Call For Submissions For The Expat Harem Collection

Calling all women writers who have lived, worked, studied or traveled in Turkey for at least a year: Contribute your voice to a new anthology of foreign women’s reflections on modern Turkey. Deadline: August 1, 2004 TALES FROM THE EXPAT HAREM: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey, edited by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton Gokmen

The book aims to be a personal, entertaining read for both students and scholars of Turkey as well as armchair cultural travelers, fans of women’s literature, and expatriates of all stripes.

During Ottoman rule, the word 'harem' (from the word ‘haram’, meaning sacred and forbidden) referred to both the population as well as the living quarters of the foreign-born brides and servants of the Turkish sultan. An intimate and confined community of women, it was a place for sharing womanly wisdom and cultivating cultural tradition.

In this non-fiction anthology we invoke a modern day Turkish harem with its chorus of voices and shared female experience -- in the sense that the expatriate population is naturally cohesive and isolated due to the process of assimilation. Newcomers learning to maneuver within a new set of variables and cultural boundaries necessarily experience a limitation of freedom: language barriers act as an obstacle to travel and independence, cultural naivete hinders social interaction, and ethnocentric rigidity impedes dynamic experience.

Taking the reader on humorous and poignant journeys of cultural contrast and discovery, our contributors break free of the confines of the harem, breaching the confined world of the unassimilated to touch the true heart of Turkey. Whether newly arrived or well-established expatriates, or Turks repatriating to their homeland after a long absence, all our contributors are foreign brides of modern Turkey: wedded to its culture, embedded in it even, and yet forever outsiders.

We are looking for high-quality personal essays, insightful flash non-fiction and colorful travelogue--in English, 2,500 words or less.  Unpublished work is preferred, although well-crafted previously published work will be considered.

Further information and to submit work please visit the rudimentary site: www.expatharem.com

Inquiries info@expatharem.com

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CHAPTERS:

  • LAST STOP ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: The last city in Europe and the first city in Asia, arriving in continent-straddling Istanbul, Turkey naturally commits a person to a state of permanent limbo, an ever-shifting flux between West and East. An expatriate can tie herself into existential knots while transitioning into a culture that is itself a metaphor for transition.
  • PEDDLER IN THE BAZAAR: From the routine of the weekly open-air vegetable market to the entrancing delights of the Grand Bazaar, Turkey’s brisk street life includes haggling with street peddlers and shop keepers, narrow escapes from aggressive vendors, and sometimes deep friendships established over cups of tea. What makes the difference in still being quoted ‘tourist prices’ or becoming a vendor’s prized foreign customer? Other shopping issues.
  • DIVANS, HOOKAHS & COFFEE HOUSES:  Turks are a communal people, opting for interaction and conversation whenever possible, each demographic migrating towards their particular haunts: young people play backgammon in cafes, puffing on fruit-flavored tobacco from huge hookahs, while older men gather on street corners, under shady trees, or in smoky kahvehaneler to play cards and sip from tulip glasses.  In the Ottoman court the divan was the public audience room, traditionally a gathering place of men, but here refers to the social pursuits and behaviors of Turkish men – from football fanaticism and drinking with the lads to their particular blend of machismo tempered by acute sentimentality. How do Turks accommodate social expectations of foreign women, and how do expats adjust to the sometimes exhausting, invasive communal spirit?
  • KETTLES & CAULDRONS: Culinary effort equals family devotion and a freshly made dessert signals hospitality for the constant flow of “unexpected” guests. Any self-respecting cook lovingly creates time-consuming meals from scratch, efforts balanced by the lingering pleasure of dinners that last half the night.  Adventures in the kitchen, memorable meals, being a force-fed guest.
  • SALVES & SOOTHSAYERS: Since the early days of the Selcuk settlers, Turks have clung to their shamanistic roots, while the folk art of natural healing has been passed down through the generations. Clove for a toothache, licorice root for bronchial complaints, fennel tea as an herbal birth control method. Doorways hung with blue glass talismans for protection, fortunes divined from coffee grounds, supplications made to Telli Baba. Do old wives’ tales—like infertility from walking barefoot on a cold marble floor or jaundice caused by failure to urinate immediately after a scare—apply only to those born into the Turkish culture, or should everyone on Turkish soil heed their witchy wisdom?
  • SHIMMY AT THE DRUMBEAT: When a dish hits a restaurant floor, Turkish women will take it as an opening drum beat and get up and dance, so the joke goes. Traditional folkloric music and dance is in the blood, widely learned and performed by young and old, male and female, in formal costumed performances or just around the living room. An innate part of the Turkish psyche, song and dance can erupt at any moment and overwhelm even the most intrepid expatriate
  • HENNA'D HANDS:  Courting rituals both customary and modified to accommodate foreign brides and clashing cultures. From traditional village weddings to big city civil services to high society receptions covered by voracious paparazzi, weddings are colorful events in Turkey.  The traditions both high and low, ancient and modern, whether simply witnessed, or lived.
  • HAMAM:  The valide sultana, the ruler’s mother, once inspected prospective brides for her noble son in the hamam, the display venue for female comeliness.  It was also a place where women whiled away the hours in each others’ company. The traditional Turkish sauna and scrub remains a complex tradition of beauty practice, female retreat and even matriarchal power base, but our hamam doubles as a metaphor for acceptance into the Turkish female culture, and the value of female friendship.
  • PRECIOUS DARLINGS: Worth their weight in gold, children are revered in Turkish society. All segments of the population expect a young couple to procreate and then join together in raising the children, often redefining boundaries for expat women.  Elaborate circumcision customs.  Typical overindulgence of offspring balanced by honoring the homemaker and priority placed on family.
  • KEREVANSERAY: Traveling across the country, one witnesses places that still echo a way of life centuries old. Hospitality on the homesteads, natural wonders, historical ruins. Expat adventures across the expanse of the Turkish coasts and heartland.

