Suncem Kocer, PhD candidate double major in CMCL and Anthropology has been awarded a Dissertation Year Fellowship .
Suncem Kocer's research into the cultural formation of Kurdish transnational ethnic identity has considerable international significance. It has long been understood that nationalist political movements also entail cultural, linguistic movements that legitimate and motivate them. Suncem's work studies such a cultural movement in a 21st century context, in which the cultural-political identity and legitimacy of Turkey's large ethnic Kurdish minority in is in part sanctioned by the transnational norm of the European Union for multicultural policies in current and prospective member states. In addition, the cultural movement constitutes a peaceful alternative to Kurdish armed militancy which has troubled regional stability.
Suncem's research demonstrates that Kurdish cultural-ethnic identity is not a given, but is carefully constructed by social agents who fashion it according to their agendas and through their own lenses. Using the techniques of media ethnography, she carefully observes and analyzes how Kurdish culture is produced, literally, and how it is displayed in documentary and fictional film, cultural centers and festivals, and television.
The significance of her research has already been acknowledged by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, which funded her field-work last year. The academic quality and innovative nature of her research was also recognized by the American Anthropological Association, in an award for her paper on documentary film-making, where she studied how a film is first generated from ideas before the actual production process begins.