When All Roles Are Reversed: Studying Nationalist Youth in Gezi Resistance

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Derya GOCER AKDER, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
Kubra OAYUZ, Middle East Technical University, Turkey
In our field research (2014-2015) on the Gezi mobilization in Turkey(Istanbul, Ankara and Hatay), we came across several clusters of young Turkish nationalists who joined the Gezi resistance to their own surprise. One particiular group was a self-proclaimed political group even recruiting new activists. These young Turkish nationalists were previously close to Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).They are very active in social media, publish online journals, write to international and national news platforms and actively seek to be the nationalist opposition to what they consider to be the Islamist regime alien to the Turkish culture. Taking their inspiration from 19th century European nationalisms, they aspire to create a high culture of Turkishness that would fit into the 'Western liberal' paradigm. However, they retained all the xenophobic as well as the patriarchical thinking and language of the older generation of nationalists.  In the field we were two women coming from radically different backgrounds than our interviewees. One of us (Derya) directly comes from a militant leftist family. Kübra also comes from a Republican background. Both of us have leftist and feminist worldviews. Hence we had this double uneasiness: On the one hand we were able to converse from an empathic point of view when the topic was the Gezi Resistance or opposition to the government. On the other hand, when the subject was the Kurdish issue and also when the language turned really sexist, we felt like we were betraying both ourselves and our research agenda which was initially to understand a progressive social movement. So, there was a fluid positioning process both on the part of the researchers and the informants. The informants also changed tone and language when discussing these two different topics. In this paper, we would like to discuss the methodological lessons we drew from this double tension.