Queer Debt: Affective Politics of Security and Intimacy in Kurdish Turkey
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 05/02/2030
AbstractThe conflict between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) that began in 1984 entered a cease-fire in 2010 but returned to re-intensified militarized conflict in 2015. This has led to massive infrastructural and human destruction in Southeast Turkey, accompanied by intensified surveillance and urban counterinsurgency against Kurds. As with many aspects of Kurdish identity politics in Turkey, the ways in which Kurdish queer folks are articulating, debating, and living identities are intimately and increasingly interwoven with institutions, discourses, and practices of securitization. This dissertation shows how queer and trans Kurds adopt, adapt, and use surveillance to constitute moral worlds, craft ethical subjectivities by negotiating the value of life and work with one another, the broader community, and the state. These negotiations involve vocabularies, strategies, and affective attachments derived from the longstanding militarized conflict and surveillance. Key to this dynamic is the notion of bedel, the feelings of indebtedness, loss, and obligation among Kurds to struggle for the cause of Kurdish rights. Drawing on 24-months of field research in several key sites and locations, including Kurdish LGBTI organizations and apartments rented by sex workers and “partyers” in Istanbul and Diyarbakır, the project demonstrates how securitization is affectively experienced through belonging, difference, loyalty, and betrayal. Through bedel, queer and trans Kurds in Kurdish Turkey police boundaries for their security and livelihoods, constitute moral value, respectability, belonging, and honor in the Kurdish society, craft “chameleon subjectivities” for disorienting racial and sexual violence, and collectivize an ethical politics of face to solve disputes within their community, shifting the meanings of bedel in the process.
Degree ProgramGraduate College