Coffee Futures and “Reading the Residues: Fortune Telling Cafés in Istanbul”
Both Gürsel’s documentary Coffee Futures (2009) and Korkman’s talk, Reading the Residues, focus on coffee fortune telling as a window to reexamine conventional categories used to understand Turkey’s identity in relation to Europe. Rather than focusing on the political and economic rationales for inclusion into or exclusion from the EU or arguing a particular position, this film and talk approach coffee fortune telling as a seemingly tangential object of analysis in an attempt to address the much debated issue of Turkey’s EU accession while avoiding the binaries of traditional/modern, Eastern/Western, and secular/religious that dominate the politics of citizenship and identity in Turkey and beyond. While Coffee Futures delves into the intimate everyday practices and rhetoric of coffee cup prognostications as a way to investigate the collective psychology of anticipating an uncertain future, Reading the Residues analyzes professional fortune telling cafés as a symptom of the changing and contested terms of Turkey’s national identity vis-à-vis Europe.
Filmmaker Zeynep Devrim Gürsel is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows. Guest speaker Zeynep Korkman is currently completing her dissertation on fortune telling cafés in Turkey at the department of sociology at University of California, Santa Barbara.
Presented by the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies, the Film Studies Center, the Anthropology of Europe Workshop, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Turkish American Cultural Alliance