Maissam Nimer
Post-Doctoral Researcher


December 18, 2017 - 6:30 pm



İstanbul Research Institute Meşrutiyet Caddesi No.47 34430 Tepebaşı - Beyoğlu - İstanbul Tel. + 90 212 334 09 00   View map

İstanbul Research Institute (İAE) and the Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc) are organizing a panel titled “Afro-Turks and Africans in Turkey: Shades of Color-Based Racism”. MiReKoc, which carries out interdisciplinary activities by bringing together individuals from different backgrounds working on migration and conducting research on the social, economic, political, and demographic transformations that Turkey faces due to intense internal and external migration movements, and İAE Atatürk and the Republic Studies Section aim to support and increase studies in this field with this panel which will examine the African immigrants’ past and present condition.

“Everyday Racism” against African Migrants in İstanbul
Doğuş Şimşek
Doğuş Şimşek focuses on the changing nature of contemporary racism, “everyday racism” as a new form of racism against African refugees in Turkey and aims to examine how racism is created and reinforced through everyday practices, and what the impacts of everyday racism are on the daily lives of African refugees in Turkey. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul, Turkey with African migrants and local people, she explores the processes of “everyday racism” against Africans and the experiences of everyday racism among Africans. She argues that ‘everyday racism’ exists within the structure of group power in which the local people actively or passively maintain a distinction between “them” and “African migrants”, and these kinds of structural inequalities are reinforced through everyday practices and interactions.

Turks of African Ancestry in İzmir: Cultural Identity Recovery and the Deconstruction of Color
Maissam Nimer, Armand Aupiais-L’homme

Based on a review of the materials produced over the last few years (including newspaper clippings, documentaries, academic research) and face-to-face in-depth interviews with Turks of African ancestry, Maissam Nimer and Armand Aupiais-L’homme first show that a double “loss of identity” occurs as a result of deportation and enslavement, followed by forced displacement in the late Ottoman Empire and assimilation policies in the Turkish Republic, which contributed in burying the various original and syncretic cultures of this community. They highlight that the loss of identity was combined with a perpetuation of skin color labeling, reminding that ‘color’ must be understood as a marker of social relations, and not a natural property.

Second, the speakers analyze the process of cultural revival and formation of a counter-identity. They argue that culture revival, here, contributes in making visible a community that was previously ignored in the definition of Turkishness, emphasizing the importance of inscribing identity into local histories and geographies, to ensure the continuous community building throughout generations.


Maissam Nimer is a postdoctoral researcher at the Migration Research Center at Koç University, working on a needs assessment research project among youth Syrian Refugees in Turkey and a member of the ‘Axe Migrations et Mobilités’ at the French Institute for Anatolian Studies, Istanbul (AMiMo, IFEA). She obtained her doctorate degree from Paris Saclay University, France, in July 2016 working on understanding the mechanisms of social and cultural selection that explain the inequality of access to higher education in Lebanon.

Armand Aupiais-L’homme is a PhD candidate in Socio-Anthropology, at the Unité de Recherche ‘Migrations et Sociétés’ (URMIS), Université Paris Diderot and member of the ‘Axe Migrations et Mobilités’ at the French Institute for Anatolian Studies, Istanbul (AMiMo, IFEA). He carries on a research regarding the articulation between the development and institutionalization of evangelical protestantism, and the diversification and intensification of international migrations and mobilities, in Istanbul.

Doğus Şimşek currently teaches at the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Koç University. She previously carried out her own research project entitled ‘the experiences of urban Syrian refugees in Turkey and Turkey’s migration policy’, funded by TUBITAK-BIDEB at Migration Research Centre (MireKoc) at Koc University. She received her PhD in Sociology from City University London and MA in Cultural Studies from Goldsmiths College, University of London. Before joining MireKoc at Koc University, she lectured in International Relations at Regent’s University London and in Sociology at City University London and carried out research on the identity formation and transnational practices of second generation Turkish and Kurdish youth in London. Her research interests broadly cover integration and transnationalism, refugee studies, racism, ethnicity and identity. She has published numerous articles, research reports, op-eds and presented her researches at international and national conferences.