Author: Ayşenur Kolivar; Translation: Gizem Sefa; Editing: Feride Eralp
The reactions we got during the preparation of the book and after its publication showed that Fadimes have lots of stories to tell and they believe that these stories should be written down somehow.
The question, “Who is Fadime?” is a difficult question and it is doubtful that all of its answers can be found. However, there is at least one answer which we do know: From now on Fadime is an author.
“Who am I, don’t I have an identity except that of being the wife or daughter of Temel?”
The book Who is Fadime, first of all, carries an allegation as to who should answer the question its title poses. In fact, the addressees of this question are the Fadimes, and the main concern of the book is for Fadime to express herself directly. This book tries to share and render visible, through writing, the life stories of women living in Black Sea region, and the multi-faceted states of femininity within oral narratives which are unable to find the opportunity to express themselves in public spheres. Here, different states of femininity should be underlined. In this book, we have avoided molding, idealizing Fadime into a single type, on purpose. From Fadime’s life, whose richness we witness and partake in within our daily lives, we put forward the moments and events which we believed were most significant in her own life. Sometimes we implied this with a photograph, sometimes with a memory and sometimes with a made-up story.
We thought these things were important because when understanding an identity, at least while at the primary stage, you have two choices: to design this identity within your head and make people put on the dress which you have tailored, fixing the parts which do not fit them; or to start out with the thoughts and declarations of the ones who claim that identity. When we began this project, we realized that we had very little information about this identity which we thought was our own. Therefore, we considered that we should enrich our knowledge upon the factual background around it before trying to build up a theoretical frame. The memorials and oral narrations in the book were a step in the removal of this lack of information. However, we believe that the stories we label as make-believe should also be considered under the same light. Since identity is developed not only through experiences, but also through thoughts. The fiction and the fantasy itself are as much a part of Fadime’s identity as the reality within these fictional stories. Identity concerns not only the past and the present, but also the future that is conceived, fantasized and designed. There are also academic articles in this book, which try to reach some theoretical conclusions about Fadime’s identity through these facts. These conclusions should be regarded not as compulsory hypothetical ones, but as essays which assist in finding a way to form some theories from these facts. It should not be forgotten that we are only at the very beginning in this effort of forming theory.
It was very natural that the book was created through the thoughts and labour of women. That’s why most of the texts were written by the women, some of which who had never before had the experience of being a writer, in their lives. Even though we initially had some difficulties in finding women who could produce writing based on the facts of Eastern Black Sea culture, later on we realized that, if encouraged, there were lots of women who could create such works. The Eastern Black Sea region is geographically quite small, but it is so rich in terms of culture that it enables a variety of states of femininity to occur. Since the culture of the region is oral, it is a pity that these states of femininity have not been written down. The reactions we got during the preparation of the book and after its publication showed that Fadimes have lots of stories to tell, and they believe that these stories should be written down somehow. Many women have said that writing their own thoughts was actually a not that hard and quite valuable job.
Within the effort of understanding an identity, those who claim to own that identity have the main role. Yet, we thought that in order to understand the identity in question, the opinions of those who fall outside that identity may also be important. Sometimes the opinions of others may bring a totally different approach to a certain identity. This is the main reason for our giving place to texts from men as well. Here, the writings of men who have shared the very same geography and culture can also be seen, because we considered that these narrations could play significant roles and include important data in the comprehension and formation of Fadime’s identity. However, we were especially careful not to let the book turn into “Fadime, from the point of view of Men.” Here, the second step could certainly have been the inclusion of opinions women coming from different regions had on Fadime. However, this choice would have greatly increased the breadth and dimensions of this book, and this could also have caused a weakening in the fundamental emphasis of the book, which was Fadime’s expressing of herself. We are thinking about taking this approach into account, however, in the upcoming work of this ongoing series.
In conclusion, the book “Who is Fadime” has the quality of being the first piece of research upon the culture of the women in Eastern Black Sea region. Since studies about the local culture of women are yet quite new to the academic field, there are few theoretical movements on how to analyze the limited facts in hand. Our ultimate purpose in this research was to present first-hand information about the states of femininity within the local culture. We think that these kinds of factual presentations are very notable, not only in terms of increasing women’s experience of writing and self-evaluation, but also in forming a basis of reference for academic studies to be conducted in this field. The question, “Who is Fadime?” is a difficult question and it is doubtful that all of its answers can be found. However, there is at least one answer which we do know: From now on Fadime is an author.