Mapping the Contours of Identity Contestation: Hybridization, Polarization, and Self-Marginalization
This paper is part of a larger project that forays into the murky waters of sub-national identity contestation, understood here as struggles among members of a state’s population who support competing various proposals for the content of that state’s national identity. The paper attempts to capture these contours, map their shifts, and parse out the mechanisms by which these changes occur in Turkey, a state with multiple, politically salient identity cleavages. To do so, the paper analyzes these three key episodes that each constitute major challenges to the ruling party’s pursuit of identity hegemony for its own proposal of Ottoman Islamism. Each of these challenges shaping the contours of Turkey’s identity debates over the course of just two years (May 2013 – May 2015) represents a different dynamic of identity contestation: hybridization of opposition demonstrators during the Gezi Protests, polarization among supporters of the AKP and the Gülen Movement, and self-marginalization of the AKP through its increasingly radical rhetoric. Drawing from a wide array of popular culture and social media sources as well as interviews, surveys, and participant observation, the analysis provides new insight into the vernacular politics of identity in contemporary Turkey, while contributing to wider studies of social movements and contentious politics through its examination of various mechanisms of change.
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies
National Identity; Turkey; Gezi Protests; Gulen Movement; Ottoman Islamism; Social Media; Social Movements; Social Change