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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.19

Money to be distributed: Following financial aid for Syrian refugees in Istanbul


  • Sena TOPCU

Primary authors


In the contemporary politics the humanitarian aid has become a justifiable form of moral concern, allowing it to become a way of ‘governance’ in different scales; globally, nationally or locally (Fassin 2012; Feldman 2008). May the international aid involve mere economic concerns such as poverty reduction, or framed as ‘humanitarian aid’ implying moral sentiments in it, the aid distribution is political (Abu Lughod 2002; Fassin 2010). In fact, as the anthropologists studying humanitarianism and international development indicated, the international financial aid distribution involves the interaction of extensive actor networks with different logics (Mosse 2013), politics, and morality. In this paper, I will focus on the money coming from the state and international organizations for the Syrian refugee families in Turkey as well as the distribution of this money through the state agents and social workers, and within the family members. I aim to illustrate the ‘morality’, politics, and interests involved in the money distribution process with a multi-scalar approach. The legal regulations of humanitarian aid are defined at the state or global levels in consideration of various interests, while state agents’ or social workers’ decisions, which rely on their common sense, or their perceptions related to professional and personal habitus, are determinant in the whole process (Dubois 2014; Fassin 2015). Besides, family members’ social concerns and moral values also affect the money distribution at the ground level. The data presented in this paper will be based on twelve months of ethnographic research in Istanbul in 2016/2017.