Disciplining Speech, Violating Rights

Recurrent and Shifting Patterns in the Context of Turkey





The article proposes a historical account of the evolution of struggles and debates surrounding freedom of speech in the context of Turkey. The main argument is that violations of freedom of speech cannot be assessed in a manner isolated from the comprehensive remakings of politics, economy and society in the country that configure and reconfigure the contours of ‘(un)acceptability’ and ‘(un)desirability’ of speech in historically specific ways. Therefore, the article challenges mainstream approaches that treat freedom of speech within the allegedly autonomous, abstract and individualised domain of intellect divorced from its material context and situates it within the deep-seated societal transformations that both influence and are influenced by continuously contested governing strategies. After outlining key terms of the debate, the second section provides a historical overview of the evolution of controversies in this field before Justice and Development Party or Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP) rule. The final section focuses on the specific evolution of the AKP-era governing strategy in its continuities and ruptures from the historically prevalent freedom of speech issues in three domains: labour rights, cultural and political rights, and gender and sexuality.


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Author Biography

Pinar E. Donmez, Department of Politics, People and Place, De Montfort University

Pinar E. Donmez is a lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Politics, People and Place at De Montfort University. Her research focuses on the (de)politicisation of governance and social processes from a critical political economy perspective.

Agony and Ecstasy (2007) by Houria Niati