“The LGBT Movement in Turkey, 1980-2020: Applying a Heteronational Matrix Analysis”
Caner Hazar, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology
University of Connecticut (UConn)
Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 12:30-14:00 p.m., A-130 (FEASS Building)
In this talk, I explore the question: what national dynamics influence the strategies and actions of LGBT activists in the Turkish context? I analyze how shifts within the state and Turkey affect the forms that LGBT activism takes in three periods – in the 1980s and 1990s, in the 2000s and since 2010, respectively. I draw on semi-structured interviews with 36 activists from 6 cities in Turkey. I also benefit from my knowledge as a participant in the LGBT activist community in Istanbul from 2009 to 2012. I introduce a “heteronational matrix” perspective to explore how gender and sexualities are dynamically woven into the symbolic and material construction of the nation and influence LGBT activist strategies as the national political context changes over time. First, I show that trans activists and LGBT activists started to develop different activist discourses – counter and critical interpretative logics – in interaction with societal exclusion, public health, public morality and national security discourses in the 1980s and 1990s. In the 2000s, LGBT activists fully developed a holistic gender perspective, recognizing gender as shaped by ethnic, religious, and political dynamics in the country, and by the same token, they viewed the gender issue as a concern not limited to the LGBTs. This perspective also did not rely on being recognized by the state in the state’s terms – arguably because the state had an unofficial policy of silence regarding LGBTs. Last, I explore new emergent tensions between the grassroots LGBT activists, global LGBT politics, the state and the European Union (EU) in the 2010s, defined by developments such as the new constitution-making process, efforts to harmonize Turkey’s social policy with the EU social policy framework, Gezi protests, and the departure from the state’s unofficial policy of silence regarding LGBT activism.
Caner Hazar received Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Sociology from the University of Connecticut (UConn) and a Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from Istanbul University. His research interests are social movements, historical dynamics of nations and states, LGBT and gender politics. He has been awarded a Seal of Excellence by the European Commission and won the Şirin Tekeli Research Award and the Dicle Koğacıoğlu Article Award of Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender).