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.
Kırkayak Kültür Missions
Kırkayak Kültür has started to work for making art and sharing culture as a civil society initiative aiming to spread the culture and art with a social development oriented, participatory and multi-voice approach and to provide mutual understanding through cultural communication. It believes that sharing art and cultural space increases mutual understanding and sensitivities and helps to overcome regional differences and prejudices. It carries out cultural art programs with the idea that the revival of cultural life and urban belonging will lead to the development of modern citizenship in Anatolian cities with rich cultural heritage. It believes that urban development shaped by culture, artistic relations and social cohesion is important not only for Turkey but it’s integration to the world. Kırkayak Kültür continues to work in the fields of culture-arts and migration with two different centers; which are Kırkayak Art Center and Kırkayak Center for Migration and Cultural Studies.
Kırkayak Art Center
It considers different cultures existing within the country and world as the parts of shared heritage of humanity and aims to contribute the protection and improvement of those. Also, it aims to improve the cooperation of the artists in Turkey, Middle East and Europe with arts & culture activists and NGOs. In this respect, it conducts cultural-artistic activities and social work with women, youth, children, migrants, refugees and other disadvantaged groups. In addition, it carries out cultural exchange programs between Turkey, Middle East and Europe, and conducts cultural-artistic programs as a result of these programs.
Kırkayak Kültür – Center of Migration and Cultural Studies;
The centre studies the reasons for and consequences of migration; contributes to migration studies by documenting and conducting research on the social, economic and cultural aspects of the global movements of migrations.
It organizes national and international conferences, symposiums, seminars and joint workshops; publishes reports, booklets and magazines.
Center of Migration and Cultural Studies – Dom Research Workshop
The workshop conducts research on the socio-economic conditions of Dom Gypsies and sub-groups in the Middle East; aims at improving their conditions and supporting their access to social services such as public education, housing, healthcare, employment. Within this framework, the workshop develops action plans and strategies for the integration of the Dom people into the social, political, cultural and economic system in the countries that they live. It publishes reports on and gives training on the issues related to the Dom; and conducts rights-based advocacy for human rights, gender equality; aims at reducing discrimination and social exclusion that the Dom face. It aims at fostering social cohesion, coexistence, social dialogue and solidarity in order to improve the socio-economic conditions of disadvantaged communities and to fight against prejudice and discrimination that they face.