Who killed Ahmet Yıldız? Sex, citizenship, and justice in a transnational world


Thu, 11/29/2012 - 1:00pm to Fri, 08/12/2022 - 8:28pm

In this talk, I trace the story of what was termed the "first Turkish gay honor killing" by the international and national news media in the Summer of 2008. Ahmet Yıldız's murder and the discourses that unfolded in its aftermath speak to racializing narratives within Turkey, as well as across transnational queer circuits, exemplifying sexuality's close connection with civilizational discourses. This story also speaks to the imagined transnational division of labor between the domestic and the public, demonstrating how the relationship between sex and violence is used to shore up the West as the place of stranger danger by establishing the so-called "East" as the location of family violence. I argue for caution against understanding Ahmet's story through simple narratives of desire for an out-and-proud life; against isolating queer issues from other forms of national sexual regulation; and finally, for a transnational understanding of sexuality that puts pressure on the ways in which the non-West continues to serve as the constitutive outside for Western sexualities.

Evren Savcı received her Ph.D. in Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at The Sexualities Project at Northwestern (SPAN), affiliated with the Department of Sociology and Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Her first book project Queer in Translation: Paradoxes of Westernization and Sexual Others in the Turkish Nationtraces the travel and translation of Western concepts that surround discourses on non-normative genders and sexualities to the context of contemporary Turkey. In it, she analyzes how these terms enter into public discussions, enabling certain conversations, and foreclosing others, while paying close attention to how processes of travel and translation reveal asymmetrical relations between the West and the non-West, and how these are in turn buttressed by regimes of gender and sexuality. In her second book project, Failures of Westernization, she is studying practices of Islamic matrimony (imam nikahı), relative marriages (akraba evliliği), polygamy and arranged marriages that were strongly discouraged or outlawed by the new Republic, yet are still practiced today. Through looking at the contemporary forms of these practices, she will think about what stake the Turkish nation-state had in regulating these forms of sexuality and what these "failures" and their persistence tell us about Westernization in return.


MENAS Colloquium Series, Fall 2012
(this talk co-sponsored by the Institute for LGBT Studies)

Thursday, November 29, 2012
1-3pm in Marshall 490

Video of the talk

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