Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Sonali Chakravarti

Major

College of Social Studies

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

In this thesis, I argue that the Gezi Movement was a popular reaction to the increasing authoritarianism and neoliberal urban policies of the AKP administration. The initial occupation of the park was sparked by the Taksim Square Pedestrianization and Gezi Park Redevelopment Project, but it became a mass uprising against the government when the police used excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators. I argue that the occupation of Gezi Park became a radical democratic experiment spontaneously through the protesters’ grievances against the AKP. After the police cleared Gezi Park on June 16, the protesters occupied their neighborhood parks and squares in order to continue the resistance. I argue that it was in these popular assemblies that radical democratic practices and discourses became expanded and entrenched in the public’s image. The relations of solidarity that people formed with others and the lessons that the people learned through their participation ultimately give the Gezi Movement its counter-hegemonic potential. Although Erdogan and the AKP are still in power, their hegemony on defining the ‘common good’ was compromised by the uprising, which is evident in civil society’s continual mobility in opposing the economic, political, and social programs of the government, forcing the AKP to pursue increasingly coercive and illiberal methods to carry out policy paradigms and military interventions today.

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