Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chapuling at the Gezi Commune (I)

An Analysis of Factors Behind What Happened in Turkey

Gönül Pultar

This piece of writing started in June in response to the queries of the many friends outside of Turkey who were anxious about my family and myself, and has been altered and restarted many times as events took different turns. We are already in the middle of the month of July, and although incidents do keep flaring up every now and then (sometimes provoked consciously by the government, it is said), life seems to have returned to normal on the whole—except for those who were wounded, those who are still under arrest (with new arrests that keep taking place), and of course for the families of those who lost their lives during what has come to be called the “Gezi (Promenade) Park events” or the “June Resistance,” as well as for those rare members of the mainstream press who preferred to lose their jobs rather than follow directives they disapproved. Although many of us do not believe that the crisis has been resolved, and are still on edge, this may be a good time to review the events—that have also touched me: an international workshop for which I had been preparing for over a year was postponed to an indefinite date by the university where it was to take place..

What happened and why it happened are the two questions most on the minds of people who are not in Turkey. What happened was recorded live most of the time, and video clips and photographs alongside reports from observers and commentators abound on the internet. (What's more, many people are busy at present collating the footages for mass publication, and there will soon be a whole publishing industry on Gezi.) What led to the events is another matter and that is what I wish to touch upon here (leaving my own reminisces of “chapuling” at the Gezi Commune to a sequel to this text). I must explain that there are a number of factors at play, some of which are unrelated to each other but they have all coalesced to create the “explosion.” I will discuss below the period of time the current regime has been in power; the present state of the economy in Turkey; the existence of the Gülen movement; a distinct function of the Erdoğan regime; new social movements in the world; and the “peace process” Erdoğan has initiated. What I do is reflect public opinion on these; I would like to argue that these are “angles” from which the events have to be viewed.
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