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Humor, Amnesia, and Making Place

Constitutive Acts of the Subject in Gezi Park, Istanbul

Christopher Houston and Banu Senay


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.