Hydraulic Works) built the canalets, VillageServices and other agencies built roads and began ongoing processes of land leveling anddrainage works,  scientists and engineers took measurements and conducted research,drinking  wells  were  established,  and  preliminary  steps  were  made  to  create  newmanagement mechanisms in the form of Water User Groups to maintain the irrigationinfrastructure.  To prepare  for  water  delivery in  the  plain,  state  agents  redistributedagricultural plots as part of a land consolidation program to make the size and shape ofthe plots more suitable for irrigation. As with the introductory vignettes, I now turn toways that villagers in the region narrate irrigation and other recent changes, and whatthis suggests in terms of intensified state presence in the daily lives and practices ofvillagers in the Harran plain, and in turn, what this might suggest in terms of tracingever-shifting state-society relations in these marginal and contested rural spaces.  III. Recent Engagements: Shifting State-Societyrelations with Irrigation Delivery to the Harran Plain18 Narratives  offered  by  villagers  in  the  Harran  plain  invoke  the  ‘state’  in  relation  toeverything  from  crop  selection  (for  instance  due  to  cotton  subsidies)  to  increasedmarginalization of those engaged in animal husbandry (a process that began long agowith Ottoman and Turkish state sedentarization of nomadic pastoralists). These recentstate irrigation-related interventions in village life –to measure salinity levels, monitorwater usage, test soil quality, or to teach appropriate irrigation techniques– augment andintensify long-standing state presence in these rural spaces. With these changes, it isimportant  to  consider  how villagers  narrate  the  ‘state’  in  relation to  these  changes,including their sense of themselves in relation to state agents, interests, and practices.States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 2009919 While  interviewing  rural  residents  about  irrigation-related  changes,  villagers  oftenstressed  that  state  interest  in  the  region  has  changed.   For  instance,  respondentsremarked ‘at least the state turned its face towards us’, or ‘the state thinks about us now’.Another said, ‘We did not see any accomplishments of governments in the past, we are alittle bit happy to see some now’. In relaying such sentiments, several credited recentstate  attention  to  the  southeast  directly  to  the  late  leader  Turgut  Özal.18 One  suchresponse was provided by Sübyan, a man who now works as an irrigation technician andwho lives in an Arabic speaking village in the central part of the plain. ‘Sulama [irrigation]has been good. Water brought life here. Özal knows the people of this region and knewthat 90 percent of the 1 million people living here used to go work as seasonal workers, heinitiated the project andTansu Çiller brought the water. Nobody leaves here as seasonalworkers now, people in fact come here to work’. 20 By linking state leaders Özal and Çiller to irrigation and related changes in his village,Sübyan  answers  a  question  related  to  irrigation  with  a  commentary  on  the  ‘state’,discursively  connecting  the  irrigated  landscape  and  economy  to  state  actors  andinterests.  In some senses this is intuitive, as the state is the instigator of irrigation andadvertises all that it is doing for villagers through GAP TV and other means. In anothersense, this connection is striking. Sübyan is providing a reading of the state, and alsostate legitimacy, in relation to the changing agro-economy of his village. In so doing, heallies himself with a larger group of residents who appear to welcome increased attentionand intervention of the ‘state’ in village life. Characterizing himself and his village as‘beneficiaries’  of  Özal’s  vision  and  Çiller’s  implementation,  such  statements  posefundamental  challenges  to  simplistic  accounts  that  portray  rural residents  of  thesoutheast,  or ethnic minorities in particular,  as oppositional to encroachments of thestate or modernization efforts –an issue I revisit in the conclusion.1921 The most common response of villagers of the Harran plain to the question of ‘why didthe state bring irrigation to your village?’ in our 2001 survey was ‘to benefit the farmers’,‘to  benefit  the  village’,  ‘to  benefit  us’,  or  some  variation.  Of  125  respondents,approximately 76 (60%) noted in their answer that it was in part to benefit the people orvillages of  the plain.  