Kimberly Hart, Buffalo State College associate professor of anthropology, shared her expertise and study of street dogs in Istanbul, Turkey, with the Washington Post for a March 18 article. The story introduces the new documentary Stray, which filmmaker Elizabeth Lo created about the large cohorts of stray dogs that roam the city and the dogs’ relationship with residents. Its U.S. streaming was released earlier this month.
Hart has studied Istanbul’s street animals as part of the city’s intangible cultural heritage. She has looked at the phenomenon of citizens’ care of wild dogs, cats, and birds from both a historical and anthropological lens and published her findings in May 2019 in the journal History and Anthropology 30 (4): 448–459.
“Historical sources from the Ottoman era show that dogs served as guards for neighborhoods; ate the garbage, since there were no municipal sanitation services; and would bark to alert people when there were fires, which used to happen a lot,” Hart was quoted in the article. “But it wasn’t just a functional relationship; it was seen as a good deed to feed and take care of them.”
Hart is a social-cultural anthropologist whose current work focuses on Turkish configurations of Sunni Islam, rurality, state power, and neo-tarikats.