Containing the Future: Modern Identities as Material Negotiation in the Urban Turkish Ceyiz
Samli, Sherife Ayla
Faubion, James D.
Doctor of Philosophy
The Turkish trousseau, çeyiz in Turkish, connects contemporary brides to the traditions and responsibilities of women from previous generations while demonstrating how greater access to education shapes young women's choices as consumers, spouses, and daughters. An emotionally laden collection, the çeyiz entails intergenerational negotiations between mothers and daughters who collaborate to organize the bride's future furnishings, crystallizing their respective desires and differences. A variable collection of bedding, tablecloths, curtains, and embellishments, the çeyiz serves as the bride's contribution of domestic furnishings for the new couple's house An analysis of the trousseau engages with the past and the present revealing how young women's lives are being transformed over time. By comparing mothers with daughters, I demonstrate that, within one generation, young women have greater agency over their futures At the same time, however, they are expected to comply with the traditional roles of marriage, suggesting that their gains are not permanent. The trousseau's material and affective contents reveal the shifts--and continuities--in family relationships, marriage, and consumption engendered by Turkish modernity. Drawing on the analytical works of Annette Weiner, who researched Samoans, Trobrianders, and the Maoris, I approach the çeyiz as an "inalienable possession," connecting generations of women, mothers and daughters, who reproduce through it their expectations for marriage (Weiner 1992). This dissertation also considers the subjective implications of the çeyiz; it serves as a technology of self, honing women's skills and tastes in preparation for their future. The urban Turkish çeyiz reveals that young Turkish women desire new subjectivities, which they display through consumption and acquire through education. This research demonstrates that increased education influences how Istanbul brides select the contents of their çeyiz and envision their futures as wives. More than a symbol for marriage, the rapidly changing bridal çeyiz envelops Turkey's participation within the global economy, national identity, and investment in equalizing gender relations.