A proportion of respondents (approximately 30 of  125,  or 24%),noted that the state intends to benefit rural residents, but also ‘itself.’20 As explained byone villager, the state brought irrigation to the village ‘to have the land worked on, tobenefit the state and the people in the region’. Another young woman noted, ‘First, thevillagers here will gain and then the government will gain. The government is chargingfor the water and also getting taxes’. Particular reasons that villagers noted to describehow the state is  likely to also benefit  from irrigation include:  to develop the regioneconomically, to generate taxes from increased income, increased productivity (as thestate is the major purchaser of cotton), and from the collection of irrigation fees (which isarguable as irrigation water remains heavily subsidized, in 2001 priced at approximately$4 per decare of cotton for an entire season of unlimited water). Others note additionalreasons for delivering irrigation: to reduce unemployment, to induce farmers to growcotton, to benefit the landowners, to develop the region and stop migration to urbanareas, this is a reason also cited in GAP planning documents), and one even noted thatstate delivery of irrigation is ‘for God’.22 While the majority of  interviewees perceived state delivery of  irrigation as generallybeneficial, at times noting ‘benefits’ also for the state, a smaller subset (approximately10% of respondents) conveyed negative or skeptical understandings of state irrigationStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200910delivery. Negative responses were more likely among those who had been animal herdersprior  to  canalet  irrigation  delivery,  among  the  landless,  and  among  women  (Harris2008b),21 indicating that there are some important differences related to experiences ofthese changes among residents of the plain, and among those living in the southeastregion more generally  (see also Harris  2006 for  discussion of  socio-spatial  differencerelated to GAP changes). Among more negative respondents, one villager repeated backthe question to introduce his skeptical response ‘why did the state bring you water?… Thestate brought irrigation to its own lands, the state didn’t bring water to us. We are handlaborers for the state, did they bring it for us? [bize mi getirdi?]’. Another complained, ‘thecountry is rich, but the people are poor because the state keeps eating all the money’,referring to corruption and inequality, and echoing concerns of other villagers who notedthat state agents involved in GAP took bribes for certain jobs or for land distribution.Paralleling  dissatisfaction  with  state  practices  among  some  villagers,  several  GAP-affiliated employees also complained about the ‘state’ as overly bureaucratic to the extentthat investors pull out of the region, or as failing to give needed levels of support forengineers and other agents to do their job.23  Following the question of ‘why did the state bring irrigation to your village?’ we askeddirectly whether or not the delivery of irrigation has changed respondents’  attitudestowards the state.22 Again, responses varied, but generally villagers conveyed increasinglypositive associations with the state. ‘We now have a more positive attitude towards thestate because we used to go to places like Adana, but now we are working on our fieldsdirectly  in  front  of  our  houses’.23 Another  noted,  our  view  of  the  state  ‘changedpositively’: ‘We had hatred before but now they started investing in the southeast. Thestate started to think of us’. Similarly, ‘My positive feelings increased because we nowhave electricity, water and are more comfortable’; ‘We did not trust the state before. Butit brought electricity, water, phone etc. to us and now we trust the state a lot’; or evenmore forcefully: ‘since the state cares for us, we have become more devoted to the state’.Another said it this way: ‘the head of the household is more appreciated if he takes careof his family, we have come to appreciate the state more’. 24 For these residents, receiving renewed state attention and services has resulted in anintensified sense of belonging and loyalty as citizen subjects. The characterization of thestate as family by referring to the ‘head of  household’  is  especially notable,  drawingdirectly on a notion of the state as a patriarchal unit (as with the term devlet baba [fatherstate]) obligated to care for those under his charge and directly linking state irrigationdelivery to nation-building. Such associations have obvious implications for questions ofstate legitimacy, related questions of support for Kurdish separatism in the region, aswell  as  Benedict  Anderson’s  (1983)  question of  how people forcefully identify with a‘nation’ to the extent that they are willing to offer their lives in its defense. To varyingdegrees, all of these positive responses convey citizens’ intensified relationships with thestate, either perceiving themselves increasingly as under the charge of the state, situatingthemselves as increasingly ‘devoted’ to the state, or as beneficiaries of state services. Forsome  of  these  villagers,  irrigation  delivery  is  clearly  creating  a  field  for  intensifiednationalist association and state consolidation, enabling consideration of how it is thatstates are established and maintained overtime through specific practices.25 While  such  positive  characterizations  of  the  state  following  irrigation  delivery  werecommon, a smaller proportion of respondents noted increasingly or persistently negativeperceptions of the state. Among the more skeptical responses, one noted: ‘My ideas aboutStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200911the state changed, but not in a positive way –I wish land reform was carried out’. Anothersaid,  ‘Nothing changed for me but those who are rich became richer’.  Echoing theseconcerns, another said: ‘It changed negatively, because only the landowners benefitedfrom irrigation.  The rich are richer,  the poor became poorer’.  