(Professor of Islamic Art & Guggenheim Fellow, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
“They Are Among Us”:
Gezi Martyrs, Affective Incarnation, and Resistance in Contemporary Turkey
In 2013, when police brutally cleared Gezi Park in Istanbul of peaceful environmentalists, a massive popular uprising was spawned and became the most serious challenge to decade-long authoritarian rule. Five young men’s lives were quickly claimed by violence and they became the official “martyrs” (şehitler) of the Gezi movement. Professor Gruber will explore the rhetorical strategies and visual output that the Gezi Movement produced in Istanbul during 2013-14 and beyond. Sparking grief and sorrow, these martyrs were the undeniable evidence of the loss of human life and were the embodiment of a movement which insisted the government be held accountable to its citizens. She also demonstrates how Gezi rhetoric about death and notions of innocence, immortality, and omnipresence, engages with older Islamic religious beliefs and martyrial traditions, while also constructing a new mythic reality within a largely secular register.
What are the symbolic framings and functions of martyrs in a pluralistic consortium whose contours are largely shaped by a desire to preserve a secular, representative democracy in the face of increasing authoritarianism?
Co-Sponsored By: The Center for Middle Eastern Studies | The Center For Folklore Studies | The Mershon Center for International Security Studies | Department of History of Art | Department of Comparative Studies | Department of Near Eastern Languages And Cultures | Department of Anthropology | Department of History | OSU Libraries | The Humanities Institute