Managing Invisibility

Dissimulation and Identity Maintenance among Alevi Bulgarian Turks

Series:

In Managing Invisibility, Hande Sözer examines complicated invisibilities of Alevi Bulgarian Turks, a double-minority which faces structural discrimination in Bulgaria and Turkey. While the literature portrays minorities’ visibility as a requirement for their empowerment or a source of their surveillance, the book argues that for such minorities what matters is their control over their own visibility. To make this point, it focuses on the concept protective dissimulation, a strategy of self-imposed invisibility. It discusses cases indicating Alevi Bulgarian Turks’ strategies of dealing with historically changing majorities in their larger societies and argues that dissimulation actually reinforces the intergroup distinctions for the minority’s members. The data for the book was gathered during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Bulgaria and Turkey.
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Biographical Note

Hande Sözer, Ph.D. in Anthropology (2013), University of Pittsburgh, is faculty member at the Political Science and International Relations Program at Middle East Technical University (METU), Northern Cyprus Campus.

Table of contents


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

LIST OF MAPS

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

CHAPTER ONE
PARADOXICAL INVISIBILITY:
FORTIFYING INVISIBILITY FOR EMPOWERMENT IN THE FACE OF DISEMPOWERING STRUCTURAL INVISIBILITIES
WHY ALEVIS, ALEVI BULGARIAN TURKS AND THEIR INVISIBILITIES?
INVISIBILITIES AND THE NOTION OF DISSIMULATION
FIELD SITES
OUTLINE OF THE CHAPTERS

CHAPTER TWO:
OPEN METHODS FOR RESEARCHING HIDDEN POPULATIONS: EPISTEMOLOGICAL AND ETHICAL ISSUES
AN EMPIRICAL QUESTION: “HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR INFORMANTS HAVE NOT DISSIMULATED TO YOU?”
Access Hinting Alevis’ Visibilities and Invisibilities
A Complicated Situation of Rapport: “Interview as a Form of İbadet (Worshipping)”
Not Really a Native Ethnographer: “I Am a Zahiri, Not a Yezid”
Red Flags: The Secret, Slanders and Other Taboo Issues
AN ETHICAL QUESTION: “IF DISSIMULATION IS A SURVIVAL TACTIC FOR ALEVIS, HOW MIGHT PUBLISHING ABOUT THESE TACTICS INFLUENCE THE COMMUNITY?”
RESEARCH DESIGN
Research Sites
Interviews and Informant Profiles
Participant Observation, Venues and Events

CHAPTER THREE:
DISSIMULATION: RETAINING MINORITY IDENTITY WHILE PRETENDING TO BE PART OF THE MAJORITY
DISSIMULATION IN-BETWEEN DISSIMILATION AND ASSIMILATION
MINORITIES, AND MINORITIES WITHIN MINORITIES
NATIONAL MINORITIES AND A NOTION OF COLLECTIVE AGENCY
BORDERS AND FRONTIERS

CHAPTER FOUR:
HISTORY, HISTORICITY, HISTORIOGRAPHY:
EXTERNALIZING ALEVISM FROM THE BULGARIAN TURKISH GROUP
HISTORY
Principality in Bulgaria, Monarchy in the Ottoman Empire (1878-1908)
The Kingdom and the Republic in Bulgaria, the Monarchy in the Ottoman Empire (1908-1923)
Totalitarianism in Bulgaria and the Single-Party Republic in Turkey (1923-1944)
Socialist People’s Republic in Bulgaria, Multi-Party Republic in Turkey (1944-1989)
Multi-party Republics in both Bulgaria and Turkey (1989-2013)
HISTORIOGRAPHY
Conflicting Historiographies on the Ottoman Rule in Bulgaria
Conflicting Historiographies on Bulgarian Turks
Conflicting Historiographies on Alevis with their Harmonious Exclusion
HISTORICITY
Alevi and Sunni Bulgarian Turks Narratives on the Closure of the Gap Between the Nation and the State
Sunni Bulgarian Turks’ Narratives related to Alevi Bulgarian Turks:
Narratives Indicating Individual “Assimilation” and Dissimulation by People of Alevi Heritage

CHAPTER FIVE:
ALEVI BULGARIAN TURKS’ SELF-PERCEPTIONS OF THE ALEVI WAYS: “THE PATH IS ONE; WHILE PRACTICES ARE A THOUSAND AND ONE”
THE ALEVI PATH AS THE RELIGIOUS IDEAL-TYPE ABOUT ALEVISM
The Alevi Path as a religious ideal-type
AN OUTLINE OF ALEVI IDEAL TYPE VERSUS SUNNI AND SHIA ISLAM
ALEVISM AMONG BULGARIAN TURKS VERSUS ALEVISM IN TURKEY
ALEVISM AMONG BULGARIAN TURKS ACCORDING TO THE SUBGROUPS
Alevism among Bulgarian Turks across the regional segments

CHAPTER SIX:
DISSIMULATION AS IN-YOUR-FACE DISGUISE: SPEAKING OTHERS’ LANGUAGES, PRACTICING OTHERS’ PRACTICES, MANIPULATING OTHERS’ PLACES
DISSIMULATION, SECRECY AND THE ALEVI SECRET:
“In-your-face disguise:” Talking about the Secret without talking about what it is
“In Your Face Disguise”: Hiding a One’s Well-known Alevi Heritage
SPEAKING OTHERS’ LANGUAGES: DISSIMULATION VIA CODE LANGUAGE
Use of Code Words in relation to Insiders
Use of Code Words in relation to Outsiders
PRACTICING OTHERS’ PRACTICES:
Performing Sunni religious practices
The Holy Birth Week
Friday Prayer on Hıdrellez
MANIPULATING OTHERS’ SPACES:
Building Sunni Mosques
Participating in Mosque Commissions
SLOGANS FOR INTER-GROUP RELATIONS
“Follow/watch out the Şeriat, Hide the Tarikat” in Relation to Sunnis
“Our Difference is thinner than an Onion Skin” in relation to Bulgarians
Dissimulation of secular identity in relation to socialist Bulgarians
“We are all Turkish” to secular Turks.

CHAPTER SEVEN:
DISSIMILATION AND ASSIMILATION
DISSIMILATION
Separating the Greetings
Separating names and separating spaces: Kızılbaş versus Turkish Villages
Separating families:
Separations related to türbes
Forming separate organizations
ASSIMILATION
Sunnification or “Becoming Bigoted” [Yobazlaşmak]
Not Alevi But not Sunni Either: “Becoming Undomesticated” [Yabanileşmek]

CONCLUSION

APPENDIX

BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

Readership

Scholars interested in Alevis and specifically Alevi Bulgarian Turks; scholars interested in hidden minorities, ethno-religious minorities, double minorities; scholars interested in studies on Southeast Europe and Turkey, graduate students in anthropology and sociology.