Me, inhaling fresh air when the mask is taken off

Merhaba, or Hello everyone! I’m Ezgi Karaoglu, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at Michigan State University with a specialization in Global Urban Studies. Besides, I’m a fellow in the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) fellowship initiative for the 2020-2021 academic year, which is the reason why I’m introducing myself to you here. I earned my B.A. in psychology from Koc University, Turkey, and M.S. in Social Psychology from Middle East Technical University, Turkey. Back then, my research was focusing on attitudes toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey with regard to the role of Social Dominance Orientation by examining the mediational role of perceived intergroup threat and empathy. Before joining MSU, I took a 6-year gap from school. During this 6-year “gap”, I used to do professional humanitarian work in the field with the refugees in the urban settlements of Istanbul, Turkey, where is home to the world’s largest refugee population, with over 4 million refugees. To be honest there is another reason behind this 6-year gap, as well: I was illiterate enough to believe that academia can make a change, touch on real problems, and hear the voices of the unheard as I intended to do through civil society. While I’m still not fully convinced that I, personally, can do that, CHI will definitely allow me to make my research accessible to multiple circles from academia to the lay audience and give migrants power, agency, and voice as the owners and producers of the knowledge.

My intended dissertation research will investigate the exercised citizenship of high-skilled migrants in Istanbul through multiple patterns: labor market, spaces where social and cultural interactions occur, and obliged relations with the state. Via CHI, I, hopefully, will zoom in to a specific layer in particular. In the nexus of my personal experience as a migrant -by the way, I was born and raised in Istanbul, where I relate with love and hate until I started MSU. Well, thanks to COVID-19 (!), I have this opportunity to participate the fellowship from Istanbul until the things get settled- and the narratives of the migrants that I have listened for years, I came to the realization that the food is important as one of the positive coping mechanisms that migrants hold on. Hence, I like to create an interactive Digital Library of Transnational Foods in order to listen, visualize, and archive these foods and eating habits carried over generations, time, and spaces.

Besides this specific project that I’m planning to conduct through this fellowship, it will also contribute to my entire research agenda in several ways: Since I’m mostly working with interlocutors who I cannot speak their language, visual methodologies will help me as a mode of communication without language familiarity. Check out our collaborative fanzine, it’s in Turkish but you can still enjoy the illustrations:). Long story short, who am I to say no to learn digital skills while our current lives and future are inevitably digital. Stay safe and digital!