From Inequalities to Liberties: The Rise of New Social Movements in Contemporary Turkey

Thursday, 14 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Esin ILERI, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, Turkey
Taksim Gezi Park protests erupted in May 2013, following police violence against a group composed by environmental activists and Taksim neighborhood residents who opposed the demolition of the park and its redevelopment into a shopping mall. Thousands occupied the park overnight and the protest turned rather quickly into a wave of nationwide anti-government movement. According to Konda research agency's report, more than half of the protestors attest to be mobilised against the restriction of individual freedoms. While the actors defined themselves mostly as "ordinary citizens" distancing themselves from political parties and class/labor oriented movements, we can observe an undeniable pluralism in matter of rights based groups (mainly environmentalists, lgbtq, feminists) which formed the core of the movement. Not only these groups found a space to emphasize their identities but one can also state that one of the most important caracteristics of the so-called "Gezi Resistance" were the new solidarities formed between these groups.
Although Turkey may be listed as a "global north" country in economy oriented reports, in means of society, urbanism, education or social movements it is clearly part of the Global South.
In the 60's/70's, Turkey experienced a class and labor based, revolution oriented, socialist student's movement that distanced itself from the personal rights movements that were happening in the same time in north american or european countries. Today, in the aftermaths of the Gezi Resistance, we can observe in Turkey, the rise of identities and rights based New Social Movements that started to sprout very slowly in the 90's, with more than two decades of interval with its counterparts. In this paper, based on empirical research, we will analise the roots and the evolution of these NSMs in Turkey, and the impacts of both european/north american NSMs and the Turkish left-wing movements of the 70's upon it.