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The Affective Dynamics of Mass Protests
 1032227222, 9781032227221

Table of contents :
Cover
Half Title
Series Information
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of Contributors
Acknowledgements
1 Introduction
The Occupation of Tahrir Square and the Gezi Park Protests
Thematic Overview
Affect, Mobilization, and Midan Moments: Conceptual Reflections
The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations
Midān Moments Travelling in Time and Space
A Decade Later: Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation
Outlook
Notes
References
Part I Affect, Mobilization, Midān Moments: Conceptual Reflections
2 Midān Moments and Political Transformation
Emotions and Protest in Social Movement Studies
Midan Moments and the Occupations of Tahrir and Taksim
Transmission of Midan Moments Beyond the Square
Outlook: From Protest to Participation
Note
References
3 Affect and Mobilization: A Conversation With Deborah Gould
Notes
References
Part II The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations
4 The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt: An Affective Reading of Tahrir 2011
Introduction
Reading Tahrir From the Perspective of an Intersectional Affective Ontology
Contextualizing and De-Centring Tahrir 2011 and the January 25 Revolution
Between Battlefield and Utopia: Tahrir 2011
The Utopian Square
The Violent Square
Conclusion
Acknowledgements
Notes
References
5 Revisiting the Promises and Inspiration of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings Through an Affective Reading of Collective Action
Introduction
“Witnessing the Beauty of Fighting Together”
The Expansion of Collective Resistance and the Liminality of Solidarity
Conclusion: Midan Moments as Spatial, Temporal, and Affective Suspension
Notes
References
6 The Limits of an Encounter: When the Çapulcu Met the “Terrorist”
The Significance of Gezi as a Moment of Hope for Change
The Affective Encounter of Çapulcu and “Terrorist”: Suspecting “Affect Aliens”
Gezi Park as a “Peace Festival”, Or the Missed Opportunity to Bridge the Gap
Feeling and Knowing Differently
The Limits of the Transformative Effect of Affects: Empathy Vs. Pity
Conclusion
Notes
References
Part III Midān Moments Traveling in Time and Space
7 The Egyptian Revolution Against the Police
Everyday Government of the Police
The Backstreets of Tahrir: “The People Want to Bring Down the Police”
The People Versus the Police: Enter the Baltagiyya
Affect in the Revolution Against the Police
Conclusion
Notes
References
8 “(Re)creating a New Gezi”: The Affective Politics of Saying No to the Presidential System in the Aftermath of Popular Uprisings
(Re)constructing a We in a Climate of Fear and Repression
Recalling Gezi in the No-Campaign
Together, But How?
Conclusion
Notes
References
Part IV A Decade Later: Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation
9 “Revolution? There Was a Revolution?”: Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt After 2011
Occupation and Co-Optation
Erasure and Archiving
Defeat and Continuation
A Preliminary Ending
Notes
References
10 Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory: Remembering the Gezi Event
The Event in the Present Time: Reality and Virtuality
Affective Memory and the Event
Progress, Thresholds of Memory and Politics in the Present
Notes
References
11 Flashes of Revolutionary Times: The University as a Meshwork of Hope, Despair, and Endurance
The Protest in Context
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
Vibrant Affective Matter: Flashes of Times, Bodies, and Assemblage of Collectives
Collectives: Concluding Thoughts On the Concept of We as Collective
Notes
References
Index

