Taking the exilic experience as the core of its inquiry, the project ExiLives sets out to explore the contribution by exiled Kurdish and Turkish theatre practitioners and other artists to urgent cultural, political and aesthetic debates in Europe. The many crises in Turkey, the rise of right-wing Islamic populism and authoritarianism, and the unprecedented exodus of intellectuals to Europe remind us that the borders of the very ideals of a peace-time, democratic, multicultural Europe are at stake. The process of exile from Turkey is still in motion; hence, the urgency to map out and evaluate its influence on institutions, on society, on inter-communitarian conflict, and on the history of consciousness shared by Turkey and Europe.

ExiLives documents both the personal stories and theatrical productions by exiled artists from Turkey in Europe. The theatre arts are discussed for their utility in understanding new political subjectivities and aesthetic practices emerging from the exilic situation. Representations of the exilic life are, however, not regarded as mere reflections of a social reality. They are gauged as models for that reality, where the workings of aesthetics and performative affects aim to impact cultural debates of community, conviviality, social justice, peace, dignity, and free speech.

The project sets out to develop a new interdisciplinary methodology utilizing ethnographic research and socio-aesthetic theatre analysis, informed by theatre and performance studies, cultural studies, political sociology, and exile studies. It thereby aims to extend the largely euro-centric field of exile studies that looked primarily at German-language, Jewish and political exiles in the context of WW2. Turkish exilic history is still largely neglected despite the scholarship on Turkish migrants in Diaspora and Migration Studies, including Migrationsliteratur (for example, the works of actress Emine Sevgi Özdamar in the Turkish-German context).

Besides collecting personal affective stories, the project maps also the contemporary solidarity networks, supportive programs and institutions, and it looks into the gaps of existing archives.

For more info, visit: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/893827.