Debts and indebtedness as a social glue binding Turkish society
This paper argues that debts and indebtedness are a social glue binding Turkish society. I advance two hypotheses. My first argument is that monetary debts integrate market exchange and thus have an impact on social integration. Second, I argue that the moral imperatives created by the sense of indebtedness operate as a cement that binds together different social levels, ranging from the family to communities and political society. The notion of indebtedness also naturalizes unequal relations between social classes. But in conclusion, debts and indebtedness, although they create a degree of social integration, also impede the construction of an ideal “social” in Turkey.
Keywords: debt, indebtedness, the social, martyrdom, markets, citizenship
The desert grows: Homeland, Turkishness and constant state of exception
Multiple concerns have motivated this article project; however it is possible to say that there is an amalgamation of issues surrounding the question of what is the constitutive element that keeps Turkish society together. My answer is basically that it is the idea of homeland that keeps Turkish society together, but without considering Turkish society as an entity that lives in a “constant state of exception” and shows deep consent for “Turkishness” this would not be viable. My understanding of “homeland” is filtered through concepts such as the “state of exception,” “Turkishness,” “societies of control” and “biopolitics” and also by works of noted scholars and thinkers like Foucault, Agamben, Benjamin, Schmitt, Heidegger and Deleuze. What I propose in my project is a new examination of “homeland” as it has found itself manifest in the Turkish political culture.
Keywords: homeland, nationalism, patriotism, state of exception, Turkishness, Carl Schmitt, Martin Heidegger, Walter Benjamin
The rhythmic body, the rhythm of the memory: A national festival
A nation legitimizes its existence through its political ideology, social institutions and cultural and moral values. These, however, are not sufficient to create a national identity and to ensure the total participation of its members as social, cultural and moral carriers of this process. A nation should create a national entity by diffusing through the memory of its members whereby the relationship between me and us becomes fusional. This fusional articulation of me and us can be possible only by the management of the auto-stress of the society; the uncontrolled violence and hostility must be directed towards the outside to maintain the social consensus within the society. Social consensus is obtained by creating a collective and cultural memory through binding common experiences. These binding dispositives integrate the individual bodies as “places of memory” and make them only a part of the community with its frontier signs (acoustic and linguistic). The community, hence after defines itself as an articulated body. This article aims to explain the fusional articulation of me and us through binding experiences such as national festivals, music and rhythm and tries to analyze the effects of uniform linguistic-acoustic borders of collective hyper-body.
Keywords: collective memory, individual memory, memory of body, corporeal border signs, common language, community sounds.
Cellular telephones, melancholia and technology in Turkey
This article seeks to analyze why and how the cell phone has become so popular and even an object of collective attachment/addiction in contemporary Turkey by attending to the collective and historical melancholia and cultural practices of technoscape. In Turkey the cell phone is idealized as an agent of change and is even fictionalized as a technology that would create new possibilities of experiencing the social structure by altering the melancholic conditions of Turkish bodies. In light of media research and ethnographic fieldwork, this article focuses on the cell phone, which at the most utopian level, is imagined to deterritorialize the existing social structure where the historical and collective melancholia determines the ways bodies act, feel and move by inserting new means of instituting and experiencing new subjectivities – subject stories.
Keywords: cellular telephone, melancholia, technology, technoscape, subject/ification processes
Critique of ‘Everyday Life’ Populism
HASAN ÜNAL NALBANTOĞLU
The article takes a stand against a populistic tendency which gained particular currency with the essentially conservative criticism by postmodernist ideologues of the so-called ‘meta-narratives.’ This boneless and lazy tendency of thought takes a wide variety of forms which often boil down to an irresponsible fetishization of ‘everydayness’ - its spontaneity, the amorphousness of its thinking processes, and its continually evolving yet slippery language. Since it is so easy to seek refuge in the false, even fake obviousness of the apparent reality without the rigour of independent thought and reflection resulting from necessary ‘distancing’ from ‘everyday’ reality, especially in an age when it is manufactured, such fetishization quickly degenerates into a clownish-slavish submission of consuming individuals to the ruling powers shaping that reality to a large extent.
