UBC Faculty Research and Publications

States at the Limit : Tracing Contemporary State-Society Relations in the Borderlands of Southeastern Turkey Harris, Leila


There is theoretical significance to studying states and nations at their metaphorical and literal ‘borders’. Focusing on the contested border region of southeastern Anatolia, this chapter highlights the tensions, contradictions, and recent shifts in state-society relations in the rural spaces of the southeast. As I detail, state delivery of irrigated agriculture represents a recent and significant chapter in the evolving state-society relations in this contested border area. With contemporary changes associated with the large-scale Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), state influence in rural areas and encounters with the state by rural populations are intensified. This occurs both horizontally, in terms of infiltrating new spaces and life practices, and also vertically, in terms of intensified interaction, such as that associated with the increased incorporation of rural residents into the Turkish economy or the increased dependence of villagers on state services. Reading the state ethnographically through the differentiated responses of villagers to recent irrigation-related changes, my aim is to analyze how the state is lived, in very real terms, in the fabric of everyday life, and to consider what this suggests for understanding state-society relations and the changing citizen subjectivities in the liminal spaces of Turkey’s southeast.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International