Panel: Short:Circuit: Cross Border Communications in New Media Between US and Turkey
The question “What is a border?” might seem simple. Everyone has an idea what the answer might be, has had some sort of experience with it, and yet would probably have a hard time defining it in simple terms. The simplest definition I have found defines a border as an outer part or edge! (merriam-webster.com/dictionary/border) I found a more complicated definition at Wikipedia that says borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions. If one adds context such as, “in the age of modern digital technology” – the simple question of what a border is becomes a very complicated one. A political entity or a legal jurisdiction within a border defines the rules that people play by. People pay taxes, participate in politics, engage in economic activity and perform service duties according to these rules. Rejecting these rules has consequences of punishment or perhaps even banishment. Once confronted with the consequences, you are no longer part of the system defined by a border; you are no longer one of “them”, but an “other”, the punished, the banished! So what does it mean to be one of “them”? Who decides the definition of “them”? If you have not rejected the rules, have not gone against the system yet still feel like not-one-of-them does that mean you should still accept the rules? Still pay taxes, still participate in politics, engage in economic activity and still perform service duties? What happens if you are now outside of the border, not by punishment or banishment but by choice and you are playing by another set of rules? Yet, what does it mean if you can still engage people within the borders you left without answering to the system? What if you were to be punished and banished yet still be present within the border? Physically out of their reach, yet digitally present. I am an American by birth. I was born in Florida. I now live in Chicago. I pay taxes. I vote, do business and perform the duties expected of me. I am also Turkish and British by birth. I grew up in Turkey, and lived there for many years. I still hold a Turkish citizenship. Yet I never felt as if I was part of their system – at least as they define citizenship. My non-Turkish side was always highlighted, and in many cases, I was considered not Turkish enough! I have heard the term ‘gavur’ uttered at me so many times it no longer means much anymore. Add to the fact I haven’t paid taxes in Turkey for a decade and a half, I haven’t participated in politics, nor engaged in economic activity. In that context I have decided that I will expand my act by refusing to perform duties also known as military service. Why hold to the notion of having to do my duties for a place I have very distant sense of belonging? However, this refusal has consequences! I will lose my citizenship and will be prohibited from entering the country. As I no longer live there, the Turkish government will not be able to punish me physically or monetarily, so they will simply banish me! But do I really need to be physically there in order to be present? I will be able to be present through digital technology, I will still be able to receive news from friends, stay in touch, maintain engagement through email, Facebook, Linked-In etc. So effectively I will be tunneling under the border with digital technology, be present to the extent I choose to do so and yet remain out of reach. Out of the control of the political entity or jurisdiction of any Turkish legal body. In effect I will be rendering the entity and the jurisdiction just a little more hollow. So in the age of digital technology what is the definition of a border? And really, how relevant is it?
- Eden Unulata’s works investigate the formation of cultural identity and how a society draws conclusions from shared experiences. My intent is to understand the mechanics of cultural identity, highlight problems that evolve from its formation, and stimulate a debate on how to better manage these problems. When the identity of a culture and how it operates is explored in-depth, solutions may reveal themselves. BID, METU (Turkey); MFA, Graphic Design, Bilkent University (Turkey); MA, Department of Interdisciplinary Arts, Columbia College Chicago. I have worked and exhibited in Chicago, IL., Ankara (Turkey), Adana (Turkey), Istanbul (Turkey), Paris (France), and Oberlin OH. I currently live and work in Chicago, US.