Citation preview

The Affective Dynamics of Mass Protests

This book examines the connection between affects, mobilisation, and political transformation. Offering unique insights into the affective and emotional dynamics of occupied Tahrir and Taksim Squares, this book builds a novel understanding of urban mass protests and their capacity to “travel” across time and space. Its Midān Moment concept breaks new ground in affect and emotion studies with a focus on political transformation in Egypt and Turkey. It is based on empirically grounded research which covers the 2011 and 2013 uprisings and their authoritarian aftermath. This book will appeal to scholars and students interested in affect and emotion studies in a range of disciplinary areas, including political science, sociology, anthropology, area studies, cultural studies, gender studies, and postcolonial studies. Bilgin Ayata is Professor of Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. Her main research interests are migration, borders, affect theory, postcolonial studies, and socio-​political transformation. She is the director of the Nomis Research Project “Elastic Borders: Rethinking the Borders of the 21st Century”. Ayata was the DFG Mercator Fellow at the CRC Affective Societies during 2019–​2023 at the FU Berlin. From 2015 to 2019, she co-​developed and was international collaboration partner of the research project C01 “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​political Transformations” within the CRC Affective Societies. She has published on affective citizenship, belonging, border regimes, displacement, mass protests and genocide denial. Cilja Harders is Professor of Political Sciences and the director of the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her main research interests cover affect and emotion, transformations of statehood in the Arab World, especially in Egypt, politics from below, and gender relations. Among others, she published with Bilgin Ayata about “Midān Moments”, in Slaby, Jan; von Scheve, Christian (ed.), Affective Societies: Key Concepts (2019). In 2020 she published about “The Politics of the Poor in the Middle East and North Africa. Between Contestation and Accommodation” in the “Routledge Handbook on Citizenship in the MENA Region”.

Routledge Studies in Affective Societies Series editors: Birgitt Röttger-​Rössler is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany Doris Kolesch is Professor of Theater and Performance Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany Editorial Board: Professor Jan Slaby, Professor Christian von Scheve, Professor Hubert Knoblauch, Professor Kerstin Schankweiler, Dr Katharina Metz Routledge Studies in Affective Societies presents high-​level academic work on the social dimensions of human affectivity. It aims to shape, consolidate and promote a new understanding of societies as Affective Societies, accounting for the fundamental importance of affect and emotion for human coexistence in the mobile and networked worlds of the twenty-​first century. Contributions come from a wide range of academic fields, including anthropology, sociology, cultural, media and film studies, political science, performance studies, art history, philosophy, and social, developmental and cultural psychology. Contributing authors share the vision of a transdisciplinary understanding of the affective dynamics of human sociality. Thus, Routledge Studies in Affective Societies devotes considerable space to the development of methodology, research methods and techniques that are capable of uniting perspectives and practices from different fields. Public Spheres of Resonance Constellations of Affect and Language Edited by Anne Fleig and Christian von Scheve Architectural Affects after Deleuze and Guattari Edited by Marko Jobst and Hélène Frichot Affect, Power, and Institutions Edited by Millicent Churcher, Sandra Calkins, Jandra Böttger, and Jan Slaby The Affective Dynamics of Mass Protests Midān Moments and Political Transformation in Egypt and Turkey Edited by Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders For more information about this series, please visit: www.routle​dge.com/​Routle​dge-​Stud​ies-​in-​ Affect​ive-​Societ​ies/​book-​ser​ies/​RSAS

The Affective Dynamics of Mass Protests Midān Moments and Political Transformation in Egypt and Turkey Edited by Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders

First published 2024 by Routledge 4 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 605 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10158 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2024 selection and editorial matter, Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-​in-​Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Names: Ayata, Bilgin, editor. | Harders, Cilja, editor. Title: The affective dynamics of mass protests : Midān moments and political transformation in Egypt and Turkey / edited by Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders. Description: New York, NY : Routledge, 2024. | Series: Routledge studies in affective societies | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2023014439 (print) | LCCN 2023014440 (ebook) | ISBN 9781032227221 (hardback) | ISBN 9781032227238 (paperback) | ISBN 9781003273882 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: Social movements–Turkey–History–21st century. | Social movements–Egypt–History–21st century. | Turkey–Social conditions–21st century. | Turkey–Politics and government–21st century. | Egypt–Social conditions–21st century. | Egypt–Politics and government–21st century. Classification: LCC HN656.5.A8 A394 2024 (print) | LCC HN656.5.A8 (ebook) | DDC 306.09561–dc23/eng/20230522 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023014439 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2023014440 ISBN: 978-​1-​032-​22722-​1 (hbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​032-​22723-​8 (pbk) ISBN: 978-​1-​003-​27388-​2 (ebk) DOI: 10.4324/​9781003273882 Typeset in Sabon by Newgen Publishing UK

