Sinan Çankaya / Sinan Çankaya – My Countless Identities

Sinan Çankaya – My Countless Identities

Sinan Çankaya – My Countless Identities

About the book

‘What do you want me to say?’ asks Sinan Cankaya when he’s invited to speak at the 40-year anniversary of his former secondary school. The invitation creates an opening through which forgotten memories from his youth and time at secondary school begin to wriggle their way out. There is his former history teacher Nico Konst, who was once the second in command at the extreme-right Centrumpartij. As the day of the address approaches, it becomes clearer to him what he wants to say. He wants to be critical of the educational practices at home, on the street and in the mosque, of the Netherlands, of Turkish nationalism, of the anti-racism movement and racism denial. Nor does he spare himself. Reflecting on loyalty, displacement and, above all, the search for a home, Cantaya sets himself against clear-cut identities and refuses to a tell his story within the contours of his own body.

Excerpt from My Countless Identities:

‘Where are you from?’ asked the man.

I was surprised and fell silent. We were both caught in the familiar guessing game. It was a seemingly simple question, but in that period the question of all questions. I was born in Nijmegen, but the kids in my class didn’t care. In Turkey, they in turn knew fairly quickly that I was an Almanci, a German, the Turkish equivalent for a foreigner – a collection bin for everyone from elsewhere.

‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘I think about it a lot.’ Why I confided that last bit to him, I haven’t got a clue. The man gave me a piercing look. He nodded. Another silence. Maybe he was from Afghanistan.

‘Be like a bird,’ he said. ‘Don’t tie yourself down, you don’t have to choose.’

Sinan Çankaya (b. 1982) is a cultural anthropologist and a writer. He obtained his PhD with a study on diversity within the police force. Afterwards he conducted research into ethnic profiling. Cankaya currently works as a lecturer at Vrije University in Amsterdam, and he writes monthly contributions for the digital newspaper De Correspondent.

© Martijn Gijsbertsen

Additional book information

  • Identity, migration, politics
  • ISBN 9789403184005
  • Number of pages: 208
  • World rights: De Bezige Bij
  • Price: €20,99