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2021 Conference: Queer Conditions/Kuir Haller: Social and Political Change in an Age of Authoritarianism

Each year, the Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program brings together scholars from around the world to discuss some of the most pressing issues facing Turkey from a global perspective. This year the conference’s focus will be on Queer and Gender Studies.  The primary aim of the conference is to engage with the global debate taking place on intersectionality.  More specifically, we are interested in analyzing the role of gender identity and dynamics in facilitating the reproduction of power structures, and in the mobilization of historically marginalized groups seeking to expose, challenge, and ultimately dismantle those structures.   By examining emergent forms of these justice-seeking struggles, the conference this year will direct the scholarly gaze on shifting relationships and opportunities for political action in a deeply polarized Turkey. 

Feminist scholars of modernity have repeatedly revealed the gendered assumptions that underwrite the abstract citizen as the building block of society. By “sexing” the supposedly unmarked subjects and unmasking their socio-political conditions, we can productively interrogate the normative assumptions of other individuating axes of difference such as race, ethnicity, class and geography. By historicizing patriarchal heteronormativity, we can start to undermine its dominance in our readings of the past and shape current narratives of power. 

Some of the questions we seek to answer are:  What are the conditions facing queer, feminist and other sexed subjects in contemporary Turkey? How did Turkey get to its current state after the Gezi protests that showed arguably the most intersectional politics in action in the country’s recent history? How could attending to these queer conditions help us approach the study of Turkey anew? At a time of profound transformation, framed by graduated authoritarianism and shrinking freedoms in the country, how could sexing the study of Turkey enrich our understanding of its history and its present?

While the geographic focus will be on Turkey, we think of Turkey as a historical reference point, in geographically, culturally and ethnically flexible terms—and not Turkey as nation state with the attendant definition of Turkishness. We encourage further discussion with scholars who specialize in the study of Turkey’s contemporary diasporas and ethnic minorities, its broader Middle Eastern and Eastern European context, and other socially and politically cognate regions.

 Conference Schedule


Queer Conditions | Kuir Haller  I                                June 4, 2021 Friday   (6 presentations) 

Discussants: Ipek Yosmaoğlu & Emrah Yıldız 

An anatomy of love and desire in late Ottoman Empire | Seçil Yılmaz 

Anachronistic Views of Ottoman Sexualities in Republican Turkey | İrvin Cemil Schick 

Querying the Renaissance with the Ottomans | Abdulhamit Arvas 

Gender, Family and the Political Economy of Law in Turkey | Kate Dannies  

How is Queer Understood in Turkey? | Ipek Şahinler 

Archiving Religious Piety, Activism, and Trans Identity: Towards a Post-secular Transfeminism in Turkey |  Şahin Açıkgöz 

Queer Conditions | Kuir Haller II                              June 11, 2021 Friday  (7 presentations)  

Discussants: Kerem Öktem & Evren Savcı 

“Cemetery for the Unknowns:” The Material Deathscape of Gender, Ethnic and Religious Margins in Turkey | Aslı Zengin 

Re-orienting Self-defense: Kurdish and Queer anti-Racist Struggle(s) | Hakan Sandal-Wilson 

Queer and Non-Citizen in Times of Crisis: LGBTQ Refugees in Turkey | Elif Sarı 

Love Queerantined: İzeddin A. Şadan’s Republican Gender Ideology | Gözde Kılıç 

Negotiating Sexuality, Faith and Minority Belonging in Turkey: An Intersectional Approach to LGBT+ Alevis | Ali Yıldırım 

Queerly Allied: From Ankara Governorship LGBTI Bans to KuirFest Berlin | Esra Ozban 

Queer Resistance and Bodies in Alliance: Banned Pride Marches in Istanbul (2015-2019) | Onur F. Ozben 

Queer Conditions | Kuir Haller III                              June 18 2021 Friday  (6 presentations)  

Discussants: Nadje Al-Ali & Cenk Özbay  

Rainbows: Children, ‘the LBGT movement’ and economies of perversity in Turkey | Emrah Yıldız 

Disrupting the Public Order: On tactics of visibility and dispersal of LGBTI+ events in Istanbul | Zeynep Serinkaya  

A Multi-modal Critical Discourse Analysis of Queer Subjectification in Contemporary Turkey | Eser Selen 

Embodiments of Resistance: Queering the Spaces of Nightlife in Istanbul through bodily Interactions | Aslı Kobaner 

Fragments of Gender in the “State Effect”: Documenting Mental Damage in Cases of Sexual Assault | Tuğçe Ellialtı-Köse  

Solidarity Work and Political Action Among the Syrian Women in Southern Turkey | Seçil Dağtas 

Queer Conditions | Kuir Haller IV: Roundtable                                               June 25 2021 Friday  

Details forthcoming