Contents

List of Contributors Acknowledgements 1 Introduction

vii x 1

B I L G I N AYATA AN D CIL JA H ARDE RS

PART I

Affect, Mobilization, Midān Moments: Conceptual Reflections

15

2 Midān Moments and Political Transformation

17

B I L G I N AYATA AN D CIL JA H ARDE RS

3 Affect and Mobilization: A Conversation with Deborah Gould

33

B I L G I N AYATA , DE B O RA H GO UL D, AN D CIL JA HAR DER S

PART II

The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations

53

4 The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt: An Affective Reading of Tahrir 2011

55

C I L J A H A R D E RS

5 Revisiting the Promises and Inspiration of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings through an Affective Reading of Collective Action D E RYA Ö Z K AYA

79

vi  Contents

6 The Limits of an Encounter: When the Çapulcu Met the “Terrorist”

96

B A H A R Fı R AT

PART III

Midān Moments Traveling in Time and Space

119

7 The Egyptian Revolution against the Police

121

S A LWA I S M A I L

8 “(Re)creating a New Gezi”: The Affective Politics of Saying No to the Presidential System in the Aftermath of Popular Uprisings

142

D E RYA Ö Z K AYA

PART IV

A Decade Later: Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation

163

9 “Revolution? There Was a Revolution?”: Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011

165

S A M U L I S C H IE L KE

10 Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory: Remembering the Gezi Event

182

M E LTE M A H I SKA

11 Flashes of Revolutionary Times: The University as a Meshwork of Hope, Despair, and Endurance

202

H A N A N S A B EA

Index

216

Contributors

Meltem Ahıska is Professor of Sociology at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. She is author of Occidentalism in Turkey: Questions of Modernity and National Identity in Turkish Radio Broadcasting (London: I.B.Tauris, 2010) and Radyonun Sihirli Kapısı: Garbiyatçılık ve Politik Öznellik [The Magical Door of Radio: Occidentalism and Political Subjectivity] (Metis Publications, Istanbul, 2005). She is a member of the editorial board of the e-​journal Red Thread and serves on the editorial advisory board of the e-​journal Critical Times. Bilgin Ayata is Professor of Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz, Austria. Her main research interests are migration, borders, affect theory, postcolonial studies and socio-​political transformation. She is the director of the Nomis Research Project Elastic Borders: Rethinking the Borders of the 21st Century”. Ayata was the DFG Mercator Fellow at the CRC Affective Societies during 2019–​2023 at the FU Berlin. From 2015 to 2019, she was international collaboration partner of the research project C01 “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​political Transformations” within the CRC Affective Societies. bahar fırat is a research associate at the CRC Affective Societies at FU Berlin. In her current research, she analyses the affective and emotional dynamics of authoritarian transformation in post-​2013 Turkey. She studied sociology at Middle East Technical University and Christian-​ Albrechts-​ University zu Kiel, and political science and international relations at Boğaziçi University and Istanbul Bilgi University. Her research interests revolve around issues of power, class, and identity and their intersections, with a thematic focus on processes of nation building and nationalism; migration and displacement; poverty and exclusion; state violence and resistance movements, and with a geographical focus on Germany and Turkey, particularly on the Kurdish “issue”.

viii  Contributors Deborah Gould is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include political imaginaries, political emotion, and contentious politics. She was involved in ACT UP/​Chicago for many years, and later in Queer to the Left, and was a founding member of the research/​art/​activism collaborative Feel Tank Chicago, most famous for its “International Parades of the Politically Depressed”. Cilja Harders is Professor of Political Sciences and the director of the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her research interests cover affect and emotion, transformations of statehood in the Arab World, especially in Egypt, politics from below, and gender relations. Among others, she published with Bilgin Ayata about “Midān Moments”, in: Slaby, Jan; von Scheve, Christian (ed.): Affective Societies—​Key Concepts, London; NY 2019. In 2020 she published about “The Politics of the Poor in the Middle East and North Africa. Between Contestation and Accommodation” in the “Routledge Handbook on Citizenship in the MENA Region”. Salwa Ismail is Professor of Politics with reference to the Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her research examines everyday forms of government, urban governance, and governmental violence. Her publications include “Political Life in Cairo’s New Quarters: Encountering the Everyday State” (University of Minnesota Press 2006), and “The Rule of Violence: Subjectivity, Memory and Government in Syria” (Cambridge University Press 2018). Her most recent publication appeared in Political Geography (2022). Derya Özkaya (Dr. phil.) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz. Her academic research interests are primarily centred on political emotions and affect, political ethnography of collective action and resistance, social movements and contentious politics, collective memory, and contemporary politics of Turkey. She is currently working on her first monograph on the emotional and affective dynamics of popular protests and collective action focusing on Turkey’s Gezi uprisings of 2013 and the post-​Gezi political landscape in the context of anti-​government protests and alliances. Hanan Sabea is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo. Her research interests cover labour, history and memory, affective forces in narrating revolutionary transformation, and knowledge production in the Social Sciences in the Middle East. She published articles in Africa, Journal of Historical Sociology, African Studies, Feminist Africa, International Working-​ Class History, and International Journal of African Historical Studies.

