Feminism, violence, and methodological militarism: New faces of postnationalist feminism in Turkey

4 11 2010

Date: 9 November 2010         Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings    Room: Khalili Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Ayşe Gül Altınay    Type of Event: Lecture

“If we are interested in arresting cycles of violence to produce less violent outcomes, it is no doubt important to ask what, politically, might be made of grief besides a cry for war” writes Judith Butler in her 2004 book Precarious Life. This presentation engages this question from several different angles. I start with the story of one woman’s response to grief and “cycles of violence” that provides insightful answers to Butler’s plea for an “ethics of non-violence.” The second part of the presentation provides context for this story by focusing on two nationalist myths prevalent in Turkey: first, the myth of the military-nation in Turkish nationalism, which finds its stark expression in the popular saying “Every Turk is born a soldier,” and second, the parallel myth in Kurdish nationalism which states that “Every Kurd is born a guerrilla.” In the final part, I pose questions about the ways in which we, as scholars, conceptualize militarism, violence and war, and argue for the need to tackle “methodological nationalism” and “methodological militarism.”  


Ayşe Gül Altınay received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University and has been teaching at Sabancı University since 2001. Her research and writing have focused on militarism, nationalism, violence, gender, and sexuality. She is the author of The Myth of the Military-Nation: Militarism, Gender and Education (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004); co-author of Violence Against Women in Turkey: A Nationwide Survey (with Yeşim Arat, Punto, 2009, http://www.kadinayoneliksiddet.org/English.html), işte böyle güzelim… (based on women’s narratives of sexualities, with Hülya Adak, Esin Düzel and Nilgün Bayraktar, Sel, 2008, http://www.isteboyleguzelim.org), and Torunlar (based on Muslim grandchildren’s narratives of their converted Armenian grandparents, with Fethiye Çetin, Metis, 2009, second edition 2010); and editor of Vatan, Millet, Kadınlar (Iletişim, 2000, second edition 2004) and Ebru: Reflections on Cultural Diversity in Turkey, a photography project by Attila Durak (Metis, 2007, http://www.ebruproject.com).  Her co-authored book with Yeşim Arat, Türkiye’de Kadına Yönelik Şiddet (Violence Against Women in Turkey) was awarded the 2008 PEN Duygu Asena Award.

SOAS  Centre for Gender Studies



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