Accepted paper:

Grooming Istanbul: on post-industrial bodies, beauty work and intimate encounters in a global city

Author:

Claudia Liebelt (University of Bayreuth)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores intimate bodily encounters in Istanbul beauty salons and clinics in relation to changing forms of gender, consumption and subjectivities. On the background of the Turkish June 2013 uprisings, it also seeks to explore lines of flight from the colonisation of the gendered body.

Paper long abstract:

Following over two decades of neo-liberal restructuring and economic boom, Istanbul, Turkey, has been transformed into a service-oriented global city with an increasingly feminized workforce. As part of a distinct culture of consumption, an ever-growing beauty industry developed, which includes beauty clinics, aesthetic surgery, hair and nail studios. These are especially attractive for female professionals, many of whom are among the first generation of Istanbul-born and female wage earners in their families. Within a highly precarious and competitive 'pink-collar sector,' specific forms of female beauty are appreciated and women may invest in modifications of their bodies as a form of bodily capital.

Intricately linked to ideologies of feminity and modernity, beauty work in Istanbul is not only gendered, but also divided along class lines. It is produced in intimate bodily encounters that have moved from the domestic into the commercial sphere. Beauty ideals such as accurate eyebrows, depilation or 'pureness' of skin are enacted affectively, with 'girls' of lower social status typically servicing middle class women. Creating happiness, well-being and empowerment for the latter, these encounters are permeated by sensations and bodily reactions disturbing and at the same time reaffirming relations of power (Gutiérrez-Rodríguez 2010).

Based on ethnographic interviewing and fieldwork in Istanbul, my paper addresses the notion of intimacy in relation to changing forms of gender, consumption and subjectivities. Reading the Turkish June 2013 uprisings as a radical critique of urban commodification, my paper also seeks to explore Istanbul lines of flight from the colonisation of the gendered body.

panel P099
Changing intimate exchanges and emerging forms of resistance to intensified self-commodification