Contributors  ix Samuli Schielke is a social and cultural anthropologist working on contemporary Egypt. He is a senior research fellow at Leibniz-​Zentrum Moderner Orient, and associate primary investigator at Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies. He is the author and editor of The Perils of Joy (2012), The Global Horizon (with Knut Graw, 2012), Ordinary Lives and Grand Schemes (with Liza Debevec, 2012), In Search of Europe? (with Daniela Swarowsky and Andrea Heister), Egypt in the Future Tense (2015), Migrant Dreams (2020), and The Writing of Lives (2021).

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our colleagues and friends who have provided invaluable feedback and support throughout the process of compiling and editing this book. Their insights and encouragement have been instrumental in shaping the direction and scope of the project. First and foremost, we extend our deepest appreciation to our authors who have generously shared their time and expertise in their respective fields to make this volume possible. A first workshop for this book took place short before the outbreak of the Covid-​19 Pandemic which unsettled our initial time-​plan. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, we express our heartfelt appreciation to our contributors for their unwavering commitment to this project. We also would like to express our deepest gratitude to the members of our research team in our longitudinal study that gave way to this book. The first research phase took place from 2015 to 2019 and included doctoral researchers Derya Özkaya and Dina Wahba. The second phase from 2019 to 2023 included the doctoral researchers bahar fırat and Ricarda Ameling. We are very indebted to their meticulous work and dedication. We also wish to thank the student assistants who supported us througout the years in the project, especially Lina Najmi, Fatima El Sayed, Marie Gippert and İdil Deniz Şakar. Both research projects were part of the Collaborative Research Centre 1171 Affective Societies, funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG). The collaboration and exchange with all of our colleagues within the CRC 1171 was an exceptional environment to carry out this research and we are thoroughly grateful for the experience. We owe much gratitude to our editors with Routledge, Emily Briggs, and Lakshita Joshi, who provided exceptional support and dedication to this project. We also want to express our appreciation to the editorial team at Translabor Berlin. We owe a special thank you to Laura Jung for her thoughtful and diligent editing, especially in the last phase of the manuscript. We are also deeply indebted to our student assistant İdil Deniz Şakar, whose meticoulous assistance at many different stages of the book was an

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Acknowledgements  xi invaluable support throughout the entire process. Her care and commitment was exceptional. Finally, we are deeply indebted to our esteemed interlocutors, friends, and colleagues in Egypt and Turkey, who generously shared their valuable thoughts and insights at many stages of the book with us. Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders Berlin, February 2023

1 Introduction Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders

This book explores the role of affect and emotions in protests and political transformations during and after urban mass mobilizations, with a focus on the kind of large-​scale occupations of public spaces which re-​emerged as a form of popular protest at a global scale in the wake of the so-​called Arab revolutions. 1 It jointly examines two uprisings which have not been analysed comprehensively in relation to each other before. Building on a close study of the occupations of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in early 2011 and the occupation of Gezi Park at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey in 2013, this book offers novel conceptual and empirical insights by focusing on the affective dynamics of this form of protest and their workings in time and space during and after the occupations. At a theoretical level, we offer the concept of Midān Moments as an analytical tool to capture the affective dynamics of such occupations, including their potentials, limits, and transmission across time and space. Chapter 2 introduces the concept in more detail. Summarized briefly, the concept of Midān Moments zooms into episodes of mass protest characterized by intense affective relationalities unfolding in a delineated space (such as an occupied public square). These intense affective relationalities are engendered by the bodily co-​presence of protesters as well as the practices relating to these spaces. The concept specifically refers to affective ruptures of pre-​existing emotional repertoires such as fear, love, hate, and reverence for the existing socio-​political order. Such raptures are capacious as they can potentiate new ways of being, feeling, and relating to each other. Yet they can also raise new conflicts or intensify existing tensions based on societal cleavages. Thus, our concept of Midān Moments highlights the complexity and ambiguity of mass protests: They are not only imbued with a sense of the possibility for social change but are also marked by ambivalences, as they can already contain—​ and make tangible—​ the limits of such possibility. In fact, our term of Midān Moments captures this ambivalence. We derive it from the Arabic word midān, which linguistically signifies a field, place, or square, but can also denote a political or ideological battlefield (see Chapter 2 in this volume). With this concept, we aim to counter simplistic notions of failure or DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-1

2  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders success of collective action by shifting the attention to the affective dynamics of extraordinary episodes of mass protest which can be replicated far beyond the occupied squares long after the protests have ended. While the idea of Midān Moments was developed based on our case studies in Egypt and Turkey, the concept offers a wider framework for analysing the affective dynamics of similar protests outside the MENA region2. Much of the existing empirical explorations on affect and politics focus predominantly on North America and Europe. Moreover, their theoretical imaginary is firmly grounded in the West. This eurocentrism in affect studies has resulted in the call to diversify affect studies, as articulated by Yael Navaro (2017). Our empirically grounded conceptualization of Midān Moments contributes to this much needed and ongoing pluralization and de-​centring of the West within affect studies (Iskra, 2023; Kasmani, 2022; Navaro, 2012; Rommel 2021; Sabea, 2013; Schielke, 2015; Yıldırım, 2019). Tyrone Palmer`s (2020) foundational criticism of affect studies as a manifestation of white ontologies questions powerfully the desirability and usefulness of such efforts, yet we are emboldened by the vibrant scholarship on affect and racism (Ahmed, 2014; Berg & Ramos-​Zayas, 2015; Corrigan, 2020; Leonardo & Zemblyas, 2013; Weheliye, 2014) which shows the value of such an endeavour. This is the first volume which not only examines the Tahrir and Gezi protests in Egypt and Turkey together but also does so through the lens of affect and emotions. A large body of scholarship has already emerged on the wave of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East after 2010. Nevertheless, a volume which closely analyses the Tahir and Gezi protests, two different but mutually resonant cases, from the perspective of affect and emotions is still absent. The contributions in this volume show that the analysis of the affective dynamics of these two occupations and their aftermath leads not only to a more nuanced and complex reading of the events themselves but enables an understanding of the role of affect and emotions for political transformation beyond a single case. The affective and emotional qualities of the mobilizations have frequently been addressed in public commentary, appearing both in initial discussions of the uprisings and in popular and scholarly engagements (Benski & Langman, 2013; Hanafi, 2012; Malmström, 2019; Mehrez, 2012; Özkırımlı, 2014; Pearlman, 2013). Public and scholarly discussions were shaped by the affective intensities and strong collective emotions of the protests: Precisely because the uprisings did not result in subsequent democratic transformation in the MENA region, as many initially had hoped, both academic and public interest shifted to discussions of failure, violence, and stagnation. The protests were at times depicted in an essentializing fashion, alternately romanticized as an “Arab Spring” to capture the hopes for a democratic transition or cast as a dystopian “Arab Winter” in reference to subsequent wars, displacement, and authoritarian consolidation. This book takes a different approach without recourse to simplistic notions of failure and success. Instead, it revisits these mass protests as critical turning points whose

Introduction  3 affective and emotional dynamics continue to factor into wider processes of political transformation in various ways and to varying degrees, as all the contributions in this volume show. Several contributions in this book emerged from research that was carried out at the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) “Affective Societies” in Berlin.3 Our understanding of affects and emotions is informed by the conceptualization developed by the CRC Affective Societies, which proposes a relational understanding of affects and emotions as distinct yet in constructive interplay with each other (Slaby & von Scheve, 2019). Such a relational approach towards affects and emotion is very helpful when thinking about political participation and mobilization. Social movement studies mostly explore emotions as either useful or obstructive for mobilization, as we discuss in more detail in Chapters 2 and 3 of this volume. Building also on Deborah Gould (2009), we move beyond such dichotomous categorizations and instead explore the affective dynamics of mobilization. By providing a complex analysis of mass protest through the lens of affects and emotions, the book makes three central contributions: First, it offers a nuanced discussion of socio-​political transformation informed by the scholarship of affect and emotions beyond simplistic assessments of success or failure. Second, it addresses and reflects on the contingent and ambivalent dimensions of the affective dynamics of mass protests. Third, it provides an in-​depth empirical exploration of two major political mobilizations in two pivotal states in the MENA region. Bringing the urban uprisings in Egypt and Turkey into conversation with each other, the contributions in this volume facilitate an innovative understanding of the local, national, regional, and global entanglements and travels of the affective dynamics of mass protest in space and time. It also contributes to countering essentializing notions of “Arab” uprisings, a term which not only omits the plurality of actors (such as Kurds, Nubians, Imazighen, and other racialized groups) but homogenizes the protests in the region. The Occupation of Tahrir Square and the Gezi Park Protests Even though the first uprising started in Tunisia in December 2010, the protests and subsequent occupation of Tahrir Square beginning on January 25 became a powerful symbol for the wave of mass uprisings which rapidly spread across North Africa and the Middle East. The protests not only toppled consolidated dictatorships and authoritarian rulers but also unleashed a global wave of hope and enthusiasm for the power of the streets. Both Tunisia and Egypt were governed for decades by Western-​backed dictators, with the Egyptian regime serving as a stronghold of US security interests in the Middle East (Bishara, 2012; Holmes, 2018). While Western powers initially exercised restraint when the protests erupted in Tunisia, a change of course became notable with the events unfolding in Tahrir Square in January 2011 (Bishara, 2012; Dabashi, 2012). International broadcast, print, and social

4  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders media circulated myriad images of protesters expressing their anger, joy, fear, and courage from the occupied square. With the resignation of the Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, and later of the Egyptian dictator Mubarak, the fate of the revolutions seemed to be sealed and a historic moment reached. International live broadcasts from Tahrir Square captured the strong emotions emanating from the square, where the tears of joy, relief, and disbelief attested to the extraordinary nature of the events. In Turkey—​the very country whose governing party had been declared a role model for the region—​a massive protest against the government erupted two years later in May 2013 with the occupation of Gezi Park in Istanbul. While regionally, the ruling AKP (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi, Justice and Development Party) increased its power after it had been praised as a secular model for Muslim countries by the United States (Ayata, 2015), at the domestic level its neoliberal policies, religious interventions into lifestyles, restriction of women`s rights, and repression of criticism increased the opposition from below. Until the eruption of the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, the main locus of mass protests and contention had been the Kurdish regions in south-​eastern Turkey where the Kurdish movement had been mobilizing against their oppression for the past decades. The Gezi Park protests were the first instance during the AKP rule in which a broad spectrum of urban city dwellers in Istanbul had been galvanized to rise up in a rainbow coalition against the government. It quickly turned into a nationwide mobilization. The local protests were caused by urban development plans to destroy the public Gezi Park in Taksim, which was one of the few remaining green spaces in the heart of Istanbul. When the police brutally evicted a small group of environmental activists who tried to prevent the demolition of trees in Gezi Park on May 28, 2013, the number of protesters increased rapidly and turned the gathering into a large-​scale protest against the government. Yet unlike in Egypt, the Gezi protests did not result in the toppling of the government. One important factor may be the different context of the protests in Turkey: The Gezi Park protests erupted a few months after the government and the PKK (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, Kurdistan Workers Party) had announced peace negotiations in March 2013, which had unleashed unprecedented hope for repair and reconstruction among the Kurdish population (see Chapter 6 in this volume). Thus, in the East and the West of the country, two concurrent processes were going on which did not converge to combine forces. The contributions in this volume advance an intersectional perspective on the protests in Turkey and Egypt by highlighting how pre-​existing divisions of race, gender, sexuality, class, religion, and other forms of overlapping exclusions were in some moments overcome in the experience of protesting together but were also reproduced or deepened in the process. The fact that the immediate macropolitical outcomes of the uprisings were different for Egypt and Turkey makes it even more intriguing to examine them together. So far, these two occupations have not been compared (with the exception of Holmes, 2014), at least not through the lens of affect and

Introduction  5 emotions.4 However, we do not propose to compare Egypt and Turkey in the strict sense of a comparative politics design. Instead, we look at them as different yet mutually resonant cases which can be brought into a productive dialogue, especially when focusing on affect, emotions, and the transformative effects of mass protests. Our interest in the affective dynamics of these protests is not to assess their prospects for success or failure but rather to understand what the experience of protesting together over a sustained period of time and space potentiates amid the macropolitical differences of a regime change or continuity. We not only revisit the beginnings of the protests but also trace how affective archives were created and maintained over a decade, flaring up in unexpected moments and revitalizing memories and repertoires. The chapters by Ahıska and Özkaya show this for the aftermath of the Gezi protests, and Sabea and Schielke draw this out for the case of Tahrir in this volume. Thematic Overview The book is organized into four thematic parts which tackle the conceptual, spatial, and temporal dimensions of the protests in Egypt and Turkey. Part I, titled “Affect, Mobilization, Midān Moments: Conceptual Reflections” begins with a chapter on the Midān Moments concept, which we developed during our longitudinal study on the affective dynamics of the occupation of public spaces in Egypt and Turkey. In Chapter 2, we bring the Midān Moments concept into conversation with Deborah Gould, whose work on affect and mobilization has guided our own thinking on Midān Moments. Part II and III of the book offer rich empirical insights into the unfolding of the protests on public squares and their travel across time and space. Part II, “The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations”, revisits the occupations of Tahrir Square 2011 and Gezi Park 2013 with contributions by Cilja Harders, bahar fırat, and Derya Özkaya which all build on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Egypt and Turkey. The chapters by Salwa Ismail and Derya Özkaya in Part III, “Midān Moments Travelling in Time and Space”, shift the focus towards the spatial and temporal aspects of the occupations beyond the square. Finally, Part IV of the book, “A Decade Later: Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation”, explores the affective archives of the protests. The chapters by Samuli Schielke, Meltem Ahıska, and Hanan Sabea present a nuanced analysis of hope, despair, vulnerability, and resilience a decade after the protests in the context of increasing authoritarian resurgence in both countries. Affect, Mobilization, and Midān Moments: Conceptual Reflections Building on our earlier conceptual work (Ayata & Harders, 2018, 2019), Chapter 2 introduces and expands the concept of the Midān Moments to facilitate critical engagement with the affective dynamics of urban protests on squares and their role in political transformations. Developed from

6  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders our analysis of the occupation of Tahrir Square in 2011 and Gezi Park in 2013, we present the concept to capture both the complexity of the affective dynamics of mass protests with its capacious and ambivalent dimensions, and its ability to travel in time and space. Both are critical to understand the role of the affective dynamics of mass protest for political transformation. The chapter develops our earlier conceptualization further by engaging both recent theoretical scholarship in affect studies and social movements in conjunction with our own research on mass protests in Turkey and Egypt. In Chapter 3, we present an edited transcript of a roundtable conversation held online in 2021 between Deborah Gould and us. The conversation begins by tracing Gould`s intellectual trajectory in her conceptualization of affect and mobilization, which she presented in her seminal book Moving Politics (2009). Gould also reflects on how the emergence of new forms of mobilization at the global level, including mass movements such as the Tahrir Square protests, Occupy, the Gezi protests, the Syntagma Square protests, and others impacted her ideas on affect and movements. The conversation then moves to the concept of Midān Moments and the echoes of the 2011 uprisings in the United States. In the final section, Gould comments on her most recent work on contingent moments and the composition of movements. The discussion concludes with reflections on the power of the moment of uprising and the possibility of alliances which are forged in the context of the protest but may not endure beyond it. The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations Part II offers thick descriptions of the emotional and affective dynamics of the occupied squares by focusing on political participation. In her chapter “The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt: An Affective Reading of Tahrir 2011”, Cilja Harders explores the link between political practices, space, time, affect, and emotion by building on fieldwork conducted in Cairo with activists and participants of the occupation in 2011. Discussing insights from a focus group discussion, she highlights that it is mixed feelings rather than clear-​cut emotional states which are conveyed in the narratives of her interlocutors. Building on the Midān Moment concept, she reads the famous square as a place where processes of transformation –​and resistance to such transformation-​unfold. She show how new and different feelings come into being. Harders argues that we must conceptualize political transformations as a fundamentally affective processes, which are shaped by feelings which cannot be unfelt, even after years of repression and depression. This perspective, in turn, helps to account for the long-​ term, less visible, and more subtle forms of change which grew out of the Egyptian uprising. In a similar vein, Derya Özkaya`s chapter “Revisiting the Promises and Inspirations of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings through an Affective Reading of

