Constructing morality for Turkey : the moral campaign of the 1980s as a novel technique of governing

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Bilkent University
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Political history of Turkey of the 1980s usually narrates the institutional reorganization of state structure and legislative changes introduced by the military regime established after the September 12, 1980 coup d’état and demilitarization efforts of the following civilian governments. However, the military regime did not simply apply institutional changes; one of its aims was to infiltrate society at every level, through “conduct of conduct.” Everyday life was targeted and governed by both the military regime, following civilian governments and non-state actors in the 1980s in order to restructure socio-political space and establish hegemony of a life style by setting new standards of normalcy. Morality, as a constitutive element of everyday life, had a peculiar place in efforts to reconstruct the distinction between the normal and the abnormal, since it was believed that decay of moral values was among the primary reasons of social collapse in the pre-coup period. This study, hence, analyzes the moral campaign of the 1980s, as a hegemonic project which problematized the conduct and values of others and attempted to dominate everyday practices. The dissertation studies the Intellectuals’ Hearth and a peculiar reading of history and society, the Turkish Islamic Synthesis, as the intellectual background of the moral campaign and as an exemplary discourse of moralist thinking. It later focuses on three of everyday domains that were targeted in the 1980s to institute the proper life style for the society and the individual: education of morality, politics of non – heterosexuality and censorship of obscenity. This study, then, rewrites the history of Turkey of the 1980s, as a story of efforts to develop new standards of moral norms in everyday life.

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Turkish Politics, obscenity, censorship, Bülent Ersoy, transvestites, transsexuals, homosexuals, homosexuality, heterosexuality, Turkish education system, Turgut Özal, Motherland Party, Kenan Evren, September 12, 1980s, Turkish Islamic Synthesis, Intellectuals’ Hearth, governmentality, everyday life, moral campaign, morality
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