We spoke with Özlem Ezer of the University of York after her first prize in the Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Awards, given in honor of the academic and activist Dicle Koğacıoğlu, with her article “Freedom from the Hegemony of ‘The One’ and ‘The Language’: Plurality in Biographies.”
In her article, Özlem Ezer tells the story of Adalet Budak, a young woman from southeastern Turkey whom a feminist academic met 10 years ago. Ezer gives voice to a hardworking and struggling woman to construct an example female narrative from a feminist perspective. Academic style and creative writing coexist in Ezer’s article.
Can you introduce us to the protagonist of your article, Adalet Budak?
Adalet is a very special person to whose home and intimate life I have been privy to for 10 years. If we were to tell of her life in one paragraph in her own words:
I was born in 1972 in Urfa as the first child of a family who would have four more children in the future. I completed high school by taking outside courses, and received a degree in Economics from the Open University. I started working at the Multipurpose Civic Center (ÇATOM) in Yakubiye, Şanlıurfa. Then, one day, a woman named Ceylan Orhun came and changed my life. Thanks to her, I lived in New York on my own for a year, learning English. I traveled to Japan, Denmark, France, Morocco, Thailand and Madagascar. Experiences were different in all of those places. Then I came back to Urfa and married. I am currently a social projects coordinator in the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), working across nine provinces. Is this the way to tell about a life? It seems weird now that a single paragraph explains it all.
What led you to write the story of Adalet?
This could have sprung to my mind in December 2000, when I visited her apartment in Harlem. The first thing I noticed was her beautiful and lush hair. When I had seen her before, in Urfa, she was wearing a scarf. I was curious about how these changes in her life would influence her psychology and career. Whenever we spoke, it was in the format of entire narratives. Among the reasons that led to my writing this article are my impatience and my academic work and background on how to write a life.
to be continued...