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The Politics of Discourse on Gendered Violence in Turkey, 1980-2005: From Family Disaster to Honor Killings

Alnıaçık Birelma, Ayşe (2022) The Politics of Discourse on Gendered Violence in Turkey, 1980-2005: From Family Disaster to Honor Killings. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation is a case study of struggles over framing gendered violence as a political issue. This archival research covers twenty-five years of Turkish political discourse and explains how and why gendered violence has been spoken about under different names over time. Implications go beyond the specific case to broaden knowledge about gendered political struggles.
My dissertation contributes to the Turkish literature in three ways. First, I add the “family disaster” frame to research and analyses formerly limited to the “honor killings” frame. I discuss the early phase of mobilization against wife-beating and identify testimonial as a specific type of knowledge production that feminist pioneers used to target the family as a core patriarchal institution.
Second, I bring a social movement perspective into the analysis of the honor killings frame. I argue that this frame offered unexpected discursive and political opportunities for organizing a more inclusive anti-violence movement in Turkey. I show how the rising political significance of honor killings caught feminists in an ambivalent position. I explain the sources of feminist ambivalence and discuss efforts to overcome it. I show that Kurdish women activists won feminist credibility and solidarity in this phase by contributing a broader understanding of gendered violence and how to oppose it to the national women’s movement community.
Third, I analyze the process of institutionalizing these two frames in the 1998 Family Protection Act and the 2004 Penal Code. I show how framings of gendered violence in Turkish legislation were shaped by the women’s movement as well as by the discursive and institutional context. Rather than viewing legal reforms as pure victories, I analyze them as mixed results of discursive struggles among diverse political actors.
My dissertation also offers broader insights applicable to gender and politics research beyond Turkey. First, I show how looking at multiple actors’ discursive politics produces better accounts of why the interactions among variously positioned women, feminist politics, and state institutions go awry around the world. Second, by applying a social movement lens, analysts can reevaluate the (dis)advantages of tackling particular forms of gendered violence attributed to minoritized cultures in popular talk.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Alnıaçık Birelma, AyşeAYA21@pitt.eduAYA21
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBrush, Lisa
Committee MemberConstable,
Committee MemberGoodkind,
Committee MemberHughes,
Date: 6 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 30 March 2022
Approval Date: 6 June 2022
Submission Date: 7 April 2022
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 183
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: gendered violence, political discourse, honor killings, family disaster, Turkey
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 15:58
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2022 15:58


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