Hollanda Araştırma Enstitüsü  -  Nederlands Instituut in Turkije

The Süryani of Istanbul: Turkish inhabitants?

Lisette Scholtens (Leiden University)

In early 2017 I stayed at the NIT as a fellow, in order to conduct fieldwork for my MA thesis. For some years I have been in touch with Dr. Fokke Gerritsen and I had aimed for this opportunity for a while. Already before my arrival, Fokke helped me out with mentioning some books that could be useful for my study. Once arrived, the NIT offered an ideal atmosphere for doing my research. I conducted research on the Syrian Orthodox community that resides in Istanbul. This community is so small, that many people haven’t even heard of them. Before I started my research, 2 years ago, I didn’t know about this community either. It was exactly this unknowing detail, that made this community even more interesting for me. Except from them being mentioned in the bible as Assyrians and Arrameans, why are they so unknown? For my research I studied their reasons for staying together. What are the factors that keep them together? I followed 3 families and portraying them, will show a small glimpse of this community in Istanbul. I am not making big generalisations, that is not the aim of this study. There is not enough space and time for that in an MA thesis. Rather, this should be seen as a an introductory study for a research to be conducted later on. I am thankful for the opportunity I was given by the NIT. I felt encouraged to do my research and I like the atmosphere at the NIT. Especially being in an academic environment and talking with others was helpful for me. My stay definitely motivated me while doing my research. The NIT also organises interesting meetings and lectures every now and then and I like to attend them. On top of that, the location in the most central place of the city centre was ideal for me, since I went to all kind of places in the city for my fieldwork. NIT was a great help for me.