Exploring women columnists "in between" positionality in public sphere : a study into narratives on feminist identity in contemporary Turkey
Ünal Abaday, Didem
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This dissertation investigates women columnists’ narratives on feminist self-identification with the aim to disclose the narrative lines along which feminist identity is negotiated in 2000’s Turkey. In the contemporary social and political milieu in which neoliberal, neo-conservative discourses undermine feminist demands and the poststructuralist critique makes it difficult to articulate stable identity claims, the issue of feminist self-identification comes to the forefront as a critical theme underlying the discussions on the future of feminism. These global debates also resonate at the local level with a unique tune that derives its peculiarity from the social and political context in question. Keeping this in mind, I trace the repercussions of the debates outlined above in the Turkish social and political context. It has been widely argued that the current Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in Turkey is heavily characterized by a neoliberal, neoconservative and antifeminist political stance. Given the antifeminist ethos of the current political landscape, public negotiations of feminist self identification in contemporary Turkey display multiple layers of complexity that are difficult to disentangle. This complexity begs the question of how feminist identity is negotiated and narrated in a discursive field in which antifeminist discourses are constantly reproduced through certain discursive opportunity structures. Against this background, this dissertation particularly focuses on the narratives of women columnists who are well-known public intellectual figures in contemporary Turkey. The study of media is especially important for a study that intends to examine the positionality of narratives on feminism in public deliberation. It is worthwhile to investigate the alternative media domains in the high circulation mass media and map out the zones of potential that can contribute to the counter hegemonic attempts challenging the contemporary conservative gender regime in Turkey. The study of women columnists’ narratives on feminism and feminist identity may provide us a fertile ground to delve into the discursive openings in the mainstream media through which profeminist discourses can acquire a considerable standing in public deliberation. It can provide us critical tools to nuance our reading of public sphere by disclosing the functioning mechanisms of publics that constantly shift between hegemonic and subaltern publics, which we could name as “publics in-between”. Following the research goals described above, this study intends to delve into the prominent features of the positionality of women columnists in contemporary Turkey vis-a-vis the political struggles over the gender regime and shed light on the intricacies, the promising aspects and the limitations in women columnists’ narratives on feminism and feminist identity. As a result, it aims to disclose how women columnists situate themselves vis-a-vis feminist subaltern publics in contemporary Turkey.