Broadening Local Mobilizations: Exploring the Possibilities of Linking "Northern Forest Defense" in Turkey to Climate Change

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 13:00
Location: Elise Richter Saal (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Baran Alp UNCU, Marmara University, Turkey
Despite the extensive transnational movement network formed over climate change, the participation of grassroots movements has been insufficient and/or haphazard mainly due to issue priorities, mobilizing structures, frames, local political cleavages, and local/national political opportunities. In my research, I analyze the Northern Forest Defense (hereafter KOS), a local ecology group in Turkey that has spun off the Gezi Protests and that resists ecologically hazardous mega-projects in İstanbul namely the third bridge, the third airport and Channel İstanbul. Based on 25 in-depth interviews and 18 months of participant observation, I show that KOS employs a broad frame of “right to life”, constructs an inclusive collective identity, and organizes itself as a decentralized network, all of which enable them to mobilize for a wide range of issues other than their immediate cause including peace, human rights violations, and worker’s rights as well as climate change. In that regard, KOS takes part in the climate change protests not only because their specific concerns are directly related to climate change, but also because they evaluate the whole process as a detrimental consequence of capitalist globalization much in the same way that they associate themselves with peace claims. I argue that the sustainability of local movements’ participation in the transnational network depends on a mutual process of frame bridging and inclusive identity construction. On the one hand, local movements that utilize broader frames, construct inclusive identities, and organize themselves as flexible networks are more likely to remain part of the transnational climate change movement. In turn, it is crucial for the transnational climate change movement network to localize the impacts of climate change, which remain indiscernible at the local level, through bridging their frames to local claims, concerns, and issues while taking local political cleavages and opportunities into account.