Summer is (not) for holidays?

I haven’t had a chance to write here recently. I have been insanely busy pretty much since June 1st and it is still going full throttle!

June was a month of trainings for me. It was insanely busy but insanely rewarding as well. I completed a project management training with Fistral Training & Consultancy and I thought it would be really boring, but it turned out to be… really interesting. Who knew! I can definitely see myself going down the project management path in the future.

Then there were a bunch of SGSSS trainings, particularly on interviewing and oral histories. It was a really interesting one and got me thinking a lot about narrative as a reimagined entity, where memories are reshaped every time the story is retold. Narrative analysis is a skill I have started building very recently for the analysis in one of my chapters, so this provides a valuable insight into understanding why and how people tell the stories of their lives. What do they put forward? What gets pushed aside? What are their words and how do they organise their stories, and what can we as researchers find in these organisations? It has been very interesting (but also frustrating!) thinking about all these questions while writing my very first findings chapter, which, coincidentally, was my July in a nutshell.

This coming month is going to be really tough but interesting as well. We have a draft to submit for the 22nd of August for the conference FEL (Foundation for Endangered Languages) 25, with the theme Endangered Languages and Diaspora. So exciting! I will be working with Murat Topçu, and we will be writing about the Circassian language and diaspora in Turkey (abstract at the bottom of the post!). As part of my academic advisory role, I am also planning the upcoming year’s training and seminar sessions for TADNET (Endangered Languages Network) in Turkey. There is just so much to do and so little time!

So that’s my summer in a nutshell! Hopefully though, right after all of that, my husband and I will be going on a short trip to Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park here in Scotland and enjoy some magnificent views such as the one below. I hope September is good to us & we catch at least one good weather day!

Early Summer at Loch Lubnaig, Trossachs, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Early Summer at Loch Lubnaig, Trossachs, Stirlingshire, Scotland | by Kirstie Campbell

Abstract for the conference: This study presents a brief history of the Circassian diaspora in Turkey, reports on previous findings regarding the issues around language within the various parts of the diaspora, and introduces an ongoing case study of grassroots activism, the Network of Laz and Circassian Civil Societies project, as part of language maintenance efforts. One of the biggest ethnic groups in Turkey today, the Circassians have had to flee their native Caucasus to then-Ottoman Empire (modern Turkey) in waves between 1850 and 1870 due to the Russian expansion (Saydam, 1997). While relatively well-studied in terms of its diasporic past and present (e.g. Besleney, 2014; Kaya, 2011), the Circassian community in Turkey is still far from being well-researched from a linguistic point of view. Recent studies regarding the sociolinguistic status of Circassian show that while there is an emphasis on keeping habze (a sum of the Circassian beliefs and tradition) alive, the language suffers endangerment and cross-generational attrition (Yıldız, 2021). This is attributed to anything from outside marriages, urbanisation, lack of educational and occupational opportunities in the close-knit communities, lack of a need for the language, lack of educational material and opportunities, and lack of literacy in the language (ibid). Other studies point to the problem around education in the native language, and the lack of access to education harming the Circassian individuals’ sense of identity and social integration (Yılmaz, 2015). After this overview of the previous studies, this study introduces Network of Laz and Circassian Civil Societies, an EC-funded project aiming to raise awareness regarding the endangered languages of Turkey. Running since July 2020, the project has aimed to create awareness and bring up-to-date resources to the endangered language communities and speakers. The study will detail the work carried out so far within the scope of the project by various volunteers and Laz and Circassian organisations, presenting the Circassian case of language endangerment activism in the diaspora by looking at examples from the project.

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