Middle East Section
Oral Presentation Session
“Migrant seasonal agricultural work” is a form of labor that social scientists define categorically through two presumably conjunct temporalities, namely, the seasons of harvest and seasons of high demand for labor, and a spatial category of political economy, the so-called “regional inequalities”. However, this seemingly straightforward definition conceals much more complicated temporalities of the events of dispossession and violence in the past, collective efforts of subsistence in the present, and uncertain futures marked by precarious labor. In this paper, I will turn my attention to the multiple temporalities governing the practice of cyclical labor migration of over one million workers that move back and forth between their home towns in Northern Kurdistan and rural worksites in western Turkey. I will analyze the erratic temporalities of movement and migration; the cyclicality of labor motivated by the intertwined temporalities of the life events (graduation, marriage, building a family) and life cycles of the members of the worker families (birth, sickness, old age); displacement and (forced) migration as structurally recurring failures of subsistence (rather than displacement and resettlement as consecutive singular events that remained in the past); a past under constant traumatic erasure; and a future constantly interrupted by war and death, and the generation of hopes for a good life searched elsewhere. Exploring this labor practice through these multiple temporalities, I will ask: Could the embodied experience of work disclose the spatiotemporal dynamics of a labor practice otherwise reified and naturalized by the supply-demand logic of political economy?