 

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TIPS FOR WRITERS

We prefer personal essays with evocative language and dialogue, detailed description that sets the scene and sketches the people. You may have heard this type of writing referred to as creative or literary nonfiction – facts conveyed with the devices of a novelist.

TELL US A TALE, A MOMENT WHEN YOUR SENSE OF SELF WAS CHALLENGED, WHEN YOU LEARNED A TRUTH ABOUT TURKISH CULTURE.

SET THE STAGE – TELL US WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE,  HOW YOU CAME TO BE THERE AND THEN TELL US WHAT HAPPENED.

BE SPECIFIC. FOCUS ON YOUR THEME WITH EVERY PARAGRAPH MOVING FORWARD TO YOUR DESTINATION, YOUR POINT. DESCRIBE DETAILS THAT YOU WANT US TO EXPERIENCE.   GIVE US A SENSE OF PLACE,  A SKETCH OF A PERSON. SIGHTS, SOUNDS, SMELLS.

BE LIKEABLE. REGARDLESS OF TOPIC, WIN US OVER WITH YOUR HUMANITY, YOUR HUMOR, YOUR GOOD INTENTIONS. REVEAL YOUR MOTIVATIONS, AND BE POSITIVE.

BE RELEVANT.  HOW DOES YOUR STORY FIT INTO THE BOOK? WHICH ASPECT OF TURKISH CULTURE, OR BEING A FOREIGN WOMAN IN TURKEY, DOES IT ILLUMINATE?

POSSIBLE BREAKING POINTS/BOUNDARIES/AREAS OF ILLUMINATION

  •  Code of Ethics
  • Morals
  • Independence
  • Common sense/folk wisdom
  • Expectations
  • Culture/Social conditioning
  • Fashion/trend-setting
  • Privacy
  • Modesty
  • Language skills
  • Femininity
  • Wifely duties/skills
  • Motherly duties/skills
  • Domestic skills (cooking, cleaning, shopping)
  • Mother-in-law

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TIPS FOR NONWRITERS

TELL US A TALE, A MOMENT WHEN YOUR SENSE OF SELF WAS CHALLENGED, WHEN YOU LEARNED A TRUTH ABOUT TURKISH CULTURE.

SET THE STAGE – TELL US WHO YOU ARE, WHERE YOU ARE, HOW YOU CAME TO BE THERE AND THEN TELL US WHAT HAPPENED.

BE SPECIFIC. FOCUS ON YOUR THEME WITH EVERY PARAGRAPH MOVING FORWARD TO YOUR DESTINATION, YOUR POINT. DESCRIBE DETAILS THAT YOU WANT US TO EXPERIENCE. GIVE US A SENSE OF PLACE, A SKETCH OF A PERSON. SIGHTS, SOUNDS, SMELLS.

BE LIKEABLE. REGARDLESS OF TOPIC, WIN US OVER WITH YOUR HUMANITY, YOUR HUMOR, YOUR GOOD INTENTIONS. REVEAL YOUR MOTIVATIONS, AND BE POSITIVE.

BE RELEVANT. HOW DOES YOUR STORY FIT INTO THE BOOK? WHICH ASPECT OF TURKISH CULTURE, OR BEING A FOREIGN WOMAN IN TURKEY, DOES IT ILLUMINATE?