Similarly  highlightinginequalities as a lens through which to understand the state, yet another said: ‘It broughtan increase in welfare of the people. But it did not benefit everyone because those whodid  not  have  land  were  kept  down  as  workers’.  For  these  villagers,  the  differentialbenefits of irrigation have highlighted and even exacerbated inequalities in the region,intensifying  concern  with  respect  to  landholding  differentials  and  heighteningdissatisfaction  with  the  state.  Other  responses  similarly  noted  the  uneven  benefitsassociated  with  irrigation,  ‘the  state  didn’t  benefit  me  by  bringing  water,  only  thelandlord’.  A 29 year-old Kurdish man said it  this way: ‘Supposedly,  the state broughtwater for improvement of people –to create better economic conditions– but it dividedpeople  (into  classes).  I  developed  negative  feelings  about  the  state.  It  has  doublestandards’.  As these portrayals suggest, perceptions of irrigation-related changes varyimportantly with respect to landholdings, livelihoods, and other factors.24 The variabilityof experiences of irrigation conveyed by this diversity of portrayals reflects the ‘situatedknowledges’ of residents (Haraway 1991), demonstrating how landholding or livelihoodsituations inflect varied perceptions and understandings of the state.26 Interestingly, common to all the portrayals, whether positive or negatively inclined, isthe recognition of the state itself as the purveyor of these changes, and by extension, thestate itself as an object of interest and concern (cf. Mitchell 1991, as detailed more fully inHarris, in process). It is also of interest to note that many of the negative portrayals donot cast irrigation itself negatively, but instead perceive state failures with respect toensuring that the benefits of irrigation are shared equitably or to ensure that the benefitswill last well into the future (see Harris 2009). For these farmers, they may not be opposedto irrigated agriculture, but would only prefer that more attention be paid to make surethat they too enjoy the benefits associated with these changes. Among the more negativeportrayals  that  cast  irrigation as  altogether  detrimental,  Amit’s  quote  prefacing  thisarticle names GAP as a ‘suicide pill’ for animal herders. Others invoked the term ‘slavery’to express their situation as sharecroppers falling increasingly in debt. For others, newvisible markers of wealth among the landed, with increasing numbers of cell phones andcars, have made them feel relatively worse off, heightening a sense of division betweenthe rich and poor, as one woman said, ‘we have been left more backward’. These viewswere a minority in terms of frequency of responses, but nonetheless portrayed profoundsenses of exclusion from irrigation economies and, by extension, the Turkish nation andstate  (again,  see  analysis  in  Harris  2009  and 2008b for  discussion of  overall  positiveassociations  with  irrigated agriculture,  as  well  as  differentiated experiences  of  thesechanges among different populations of the region).27 Some respondents also took the opportunity to call the state to task for perceived failuresin meeting obligations to rural residents in other senses. Referring to the fact that afterirrigation delivery they were expelled from land they rented for twenty-five years, onerural resident said, ‘we call the state to do its job…we want the state to work for citizens’.Another woman noted, ‘We want the state to be more interested in the region, we feelsadness for being forgotten’. By intervening in village lives and economies, the transitionto irrigation has thus also exposed the state to new types of critique. Most often, thefailure of the state to enable the full realization of irrigation’s potential is noted, ‘becauseStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200912the state couldn’t organize the irrigation fairly therefore my feelings/thoughts remainedthe same’. Others echoed the sentiment with respect to the need for land reform, ‘now wewant real land reform’.25 One 25 year old Arabic speaking woman said it this way: ‘We areunhappy with the system,  the government,  their  coming and going.  We want peace,equality, and most importantly, for the work done by poor people to be valued’. For her,state  irrigation delivery  is  insignificant  as  long as  there  are  other  more  substantiveproblems, making recent efforts appear feeble in the absence of more widespread reform.For these residents and others as noted, state irrigation delivery highlights other aspectsof services that have not yet been dealt with, opening the state up to critique as residentssense that they can legitimately raise further, or more long-standing, demands. Even assuch statements suggest that the state has not yet performed its duties adequately, thesenarratives are nonetheless suggestive of a sense of citizenship among these residents.They are, in part, expressing that they view themselves as citizen-subjects –able to call onthe state to meet its obligations to them.  Conclusions: Reconsidering State-Society relations ina Contested Border Region28 Given the histories of state repression and conflict in the southeast, it is fair to say that Iwas expecting much more negativity and distrust towards the ‘state’ than I found.  