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

From Cynicism to Protest: Reflections on Youth and Politics in Turkey

By Ayça Alemdaroglu

Jadaliyya - July 18, 2013

The recent uprisings in Turkey indicated a transformation of youth cynicism into a widespread protest against the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) government’s conservative and autocratic policies. This transformation demands a new way of thinking about youth and politics in the country. If nothing else, young people can no longer be easily characterized as politically apathetic.
In June 2013, Turkey witnessed young people going out onto the streets to defend trees, solidarity, and freedom against the AKP's profit-driven, socially conservative, autocratic rule. The number of protestors (whose average age is twenty-eight, according to a Konda poll) grew exponentially as they were met with police brutality and the government's marginalizing, polarizing, and terrorizing discourse.
It all began as a peaceful sit-in against the government plan to build a shopping mall in Gezi Park in Istanbul's central Taksim Square. The police attack on protestors turned a small-scale local protest into a city- and country-wide uprising. Plenty of analysis has appeared in domestic and foreign media about the causes, methods, and effects of the events. While government supporters insist on portraying protests as a product of a foreign and domestic conspiracy to weaken Turkey’s successful economy and its increasing role in world politics, many analysts have emphasized the democratic nature of protests. Some have analyzed the role of the autocratic policies of the ruling AKP in pressuring the society to rebel; others examined the novelty, diversity, and humor that protestors displayed.

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