The Function of Liminal Spaces of Protest in Imagining the Future, Here and Now: The Case of Gezi Park Occupation

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 11:30
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Deniz Gunce DEMIRHISAR, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, France, Institut Français d'Etudes Anatoliennes, Turkey
The occupation of Gezi Park allowed the heterogeneous social actors to build a liminal and ephemeral space of utopia. It was not only the spot of a mere defensive protest. Rather, it was a space where the utopia was lived and bodily experienced. I argue that the specificity of progressive social actors today is to produce collective practices performing and experimenting the future they want, instead of producing discourses about future emancipation. Prefiguration of the utopia revealed itself as a public performance. The possible future is enacted in the present as a modality of creative protest. How do the social actors implement alternative sociability ties inside and after the occupation? Inside Gezi Park, it is illustrated by the organization of the camping with autonomous security tactics and medical aid volunteering, the collective kitchen, library and garden, as well as by the means of music and dance. Each of the performances shows how to transform everyday activities into a possible future’s description. The modalities of a utopic social life based on equality, direct participation, freedom, solidarity, artfulness have been performed in the Park. Along with the ritualization of ordinary activities, the pluralism desired by those social actors was expressed through being together with people different from oneself (political views, gender orientation, religion, social class) in the name of a common (i.e. the park and by extension, the city, even more generally the Nature). After the occupation ended, we observed the emergence of citizen networks such as neighborhood forums, consumer cooperatives, shared spaces for freelance workers etc. My analysis examines the function of the liminal space in order to shape an alternative future’s representation, its resonance with global movements and the difficulties that social actors met trying to implement the future they want, outside and after the liminal space of the protest.