Evenwith some overtly negative and critical responses, the general impression I was left withafter  more  than  60  open-ended  interviews  and  124  survey  responses  is  that  manyconsider  that  while  they had not  been well-served by the state  previously,  they arereceptive to recent development efforts in many senses and consider these interventionsto be long overdue.  Despite several  possible issues that might have resulted in somerespondents  painting  a  more  favorable  impression  of  the  state  than  they  otherwisemight,26 the overall  positive association with irrigation and state intervention in thiscontested  border  region  nonetheless  presents  a  puzzle,  particularly  as  othercommentators have argued GAP related changes have aggravated volatility in the region (e.g. Öktem 2005). This issue of receptivity towards the state is also borne out by earlierresearch, for instance the survey conducted by Akşit and Akçay in soon to be irrigatedareas (conducted in 1993,  published in 1997).  While there are remarkable differencesbetween the 1993 results and our own from 2001, both demonstrate a strong receptivityon the  part  of  rural  residents  to  enhanced state  involvement  with  respect  to  watermanagement.Consider for instance, results from the 1993 survey related to the question‘Who should own the water?’ To this question, 66% of respondents said ‘God’, 27.5% said‘the state’, 3.8% said ‘the user’, and 2.5% said ‘society’. When asked ‘who should control thewater?’ 80% said ‘the state’, and the other 20% felt management should be left to thefarmers themselves.  We repeated these two questions in our 2001 survey of  recentlyirrigated areas of the Harran plain. We asked, ‘According to you, who should own thewater?’. The responses received were 59% of respondents said ‘the state’, 15% said ‘thefarmers’  and 14% said ‘water user groups’.  Not a single respondent said ‘God’  in oursurvey, while this was the majority response in the Akşit and Akçay survey, 66% (duringopen ended interviews, however, ‘God’ was mentioned on several occasions in response tosimilar questions).27 To the question of ‘who should manage the water?’ the majority ofrespondents in the 2001 survey said ‘the state’ (48%), while a lesser number said ‘WaterUser group’ (36%), and only 5 respondents said ‘farmers’ (6%). Regardless of difficulties inStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200913comparing the  results  of  these  surveys,  it  is  interesting  that  for  both there  are  therelatively few respondents who note that water ownership and management should be inthe hands of the farmers themselves; instead, the ‘state’ is perceived as most legitimate interms of water ownership and control.29 I consider such favorable responses to be significant, especially given the contentiousnature of contemporary debates related to Islamism/secularism, Kurdish cultural rights,or tensions related to exclusions of ‘Arabs’ within Turkey, all of which are particularlysalient throughout the southeast.28 Indeed, it is possible that residents of the region arereceptive to the Turkish state’s attention to the region precisely because the lack of stateinvestment historically has been a primary discourse that the Kurdistan Workers Party(PKK) has invoked to garner support for the separatist movement (see Mutlu 2001). Giventhis, the discourse regarding the southeast as having been left out of state interest andattention is a familiar one, and undoubtedly frames the ways that villagers narrate stateintervention in their villages as present. This might provide a partial answer for whystate intervention may be viewed as welcome in this ‘forgotten’ region (Harris 2008a,2008b). This possibility points to the potential that GAP-related changes hold a great dealof symbolic importance, also with considerable possibilities for recasting state-societyrelations in this contested border region.30 While  I  have  argued  that  the  state  is  productively  analyzed  through  narrations  ofvillagers living in the marginal spaces of the rural southeast, it is also worthwhile toreemphasize that, at once, with such invocations of the ‘state’, villagers are also recastingand articulating themselves as subjects of nationalist, statist, and modernization efforts.Indeed, as Sömer (2004) has also argued it is important to consider ways that identitiesand notions of Kurdishness and Turkishness are cast as compatible, and may shift overtime, in relation to state discourse and policy,  rather than viewing such identities asstatic. Similarly, he also calls for more work that considers the Kurdish question not inrelation to cultural rights, or security threat, but through focus on self conception andpolitical beliefs of Kurds themselves, including how these are being continually reshapedthrough development processes in particular. In case study work described here, there isconsiderable evidence through which to consider how elements of statist and nationalistprojects  take hold among rural  residents,  and similarly,  how notions of  Turkishness,Arabness,  or Kurdishness may be reimagined and recast in relation to ongoing state-society shifts. As such, we can begin to consider how Kurds, Arabs, and others that havebeen  historically  marginal  to  