COREnet seeks to understand migrant stories in Turkey

May 09, 2023

The First COST Action COREnet Narrative Café was held in Ankara on 29 April 2023. This event aimed to explore and understand refugees’ migration stories from religious, spiritual and secular perspectives.   

COREnet members Dr. Aybiçe Tosun Süvüt (Eskisehir Osmangazi University), Dr. Besim Can Zırh (Middle East Technical University), and Dr. Bayram Koca (Kilis 7 Aralık Üniversitesi) met eight middle-aged, married refugee women and discussed how religious, spiritual, or secular narratives affect the processes of migration and adaptation to the new society.    

The event was organised with the help of the local NGO GÖÇDER, which is an organisation focusing on refugees and migrants in Ankara and has already been involved in some research with the refugees with that they have contact. A translator who speaks Arabic, English and Turkish also joined the research group and participated in the event.  

During the discussion, the Narrative Café participants talked about the differences between traditional Islamic law (Sharia) and the laws of the Republic of Turkey, the space for sharing their religious experiences in Turkey, their cultural-religious concerns regarding their children’s education, their access to the Mosque as a place of worship and their thoughts on religious services. They also gave examples of their adaptation process in Turkey, comparisons with their lives in Syria, gender roles, access to certain areas such as hospitals and education, and their efforts to find a job.   

According to Dr. Aybiçe Tosun Süvüt, “This one-day event offered us with a very important opportunity to understand how refugees interpret the phenomenon of migration from various perspectives. Meetings like these, which provide a space for immigrants to openly share their own perspectives, can be meaningful opportunities to combat the negative narratives about immigrants that are prevalent and widely accepted in society. We eagerly await the other meetings in this event series and their outcomes. We believe these results and experiences will open a door for us to explore different approaches and practices in migration research and studies.” 

Currently, COREnet members are working with focus group interview data. Within a couple of months, we will share the key findings from this event, highlighting the challenges related to religious and spiritual identities that arise in the integration of migrants.  

The upcoming COREnet Narrative Cafés will be conducted in London in June and in Serbia in September 2023. More information about these Narrative cafés will be shared soon. 


Prepared by

Dr. Gintarė Pocė, Science Communication Coordinator,

Dr. Aybiçe Tosun Süvüt, WG2 Co-leader.


In the picture: Narrative Café in Ankara, Turkey, on 29 April 2023.


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