Rituals of resistance and the struggle over democracy in Turkey

Czajka, Agnes (2020). Rituals of resistance and the struggle over democracy in Turkey. In: Pike, Sarah M.; Salomonsen, Jone and Tremlett, Paul-François eds. Ritual and Democracy: Protests, Publics and Performances. Equinox Publishing, pp. 11–30.

URL: https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=3...


The 2013 Gezi Park protests and the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey were watershed moments in recent struggles over Turkish democracy. Both made use of and gave rise to performative repertoires that unmistakably revealed the existence of competing conceptions of democracy in Turkey. This chapter explores the manner in which two of these repertoires – the yeryüzü iftarları (earth iftars) and demokrasi nöbeti (democracy vigil) – performatively disclose two distinct and indeed, irreconcilable, variations on democracy. In exploring these two repertoires, the chapter suggests that the earth iftars, which draw on a ‘religious’, ‘Muslim’ ritual, offer a more radically open, inclusive and indeed ‘democratic’ articulation of democracy than the ‘secular’, ‘nationalist’ vigil avowedly staged in defence of democracy. The chapter concludes with a brief consideration of Jacques Derrida’s articulation of democracy and deconstruction, suggesting that the deconstructive framework and Derrida’s conception of democracy-to-come offer a way of grasping what might, at first glance, seem like a counterintuitive argument – namely, that the performance of a ‘religious’ ritual has greater democratic potential than a ‘secular’ performance explicitly staged in defense of democracy.

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