The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity in Turkey

Hilal Alkan (Istanbul / EUME Fellow 2016/17) & Nil Mutluer (Phillipp Schwartz Fellow at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin), Chair: Kader Konuk (Universität Duisburg-Essen / EUME)

Turkey has been going through a fast transformation lately. Particularly in the last period of the AKP government, the Turkish political scene witnessed  a deepening and widening polarization between the AKP and almost all of its opponents, including the Kemalists, and the Kurdish and Turkish left, which increasingly took on a gendered, sexualized and ethnicized quality. In this talk, we look at the role gender and sexuality play in the AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) identity politics. We argue that in this political endeavor of the governing party, reproduction has become of key importance, and legal amendments as well as discursive tools have been successfully employed to regulate it. One focus of this panel is to elaborate on how relations and politics on gender and sexuality have shaped and have been shaped by the AKP in creating the values of "New Turkey". Second, the panel will focus on how these policies unfold when it comes to Kurdish women and the women active in Kurdish politics.

Hilal Alkan received her PhD in Political Science from the Open University, UK and her MA in Sociology from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. In her dissertation, titled “Enchanted Welfare: Islamic Imaginary and Giving to Strangers in Turkey”, she focused on civic charitable initiatives in Turkey. Her research involved a ten-month ethnographic study of the local aid organizations of the Central Anatolian town of Kayseri. With the interdisciplinary lens of citizenship studies and economic anthropology, Alkan developed a framework that utilizes gift theory to analyze the daily encounters between different actors of charitable networks. She published some of her findings in the chapter “Ethics of Care, Politics of Solidarity: Islamic Charitable Organisations in Turkey” (in Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices, eds. T. Pierret, B. Dupret and P. Pinto, Edinburgh University Press, 2012). Alongside charitable giving and welfare provision, her research interests include gendered spatial formations (especially urban anthropology), women’s experiences of war, and care ethics. She has been teaching at a number of Turkish universities for the past four years. She is also a member of the Women’s Initiative for Peace, which works on gendering the peace process and documenting gendered rights violations during conflict in Turkey.

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