1. Rituals of Resistance and the Struggle over Democracy in Turkey

Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances - Sarah M. Pike

Agnes Czajka [+-]
The Open University
Agnes Czajka is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Studies at the Open University, UK. Agnes’s research interests include contemporary social and political thought, continental political philosophy, democracy, citizenship, contentious politics, migrant and refugee politics, and European and Mediterranean politics. Agnes’s most recent books include Europe After Derrida: Crisis and Potentiality (Edinburgh University Press) and Democracy and Justice: Reading Derrida in Istanbul (Routledge). She has also written for Jadaliyya and openDemocracy.


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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Czajka, Agnes. 1. Rituals of Resistance and the Struggle over Democracy in Turkey. Ritual and Democracy - Protests, Publics and Performances. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Oct 2020. ISBN 9781781799758. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=39689. Date accessed: 05 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.39689. Oct 2020

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