As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, a country both European and Asian, forward-looking yet rooted in ancient empire, a new nonfiction anthology promises to reveal its most personal nuances.
Introducing TALES FROM THE EXPAT HAREM: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey, edited by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Gokmen.
This critically-acclaimed collection invites you into the Turkey that thirty-two women from seven nations know, their experiences spanning the entire country and the last four decades in true tales of cultural conflict and discovery.
Humorous and poignant travelogue takes you to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road and deep into the feminine powerbases of steamy Ottoman hamam bathhouses. Subtext illuminates journeys of the soul.
Australian and Central American, North American and British, Dutch and Pakistani, our narrators demonstrate the evolutions Turkish culture has shepherded in their lives: assimilation into friendship, neighborhood, wifehood, and motherhood. From a Bryn Mawr archaeologist at Troy to the Christian missionary in Istanbul, clothing designers and scholars along the Aegean and the Mediterranean coastlines, the Peace Corps volunteer in Eastern Turkey to a journalist at the Iraqi border -- and many others -- our storytellers are ambitious women, pursuing business ownership and property possession.
The anachronistic title acknowledges erroneous yet prevalent Western stereotypes about Asia Minor and the entire Muslim world, while declaring that the writers are akin to foreign brides of the Seraglio, the 15th century seat of the Ottoman sultanate: wedded to the culture of the land, embedded in it even, and yet alien nonetheless.
“If a Turkish harem was once a confined coterie of women, a setting steeped in the feminine culture of its era, this newly coined community of expatriate women in modern Turkey surely follows in its tradition,” says Ashman, an essayist from California, whose cultural journalism has appeared worldwide, from Asian Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong to Village Voice in New York City.
“The Expat Harem serves as a peer-filled network, a source of foreign female wisdom,” adds co-editor Gokmen, a Michigan-born writer and twelve-year resident of Turkey. “Delving into the interiors of country and psyche in a culturally Mediterranean land with a Muslim majority, the women of our Expat Harem reveal a deep affinity for their adopted country.”