Hardy, S A. In preparation (2013): Occupy Gezi and the free archaeologists’ revolt: the economics and politics of cultural heritage work in Turkey. Working Paper, 15th August 2013.
Why are archaeologists resisting in Turkey? Arkeologlar neden direniyor?
Here, I will try to summarise the reasons for archaeologists’ resistance in Turkey.
(Nedenler Türkçe olarak aşağıda sunulmaktadır. Hatalarımı düzelten arkadaşıma teşekkür ederim!)
Warning I am neither from nor in Turkey. These are the observations of a foreign archaeologist abroad. On my own head be it!
They are resisting as people, as citizens and as archaeologists. Obviously, freedom is essential to archaeological work and cultural heritage is essential to community life. When I say that they are resisting as archaeologists, I mean that their archaeological knowledge, experience or responsibility is significant or central to their resistance.
Citizens’ resistance As people and citizens, they are resisting: the use of violenceby police, gendarmerie and government-aligned gangs; the government’s threats to deploy the army; the judicial persecution of resisters (including social media users); and the censorship of reporting on the violence. They are demanding peace, democracy, freedom and the rule of law. As archaeologists…
1. Archaeologists are resisting neoliberal Islamism They are resisting culture-and-environment-devouring capitalist, neoliberal, Islamist, neo-Ottoman development.
2. Archaeologists are resisting the destruction of cultural heritage and social memory They are resisting the erasure of the memory of the struggles for workers’ rights and democracy.
They are resisting the destruction of the cultural heritage of Kurds, Alevis, Roma, Armenians and other minority communities.
They are resisting the destruction of sites of resistance and repression, therein the destruction of evidence of crimes in sites of conflict archaeology.
3. Archaeologists are resisting unemployment They are resisting their own mass unemployment. Before, at least six thousand were unemployed. Now, at least eight thousand are unemployed, very likely more than ten thousand are unemployed.
4. Archaeologists are resisting illegal unemployment They are resisting their own illegal unemployment. In order for inappropriate and destructive development to be implemented, archaeologists are not employed to evaluate development plans, supervise development works or excavate archaeological remains. In each case, it is illegal.
5. Archaeologists are resisting professional feudalism They are resisting the feudal structure of the academic system and the excavation system.
6. Archaeologists are resisting unpaid labour They are resisting eight thousand archaeology students’ exploitation as an unpaid workforce.
7. Archaeologists are resisting austerity They are resisting because there has been a 50% cut to the budget for university excavations, due to which universities may not be able to dig and students may not be able to learn how to dig. (Students may not have the “opportunity” to work without pay!)
8. Archaeologists are resisting poverty and insecurity They are resisting employed archaeologists’ persistent poverty and insecurity.
They are resisting the siphoning off of income from cultural heritage tourism. (Profits are not reinvested in cultural heritage management.)
They are resisting because their plight has existed for so long that it has become normal and been forgotten.
9. Archaeologists are resisting ennui The ennui, frustration and trappedness of unemployment are making them resist.
10. Archaeologists are resisting inequality and bigotry They are resisting in solidarity with (fellow) poor, insecure workers, because they understand the justice and value of economic security and equality.
They are resisting because they understand the falsehood and immorality of racism and nationalism.
free archaeology in Turkey: the archaeology graduate without a future
Freakishly coincidentally, the day after Emily Johnson (@ejarchaeology) began the discussion on free archaeology (unpaid labour in cultural heritage management) in Britain, Radikal‘s Ömer Erbil (@omererbil) published an article on free archaeology in Turkey, and his commenters highlighted the persistent precarity of the (least un)lucky few employed cultural heritage workers. Young archaeologists have rebelled [genç arkeologlar ayaklandı] or, at least, protested against their exploitation…
I’ve translated and paraphrased Erbil’s excellent article and his readers’ enlightening comments; all depressing statistics are theirs, any embarrassing errors are mine. The article shows that the crisis in archaeological labour is international, but it also reveals coordinated professional resistance, which should be a lesson to archaeologists elsewhere.
Exploited, unemployed, indignant: the archaeology graduate without a future The Turkish archaeology graduate appears to be the archetypal graduate without a future. In 2012, tourism generated TL23b, and Turkey’s museums and ruins earned more than TL280m ($150m) (from more than 28 million tourists’ visits); but the ringfenced archaeology budget was TL23m, and six thousand archaeologists remained unemployed. To put that in perspective, there are more unemployed archaeologists in Turkey than there are employed archaeologists in Britain. (If anyone knows British archaeologists’ unemployment statistics…)
Hence, ‘unemployed archaeologists who were made to work “for free” during their education are flooding the ministries with letters [Eğitim hayatları boyunca 'bedavaya' çalıştırılan işsiz arkeologlar bakanlıklara mektup yağdırıyor]‘. Archaeologists ‘have finally revolted/rebelled/mutinied [sonunda isyan etti]‘.