Turkish  state  and  nation-building  are  reimaginingthemselves, and their relationship to the state, in the contemporary moment: ‘We areTurkish citizens but the state exploits us’, or ‘the state thinks about the villager’ or ‘Idon’t think the state profits from sulama[irrigation]. The state did land leveling for us.The state thinks about its citizens’. All such statements simultaneously assess the ‘state’,and also position rural residents as ‘citizens’, or even as beneficiaries in relation to suchendeavors. In such examples, even when the ‘state’ is characterized in a negative sense,for instance, as exploitative, the respondent nevertheless views himself as ‘a citizen of the‘Turkish’ state’. Again, such associations are significant, especially when we consider thehistories of difference that have persistently marked the region economically, culturally,and  linguistically.  These  results  can  also  be  read  as  significant  given  broaderglobalization-related processes underway,  as the possibility of  intensified associationswith national  or state scales necessarily proceed in tension with increasing focus onsupranational, global, or even local scales that are gaining force in the institutional andStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200914governance realms (cf. Appadurai 1996; Agrawal 2005). Along these lines, these results arealso interesting in light of claims made that people’s associations with the nation or statewithin which they reside has become increasingly tenuous in a globalized era as citizensare  increasingly  connected  to  other  peoples  and  places  beyond  the  state’s  borders,making the ideal of state borders that match up with social boundaries as increasinglyelusive (Migdal 2004).31 For rural residents to recognize themselves as Turkish, as recipients of state services, or,in the case of the one quotation above, as part of a family being cared for by the stateprovides testimony to the success (even if limited) of Turkish state and nation-buildingefforts.  Within  the  terms  of  a  Turkish  state-building  project  not  yet  a  century  old,irrigation is the latest iteration of practices that further extend the Turkish state andnation into border regions that have long been contested, and have consistently foiledattempts to simplistically mark the territory and populations as singularly ‘Turkish.’ Allof  this  suggests  the need to move beyond simplistic associations of  the southeast  as‘Kurdish’ or necessarily oppositional to the Turkish state. Instead, we need to considerthe co-constitution of Turkish, Kurdish, and Arab citizen subjects, and indeed, the waysthat the Turkish ‘state’ and ‘nation’ themselves are iteratively produced, and refashionedin relation to ongoing changes and negotiations.BIBLIOGRAPHIEAgrawal, Arun (2005) Environmentality: Technologies of Government and the Making of Subjects contd., Durham & London, Duke University Press.Akşit, Bahattin; Akçay, Adnan (1997) ‘Sociocultural Aspects of Irrigation Practices inSoutheastern Turkey’, Water Resources Development 13(4), pp. 523-540.Akşit, Bahattin (1996) ‘Population Movements in Southeastern Anatolia: Some findings of anempirical research in 1993’, New Perspectives on Turkey 14, pp. 53-74.Anderson, Benedict (1983) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,London, Verso.Appadurai, Arjun (1996) Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis, MN,University of Minnesota Press.Ataman, Muhittin (2002) ‘Ozal Leadership and Restructuring of Turkish Ethnic Policy in the1980s’, Middle Eastern Studies 38(4), pp. 123-142.Berger, Mark (2006) ‘From Nation-building to State-building: the Geopolitics of Develpoment, theNation-state System and the Changing Global Order’, Third World Quarterly 27(1), pp. 5-25.Çetin, Sinan ; Çetin, Cemil (1999) Propaganda. 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(eds) B/ordering Space, Aldershot, Ashgate.Radcliffe, Sarah; Westwood, Sallie (1996) Remaking the Nation: Place, identity and politics in LatinAmerica, London, Routledge.Secor, Anna (2007) ‘Between Longing and Despair: State, Space, and Subjectivity in Turkey’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25, pp. 33-52.Shankland, David (1999) ‘Integrating the Rural: Gellner and the Study of Anatolia’, Middle EasternStudies 35(2), pp. 132-149.Sömer, Murat (2004) ‘Turkey’s Kurdish Conflict: Changing Context, and Domestic and RegionalImplications’, Middle East Journal 58(2), pp. 235-253.Strayer, Joseph (1970) On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, Princeton, Princeton UniversityPress.Ünver, Olcay (1997a) ‘Southeastern Anatolia Integrated Development Project (GAP), Turkey: AnOverview of Issues of Sustainability’, Water Resources Development 13(2), pp. 187-207.Ünver, Olcay (1997b) ‘Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP)’, Water Resources Development 13(4), pp.453-483.Watts, Nicole (2007) ‘Silence and Voice: Turkish Politics and Kurdish Resistance in the Mid 20thCentury’, Ahmed, M.; Gunter, M. (eds) The Evolution of Kurdish Nationalism, Costa Mesa, CA, MazdaPress.White, Paul J. (2001) Primitive Rebels or Revolutionary Modernizers? The Kurdish National Movement inTurkey, New York, Zed Books.Yavuz, Hakan M. (2001) ‘Five Stages of the Construction of Kurdish Nationalism in Turkey’, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics 7(3), pp. 1-24.Yeğen, Mesut (1996) ‘The Turkish State Discourse and Exclusion of Kurdish Identity in Turkey’, inKedourie, S. (ed) Identity, Democracy, Politics, London, Frank Cass, pp. 216-229.Zurcher, Erik-Jan (2005) ‘How Europeans adopted Anatolia and created Turkey’, European Review13(3), pp. 379-394.NOTES1.  