Mittwoch, 17. Mai 2023, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Wednesday Seminar

Wealth and War: Local Context of Urban Entrepreneurialism in Southeastern Turkey (Ayşe Seda Yüksel-Pecen)

Hörsaal C, Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie (NIG, 4. Stock)
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Wien

Hybrider Event (an einem physischen Ort und online)

In this talk, I trace politico-moral discourses on “doing business” and entrepreneurship in an ethnically contested and economically weak post-industrial context that has been shaped by armed conflict and large-scale developmental policies, mainly focusing on Diyarbakır, a major Kurdish city in south-eastern Turkey. Based on interviews and participant observation, I analyse the recurring motives and urban myths in the stories of Kurdish business elites. In these local narratives, businesspeople are defined as “crooks” who would try to fool you, and the accumulation of wealth is associated with either luck or illegal gains, in each case an unearned success. In a rapidly neoliberalized and globalizing economy, where the entrepreneurial discourse on “making rational business,” aptitude, innovation rules not only Turkish business life but also various economies in other parts of the world, businessmen in Diyarbakır are making references either to phantasmagoric sources of wealth, such as finding buried gold, simply having good luck, or to political reasons that were beyond their control, such as unintended consequences of war. This negative connotation of what constitutes business and who represents a businessperson—as well as rumours about occult sources of wealth—that are shared by businesspeople themselves contrast with the newly emerging discourses of the local business associations that are attempting to shape a local entrepreneurial spirit in the city. Considering the contested political sphere in the city and the overlapping/conflicting discourses and economic future alternatives by the Turkish state, Kurdistan Workers’ Party and various international NGOs, I tackle the question of how these local business associations define “an entrepreneur” within a local economy that has been largely characterized by instability and uncertainty.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie


Hanna Vietze
Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie