Created in 2017 by Eva Salina, Kyla-Rose Smith, Fidel Kilic and myself Alexia Webster, Jiyan was inspired by the incredible life and stories of Fîdel’s 81-year old mother, Edulê.
“In most traditional cultures, women are musicians and storytellers, carrying immense bodies of knowledge specific to life cycle events, rituals and family histories. Though many of these songs and stories are not shared performatively, they comprise a deeply vital foundation of cultural identity. Migration uproots these traditions and disorients the sense of self and community, forcing communities to adapt to unfamiliar realities and create new contexts for essential cultural practices. In diaspora, embodied cultural knowledge becomes the greatest wealth these women possess— occupying a critical role in the survival of traditions and collective identity. This project aims to reflect the internal archive of the participants, voicing not only the traditions of the past but also illuminating how conflict and exile affect foundational structures of family, identity and culture. New traditions are formed in displacement, traditions which honor the past while transforming the present. By taking a close look at what is lost and gained culturally through displacement and migration, we start to understand the utility of memory in both creating a sense of belonging and a sense of home.
We began researching in late 2017, and in 2018 made two trips to Turkey as a team, meeting and collecting stories with women in Istanbul, Mardin, and Hakkari. This website is a glimpse into the worlds of the women we met—their histories, their cultures, their desires, and their wisdom. Our hope with this work is to celebrate the cultural diversity and richness existing in Turkey, and to highlight the strength and character of these many different Turkish women.”