Seven hundred archaeologists have permanent positions in the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Thousands of archaeologists have protested and petitioned both the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı) and the Ministry of Finance (Maliye Bakanlığı) because, while there are hundreds of scientific/research excavations and hundreds more rescue excavations, which require thousands of workers, ‘in the last four years, of six thousand unemployed archaeologists, only 19 have been hired [son 4 yılda işsiz 6 bin arkeologdan sadece 19'unun işe alınd[ı]]‘.
As needgett commented (seemingly based upon the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s employment study),
Everyone’s given a position, why not archaeologists?
I don’t understand. Over the course of two years, a bunch of city planners, a bunch of architects, a bunch of engineers are hired, [but] two or three archaeologists. There are more urban planners in the Ministry of Culture than in the Ministry of Urban Planning. I’ve heard that, even though there are reports for the [cultural heritage] protection boards that require archaeologists’ authorship, in the absence of archaeologists, they are being written by urban planners. If this is true, however, according to the law, it is illegal.(1)
In fact, as Erbil explained, the problem is even worse than it seems, because (at least in some institutions) fewer jobs exist for which to hopelessly strive: forty years ago, Istanbul Archaeology Museums employed more than 70 specialists; now, they employ just 25.
And because 30 universities have archaeology departments, which produce 2,100 graduates every year (and another 6 universities plan to have archaeology departments), ‘every year, thousands more are added to this [Her yıl da buna binlercesi ekleniyor]‘. It’s no longer a dole queue, it’s a dole community. As Amsterdam Vallon said in Gangs of New York (though best not repeated in Istanbul), ‘if you get all of us together, we ain’t got a gang, we’ve got an army’.
No pay, no gain: legal unpaid labour, illegal unemployment If thousands of archaeologists are needed every year, why are only five hired?
Making a great sacrifice and working unpaid during their studies in order to uncover archaeological heritage that is important for Turkey’s tourism revenues, on graduating archaeologists remain unemployed….
During the four years of their education, [thousands of] students participate in digs without pay; [but] after learning the methods of scientific excavation, they graduate and remain unemployed. Even if institutions [thereby] fail to comply with the requirement to keep an archaeologist on site, they refuse to take on regular/permanent archaeologists.(2)
These unpaid students’ “employers”, of course, are paid faculty members, whose own careers are built from the products of their students’ unrewarded labour; and the national economy is boosted, too, though that is not reflected in investment in the profession.
Students are made to work on all excavations run by universities. Like workers, students use shovels and wheelbarrows to move soil. On the backs of students who work for free, excavations are realised, [and] the country’s tourism potential is increased. The excavated artefacts adorn museums’ display cases. Every year, excavations continue and, as there is a continuous circulation of new students behind them, graduated students’ universities do not care about their situation. Thousands of university graduate archaeologists remain unemployed.
Wanting experience and scientific expertise, however, the vast majority of archaeologists who participate in these excavations are students studying in archaeology departments….
It’s almost like the municipality does not exist within the boundaries of the archaeological site. According to the regulations of the [Cultural Property Protection, Implementation and Inspection Programme] KUDEP, these municipalities must employ at least one archaeologist. Yet the number of municipalities that are implementing this could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand.(3)
Victimised, frustrated, disappointed Anlaşılmak commented,
First of all, I thank Radikal for touching a raw nerve with [literally, pressing the bleeding wound of] those who have not wanted to hear this cry for years….
From a global archaeological perspective, amongst the richest [sites] are in this region. What a pity that, on graduating, they [archaeologists] cannot find work, they look desperately/helplessly at the personnel who have been able to start work at the Ministry of Culture; that too ends in disappointment/frustration.
Ultimately, the Finance Ministry hires staff but, strangely, whatever request is made by the Culture Ministry, finance isn’t given.(4)
In a thought that might reflect suspicions of the necessity of torpilaj (string-pulling) for a successful career as much as the reality of rüşvetçilik (corruption) in planning decisions over the preservation or development of historic sites, Anlaşılmak contemplated,
In this situation, the first thing that comes to mind is that, if archaeologists’ dependence upon black procedures in this country is intentional, it is necessary to think about whose interests are served.(5)
The archaeologist with a permanent job is still without a decent future Even if archaeologists do get a job through a torpil (string-puller), (apart from a rarified elite of directors and professors) they don’t get economic security.
Unfortunately, in this region, the cradle of archaeology, all archaeologists, working or not, have been made victims in this situation.
