[ Submitted July 1994 to Dr., Gabriele Paleczek for publication in an Autrian volume on Turkish kinship]
Paul Stirling - I was surprised in the nineteen seventies to find a couple of university graduates, school teachers, living in fashionable Ankara whose two sons were engaged to their mothers' brothers' daughters, from the small town in which the couple had both been born. Later, I was also surprised to realise that a high proportion of the older and more mature urban migrants from the two villagers which I know well were marrying their own children to their own siblingsí children - that is, first cousin marriage was not diminishing in their new urban environment, perhaps even increasing. Why was I surprised? A bit naive? Too simple a model of social change, of 'modernisation'? So let me try to be less naive.
Emine Onaran Áncirlio©lu - I was surprised in the early nineteen eighties, when I moved to study anthropology in the United States, to discover that 'cousin marriage', indeed kinship, was a subject of study. I neither understood the theoretical relevance of such focus, nor found it puzzling enough to study. Those who first wrote about 'cousin marriage' did so, because it was different from their own marriage practices. It puzzled them; as my linguistics professor Martha Hardman says, 'no contrast, no information'. Once 'cousin marriage' became the label for a set of puzzles, others, even those like myself who had never thought about it, could join in.
We agree that social anthropology is about modelling social and cultural reality. Social and cultural reality may not be very clear, but what is clear is that even the critics of 'reality' fail to avoid assuming it, overtly or covertly. Models are commonly stark and simple. But social reality is devastatingly complex. So even the best complex models are vulnerable, and stark models fail more obviously. A very large number of articles and books are devoted to arguing that someone elseís model is too simple. But because stark models are easy to think with and relatively undemanding, they proliferate everywhere, defying repeated and irrefutable refutations. They are effective, not only practically, rhetorically and politically, but often intellectually, especially when they are unexpected.
One relevant example. The idea that towns and villages contain and produce distinct ways of living, that ëurban peopleí and ërural peopleí are sharply different is probably universal in societies which happen to have towns; that is, virtually all contemporary societies, many literate past societies, but no societies before about 3,500 B.C. One consequence of this stark model is the assumption that when peasants migrate to town for work they automatically become ëurbaní. Of course, they do not. They do have to cope with new experiences, and solve new problems. They do acquire some new knowledge, some new ideas about good and bad, painful and pleasurable. But only some. Paul Stirling's surprise was then due to have expected Ankara graduate teachers to have absorbed what he then thought of as ëurbaní ways of marraige.
We report some ethnographic models of our own, based on our fieldwork. How far do these models fare better than grand stark models? People must ask how far what we write fits their own data and experiences; how far they conclude that we have misrepresented our own; and whether the points we make matter much anyway.
One more generality. Modelling societies implies modelling systems. That is, what some people are doing within one context always affects and is affected by what they or some others are doing in other contexts. (This is certainly not to say that everything affects and is affected by everything, nor that the ësystemsí have boundaries). For example, all legislation, all attempts to govern, all organisations rest on the assumption that by doing certain things it is possible to get people to do what you want them to do. That is, we all work on a set of causal models, implicit or explicit, all the time. We hold that 'good' models, whether those of ëcommon senseí or of professional managers or social scientists, include a large number of feedbacks. An obvious idea, but frequently ignored. It is not simply that A affects B, but that the fact that A affects B in turn affects C, D , E.....; and even more, that the fact that A affects B, affects the way that C, D , E, ..... affect each other. Very often the chain gets back to A or B or both. Once again, simple models of social systems are likely to be misleading; that is, bluntly, wrong -- slightly or seriously.
Time complicates models by a huge factor. British social anthropology, in spite of many formal recognitions of history, has rightly been accused of a synchronic bias. Malinowski, Evans-Pritchard and their students did indeed often write as if the models they produced from their ethnographies were eternal; apart, sometimes, from a chapter at the end on 'Change'. 1 In a society like Turkey --and most others in the world-- a rising standard of living, very rapid changes in politics, law, employment, production, education, demography, and so on and so on, change social processes constantly. Like Ankara and Turkey as a whole, S and E are in 1993 in many ways radically unlike what they were in 1950-51.
In what follows we try to remember that migrants do not simply change in an urban direction. Both their villages, and the towns and cities to which they migrate, have been changing fast from long before Stirling's first sojourn in 1949, changing at a speed which we would describe as accelerating, still in our most recent visit in 1993. If the modelling of social systems is immensely difficult, the modelling of moving social systems is even more so.
S and E are the two villages in which Stirling lived, on and off, for field research from 1949 to 1952 (Stirling 1951, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1965). He returned to the same villages for further research in 1971, and found startling changes (Stirling 1974). He then kept in touch -- at least two or three days once or twice most years, more in the 1980s, until we were able to make a second thorough study in 1986. We have been back for brief visits, together and separately, several times since then.