The  author  wishes  to  acknowledge  tremendous  research  support  from  the  University  ofWisconsin-Madison, the University of Minnesota, and the American Research Institute in Turkey. Nurcan Atalan-Helicke also offered research support for the work presented here. Special thanksStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200917also to Nicole Watts, members of the EJTS editorial board, and several anonymous reviewers forcomments on earlier versions of this manuscript.2.  One decare is equivalent of one-tenth of a hectare, or 0.2471 acres. 3.  GAP is the Turkish acronym for the large-scale state development project Güneydoğu AnadoluProjesi or Southeastern Anatolia Project. The project is extensive, revolving around damming anddiversion  of  the  Tigris  and  Euphrates  rivers  to  pursue  ‘integrated  regional  development’  ofTurkey’s most impoverished region (see Ünver 1997a, 1997b for overview; Harris 2002 ; Öktem2005 for critical analysis). 4.  According to Ünver (1997a: 466), prior to irrigation, average family income in the plain wasapproximately $1,034 in 1994, and after irrigation delivery in 1995, it rose to closer to $4000.More recent estimates that take into accounts the effects of the 2001 financial crisis in Turkeyare  not  available.  See  Harris  (2008b)  for  discussion  of  other  changes  that  accompanied  thisincrease in average household income (including increasing expenses, increasing debt, and otherrelated changes).5.  As  Shankland  (1999)  argues,  it  is  essential  to  attend  to  rural  processes  to  appropriatelyunderstand  questions  of  modernization  and  other  socio-cultural  dynamics  of  importance  incontemporary Turkey. The analysis here contributes centrally to such a project.6.  As such, questions were asked directly about the ‘state’ (see footnote 15), but analysis alsoincludes  the  ways  that  villagers  invoked  the  state  in  relation  to  irrigation  and  GAP-relatedchanges generally.7.  Estimates are that approximately 80% of residents in the plain are Arabic speaking and 20%Kurdish speaking. This refers to primary or familial language spoken, as residents generally alsospeak  Turkish.  It  is  problematic  in  some  sense  to  use  native  language  as  a  proxy  for  anunderstanding of ‘ethnicity’ (Akşit, 1996), and it is politically contestable to refer to individualsas either ‘Arab’ or ‘Kurdish’. At times, I reproduce those designations in my analysis, however,due to the fact that villagers often describe themselves or others as such Arap or Kürt. Somevillagers may, while identifying their family with either of these designations,  also forcefullyassociate themselves as Türk. Thus, these categories should not be understood as singular orfinite.8.  The survey was carried out in 11 different villages of the plain, representing approximately10%  of  Harran  plain  villages,  and  selected  according  to  location  in  the  plain  (with  villagesselected to provide geographic coverage of all regions of the plain), as well as also representingdifferent irrigation union districts. Particular villages were selected based on size, from 300 to800  residents  (making  these  ‘middle’  sized  villages),  and  primary  language  spoken  (ninepredominantly Arabic-speaking villages and two predominantly Kurdish speaking villages werechosen to maintain the 80% Arabic speaking ratio of the plain). Among survey respondents, 91were men and 33 were women. For in-depth interviews with villagers, there were approximately30 male respondents and 30 female respondents. See Harris (2008b) for more in-depth analysis ofsurvey  results,  particularly  for  discussion  of  differentiated  experiences  of  irrigation  amongresidents in the plain relative to gender, ethnicity and landholdings. 9.  Much  recent  work  on  the  micro-physics  of  state  power  and  distributed  effects  of  statepractices following Foucault has tended to focus on institutions such as prisons or schools (seeKaplan 2006 for a study of state and nation with respect to the education system in Turkey). AsNavaro-Yashin argues, in addition to studying such institutions, there is a need to alsounderstand the ways that the state is invoked and maintained in relation to quotidian practices,whereby people enact, or critique the state in everyday senses.10.  In  another  paper,  Harris  2008a,  I  argue  that  the  southeast  is  also  significant  forunderstanding Turkish modernization efforts –as both a site of intense interest in overcomingunderdevelopment  and  also  as  a  site  where  certain  key  elements  undermine  modernizationattempts.States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20091811.  With the exception of the Hatay province, annexed from Syria in 1938. 12.  