Grief-free Recipes of aşure: Muharrem Commemorations in Turkish Media

Ezgi Benli-Garcia (Indiana University Bloomington)

This presentation critically interrogates current depictions of aşure as a “national dessert” and demonstrates how state-sponsored media secures national authority at the expense of Alevis who prepare the dish for the sacred commemoration of the Karbala Massacre. Drawing from ongoing ethnographic field research among Alevi communities in Istanbul, Turkey, I document intense feelings of grief associated with aşure. Although popular media recognition of aşure seems to have had positive effects on long-stigmatized Alevi traditions at the national level, I argue that these gains demand Alevi communities forego local histories and memories in exchange for participation in a multi-cultural nationalist narrative.

Part of 05-08 Foodways and the Negotiation of Roots, Rootlessness, and Uprooting, Friday, November 03, 10:30 am–12:30 pm