Keywords: modernity; everyday life/language/thinking; common-sense/good-sense; populism; ‘distancing’
Two barbers in Beyoğlu: Two types of narrative and two forms of masculinity
This article based upon in-depth interviews with two brothers who have been working as barbers in Beyoğlu, the cultural center of Istanbul, since the 1960s examines their ways of narrating their life stories. The main argument of the article is that men’s different types of narratives correspond to different forms of masculinity. These two barbers display quite different forms of masculinity through their narratives. The main characteristics of what might perhaps be called hegemonic “masculinity” are found in the narrative constructed by the elder brother, Tarık Bey. He places himself into the center of his narrative as an ambitious man with a capacity to impress others and talks about “facts of life” and events avoiding anecdotes and stories as much as possible. He tends to make generalizations and present explanations about “life” and focuses upon his ambitions and attempts to achieve them. His brother, Hasan Bey, is particularly keen on talking about everything in the form of stories rather than focusing upon his achievements. Interestingly, he never appears to be a central or even active subject in these stories dominated by women. Another axis of the article is the way these two men relate to a famous movie star, Türkân Şoray, who also appears to be a recurring theme in their narratives. Hasan Bey focuses upon how he has been impressed by Türkân Şoray, whom he has always followed not as a distant figure, but rather like a family member whose life and achievements can be told in anecdotes full of emotional attachment. Tarık Bey, on the contrary, maintains a distance between himself as a viewer and Türkân Şoray, who appears to be admired as a “woman” and to be “envied” as a star.
Keywords: Beyoğlu, barbers, gender identities, family history, masculinity, men’s narratives, movie star, audience-star relations.
Nihilism today: The ‘antagonism’ between the war against terror and terror
BÜLENT DİKEN - ALİ RIZA TAŞKALE
In this article, we discuss a contemporary problem, the ‘antagonism’ between the war against terror and terror, as a disjunctive synthesis between passive nihilism and radical nihilism. In so doing, we turn to the contemporary society and ask how nihilism operates in it. We want to deal with this in three steps: first, by discussing nihilism in relation to today’s dominant form of politics, post-politics, and, finally, by focusing on the disjunctive synthesis between post-politics and contemporary terrorism. We contend that, for all its violence, the antagonism between terror and post-politics is a false one; what is suspended here is the real antagonism between nihilist and anti-nihilist politics, between the nihilism of sovereign exception, of biopolitics, and life. This antagonism cannot be politicized by post-politics precisely because post-politics is itself grounded in the de-politicization of this antagonism. Finally agonism as a political virtue is set against spite.
Keywords: spite, terror, war on terror, nihilism, disjunctive synthesis, post-politics, agonism
An introduction to the holy myths of the conservative realm: The concept of tolerance, dialogue and morality in Fethullah Gülen
In the past twenty years, concepts like tolerance, dialog and conciliation have gone through an interesting transformation process. While it is anticipated that these concepts will provide solutions for at least some of the problems in society, with the contribution of different political sections they have become sanctified and charged with new meanings and discourses. This article will focus on Fetullah Güven in trying to explain the changing meanings of these concepts. According to Gülen, the concepts of tolerance and dialog are the moral principles of living together and he uses an interesting language in legitimizing these principles according to his own understanding of Islam and interpretation of the state. These two concepts are indispensable for Gülen and it can be observed that he is trying to establish a new understanding of morality by defining the religious and national limits of these concepts. This understanding in Gülen’s thinking needs to be reflected on. The positions of different perspectives, faiths and life styles in relation to this interpretation makes the question “are we going to be able to live together” all the more important.
Keywords: Tolerance, dialogue, moral, authoritarian tolerance, Fethullah Gülen