This article, based on ethnography conducted in Istanbul, focuses on the experience of the political among young, far-left Turkish militants and young adults whose parents belong to the ’78 revolutionary generation. It shows how their ‘red youth subculture’ is imbricated with family, solidarity and generational bonds. Through the analysis of ritualised political practices such as the May Day parades, the feeling of nostalgia for a never-lived past, political meetings and the role of politics in families, it argues that the experience of the political is irreducible to a set of strategies and ideas: it consists of affections, corporeal sensations, embodied knowledge, aesthetic choices and material culture, which all contribute to substantialise relationships with the state, forms of intimacy and practices of distinction.
The Leftist Youth Subculture in Istanbul
The March for Hrant Dink and New Ways of Mobilization in Turkey
This article analyses the social construction of moral outrage, interpreting it as both an extemporaneous feeling and an enduring process, objectified in narratives and rituals and permeating public spaces as well as the intimate sphere of social actors’ lives. Based on ethnography carried out in Istanbul, this contribution focuses on the assassination of the Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in 2007. This provoked a moral shock and led to an annual commemoration in which thousands of people—distant in political, religious, ethnic positions—gather around a shared feeling of outrage. The article retraces the narratives of innocence and the moral frames that make Dink’s public figure different from other victims of state violence, thus enabling a moral and emotional identification of a large audience. Outrage over Dink’s murder has become a creative, mobilizing force that fosters new relationships between national history and subjectivity, and de-reifies essentialized social boundaries and identity claims.