Panel 7

“Repression and Everyday Resistance(s)”

(All informations below are from the website of the Scuola Normale Superiore)

Date and time: Friday 2nd December 2022 | 9:30 – 11:30 AM

Room: Altana Hall

1.) Discussant: Rosa Burc – Scuola Normale Superiore | COSMOS

2.) “I wanted to have a “normal” life: bootleg alcohol production and resistance in Iran”

Maryam Salehi – Central European University

With the 1979 revolution and establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, many elements were pushed back from the public space into the private. The alternative opinions, ideas, and representations were expelled from the public space. But many practices of everyday life, prohibited legally, continued their existence in a disguised way. Alcohol was not an exception. After the revolution, the alcohol-producing companies, were closed and alcohol became rare. During the Pahlavi period, drinking alcohol had been an ordinary activity for the ones who were interested, but when alcohol was criminalized, it was not ordinary, “normal”, or easily accessible to consume anymore.

This study takes alcohol production in the context of post-revolutionary Iran as a heuristic to enquire into the ways people in Iran has dealt with the invasive power of the state. Due to its aim to create an Islamic and “pious society”, the state had imposed a wide variety of moral codes forcibly to the society. The state aimed at building a correlation between the public and private space. I argue that groups of people, namely [illegal] alcohol producers, have questioned this complementary of public and private space that the state was trying to enforce. In order to challenge this, people employed practices that can be thought of as resistance. Through an ethnographic approach I am trying to elaborate on the [illegal] practices of alcohol producers. I seek answer to if one can think of alcohol production as people’s desire to break this complementary of public and private spaces and to have a “normal” life? Is it an act of resistance to have a “normal” life at least in private? And what does it divulge about the nature of political power in Iran?

3.) “Counterinsurgent Urbanism: Weaponizing Land and Heritage in the Kurdish Region of Turkey”

Ronay Bakan – Johns Hopkins University

Suriçi, the historical city center of Diyarbakır, was the epicenters of the conflict between the Turkish security forces and the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDG-H), an armed, urban, Kurdish youth organization allied with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), following the end of peace talks in 2015. The United Nations reported that 103 days of military engagements that included the use of heavy weaponry on populated areas led to killings, torture, violence against women, displacements, disappearances, and destruction of homes and cultural monuments. However, the district’s destruction persisted in the conflict’s aftermath. Following the cessation of hostilities in March 2016, the Justice and Development Party (JDP) government declared urgent expropriation decrees across the region including Suriçi. The state’s new security agenda in the wake of urban war centered urban development and building new residential areas in the conflict-affected districts and cities of the region where people can reside “in humane conditions”. In a similar vein, in Suriçi, instead of providing a path for return for the residents, the government included building up the touristic potential of the district as a key part of its security agenda in the aftermath of urban warfare.

Drawing on an ethnographic fieldwork in Suriçi, I trace how the state conceives “spaces of insurgency” and employs counterinsurgent urbanism as a future-oriented action to prevent spectral insurgencies by intervening in the environment of insurgent formation. In doing so, I aim to bring forth the contradictions between state’s conception of “geographies of insurgency” and everyday spaces of collective action, which are undergirded by place-based collective identity and relations of trust and solidarity among ordinary residents.

4.) “Walking from Bouziane to Tunis. The performance of the bodies on the protest walks in Tunisia’s post-revolution.”

Kaouther Douzi – University of Liege | University of Tunis

After a few days from January 14, 2011, seven demonstrators from Bouziane who participated in the days of the revolution discussed among themselves how to make their protests “visible” to the authorities. They decided to walk from Bouziane to the capital Tunis (about 402 km). When they started walking, they noticed some people in the café who laughed about their idea. They continued their walk. Their numbers are increasing in every village and town they pass through. And they were joined by demonstrators from other cities. They would then be the first group of the famous sit-in in the kasbah place in Tunis. And it would be one of the main sit-ins of post-revolution Tunisia.

In this proposal, I suggest revisiting that walk to rethink about it from the narratives of the protesters who participated in the kasbah 1 sit-in. I propose discussing the walk as a body performance in the context of the Tunisian revolution. I will apply a qualitative approach to understand this way of protesting. I will try to understand that walking from the interviews I conducted with some participants of this walk and such protesters in Kasbah 1. I will also use the phenomenological approach to understand the performance of those bodies and their feelings, dreams, and worldview. I attempt to understand the connection of these bodies and their intersection with time and space through that walk. We seek to understand the process of this trajectory and how it was constructed. Improvisation was a significant feature of this walk. Sharing, patience, and enthusiasm were animated by a sense of “ability to do” in that period. For this reason, it would be interesting to consider how the protesters remembered this walk to understand the position of this protest walk in the sit-in of Kasbah 1 (and later Kasbah 2) in the context of post-revolution Tunisia.


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