Women, Turkey, and the West: Resistances and Negotiations of Power
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By presenting the image of the ideal modern and secular Turkish woman as an integral component of their modernization project, the modernizing Turkish state attempts to prove that it is powerful and developed enough to accede to the European Union. The modernization project is strife with contradictions, however, and women utilize both subtle and public strategies to displace power structures and create their own identity performances. This thesis explores definitions of modernity, modernization, Orientalism, and Occidentalism; the formation of the political subject and spaces of contestation between woman and nation; the beginnings of the Turkish modernization project and the establishment of the Republic; and contemporary discourses regarding women, Turkey, and the West, focusing on Turkey’s attempts to accede to the European Union as a historically-implicated movement, discussions and ramifications of neoliberal restructuring, and arguments regarding women’s rights and Islam. This thesis is an attempt to create an alternative reading of Turkish women’s historical and continuing efforts toward empowerment to the narratives of contemporary media discourses regarding women in Turkey.