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Accepted Paper:

Commandeering masculine trajectories in Turkey: mobility, manhood, structures, and subjectivities  
Janine Su (University College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the trajectories of young men in Turkey from modest backgrounds whose aspirations for exciting, cosmopolitan, and mobile livestyles inspire them to try to transgress or circumvent social and state structures of manhood, with mixed results. Two case studies will be compared.

Paper long abstract:

The path to manhood in Turkey unites social and state conventions; mobility is an intertwined phenomenon. Men-in-the-making have historically been encouraged to experiment with movement across the physical and social borders of the wider world as a means of cultivating ideal manhood. The Turkish state has also embedded onto this path its own rite of passage in the form of conscription. Charged with the production of men, the 'capillaries' (Foucault 1978) of state power and what Leyla Neyzi calls the 'channels' (2001) of social production are structurally consolidated, functioning seamlessly as doxa (Bourdieu 1977).

This model presumes an eventual return to one's home town and a re-integration into normative sociability. So what does this mean for those who aspire to 'masculine trajectories' (Ghannam 2013) that are not circular and cyclical? That is, under what conditions may those who imagine their personal trajectories as continuing 'to the outside' (dışarıya) also be thought of as men? The schism between their 'cosmopolitan subjectivities' and the structures of manhood reframes mobility as not only desire but necessity, with a change of context bringing the only chance to enact manhood on their own terms.

This paper outlines the creative and often morally ambiguous strategies such young men employ to transgress or circumvent the social and state structures they perceive as obstacles to self-determination, including the restrictive visa regulations placed on Turkish citizens for travel abroad. These strategies and their consequences are explored through a comparison of two divergent cases.

Panel P145
Hope, home and abroad
  Session 1