S village is roughly 30 kilometers east of Kayseri; in 1949, the village mud road had just become passable for infrequent lorries, and which took two hours to reach Kayseri. Now there is a metalled road with regular buses which take thirty minutes. It was poor; the largest household landholding was about 40 hectares; 10 out of 100 households had none. Even in good years, yields of cereal were less than 5 to 1 of seed; roughly 100 kg per dec.
E village was a District administrative centre about 70 kilometers east of Kayseri, 5 kilometers from a main road. By historical accident, it had acquired more territory per head of its 212 households than other nearby villages. The most prosperous owned perhaps 300 hectares of land; and one or two people had some education and town connections. Stirling had the impression that yields were slightly higher. These are of course averages, and guesses. In spite of its greater importance, greater contacts, and extra land per head, it was the similarities in the way of life and the standard of living that surprised Stirling.
Villagers and Migrants: Populations and Households *
Paul Stirling - I concluded very early in my anthropological initiation that in anthropology, as in philosophy, words are widely misused by most writers; a large proportion of what passes for theoretical debate is, at least partially, implicitly about the meaning of words. Definition is about setting boundaries and we all now accept that boundaries are almost always fuzzy -- that is, there are some, often many, borderline or highly exceptional cases. Such fuzziness does not in the least invalidate distinctions. Foothills do not invalidate the notions of plain and mountain, even though boundaries may be fuzzy; or may be made definite artificially by arbitrary criteria. ('A mountain is a hill over 1,000 feet', or so I was taught in my elementary school.)
Emine Onaran Áncirlio©lu - The 'operational definition' of concepts in all disciplines is important, yet the significance of language in anthropology goes beyond a clarification of the terms used. The intimate interrelation between language and culture, difficulties of translating certain culturally specific concepts/terms, and the danger of confusing 'folk categories' with 'analytic categories' make language use uniquely important in anthropology. Do the boundaries we arbitrarily impose make sense to the people we are describing? Does it make any difference in our understanding if we use different criteria in our definitions? True, fuzziness does not in itself 'invalidate distinctions'; but how we deal with 'fuzzy' zones can make critical differences to our analyses.
We are not here offering universal definitions; we simply claim that in this article, we have followed the definitions which we give.
Social cognition. This term illustrates our current argument, in that it is widely and lightly used for a range of purposes, for example as a technical term in social psychology. What we hope to mean by it is whatever passes for knowledge in the conversations, interactions, speeches that take place within a given context. This meaning is far from precise; one example - the dramatic changes which Stirling noticed in the conversations in Sakaltutan between 1950, 1971, and 1986. (For example, Stirling 1974: 195f). One obvious implication, so important that we repeat it here; 'knowing' in this context does not imply the truth of what is 'known', or as we have put it, 'passes for knowledge' in a given context.
Marriage. Marriage among the villagers and their migrants is clear enough not to merit a full discussion. A man and a woman are regarded as married if the appropriate religious ceremony (imam nikah¥) has been, or is generally assumed to have been, correctly performed (it is done privately), and if they share the economic and domestic responsibility for a household, a home, in which the woman resides. We are allowing here for cases where a husband or a married son is away from his wife for months or even years, but keeps up payments, or at least is publicly recognised as intending to do so. Marginal cases occur, but in these it is rarely unclear to others whether the couples are married or not. It is emphatically not a necessary condition that the marriage be registered with the State and an official document ('izinname') obtained. Almost all the specific marriages which we discuss in this article are first marriages, most of which are marked by a large and expensive public ceremony (Stirling 1965: 178ff).
'Close' kin. In our discussion, we are mainly thinking of marriages between first cousins. But in the term 'close', we include descendents of shared great grandparents --second cousins-- and people linked through marriage. 'Akraba evlili©i' normally implies marriage between first cousins.
Akraba evlili©i has become a public issue in Turkey. It is widely held in Turkey that akraba evlili©i leads to sakat (disabled) children; an apparent simplification of the increased probability of reproducing genetically caused disorders through the marriage of those who are likely to share the same genes. A spreading media-campaign against akraba evlili©i seems to be reaching Anatolian cities, towns and villages, and influencing people's 'social cognition' in differing degrees. Nevertheless, the practice continues.
Migrants. From 1971 on, Stirling has distinguished sharply between two kinds of labour migrants; first, those who go to towns to work as members of a village household, in order to earn money to help to maintain that household in the village, and second those who become members of households which are resident in towns. Here, we use 'pendular migrants' (instead of 'seasonal' or 'circulatory') for the first kind, and 'household migrants' (instead of 'permanent') for the second, although these words are not a rational pair. Up to 1993, the only women who had left the villages in order to earn were one or two in E who were professionally trained as teachers or health workers, direct from villages households. Because professionals leave in order to practice their professions, and not in order to maintain a village household, contingently, all pendular migrants are male, and all female migrants are household migrants. Among village residents, the overwhelming majority of men but very few women had had migration experiences by 1986 (see Table 2). Some of those women with 'migration experiences' had come to S and E as brides (gelin) from a city or town, and some were members of households, either as daughters or as wives, that had experienced return migration.
(Percentage of villagers with migration experiences, ages over 14)*