Archive | Project “Beyond Borders” RSS feed for this section

STORIES ARE COMING!

23 Oct

ARMENIA AND TURKEY: LET US BE FRIENDS FOR ONCE

The conflict, if it can be called that, between Turkey and Armenia, is an unusual one. It is more like a 100-year-old post-conflict that has been locked up and forgotten, at least on the Turkish side of the border. In Armenia it is much more difficult to ignore the real effects of that contested history. Inasmuch as this “post-conflict” has to do with the early 20th century Ottoman policy of extermination of non-Muslim minorities within Turkey, including the genocide of Armenians living there before 1915, it has also evolved to include the interests of more powerful countries. The presence of U.S. military bases in Turkey and Russian military bases in Armenia is no coincidence. The issue is further complicated by Turkish alliance with Azerbaijan regarding the Nagorno-Karabagh war.

So far, peace talks between the two governments have yielded no results. Although civil society occasionally engages in peace building activities across the closed Turkish-Armenia border, women’s issues are almost never on the frontline. Yet much of the nationalism and violence that has built and continues to build the borders of these two countries relies on the subordination of women, ensuring that their place within society stays within the private sphere. Women are supposed to be the mothers of the nation. They are supposed to be housewives, to give birth to boys. They are supposed to be polite and courteous, and they are supposed to remain silent. They are not taken seriously enough on either side of the border to be granted a seat at the negotiating table, although they are often the first to suffer the effects of violence, conflict and war.

Unfortunately, the decade long closure of the Turkish-Armenian border has also led to an atmosphere of ignorance on both sides, making it harder to imagine the “other” as anything other than a stereotype. A 2005 opinion survey [PDF] taken on both sides of the border revealed that a large percentage of respondents in Turkey did not know much about Armenia and that many of the respondents in Armenia had strong negative prejudices against their neighboring Turkey. In a way, both peoples have placed themselves inside of “cultural ghettos”, to use Elif Shafak’s term, and are now suffering as a result. In a speech on the power of storytelling, the prominent Turkish novelist states: “One way of transcending these cultural ghettos is through the art of storytelling. Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls and through those walls, we can get a glimpse of the other and sometimes even like what we see.”

For more information click here.

Advertisements

BEYOND BORDERS: LINKING OUR STORIES

10 Oct

“Bringing together women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border to build solidarity and peace through storytelling.”

“The power of a woman telling her story lies in the transformation she lives when she hears the strength of her own voice and in the transformation we live when we are forced to shift our own ideas about women as faceless objects without a voice.”

This project aims to establish a dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish women, to build solidarity among women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border and to develop an innovative approach to peace-building by collecting a number of interviews by and from women in both countries, which will then be turned into a performance and book for larger audiences. Some of the themes that will be explored include violence, poverty, family, and sexuality. One of our main goals is to make visible ordinary women’s lives living across the border, and to make their stories accessible to women in both countries, as well as to women in other countries with conflicted borders.

For more information click here or here and for your donations click here.


BEYOND BORDERS: LINKING OUR STORIES

25 Sep

Bringing together women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border to build solidarity and peace through storytelling.

The power of a woman telling her story lies in the transformation she lives when she hears the strength of her own voice and in the transformation we live when we are forced to shift our own ideas about women as faceless objects without a voice. 

This project aims to establish a dialogue and cooperation between Armenian and Turkish women, to build solidarity among women across the closed Turkish-Armenian border and to develop an innovative approach to peace-building by collecting a number of interviews by and from women in both countries, which will then be turned into a performance and book for larger audiences. Some of the themes that will be explored include violence, poverty, family, and sexuality among others. One of our main goals is to make visible ordinary women’s lives living across the border, and to make their stories accessible to women in both countries, as well as to women in other countries with conflicted borders.

Because most policies and peace negotiations are usually implemented at higher levels of government where women’s voices are not often heard, this project will place the power to create peace into ordinary women’s hands. After all of the interviews are conducted (approximately 30 in total from both sides) a group of women from Armenia will travel to Turkey to meet and work with a group of women from Turkey for two weeks. The interviews that were conducted will be discussed and analyzed, workshops on effective peace-building and conflict resolution will be given, and a short film will be made documenting the process of the two groups coming together and preparing for a final performance at Madrasa Theater in Sirince, Turkey. Some time after this initial meeting, the group will also meet in Armenia to hold a second performance in Yerevan.

This project is a collaboration between volunteers from the Women’s Resource Center in Armenia and volunteers from AMARGI, a women’s collective in Turkey. We believe that women should take peace into their own hands and one way to begin is by sitting down with one another, across borders and across difference, to tell our stories.

Your donations will help us cover our travel and two week meeting costs in Sirince, Turkey.

Thank you for all your support and solidarity in helping us realize our goal! Please help us spread the word and share widely!

Also, check out our blog for stories as we conduct our interviews.