This essay was published with the title “Uncertain Past, Uncertain Future, Uncertain Present“ in “Human Security in Turkey: Challenges for the 21st century”, Eds. Alpaslan Ozerdem and Fusun Ozerdem, 2013 by Routledge, London & NY

The Promised Land Syndrome: Uncertain Past, Uncertain Future, Uncertain Present

Turkish nationalist monument on the Armenian border
Igdir Province: Turkish nationalist monument on the Armenian border

The Turkish Province of Igdir is located in a strategic point at the foot of Mount Ararat. It is part of the Armenian Highland and it also borders Nakhchivan and Iran. However, two unused boundaries and the morphology itself cause a significant isolation, even from the rest of Turkey. Also the past of this land is complex. In less than two centuries it has been part of Ottoman Empire, Persian territories, Russian Empire and Armenia.

The aim of this paper is to show the repercussions of repeated changes, migrations and conflicts on this context, using both historical and first-hand ethnographic data. I discuss the relations between built environment and population increase. Then I present some ethnographic case concerning mistrust, ethnic identities and racism. Finally, I describe this society as one society that has not developed a collective identity, taking into account the detachment with which national identity is perceived.

The paper was first presented Thursday 27th October 2011 at the conference "Human Security: New Challenges, New Perspectives" that took place at the Kadir Has University in Istanbul. The Centre for Peace and Reconciliation Studies (CPRS) at Coventry University had promoted the conference that was being organized jointly by Coventry University, Kadir Has University, Akdeniz University and Trakya University. The book is available online as in many libraries. The foreword has been written by Filippo Grandi, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Cover image: Poussin, The Spies with the Grapes of the Promised Land, 1664