Of Parks and Hamams: Queer Heterotopias in the Age of Neoliberal Modernity and the Gay Citizen

Baran Germen
In Volume 5, Issue 1
Special Issue: Neoliberal Gender, Neoliberal Sex

Abstract

This article attends to queer heterotopias, distinct spatial formations in which the experience of sexuality resists the idioms available to fundamentally normative political imaginary. In the context of Turkey, queer heterotopias contest and are imperilled both by neoliberal state intervention into public space and by a liberal political discourse pivoting around the figure of the gay citizen. In the first part of the article, the author posits Gezi Park as a queer heterotopia, albeit a lost one, and follows the civil resistance that saved the park from a government-propelled redevelopment project that planned the destruction and privatization of a portion of Taksim Square. The reclaiming of the park during what came to be known as the Gezi Park protests occasioned the salience of the LGBT community members as denizens of the public space, accelerating the maturation of the LGBT political movement in the country. The article presents a reading of the gains of the Gezi Park protests – the revamped Gezi Park and the public acknowledgment of the LGBT demands for constitutional recognition – against what the park once signified as a queer heterotopia. In the second part of the article, the author turns to Ferzan Özpetek’s Steam (1997) to think through the critique that queer heterotopias embody. The film constructs the site of hamam as a queer heterotopia that spatially breaks the teleological logic of modernity, housing modes of being, relationalities, and socialities inassimilable into an identitarian sexual liberalism. The analyses of Gezi Park and Steam reveal both the precariousness and potency of queer heterotopias in the age of neoliberal modernity and the gay citizen.

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