Humor, Amnesia, and Making Place

Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul

in Social Analysis
View More View Less
  • 1 Macquarie University chris.houston@mq.edu.au
  • 2 Macquarie University banu.senay@mq.edu.au
Restricted access

Abstract

Drawing on Caroline Humphrey’s analysis of the personal consequences of ‘decision-events’, in this article we interpret the 2013 protests around Gezi Park in Istanbul as an eventful situation that instigated a break with participants’ previous political sentiments, recomposing them as transformed subjects in the process. We argue that an effective political humor prompted the emergence of a new subject, causing certain features of pre-Gezi political subjectivity to recede from active memory. We use a particular case study to illustrate our claim, comparing pre-Gezi Atatürkist anti-government humor with the political humor of Gezi Park. The article concludes by showing that humor, place, and political amnesia changed activists’ interests, moods, and embodied capabilities, reshaping their manner of relating to the city and generating a distinctive subject.

Contributor Notes

Christopher Houston is an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney. He is the author of Islam, Kurds and the Turkish Nation State (1999) and Kurdistan: Crafting of National Selves (2007) and the editor of Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective (2015). He has published his work in a large number of journals and books and is currently researching the political history of Istanbul in the 1970s.

Banu Senay is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney. She has extensive research expertise in the areas of migration, transnationalism, and diasporic politics and is the author of Beyond Turkey-s Borders: Long-Distance Kemalism, State Politics and the Turkish Diaspora (2013). Her current research on Islamic art pedagogies in Istanbul engages with debates in anthropology around skilled learning, ethics, and Islamic cultural politics. This work has been published in journals such as the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, European Journal of Cultural Studies, and Ethnomusicology Forum.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

  • Apaydın, Gökçen E. 2005. “Modernity as Masquerade: Representations of Modernity and Identity in Turkish Humour Magazines.” Identities 12 (1): 107142.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Benlisoy, Foti. 2012. 21: Yüzyılın I˙lk Devrimci Dalgası. Istanbul: Agora.

  • Benlisoy, Foti. 2013. Gezi Direnişi: Türkiye’nin Enteresan Bas‚langıcı. Istanbul: Agora.

  • Bernal, Victoria. 2013. “Please Forget Democracy and Justice: Eritrean Politics and the Powers of Humor.” American Ethnologist 40 (2): 300309.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Billig, Michael. 2001. “Humour and Hatred: The Racist Jokes of the Ku Klux Klan.” Discourse & Society 12 (3): 267289.

  • Brady, Henry. 2009. “Causation and Explanation in Social Science.” The Oxford Handbook of Political Methodology, ed. Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier, Henry E. Brady, and David Collier. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cağaptay, Soner. 2014. “The Liberals in Erdogan’s Wake.” Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 16 April. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-liberals-in-erdogans-wake.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cantek, Levent. 1996. Türkiye’de Çizgi Roman. Istanbul: I˙letis‚im.

  • Cantek, Levent. 2011. S¸ehre Göçen Es¸ek. Istanbul: I˙letis‚im.

  • Casey, Edward S. 2001. “Between Geography and Philosophy: What Does It Mean to Be in the Place-World?Annals of the Association of American Geographers 91 (4): 683693.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Çolak, Erdem. 2014. “Art in Street: The Significant Role of Using the Art, Literature and Humour in the Gezi Resistance.” International Journal of Arts and Sciences 7 (4): 463476.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Connerton, Paul. 2008. “Seven Types of Forgetting.” Memory Studies 1 (1): 5971.

  • Critchley, Simon. 2002. On Humour. New York: Routledge.

  • Dağtas¸, Seçil. 2013. “The Politics of Humor and Humor as Politics during Turkey’s Gezi Park Protests.” Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, 31 October. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/397-the-politics-of-humor-and-humor-as-politics-during-turkey-s-gezi-park-protests.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, Veena. n.d. “On Singularity and the Event: Further Reflections on the Ordinary.” Unpublished manuscript. https://www.academia.edu/8237494/On_Singularity_and_the_Event_Further_Reflections_on_the_Ordinary (accessed 9 September 2017).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duranti, Alessandro. 2009. “The Relevance of Husserl’s Theory to Language Socialization.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 19 (2): 205226.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Emre, Perrin Ö., Barıs¸ Çoban, and Gülüm S¸ener. 2014. “Humorous Form of Protest: Disproportionate Use of Intelligence in Gezi Park’s Resistance.” https://www.academia.edu/5135723/Humorous_form_of_protest_Disproportionate_use_of_intelligence_in_Gezi_Park_s_Resistance.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fregonese, Sara. 2013. “Mediterranean Geographies of Protest.” European Urban and Regional Studies 20 (1): 109114.

