Occulting Neoliberalism: Neoconservative Familialism in Turkey


3 p.m., Nov. 7, 2014

Neoconservative family values have been increasingly mobilized to further neoliberal agendas in 2000’s Turkey. From encouragement of marriage to the marginalization of non-reproductive sexualities, from calls for at least three children to anti-abortion rhetoric, the Turkish government has been aggressively marketing its neoconservative familalism in an effort to promote its pronatalism and to prescribe the sexual and reproductive behaviors of its citizens. The government does not shy away from admitting that the purpose of its recent pronatalist shift is to secure an abundance of cheap labor, explicitly expressing the interlocking of neoliberal and neoconservative imperatives. However, for the millennial citizens of Turkey in whom neoliberal ethics of individual financial responsibility and self-sufficiency is successfully inculcated, serving a future of national prosperity can hardly justify having children they cannot afford. For this reason, President Erdogan has been repeatedly and personally testifying that “children are blessings (bereket in Turkish/barakat in Arabic),” implying that God provides for children through blessing their families with increased economic resources. Here pronatalism is justified not simply on neoconservative grounds that the behaviors prescribed by it are morally good or religiously right, but also on occulted neoliberal grounds that these behaviors attract celestial blessings in the form of material abundance. Thus, Dr. Korkman argues, the neoconservative familialism-brand Turkey reflects the structural affinity of neoliberalism with the occult. Zeynep Korkman is an assistant professor at the department of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona. She is also affiliated with MENAS. Her research interests include gendered labor, the public sphere, and cultural politics of secularism and the occult, in Turkey and the larger Middle East. Dr. Korkman received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a dissertation on the occult economies and feminized publics of divination in Turkey. An article from this work, entitled “Fortunes for Sale: Cultural Politics and Commodification of Culture in Millennial Turkey,” has recently appeared in the European Journal of Cultural Studies. Another entitled “Feeling Labor: Commercial Divination and Commodified Intimacy in Turkey” is forthcoming in 2015 in the journal of Gender and Society. Korkman is currently working on her book manuscript entitled “Gendered Fortunes.” ZEYNEP KORKMANGENDER AND WOMEN'S STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA MENAS Colloquium SeriesFriday, November 7, 20143pm in Marshall 490 Video of the talkClick to return to main Colloquium page