• Ayse Gül Altinay


One of my in-depth interviews was with Elif, a young woman who was both Kurdish and Alevi. It was a wonderful interview because she was very friendly, open, and willing to talk freely about all kinds of issues. She was in her early twenties; yet she looked and sounded much more mature. We had met at a crowded café in Istanbul but this was no obstacle to her talking about touchy political issues in a loud voice—so much so that I felt the need to look around a couple of times to see if anyone was listening. She was comfortably loud as she uttered taboo words and made critical statements. After the interview, as usual, I asked her to fill out my short questionnaire and went to the restroom to leave her alone with it. When I came back, she had finished it but had left two questions unanswered: the question about her mother tongue and the question about her religious beliefs. She asked me: “What should I write here?” I said that she could write whatever was her answer. She hesitated at first, and then wrote Kurdish and Alevi respectively. She then explained her hesitation to me: “I was not sure if it would be appropriate to write them in an official questionnaire. I did not want to put you in trouble.”


Religious Belief Mother Tongue Taboo Word Loud Voice Turkish Nation 
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© Ayse Gül Altinay 2004

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  • Ayse Gül Altinay

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