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If someone falls, you help them get up

By Dilara Yentür

At 04:17 on February 6th, 2023 an earthquake ravaged the lands of southern Turkey and northern Syria. Buildings crumbled like sandcastles, roads tore apart, and the silence of the night was filled with the screams of the wounded and dying. Only one year it has been since this earthquake hit, an event that may feel distant for some and as recent as last week for others. During the aftermath of the earthquake, I observed how such a disaster had the power to unite people, prompting me to focus the research for my bachelor’s thesis on solidarity and the factors influencing the comprehension of solidarity.

My research explored transnational solidarity among Turkish-Dutch individuals in the Netherlands. It identifies three influential factors shaping their understanding of solidarity: religion, cultural norms and values, and the media. The expression of solidarity by Turkish-Dutch individuals emphasizes emotional connections, engagement in philanthropy, and the use of media as a platform. The importance of empathy in emotional connections is highlighted, fostering media engagement and philanthropic practices. Reciprocity is observed in expressions of solidarity through philanthropy and media engagement, strengthening social bonds and nurturing a sense of belonging within the transnational community.

A guiding principle during this research is that ethnography isn’t about studying people but learning from them. The chosen approach involves a combination of qualitative research methods, including participant observation, semi-structured interviews and media analysis. Through participant observation I engaged in various initiatives, providing a first-hand look at fundraising and awareness efforts within the Turkish-Dutch community.

The output of this research are the thesis Community, Connection and Crises – An ethnography of Turkish-Dutch transnational solidarity and a mini documentary displaying the story of Nesat, a Dutchman with a Turkish background, in the aftermath of the earthquake. His story is an example of the solidarity that unfolded among transnational Turkish communities, of helping those who fell.

Dilara Yentür is a graduate of the bachelor Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at the Vrije Universiteit. Currently she is a master’s student in Culture, Organization and Management and Beleid, Communicatie en Organisatie (Policy, Communication and Organization) at the same university.

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