Holding the Lines: Responses to Movement Fragmentation in the Follow-up Networks of the Gezi Movement

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Gözde PELIVAN CEMGIL, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
It goes without saying that in Turkish history the Gezi movement represented a turning point aligning institutional and non-institutional political actors with unprecedented diversity in its initial phase in 2013. Appropriation of urban commons by authorities for the use of private capital through the reorganization of urban space was one of the major factors that contributed to the alignment of diverse protestors in the genesis of the 2013 protests. The movement also proved to be resilient particularly in Istanbul, despite widespread government crackdown. It transformed itself first into a series of public park forums, then a number of neighborhood solidarities and defenses in Istanbul, campaigning for a variety of causes ranging from environmental concerns and women’s rights to more everyday agendas in the face of the ongoing neoliberal onslaught on urban space and different contours of life. In time, numbers of activists within the suggested networks diminished. Meanwhile, in the face of both external and internal factors fragmenting these groups, a set of practices have been developed to maintain diverse activists inside the group by fellow network members. Drawing on this, this presentation problematizes the democratic practices in the follow-up phases of the Gezi movement. It explores the practices to preserve differences inside the movement networks, major limitations in achieving this, and to what extent the said follow-up networks have been successful in going beyond the sources of fragmentation. The ethnographic fieldwork carried out over a period of twelve months in 2016 suggests that sustaining movement practices peculiar to the initial phase of the movement have been influential in maintaining diversity. Furthermore, despite limitations, ‘the local’ played a binding role in the face of fragmenting fault lines in politics at national scale.