In an increasingly authoritarian Turkish context that precludes any serious chance of making tangible political gains, challenging common conception of ‘the political’ may expand our understanding of power dynamics. Attempting to track power relations outside the most official, legitimate, conventional and formalised forms of politics provides alternative and sharper insights into how the political is being reframed and how actors retain, uphold, perpetuate or transform their capacity for agency. In an interdisciplinary perspective, but drawing mainly on anthropological literature and methodology, the issue addresses four questions – both empirically in the Turkish case and more conceptually: politicisation, visibility, social stratification and domination.
Rethinking Power in Turkey through Everyday Practices
Some Remarks on Foreignness
Foreignness is a given factor in Esther. It is also one of its main themes. Which is to say that, in Esther, foreignness is both an a priori condition and a problematised issue. Indeed, foreignness must be present in an empire of ‘one hundred and twenty-seven’ spatial, social and political components. It cannot be overlooked in a plot that foregrounds otherness. The ethnic, gender, political, religious and cultural admixture is present from the first chapter onwards: in the nomenclature, the language, the plot lines, the issues addressed. Although the story is a comedy – at least if we take the side of the victorious Jews, which is certainly the readerly response expected of us – the question remains: Is the problem of foreignness resolved at the end of the story? If it is – then how? To what extent? For whom? How is it dealt with?
The C-section at the Intersection of Pronatalism and Ethnicity in Turkey
In this article, I investigate the politicisation of the Caesarean-section (C-section) in Turkey as an anti-natalist procedure. In 2012, the Turkish state began to implement a series of interventions to lower the high rates of birth by C-section, which culminated in an attempted ban on elective C-section. In a previously unseen way, I argue that this intervention was based on the logic that because women are not medically recommended to undergo several C-sections, this surgical procedure limits the number of children a woman can give birth to, causing a concomitant decrease in population growth rates. This article traces the ways in which pronatalist discourses and interventions become meaningful in the medical setting by addressing the politicisation of C-sections. It examines how the C-section reflects a particular population discourse, which is marked by a moral language that stigmatises the fertility of Kurdish women.
From Flexibility to Protection
Like all the elites of post-Soviet Muslim countries, the political elite and religious officials in Russia have been in the search of a moderate and strictly national Islamic identity, to keep the Muslim population of Russia separate from Arab or Turkish versions of Islam that could be politicised and thus had the potential to undermine the state structure. ‘Tatar traditional Islam’ emerged through this framework.
Fictions of Shakespeare the Deer Stealer
In fiction as in biography, Shakespeare's life is often politicised. Originally, the story of young Shakespeare caught poaching deer and forced to flee Stratford served to illustrate the role of fate in the creation of genius, while his irresponsible behaviour was downplayed. Later, the poaching was represented as rebellion against aristocratic privileges, and even as a deliberate political protest against enclosures of arable land. In more recent fiction, Shakespeare needs to be forced into a social awareness by the deer stealing episode, or even becomes a heartless landlord himself. Thus, Shakespeare's fictional lives reflect political developments in society, from class conflict to cultural levelling.
Martyrdom and Memorials in Post-Civil War Lebanon
Are John Knudsen
This article furthers the study of post–civil war memorialisation in Lebanon by analysing the trajectory of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri from statesman to martyr. This transformative process offers a window into the symbolism of Lebanese statehood, and demonstrates how the politicisation of confessional martyrs is used to decry injustice and stake out claims to the state. There is no tradition for prosecuting and punishing political murders in Lebanon, causing victims to be pronounced martyrs. Impunity is therefore the major reason why martyrs and memorialising are so widespread. To this end, the article offers a semiotic reading of Hariri’s posthumous transformation from political patron to patron saint, and is a contribution towards the importance of martyr symbolism for understanding the purported weakness of Lebanese statehood.
McEwan’s Saturday (2005) begins and ends in the edgy border zones between sleeping and waking, the public and the private, night and day. The main plot action concerns a violent threat to the domestic security of its protagonist Henry Perowne, while its setting draws on contemporary political events. It is a novel which can be seen to develop aspects of earlier works, including A Child in Time (1987), Black Dogs (1992) and Enduring Love (1997). As a novel set on a single day, it can be compared with a closely contemporary American work, Don de Lillo’s Cosmopolis (2003) and the modernist day novel such as James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway (1925). Saturday communicates its political themes in terms of family life, celebrates the power of the novel to explore both pathological and political states of the mind and draws on uncanny politicising effects in representing the everyday.
Women, Dress and Sexuality in Iran
Functioning as a socio-political resource and method of discipline and control over women's bodies and sexualities, mandatory Islamic dress in Iran has been a central feature of the Islamic Regime's policy towards women. Intended to stand as a symbolic discourse of women's social and sexual submissiveness and docility, those who resist dress codes are subjected to severe punishment as well as stigmatisation. Despite repercussions, increasing numbers of urban Iranian women are refashioning their public bodies in new styles and appearances to not only resist dress codes but to more importantly challenge the regime's patriarchal discourses regarding women. This article seeks to examine the politicisation of Iranian women's bodies and sexualities through the emergence of this innovating women's resistance movement termed 'alternative dress'.
Stephen M. Lyon
Since independence in 1947, highly politicised kinship practices have shaped the country from rural agricultural villages to the highest legislative and executive branches of government and the military. Ideal models of patrilineal affiliation have defined and guided patterns of factional loyalties. Although my earlier work has principally focused on village networks and politics, the same patterns of factional alliances can be seen at national levels to shed light on the activities of party politics. The mechanisms adopted by the traditional landed elite, far from being challenged, are integral to the strategic success of non-landed elites in securing the top, public, elected positions of power. So, rather than suggesting landed elites have become irrelevant, I argue the source of wealth is ultimately less relevant than the broader socio-economic shard class and familial interests of a minority elite bound together through marriage.
The Politics of Culture in the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma
Thembisa Waetjen and Gerhard Maré
This article examines the recent trial of ANC president Jacob Zuma, and how gender power was framed in respect to, and within, the politics of culture. The trial centred on allegations of rape by Zuma of an HIV positive woman many years his junior, who was also the daughter of a former anti-apartheid struggle comrade. All of these details were considered pertinent, not only to the legal debates about whether a crime had been committed, but also to the political debates raging around the nation's key challenges of high rates of sexual violence and the 'denialist' state response to devastating levels of HIV infection. Many Zuma supporters saw the accusation of rape as politically motivated and as evidence of an anti-Zuma conspiracy. In visibly smaller numbers, women's rights groups were present on the streets as well, trying to draw attention to the general problem of the nation's extraordinarily high rates of sexual violence and the general failure of the justice system to address cases of rape. The article argues that the fervour surrounding this trial, the burning political question of women's status was continually cast as a private matter: debates about relations between men and women came to be focused on issues of propriety, behaviour and etiquette rather than on questions about rights and power. In short, the privatisation of gender was effected through the politics of culture. As culture is politicised as a legal and secular 'right', gender is de-politicised to become a normatively 'private' and 'customary' domain. This is not merely a South African dilemma, but a dilemma which is con-concomitant to the social conditions of modernity itself.