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Bringing the tables of Istanbul to the screen

Last Friday Dr. Zeynep Kilic, an assistant professor of sociology at UAA, was putting the finishing touches on a grant proposal that could pave the way for her next sociological research project, a documentary film exploring food and cultural identity in her native Turkey.

The tables of Istanbul: Dr. Zeynep Kilic, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Philip Hall / University of Alaska AnchorageThe tables of Istanbul: Dr. Zeynep Kilic, Assistant Professor of Sociology
Philip Hall / University of Alaska Anchorage

“I’ve been going back for 20 years now,” she said. “And when I go there the changes appear very stark to me.”

Famous food personalities on television, an obsession with food writing, a slow food movement, celebrated big-name chefs, all the trappings of America’s obsession with food were starting to trickle over to Turkey.

“When I was young there was no such thing as a famous chef on TV,” she said. “I was interested to see how the landscape of food has been transformed not just by globalization and technology but also by social class and ethnicity.”

To find the epicenter of these shifting perspectives on food, Kilic has her sights set on Turkey’s largest city.

“Istanbul is a 15-16 million person metropolis where most of our religious minorities live, where most of the ethnic, rural people have to migrate to to find jobs, so they’re living at the outskirts of Istanbul,” Kilic said. “This is where international business, art, everything comes colliding together. It’s also the only place on Earth where the city is on both continents. It’s literally a crossover.”

A UAA faculty development grant sent her to Istanbul last summer to do preliminary research and she’ll begin shooting the documentary this summer. Until then, she’ll be busy teaching UAA students the fundamentals of sociology and writing grant proposals.

To read more about Dr. Zeynep Kilic and her documentary project, click here.

Written by Jamie Gonzales, UAA Office of University Advancement.

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