When & How Political And Nationalistic Issues Become Personal

There’s a few things about living in Turkey that I don’t like; the habit of ‘turkifying’ names being one of them," writes Catherine Yigit at her blog The Skaian Gates. She's one of the expat women writers featured in the Expat Harem anthology, and a contributor to the expat+HAREM blog. "So Catherine is sometimes changed to Kadriye, a completely different name. I don’t understand why anyone would want to change a perfectly good name to another one, isn’t changing countries/cultures/languages enough?" she asks.

My response to her post:

That's poignant, Catherine, and a good example of how political and nationalistic issues become personal.

When my father-in-law Suleyman went to London to work, they insisted on calling him "Sully", which he thought was amusing. Like many immigrant American families, our name was changed at Ellis Island. Names come to us in so many ways -- from the people before us, the land around us, the language on our tongues.

However, the fact of the matter is that what you're called is not inconsequential to who you think you are -- and being designated a new name by a group for their own convenience is often a power play.