As described in detail by Yeğen (1996), the solidification of the border areas had importantimplications for economies and social interactions throughout the Kurdish areas in Turkey andsurrounding countries. Specifically, as each new state attempted to attain integrated ‘nationaleconomies’ within its own national borders, traditional Kurdish traditional trading routes andspheres  of  interaction  were  fragmented.  Economic  circulation  between  Damascus,  Baghdad,Aleppo and elsewhere were cut off to the extent that continued trade across trans-state Kurdishareas was even criminalized, branded as ‘smuggling’. These processes were among many that ledto  economic  disarticulation  in  the  southeastern  Anatolia  region.  More  recent  geopoliticaltensions,  including  US-led  wars  in  Iraq,  have  continued such processes,  with  many years  ofsanctions that again criminalized trade along routes that had been historically significant forKurdish  populations,  including  between  Turkey’s  southeast  and  neighboring  Iraq,  withconsiderable economic consequences for Turkey’s southeast region.13.  The irony of the state arriving one day to establish the border of ‘Turkey’ was the subject of afilm, Propaganda (Çetin & Çetin 1999). In it, villagers who have never had a state ID, let alone apassport,  are  forced  to  adapt  to  the  arrival  of  border  guards  in  the  middle  of  their  town,separating friends and families. The mythic town of the film straddling the newly establishedborder is not unlike the situation that faced villages straddling the border between Turkey andSyria, with residents of the Harran plan similarly disconnected from families on the other side ofthe border in Syria.  As several  farmers explained,  for certain bayram [religious holidays]  thegovernment  eases  passport  requirements  so  that  they  can  travel  freely  to  visit  friends  andfamily. 14.  To reiterate, I emphasize the southeast as an important border region, and the Harran plainas a border area within this border region both as significant, but results from Harran cannot bethought of as representative of the entire southeast region, given political, ethnic, linguistic, andother differences. 15.  With respect to other notable characteristics of the Harran plain, it is also noteworthy thatthere are high degrees of landlessness in the plain, commonly estimated at approximately 25%(Ünver 1997a). This percentage was comparable to the overall proportion of survey respondentswho reported that they owned no land. The other general citations provided on the southeastalso provide information on other notable socio-cultural features of the region, including genderconcerns,  the  aşiret  structure,  and  economic  considerations  as  a  region  that  remainspredominantly agricultural and is the site of relatively little economic investment.16.  The GAP channel is a public relations facet of the GAP project, designed to advertise andpromote GAP development efforts –from agricultural extension to family planning. Based on myinterviews and survey, it is also one of the primary ways that residents are familiar with GAP andrecognize this as a state program. In the survey, 83 respondents (69%) said they had heard ofGAP, compared to 38 (31%) who said they did not. In a follow up question, we asked what theythink  GAP  does.  Of  responses  given,  thirty  identified  irrigation  and  dam  building,  and  aconsiderable number of others identified the television station. Relatively few also associatedGAP with social programs.17.  Encounters with the state in these villages also necessarily include schoolhouses (the firstplace  that  students  may be  required  to  speak  Turkish,  and also  villages  spaces  symbolicallymarked  by  the  Turkish  flag  as  a  visible  marker  of  state  and  nation)  (see  Kaplan  2006).Interactions with imams also represent less obvious ‘contact zones’ between villagers and thestate,  as  all  imams  are  state  employees  and  may  often  represent  issues  as  directed  by  theDirectorate  for  Religious  Affairs.  Of  course,  in  other  parts  of  the  southeast,  especially  inmountainous areas, the ‘village guard’ system represents a very different sort of state presence.States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 20091918.  Some argue that Özal’s concern for and interest in the southeast largely stems from his ownKurdish heritage. Ataman (2002) provides a discussion of the restructuring of Turkish policy vis-à-vis ethnic minorities under Özal’s leadership.19.  I do not want to overstate this case, however, given that the Harran plain is both an Arabicspeaking region of the southeast (and thus not necessarily as oppositional as the Kurdish andmountainous spaces of the region).  Additionally,  as the pilot area for irrigation delivery,  theHarran plain is somewhat exceptional as a space that is most likely to have received benefitsfrom the project (relative to those sites that were inundated to make way for the infrastructureworks, for instance).20.  This was asked as an unprompted open-ended question, and the response was noted. Theresearcher classified the responses based on whether their answers indicated some benefit tovillages  or  the  southeast  region,  and whether  benefits  to  the  state  were  mentioned in  theirresponses.21.  For  instance,  only  one-third  of  self-identified  ‘poor’  women  considered  irrigation  to  bebeneficial, in contrast with approximately ¾ of the entire survey population who noted irrigationas either being ‘very beneficial’, or ‘beneficial.’ Even as the survey cannot be read as statisticallysignificant, nonetheless, these sorts of discrepancies pose interesting questions for considerationin terms of differentiated reception of irrigated-related changes.22.  The first question asked was ‘Why do you think the state brought irrigation to your village’(question 30: ‘Size göre, devlet köyünüze sulamayı neden getirdi?’). The follow up question was, ‘Sinceirrigation, have your ideas about the state changed? If so, why?’ (question 31: ‘Sulama geldiktensonra devlet hakkındaki düşünceleriniz değişti mi? Evetse, nasıl?’)23.  This is an often-celebrated benefit of irrigation delivery, as many villagers used to travel toAdana for seasonal work as irrigators or cotton pickers. Some villagers still do travel to Adana,noting better pay, but many stay in Harran due to the proximity.24.  See  Harris  (2006)  for  discussion  of  how  differentials  with  respect  to  livelihoods  andlandholdings have been retrenched through transition to irrigated economies, and Harris (2008b)for more general discussion on differentiated effects of, and responses to, GAP-related changesamong women, the landless, Kurds/ Arabs, and others living and working in the region.25.  In the survey, 72.5% of respondents answered ‘yes’ to the question “in your village, is there aproblem of unequal land ownership?’ Of survey respondents, only 43% said that they owned theirown land.26.  I  conducted  most  interviews  with  the  help  of  Turkish  assistants.  Students  from a  localuniversity also helped administer the survey (however, several among these students also spokeKurdish and/or Arabic). Throughout the fieldwork, I encountered both very open critique of thestate (perhaps enabled by my position as an independent American researcher, viewed as anoutsider and as potentially sympathetic to such critique, especially related to the Kurdish issue)and also obvious caution and skepticism as to the purpose and goals of the research (for instance,with questions as to whether I was being sent there by the state, and so forth, although suchskepticism and distrust was relatively rare).27.  One should not read too much into this comparison, as we do not have adequate detailsabout the sample of the earlier surveys or the way that the earlier survey was implemented(although the earlier survey was also among villages of the Harran plain,  and several  of ourvillages overlapped). In terms of this particular discrepancy in responses, a possible explanationis that the earlier surveyors likely provided choices to respondents (upon hearing ‘God’, it wouldbe less likely for respondents to provide some other answer), while our survey was asked in away that left all responses open-ended (responses were only later grouped and categorized).28.  Villages of the region are generally portrayed as highly Islamic, and the region generallyoften supports Islamist or Kurdish political parties.States at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200920RÉSUMÉSThere is theoretical significance to studying states and nations at their metaphorical and literal‘borders’.  Focusing  on  the  contested  border  region  of  southeastern  Anatolia,  this  chapterhighlights the tensions, contradictions, and recent shifts in state-society relations in the ruralspaces of the southeast. As I detail, state delivery of irrigated agriculture represents a recent andsignificant chapter in the evolving state-society relations in this contested border area. Withcontemporary changes associated with the large-scale Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), stateinfluence in rural areas and encounters with the state by rural populations are intensified. Thisoccurs  both  horizontally,  in  terms  of  infiltrating  new  spaces  and  life  practices,  and alsovertically,  in  terms  of  intensified  interaction,  such  as  that  associated  with  the  increasedincorporation  of  rural  residents  into  the  Turkish  economy  or  the  increased  dependence  ofvillagers  on state  services.  Reading  the  state  ethnographically  through  the  differentiatedresponses of villagers to recent irrigation-related changes, my aim is to analyze how the state islived, in very real terms, in the fabric of everyday life, and to consider what this suggests forunderstanding state-society relations and the changing citizen subjectivities in the liminal spacesof Turkey’s southeast.INDEXKeywords : borders, Harran, Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), state-society relationsMots-clés : frontières, Harran, relations Etat-société, Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP)AUTEURLEILA M. HARRISLeila M. Harris is a political, social, and cultural geographer who focuses on developmental andenvironmental change, water politics, and gender and social difference, particularly in Turkeyand the Middle East. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, andGender and Women's Studies, at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. lharris@ires.ubc.caStates at the Limit: Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Bord...European Journal of Turkish Studies, 10 | 200921


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