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Bridging Academia and Activism through Gender Studies

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IRWGS Seminar Room, 754 Schermerhorn Ext

1200 Amsterdam Ave

New York, NY 10027

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Bridging Academia and Activism through Gender Studies


A talk on feminism and gender studies in Turkey today, featuring
Ayşe Gül Altınay
Director of the Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence


In conversation with
Jean Howard
George Delacorte Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University


Sponsored by The Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies; Columbia Global Centers | Istanbul; The Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality; and Women Creating Change at The Center for the Study of Social Difference.




“Even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination, and that such illumination may come less from theories and concepts than from the uncertain, flickering, and often weak light that some men and women, in their lives and works, will kindle under almost all circumstances and shed over the time span that was given them on earth.” (Hannah Arendt)


In conversation with Hannah Arendt’s discussion of the “dark times,” this talk will present a critical reflection of the possibilities and challenges of doing feminism and gender studies in Turkey today. “The time span given us on earth” is shaped by deeply destructive forces, the consequences of which range from climate change to wars, from poverty and precarious living to racist and (hetero)sexist violence. Yet, it is also a time span in which we are witnessing major transformations, especially in relation to conventions on gender and sexuality. Contemporary Turkey marks a place where both the most destructive forces and the most transformative ones find strong expression. The talk will reflect on the challenges and possibilities of doing feminism and gender studies in Turkey today, with specific examples from the experiences of Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center, and ask some further questions: Where do we see the “illumination”? Why is it important, theoretically and politically, to “see” the illumination and expand on it? What are the possibilities offered by gender studies today to bridge academia and activism, and to enable a space of co-creation, co-resistance, solidarity and transformation?

Ayşe Gül Altınay is the Director of SU Gender (Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence) and Associate Professor of Anthropology teaching in the Gender Studies Ph.D and Cultural Studies BA and MA Programs at Sabancı University. Her research and writing have focused on militarism, memory, violence, gender and sexuality. Among her books are Gendered Wars, Gendered Memories: Feminist Conversations on War, Genocide and Political Violence (co-edited with Andrea Petö, 2016); The Grandchildren: The Hidden Legacy of “Lost” Armenians in Turkey (with Fethiye Çetin, trans. Maureen Freely, 2014), and The Myth of the Military-Nation: Militarism, Gender and Education in Turkey (2004). Her co-authored book with Yeşim Arat, Türkiye’de Kadına Yönelik Şiddet (Violence Against Women in Turkey) was awarded the 2008 PEN Duygu Asena Award. Since 2009, she has served as Associate Editor in the European Journal of Women’s Studies and was the Marie Jahoda Visiting Chair in Gender Studies at Ruhr University in 2012. Since 2013, she has been a part of the Women Mobilizing Memory Working Group of Women Creating Change at the Columbia University Center for the Study of Social Difference and is one of the co-editors of Women Mobilizing Memory (forthcoming, Columbia University Press, 2019).

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IRWGS Seminar Room, 754 Schermerhorn Ext

1200 Amsterdam Ave

New York, NY 10027

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