Residents of Kinaliada, a predominantly Armenian island off Istanbul, constantly compare their tiny island to those of others within the same archipelago located on the Sea of Marmara. As they find those islands inhabited by local Greeks and Jews more desirable places to live, they find their own island as backward, inferior and less attractive. Their articulations of a “failed island” shed light into contemporary Armenian community making processes in post- Genocide Turkey in various ways. The presentation will aim to unpack how these narratives about the island function in transforming the physical space of the island into a mental space for Armenian community making. It will first locate the island community in relation to the larger Armenian population of Istanbul. And second; the presentation will discuss the impact of Turkish nation-building on articulations of a particular place-specific collective affiliation in the context of the island.
Aykut Ozturk is doing his fellowship at the Department of Diaspora Studies at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography within the Turkey-Armenia Fellowship Scheme which in 2017-2019 is implemented by the Hrant Dink Foundation in partnership with Gyumri Youth Initiative Centre with the support of the UK Government's Conflict, Stability and Security Fund.