While, in other countries, archaeologists are as valued as architects, urban planners and other professions, in this region, archaeologists who have practiced and learned world archaeology are valued as much as those with two years’ technical training, etc.; and they are left on their own in financial difficulties [literally, with a lack of income], with wages at retirement 60% lower than those of people with technical accreditation.(6)(7)
Whose interests are served? Ideological investment, financial benefit, cultural neglect? In the context of powerful religious and business interests, which profit politically and economically from the loss of cultural assets, Osmaniyettin pleaded of the government,
Tip [(give) money to] religion, make hundreds of mosques; but develop/reconstruct this country too. On going to our ancient excavation areas, my heart bleeds; [look at] how foreigners revive and administer [their sites], our ruins are in a state of ruin.(8)
Footnotes 1: Herkese kadro var arkeologlara neden yok?
ben anlamıyorum bir sürü şehir plancısı bir sürü mimar bir sürü mühendis alınırken 2- 3 arkeolog alınıyor 2 yıl boyunca. walla şehircilik bakanlığından daha çok şehir plancısı var Kültür Bakanlığında. hatta arkeologların yazması gereken raporları bile arkeolog olmadığından şehir plancıları yazıyormuş diye duydum koruma kurullarında. eyer bu doğru ise kanunen yasal değil bu.
2: Türkiye’nin turizm gelirlerinde önemli bir yer tutan arkeolojik mirasın açığa çıkması için öğrenciliği zamanında büyük özveriyle para almadan çalışan arkeologlar, mezun olduğunda da işsiz kalmaktadır….
Eğitim aldıkları 4 yıl boyunca ücretsiz olarak kazılarda görev alan öğrenciler, bilimsel kazı yöntemlerini öğrendikten sonra mezun olup işsiz kalıyorlar. Bünyesinde arkeolog bulundurmak zorunda olan kurumlar bile buna uymayarak, kadrolu arkeolog almaya yanaşmıyor.
3: Üniversitelerin yaptığı tüm kazılarda öğrenciler çalıştırılıyor. Öğrenciler işçi gibi kazma kürek kullanıp, el arabaları ile toprak taşıyor. Bedava çalışan öğrencilerin sırtından kazılar gerçekleştiriliyor, ülkenin turizm potansiyeli arttırılıyor. Çıkarılan eserler müzelerin vitrinlerini süslüyor. Kazılar her yıl sürüyor ve arkadan sürekli yeni öğrenci sirkülasyonu olduğundan, mezun olan öğrencilerin durumu üniversiteleri de ilgilendirmiyor. Binlerce üniversite mezunu arkeolog işsiz kalıyor….
Uzmanlık ve bilimsel deneyim isteyen bu kazılarda görev alan arkeologların büyük çoğunluğu ise üniversitelerin arkeoloji bölümlerinde okuyan öğrenciler oluyor….
Sınırları içinde arkeolojik sit alanı olmayan belediye hemen hemen yok gibi. KUDEP [Kültür Varlıklarını Koruma, Uygulama ve Denetim Programı] yönetmeliğine göre ise bu belediyeler en az bir arkeolog istihdam etmek zorunda. Ancak bunu uygulayan belediye sayısı neredeyse bir elin parmakları kadar az sayıda.
Öncelikle yıllardır bu çığlığı duymak istemeyenlere karşı kanayan bu yaraya parmak basan radikal gazetesine teşekkür ederim….
Dünyanın arkeolojik açıdan en zenginlerinden olan bu coğrafyada ne yazık ki mezun olanlarda iş bulamamakta çaresizce sadece çalışabildikleri kültür bakanlığının açmış olduğu kadrolara bakmakta oda hüsranla sonlanmaktadır.
Sonuçta maliye bakanlığı kadro veriyor ama talep Kültür bakanlığınca yapılmakta her ne hikmetse biz istiyoruz maliye vermiyor deniliyor.
5: Bu durumda ilk akla gelen kasıtlı mı yapıldığı arkeologların bu ülkede zenci muamelesine tabi olması kimin çıkarına geliyor onu düşünmek lazım.
6: The translation of this sentence nearly destroyed me.
7: Maalesef Arkeolojinin beşiği bu coğrafyada çalışan çalışmayan tüm arkeologlar mağdur edilmiş durumda.
Uluslararasında arkeologlar mimar, şehirplancısı vb. mesleklerle eş değerdeyken dünya arkeolojisinin pratik yapıp öğrendiği bu coğrafyada çalışan Arkeologlar iki yıllık teknikler tütün expertizleri vb. ile aynı değerde tutuluyor ve teknik kabul edilmelerine karşın emekli olduklarında maaşları %60 oranında düşüp geçim sıkıntısı ile baş başa bırakılıyorlar.(6)
8: bas bas paraları diyanete, yap yüzlerce camiyi zaten ülkeyi de bu kalkındıracak. Bizdeki antik kazı alanlarına gidince içim kan ağlıyor, yabancılar nasıl canlandırıyor düzenliyor, bizimki harabenin de harabesi bir halde.
