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Accepted Paper:

Cultivating “Small Pieces of Hope:” Turkey’s Post-Gezi Urban Alliances and (Re)claiming Future in the Present  
Derya Özkaya (University of Graz)

Paper short abstract:

Analyzing hope as a relational formation of affective state, this paper explores the potentials and limits of mobilization around and cultivation of hope and desire for change based on empirically grounded analysis of affective politics of anti-government alliances under Turkey's authoritarian turn.

Paper long abstract:

Following the popular uprisings during the summer of 2013, Turkey has witnessed the proliferation of local urban alliances including neighborhood solidarity groups, consumption cooperatives, urban defense initiatives, democracy assemblies, etc. Building solidarity networks around the urgent needs, spreading the pleasure of collective action, and generating affective attachments of belonging, enthusiasm, and trust, they have mobilized the political dissent around the affective archive of the uprisings and (re)produced moments of hope for democracy, freedom, and change under Turkey’s recent authoritarian transformation. Besides functioning as the manifestations of the desire for change, they have also actively constituted and distributed hope through collective action. Bringing affect studies and political theory into dialogue, in this paper, I discuss if these alliances contributed to envisage a new political opposition and explore the role of hope and desire as aspirational political horizons for Turkey's dissent. Building on nine months of ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul and Eskişehir, Turkey, and the analysis of data collected through in-depth interviews with the constituents of these local alliances and participant observation during their regular meetings and public events in 2016 and 2017, I argue that the politics of hope has unleashed political opportunities for collective resistance under the rising authoritarianism in Turkey. However, it has also confined the political dissent into the realm of the fantasy of democracy and freedom of choice reproducing a “cruel optimism” (Berlant 2011) for change within the existing system and investing affective attachments to an alleged democracy whose limits are defined by the ruling regime.

Panel P004a
(Re)claiming Spaces of Hope and Inspiration: Protest and Revolutionary Aesthetics I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -