Negotiating the foundations of the modern state: the emasculated citizen and the call for a post-patriarchal state at Gezi protests
Theory and Society
453 - 482
Item Usage Stats
MetadataShow full item record
Examining Turkey’s Gezi Park protests of 2013 as a representative case of the globally surging protest movements since 2011, this study claims that the basic aim of the protests is to contest the foundational rationality of the modern state, which, I argue, is based on a patriarchal social contract that empowers the state with the authority to represent the interests and speak on behalf of citizens using a logic of protection, and to construct, enforce, and monitor a regime of citizenship where citizens can only function as emasculated subjects who are dependent on the protection of the state. Based on an analysis of the use of gender metaphors and familial tropes by the AKP government, and the subversive use of humor and irony by the protestors, this article demonstrates that the protests target the patriarchal premises of modern statehood, both in its democratic (fraternal patriarchy) and authoritarian (paternalistic patriarchy) forms, and the state’s disciplinary, regulatory, and remedial interventions toward the interpellation of the citizen as an infantile or feminine subject who is not capable of meeting their needs and interests on their own, and whose life, therefore, needs to be continually monitored, controlled, and regulated by the state. Drawing on criticism brought to the contractual foundations of the modern state by feminist political theorists, this study makes use of the notion of modern patriarchy as a story told by social contract theories, which generates a power relationship between the state and the citizen based on the projection of threat where the state assumes the role of the protector. I conclude that objecting to these modern forms of subjugation, the Gezi Park protests call for a post-patriarchal state where it no longer resorts to a patriarchal protectionist logic that is justified through the claim that it represents the interests of its citizens. By envisioning such a post-patriarchal state, I interpret the protests as a call for the renegotiation of the foundational premises of modern statehood such that the state-citizenship relationship is radically reformulated to enable a more empowered and autonomous citizen.