Being a mother and a revolutionary: experiences of motherhood among revolutionary women in 1970s-80s Turkey
Türegün, Emine Nihan (2016) Being a mother and a revolutionary: experiences of motherhood among revolutionary women in 1970s-80s Turkey. [Thesis]
This thesis aims to explore different meanings attached to being a “revolutionary mother” by women who identified as “revolutionaries” in the 1970s and 1980s. Based on a close analysis of in-depth, semi-structured oral history interviews with women who were both revolutionaries and mothers, as well as women who became mothers after the 1980 military coup, this research focuses on how motherhood narratives reconfigure the revolutionary narrative. Being a revolutionary and a mother has meant dealing with a gendered division of labor both at home and within revolutionary political organizations. This research aims to complicate the meanings of personal and political, public and private through the narratives of revolutionary mothers. The literature on motherhood and political activism has focused on either mothers’ peace politics, or women’s “entrance” into the public sphere through motherhood. The memories and struggles of women who identified as “revolutionaries” in the 1970s and 1980s have been either totally invisible or marginalized in public debates, as well as in the academic literature. Narratives of motherhood have constituted a significant layer of silence within this larger invisibility. Women who were mothers participated in revolutionary movements, or they became mothers during their years of political activism. This research seeks to fill a gap in the literature by analyzing the experiences, memories and contemporary reflections of women who were mothers and politically engaged revolutionaries in the 1970s and 1980s. This study argues that “revolutionary mothers” (re)constructed contested meanings of being a revolutionary and a mother, and shows how discussion of motherhood expands our understanding of revolutionary history in Turkey.
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