  • Gül, Murat, John Dee, and Cahide Nur Cünük. 2014. “Istanbul’s Taksim Square and Gezi Park: The Place of Protest and the Ideology of Place.” Journal of Architecture and Urbanism 38 (1): 6372.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gürcan, Efe Can, and Efe Peker. 2015. Challenging Neoliberalism at Turkey’s Gezi Park: From Private Discontent to Collective Class Action. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hammond, Timur. 2014. “The Past Present: Turkey, Erdoğan, and the Gezi Protests.” Society and Space, 7 January. http://societyandspace.org/2014/01/07/the-past-present-turkey-erdogan-and-the-gezi-protests.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Houston, Christopher. 2015. “Politicizing Place Perception: A Phenomenology of Urban Activism in Istanbul.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Society 21 (4): 720738.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, Caroline. 2008. “Reassembling Individual Subjects: Events and Decisions in Troubled Times.” Anthropological Theory 8 (4): 357380.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Humphrey, Caroline. 2014. “Schism, Event, and Revolution: The Old Believers of Trans-Baikalia.” Current Anthropology 55 (S10): S216S225.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Luft, Sebastian. 1998. “Husserl’s Phenomenological Discovery of the Natural Attitude.” Continental Philosophy Review 31 (2): 153170.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mulkay, Michael. 1988. On Humour: Its Nature and Its Place in Modern Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.

  • Öncü, Ays¸e. 2002. “Global Consumerism, Sexuality as Public Spectacle, and the Cultural Remapping of Istanbul in the 1990s.” In Fragments of Culture: The Everyday of Modern Turkey, ed. Deniz Kandiyoti and Ays¸e Saktanber, 171190. London: I.B. Tauris.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Özkırımlı, Umut, ed. 2014. The Making of a Protest Movement in Turkey. Basingstoke: Palgrave Pivot.

  • Özyürek, Esra. 2006. Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Parla, Taha, and Andrew Davison. 2004. Corporatist Ideology in Kemalist Turkey: Progress or Order? Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Perinçek, Doğu. 2010. “40 Çözüm Kürt Sorunu.” Teori (March): 214.

  • Sahlins, Marshall. 1985. Islands of History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Scott, James C. 1985. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • Shepherd, Anatolian. 2013. “#OccupyGezi Art.” Shepherds of Arcadia, 7 June. https://anatolianshep.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/occupygezi-art.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tas¸tan, Cos¸kun. 2013. “The Gezi Park Protests in Turkey: A Qualitative Field Research.” Insight Turkey 15 (3): 2738.

  • Therborn, Göran. 2014. “New Masses?New Left Review 85: 716.

  • Tuğal, Cihan. 2013. “‘Resistance Everywhere’: The Gezi Revolt in Global Perspective.” New Perspectives on Turkey 49: 157172.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Türkmen, Buket. 2015. “From Gezi Park to Turkey’s Transformed Political Landscape.” Open Democracy, 7 July. https://www.opendemocracy.net/buket-türkmen/from-gezi-park-to-turkey’s-transformed-political-landscape.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yıldırım, Umut, and Yael Navaro-Yashin. 2013. “An Impromptu Uprising: Ethnographic Reflections on the Gezi Park Protests in Turkey.” Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website, 31 October. https://culanth.org/fieldsights/391-an-impromptu-uprising-ethnographic-reflections-on-the-gezi-park-protests-in-turkey.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yörük, Erdem, and Murat Yüksel. 2014. “Class and Politics in Turkey’s Gezi Protests.” New Left Review 89: 103123.

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 15 15 7
Full Text Views 9 9 1
PDF Downloads 2 2 0