Nuriye's dilemma: Turkish lessons of democracy and the gendered state

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Abstract

In this article, I explore political consciousness and its relation to language, action, and power relations among schoolchildren and their parents in a small town in southern Turkey. More specifically, I draw on Wittgenstein's concept of language games to examine the ambiguous and indeterminate links between political discourse and educational practices, especially how these links are refracted in everyday life. Thus, I show that the term democracy, as'used in the school system, has become a linguistic "scaffold" on which townspeople can arrange the political and social self-images they use to narrate their own life courses and life strategies. This sociolinguistic analysis of a political signifier, which draws out the relation among officially proscribed canons of representation, performances of hierarchy, and different understandings of polity and society across generations, lays groundwork for new approaches to the ethnography of the state. [Turkey, state, democracy, political signifier, schooling, language and society]

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