Kırkayak Kültür, believing in the reality that art is highly important in the development of societies and individuals, aims to provide support for the development of culture and art in our country and in the world. Kırkayak Kültür aims to help social development and promote democratic values in order to create the conditions of a life that is not only rich with culture, but with rights.
Kırkayak Kültür aims to service for social development by making sure that these concepts are comprehended and well perceived, to promote democratic values, to create the conditions of a life that is rich with culture.
Kırkayak Kultur was established in 2011 by some academics, artists and activists in Gaziantep.
Behind all the works that Kırkayak Kültür does; the idea of “living together” appears as the main reference point. As a result of the fact that the number of refugees worldwide from different parts of the globe is increasing every passing day; societies become multicultural, multi-religious and multilingual. In a migration-receiving city with 2 million inhabitants, like Gaziantep, encounters between different cultural, ethnic or religious groups are inevitable daily practices which take place in various forms, most importantly as facing “the Other” every day within public space. The case of Syrian refugees in large quantities who have settled down in the region after Syrian civil war makes this situation more visible in the last decade. Thus; emphasizing the idea that the space is not belong to any particular group of people, but it belongs to all, and we share city and life all together is a significant necessity in this atmosphere. Rather than grounding this idea of living together on morality, individual conscience or local values; Kırkayak Kültür is a right-based organization prioritizing democratic values and the universal idea of human rights.
In the West and especially in Europe, which are becoming more and more culturally diverse societies, longstanding discussions regarding the possibleness and ways of living together brought about various approaches offering different strategies in managing plurality. As two contrasting approaches, assimilationism and multiculturalism differ from each other by focusing on homogeneity or heterogeneity as a necessity for cohesion in society. While assimilationism asserts that social cohesion is only possible with the integration of minorities into the hegemonic majority, multiculturalist approach values cultural differences and tries to strengthen these differences. On the other hand, both approaches which ignoring or strengthening diversities could not be effective enough to guarantee a cohesive social and political life within current nation-state structure. As it is obvious that assimilationism do not open a room for diversities in the society and try to dissolve them, the result is the loss of diversity or making these different ethnic, linguistic or religious groups incarcerated within their own dynamics. Similarly, cosmopolitanism is also not enough to develop an understanding of living together since it strengthens each community within their own dynamics that increases social and political polarization. As a result, in both cases there occurs a society composed of different sub-communities which are not interacting with each other, rather than a coherent one.
Kırkayak Kültür does not share a communitarian understanding of society, rather it works for empowering the dialogue between different cultural, ethno-linguistic groups; for instance, the dialogue between Syrian refugee community and host community in Turkey. In this sense, the discussions around the idea of “cosmopolitanism” emerging in the last decades contribute the idea of “living together” which is central in the works of Kırkayak Kültür. Originating from the themes of continental philosophy, especially starting with Kantian ideal of cosmopolitan law and hospitality as the elements of “perpetual peace”; cosmopolitanism as a recent approach for managing diversity aims to prevent the hierarchical separations between self/other and citizen/non-citizen. Without forgetting there is always a reference to the power positions in being a host or new comer; cosmopolitanism insists that otherness is a fundamental condition of human sociality. With this awareness Kırkayak Kültür aims reinforcing the contact points among different groups of society, such as art, cultural activities and cuisine. In that sense, Kırkayak Kültür intends to decrease the effect of unequal power positions over social relations originating from being in the position of a “host” or “guest”. Kırkayak Kültür accepts the idea of “unconditional hospitality” as a normative ideal, where anybody is in the position of “host” as it is conceptualized by French deconstructivist philosopher Jacques Derrida. Rather than adapting the position of power-holders, Kırkayak Kültür aims to adapt the ethical position in relation to “the Other”, as it is emphasized by another French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. As a result, the idea of integration appears as a process working in two directions, not the integration of the “others” to the identity of the self. While valuing universal cosmopolitan ideals, Kırkayak Kültür considers the problematic consequences of ethnocentric applications of the human rights ideals, as imposing Western values and lifestyle all over the world.
Kırkayak Kültür bolsters the members of different communities sharing the same city to meet, socialize and interact with each other as the first step of the way going through the radical cosmopolitan ideals. In that sense, Kırkayak Kültür is an “open space” for all to join, share and enrich. Living together is possible.