Notes The article used to be available at: http://www.radikal.com.tr/Radikal.aspx?aType=RadikalDetayV3&ArticleID=1126659&CategoryID=77 (and somewhere else before that) – and it may be available elsewhere in the future. I wish, wish that Mediterranean media websites would publish articles at one permanent address and leave them there. It’s also available at: http://tayproject.org/haberarsiv20133.html
I completely preserved the quoted texts, but I inserted line/paragraph breaks into any unformatted text to make it easier to read.
I knew my non-conversational, “proper” (academic and media) Turkish had got worse, but translating – or trying to translate – this article and the readers’ comments was a crushing experience. I’m confident about a fair amount of it, and I don’t think anything’s dangerously wrong, but some of the fragmented and paragraph-long sentences may not be exact…
I had been trying (if not to improve, at least) not to lose my ‘Azeri’/'Iranian’ Turkish (which people from Turkey called Azeri/Iranian because sometimes (when I was concentrating on getting the words out of my mouth) I lost vowel harmony, and because I used some grammatical forms more or less than native Turkish-speakers), but I fear it’s impossible to keep such a different way of thinking and expressing thoughts without long-term immersion in the language.
Have archaeologists been forgotten? The use of social media in (un)employment campaigns… Rather than bundling it up in the huge post that I sincerely hope to post later today, I thought I’d post a rough translation of a recent Selçuk Haber (@selcukhaber) article here. It asked: ‘have archaeologists been forgotten [arkeologlar unutuldu mu]?’ Even more depressing translations of the question would be: Have archaeologists sunk without trace? Have archaeologists sunk into oblivion? For our own emotional well-being, let’s pass over the fact that the problem has existed long enough for people to have forgotten that it exists…
Archaeology Department graduates are collecting signatures. The Department of Archaeology and Literature being one of the departments that has the greatest employment problem after graduation, its graduates and students are complaining about their dereliction.
Not being able to work in the private sector under any circumstances, archaeologists are demanding an increase in employment at the public institutions that are their only source of employment.
Naturally, in a state where the past is so heavily and dangerously politicised, and archaeologists’ (non-)employment is under government control, that (non-)employment can be a significant political act.
Archaeologist candidates who want their voices to be heard by sending e-mails to various public foundations are collecting virtual signatures by means of a website named http://imzakampanyam.com/Arkeolog-Istihdaminin-Saglanmasi-Ve-Istihdamin-Merkezi-Atama-Usuluyle-Icra-Edilmesi-imza-kampanyasi.
Recalling that archaeologists are only able to work in their field in state positions, students and graduates say that they will try to address their grievances in every legitimate way.
The interesting point in this article is its note on student and unemployed archaeologists’ campaigning tool.
Their starting points being social media and online platforms, archaeologist candidates are taking steps for the solution of the archaeology department’s long-neglected employment problem by building social platforms.
Apart from showing that even the unemployed can have effective internet access (which is relevant to the social mix of participants in the Turkish resistance), it shows that archaeologists are able to engage, network and organise online (and were already engaged, networked and organised when it all kicked off in Turkey).
[Arkeoloji bölümü mezunları imza topluyor. Mezun olduktan sonra en fazla istihdam sorunu yaşayan bölümlerden biri olan Edebiyat Arkeoloji Bölümü Mezun ve öğrencileri sahipsizlikten yakınıyor.
Özel sektörde hiçbir şekilde çalışma imkânı olmayan arkeologların tek istihdam kaynağı olan kamu kurumlarında istihdamın artırılmasını talep ediyor.
Çeşitli kamu kurumlarına mailler atarak seslerini duyurmak isteyen arkeolog adayları
http://imzakampanyam.com/Arkeolog-Istihdaminin-Saglanmasi-Ve-Istihdamin-Merkezi-Atama-Usuluyle-Icra-Edilmesi-imza-kampanyasi adlı internet sitesi aracılığıyla sanal imza topluyor.
Arkeologların çalışma alanının sadece devlet kadrolarında mümkün olduğunu hatırlatan öğrenci ve mezunlar, mağduriyetlerinin giderilmesi için her türlü meşru yolu deneyeceklerini belirtiyorlar.
Çıkış noktaları sosyal medya ve sanal ortam olan arkeolog adayları, sosyal platformlar oluşturarak yıllardır unutulan arkeoloji bölümü istihdam sorununun çözülebilmesi için adımlar atacaklar.]