Between belonging and opposition: life story narratives of women from the generation of' 78
Ciliv, Serra (2002) Between belonging and opposition: life story narratives of women from the generation of' 78. [Thesis]
This oral history thesis draws on the life story narratives of four Alevi women who were participants of the militant left during the 1970s. Born in rural Turkey, these women were politicized at very young ages, and formulated their primary self-identifications in terms of their commitment to the 'revolutionary ideal'. As women who lived a good part of their life outside the boundaries of law, these narrators are representatives of what has been termed the generation of '78. Violence and restrictions upon their 'personhood' were inherent in their life stories, which are chiefly characterized by their long lasting sense of belonging to the leftist organizations and their continued opposition to the state. Through an analysis of these women's narratives, this thesis has a twofold aim. First, it aims to situate the layers of meaning, myth, ideology and activity - the symbolic world - of these women within the historicity of the '70s left. This will thereby emphasize the changing relationship of the collective political culture endorsed and reproduced by the leftist organizations to Kemalism on the one hand, and other networks and communities on the other. The continuities between the personal and the social within the narratives also point towards the prevalence of the meta narratives of patriotism, revolution and honor within the 'microcosm' of the movement and the world outside: the family, the ethnic community, the neighborhood or the nation. Therefore, these women's narratives are analyzed in terms of their wide variety of inter-subjective relationalities ranging from their family to their neighborhood, their ethnic group, their organization, and their state. Second, these women's narratives provide us with a chance to determine the specificities of the 'marginal' positions they have been placed in - as members of the generation of '78, as Alevi individuals, and as women. While this thesis follows each woman's path from her positionality as an Alevi woman within the left into a 'normal' and 'law-abiding' life path, through which their notions of their own 'personhood', 'womanhood' and their understanding of 'politics' was altered. With an emphasis on the heterogeneity of their fluid subjectivities, my aim has been to locate their agency whereby they assert their own needs and desires, negotiating, challenging and transforming the parameters of their life-worlds. An understanding of the complex manner through which these women asserted their agency will not only enable me to question categories such as 'terrorists', 'patriots' or 'members of a subordinate position within the left' as bestowed upon them by official state ideology, leftists and feminists respectively, but will also call for a rethinking of the notions of oppression, violence and power as one dimensional relationalities.
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