Encountering difference and radical democratic trajectory: An analysis of Gezi Park as public space
Summer 2013 was a historic period in regards to political activism in Turkey. Commonly referred to as ‘the Gezi Resistance’ the grass-roots mobilisation caught the rather self-assured AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi) government off guard as hundreds of thousands rushed to the streets squares and parks to reclaim those spaces publicly. The resistance started with the attempt by a handful of environmentalists to protect a few trees being cut down in central Istanbul. Then it quickly moved beyond just about protecting a few trees and became a collective reaction to the recent and ongoing urban modelling projects that would turn commons into gated spaces for consumption. Significantly the Gezi Resistance which reclaimed public spaces started to mobilise multiple identity groups who entered into the political arena in the radical democratic sense. This paper aims to scrutinise Gezi Resistance and the occupation of the park in relation to reclaiming public spaces and the politics of identity hence as an opportunity for a radical democratic emancipation. In this context emancipation refers to contestation against the dominating discourses of the majoritarian government with neoconservative tendencies. Public space is contextualised as the agonistic domain that enables individuals both to appear hence become visible for a possible interaction and acknowledgement and join collaborative struggles against dominant discourses. In this regard performing dissent re-produces subjectivities while articulating these to one another also requires a public space. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.