Fieldsite in northeastern Turkey
Primary Site Researcher
Dr Ayse Uskul obtained a BA in psychology from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey, an MA in social psychology from the Vrije University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a PhD in social/personality psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.
Before joining the Department of Psychology at the University of Essex in 2006 and the School of Psychology at the University of Kent in 2012, she completed a two-year Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellowship at the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
The fieldsite in Turkey consists of several villages: Kinalicam, Yukarisivri, Demirdag, Kaledibi, Aksu, Yayla Koyu, Camlibel, Basbaglar, Irmakyani, located in Yusufeli (A), Tortum (E), Oltu (E), or Narman (E) districts of the cities Erzurum (E) or Artvin (A).
Artvin province, located in northeastern Turkey at the Georgian border, is a northern neighbour of Erzurum Province. The villages in our field site are located in a region that sits on steep valleys near the Artvin-Erzurum border carved by the Coruh River system, surrounded by high mountains running east to west (up to 3,900m).
Villages connect to nearby districts and cities by buses or minibuses that operate between different residential areas. Typical distance to the nearest district is about 20km, whereas cities are somewhat farther (about 100km). Some villages are better connected than others via recently built roads using asphalt.
The field sites consist of several small to medium size villages ranging from 50-150 households, hosting between 150-900 inhabitants.
Turkish is the primary language, with Lazca being spoken by a minority in the Artvin Province. Islam is the predominant religion, practised at home and the local mosques.
This region is occupied primarily by ethnic Turks. Artvin Province also hosts communities of Laz people, some of whom are descendants of Muslim families from Georgia who migrated to this region during the conflict between the Ottoman Turks and Russia during the 19th century.
Economic practices and daily life
The region has large meadows and pastures in Turkey, making it ideal for livestock. Animal husbandry, mostly cattle and sheep breeding, is one of the leading sources of income for the inhabitants of this region - it is the only source of revenue in some of the villages.
However, farming based on animal husbandry has been under threat due to a government policy that has allowed livestock to be imported from abroad. This situation has caused some animal farmers to leave the region to look for other sources of revenue.
Livestock farming in this region is generally a small-scale family enterprise, carried out collaboratively between different members of the family. Animals are kept on grazing areas and are housed overnight. In some cases, the animals are moved from lowland to highland grazing for several months in the summer, returning to lowlands when temperatures start dropping.
Animals are bred to supply meat and dairy products, such as milk, yoghurt, butter and cheese. Producers sell their products to major factories or commercial enterprises (eg private slaughterhouses), as well as to local people at weekly markets in neighbouring towns.
Different family members tend to be responsible for different types of duties, such as taking animals to grazing fields, milking the animals, producing diary products, processing animal skin and hair. Compared to communities that get their main source of income from agricultural farming (eg tea farming), communities that engage in animal farming tend to share workload within the family rather than between families.
Schooling and literacy
Most people in this region have at least an elementary school degree, except for some elderly who might not have had the chance to complete a degree. Thus, most have at least some level of literacy. Today, the enrolment in the first eight years of schooling is mandatory and elementary and high school education is free. Primary schools are located in some villages, not in all, in which case children travel to a nearby village or town to get schooling.
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Chris Hann (2001). Tea and the domestication of the Turkish State. SOAS Modern Turkish Studies Programme Occasional Papers 1. Huntingdon: Eothen Press.
Chris Hann (1990). Second thoughts on smallholders: Tea production, the state and social differentiation in the Rize region. New Perspectives on Turkey, 4, 57-79.
Ståle Knudsen (1995). Fisheries along the Eastern Black Sea coast of Turkey: Informal resource management in small-scale fishing in the shadow of a dominant capitalist fishery. Human Organization, 54, 43744.
Ståle Knudsen (1995). Between life giver and leisure: Identity negotiation through seafood in Turkey. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 38, 39541.
Ayse Uskul, Shinobu Kitayama, and Richard Nisbett (2008). Ecocultural basis of cognition: Farmers and fishermen are more holistic than herders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 105, 8552-8556.