Nil Alt

PhD Student, (she/her)


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

Political economy and ecology of agriculture, geographies of global food production, uneven development, feminist geography, social reproduction, precarity in agrarian labour, internal and international migration, research methodology, photo-writing.

Working Dissertation


Sweet Cherries Bitter Lives


Dr. Mike Ekers
Dr. Sarah Wakefield


My doctoral research is on export-oriented sweet cherry production in Western Turkey. It is an ethnography of material and social connections that construct the cherry as the country’s highest value export commodity. Since 2019, I have conducted participant observation during harvest at three commercial cherry orchards in Western Turkey. At the orchards, I picked cherries with the workers and shadowed the management team. I also paid regular visits to local cherry markets and government offices, interviewing entrepreneurs, traders, bureaucrats, labour contractors, and local politicians. 

Based on an engaged and longitudinal ethnography, and interviews with key actors, my work illuminates the processes through which actually-existing agricultural “development” is operationalized and how such development has serious implications for small farmers, labourers and nature. I trace the origins of Western Turkey’s cherry export zone where the landscape is transformed into an open-air factory, designed to produce a high-value commodity. As such, I show how rooted ideologies of development and modernization serve to implement a novel form of extraction since the 2000s via the use of publicly-funded science, technology, and political power.  


PhD candidate in Geography and Planning University of Toronto, ON, 2017 (ongoing)
Master of Science in Geography, Urban and Environmental Studies Concordia University, Montreal, QC, 2015-2017
Master of Arts in Translation and Interpretation Studies Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, 2004-2008
Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Political Science Istanbul University, Turkey, 1998-2002
American Robert College (Specialization in English Language and Literature) Istanbul, Turkey, 1991-1998