Sabancı Üniversitesi


Alumni Views


To tell people the department I have graduated from, I have to recount sentences rather than telling two words, because when I tell them it is cultural studies, they begin to ask "What occupation you will have when you graduate?". Maybe it is still not a very known discipline yet, but I believe that it should be. It offers great opportunities to broaden one's horizon. You can get involved with all kinds of issues related to anthropology, sociology, art and literature. You begin to discuss things that you would never imagine that you would, read books and become informed about the issues that you have never heard before. You do not take the courses for their credits only, you can choose the subjects you are interested in researching and select the people with whom you want to do these researches. When you are graduated, your curiosity doesn't end and you further investigate the issues that you have already learned. Shortly, you continue to develop yourself.


"Can cultural studies offer them a degree that will lead to a job? Perhaps." 

These are not my words, but those of one of our beloved professors at the Cult department. The answer of this question is ambiguous. Instead of giving a direct answer to this question, it may be appropriate to ask another question: To what cultural studies graduates prove useful?" "Perhaps" at the beginning is now more valuable considering the transience of today's popular professions. Cultural studies may not prove useful for anything, yet it leaves a lasting impact on its graduates. It teaches you to see the things, that you used to see, from different angles, and to perceive new things. It teaches to hear the second and third meanings of the words and discourses. Cultural studies may not address all the senses, however it span4 teaches to question, then find the answers and later deconstruct these answers. It tries to erase biases despite of resistance. Finally, it teaches that there are temporary trues and falses, which only exist within a zeitgeist.


Being a graduate of Cultural Studies, above all, has brought with it a sense of satisfaction to me. If you are doing your masters degree in this department, you are to learn how to question every word you hear even in ordinary conversations and develop the means of dealing with the "norms" and taking them into account from scratch. From that point on, it means that you have found out what critical thinking is. A major awareness weighs in on you but you feel proud of it. You become happy as you realize that you take a new form with sharper and more flexible perceptions than you had in the past. Courses in the department teach you life, society, and, most importantly, how to read between the lines.  When you graduate, you realize that you can take hold of your own social position and have an active influence on it. That is why, you can mark your life Pre-Cultural Studies and Post Cultural Studies.


When it comes to Cultural Studies, what comes to the mind is a sort of amalgam gathered from other disciplines. Whether having positive or negative connotations, it has been surrounded by a discourse that is popular especially among the university students: cultural studies = having a general knowledge about a lot of disciplines but lacking the in-depth knowledge in a particular field. This myth prevents most of the students from getting to know Cultural Studies in general. Contrary to this myth, however, Cultural Studies is more likely to be anti-disciplinery as well as multi-disiplinary, moreover it is far from being unsystemmatic in its 'anti-' characteristic. That is to say, in this field, the disciplines themselves come to be the object of analysis. Approaching the disciplines from outside and bringing forward the power relations, Cultural Studies, more than any other field, entails a much more in-depth knowledge on those disciplines; a knowledge not in the sense of having more and more information but rather getting more and more critical- bearing in mind the potential in every critical perspective to turn into a dogma.


In the Cultural Studies program, you feel like you have learned to use a critical perspective and to question every kind of text (history books, newspapers articles, panels, novels, etc.) and the very soul of social life (institutions, gender roles and mainly everything that is accepted as "normal"), by taking many courses from different disciplines like anthropology, literature, sociology, visual arts. Moreover, this new perspective becomes a part of you, not only on campus but also outside of it, and encourages you to make a difference in society. 

The best part is to formulate the things that you are thinking about, questioning, writing on and trying to make a difference from the things that are already keeping your mind busy, your personal interests. In turn, your real interests become a part of your job and - in academic life, civil society or private sector- you have a job that you really like. 


The most important aspect of Cultural Studies is the fact that it emphasizes a view from the inside of the society that we are trying to understand, rather than from above or outside. Oral history stands out in my experience of applying this view from the inside. Oral history, mainly because it points out individual self-definitions, is a field with the potential to provide important participation in identity politics, cultural politics, human right, and democracy studies. Coming up with questions is the initiator of building up a critical consciousness. We, in this program, are trying to ask questions from a very wide perspective. 

These questions are not only related to outside issues but probably more related to ourselves. In other words, while trying to understand our society, we are also taking important steps to understand ourselves. Building on such a foundation after graduation, whatever our paths may be in the rest of our lives, I believe with new questions we will move forward to new perspectives. 


What do I think I'll do with the education I've received in this program? Listen, observe, be curious, write, bring up what people generally don't think about... 


It is hard to see Cultural Studies as a profession, because you don't become a "cultural studies-er" working in a shop with a fixed profession after graduation. Therefore, you don't restrict yourself to a life with certain rules; instead you choose a path of your own making where you understand how essential it is to be able to stand on your own feet. 

Therefore, Cultural Studies is like a big umbrella with lots of different lifestyles under it. The program provides cluesto survive in this life, but it does not take you down a particular road. The best part under this umbrella is that academic work and activist work always go hand in hand. This gives you the richness and energy so that you can even say you might finish another undergraduate degree. When you watch TV for five minutes or talk to someone for two minutes, ten different new things to do come to mind. My mother asks, "When will you be done studying?" and I reply "Never, I hope!" That's the kind of "work" we do!


One of the most important factors for me in choosing Sabancy University was its interdisciplinary education. Taking courses from many different disciplines really expanded my perspective on people, myself and current events, and I found it useful both in class and in extracurricular activities that I was involved in. In my span8 year, I also had the opportunity to apply what I had learned to the Civic Involvement projects at the university, as well as to my work with Greenpeace and the Open Society Institute. I have definitely decided that I want to participate in non-governmental organizations in the future.
The Cultural Studies program equips me for my future work in NGOs, and more importantly, gives me courage and self-confidence. This program redefines culture as a field where many important concepts intersect and helps me understand my identity, the system that I'm living in, history, society and people. 

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