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.
Mijn ontelbare identiteiten (My Countless Identities), 2020
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.’