Introduction  7 Collective Action” explores the affective bonds which were formed during the Gezi uprisings of 2013. Özkaya`s multi-​sited ethnography in Istanbul and the Anatolian city Eskişehir offers a de-​centred reading of the protests, tracing the affects and emotions which moved the protesters to create alternative forms of resistance and coexistence. She analyses both the transformative potential and conflicts inherent in the affective atmosphere of the uprisings and offers a meticulous discussion of the fragility and limits of these unique experiences of togetherness in struggles for political transformation. The chapter shows not only how the protesters related to each other by creating new affective bonds but also how they (re)acted in response to these bonds. Following Lila Abu Lughod`s caution against the “romance of resistance”, she carefully shows both the beauty and the challenges in the togetherness of protests. These challenges appear when the good feelings emanating from affective alliances are prioritized over uncomfortable discussions about conflicts and tensions. In contrast to scholarship which sees the co-​presence of antagonistic actors as a means to eclipse ideologies, she argues that “co-​ presence does not replace ideology; rather, it suspends ideological differences for the sake of protecting the collectivity against different forms of threats” (see Özkaya in this volume, p. 90.) The contribution by bahar fırat delves deeper into the silences and missed encounters in the square. fırat’s chapter “The Limits of an Encounter: When the Çapulcu met the ‘Terrorist’ ” examines the affective dynamics of the protests from the vantage point of the suppression and racialization of Kurdish identity. Considering the significance of Turkey’s Kurdish issue as a political and societal source of conflict and violence, she interrogates the place of Kurds in shaping the affective bonds built on the square. Her juxtaposition of the terms çapulcu (marauder)—​the derogatory designation initially used by President Erdoğan to criminalize the Gezi protesters, which was then taken up by the protesters as a source of pride and confidence—​and “terrorist”—​a label given mostly to Kurds to criminalize their protests and mobilization—​highlights the intricate constellations and challenges in the square. Was there an encounter between the Kurds and the majority of the Gezi protesters in an affective atmosphere of occupation and resistance, and if so, how? What were the limits of this encounter? Her chapter critically discusses the limits of the affective raptures which the concept of Midān Moments alludes to. Moreover, she shows the different affective economies of hope circulating among different constituencies in Turkey. Midān Moments Travelling in Time and Space The chapters in this part of the book focus on the spatial and temporal dimensions of the uprisings. Part III begins with a chapter by Salwa Ismail that examines the margins and peripheries of the square and the role of impoverished neighbourhoods in Cairo in the uprisings. Her focus on police

8  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders violence and everyday forms of humiliation, especially against lower-​class men, informs her understanding of affect as the driving force in the uprising. She argues that the affective experiences of such humiliation fed into what in her analysis fundamentally is a “revolution against the police”: “The popular support for the revolution was to a large extent motivated by antagonism toward the police, guided by the structure of feelings of humiliation, anger, disdain, and revulsion” (Ismail in this volume, p. 138). Ismail`s focus on the workings of affect and emotion before the occupations sheds light on how the mundane and everyday are part and parcel of extraordinary events such as the occupation of Tahrir Square. The chapter shows that violence in general and police violence in particular play an important role in the disciplining of bodies and minds of the popular classes. By the same token, resistance to such forms of subjectification is an important dimension of the uprising. Her analysis also traces the neglected actions and actors which were operating outside and beyond the square, highlighting how class and gender roles were renegotiated and reinscribed both during and after the occupation. Her analysis of football ultra groups, which were vital for the success of the occupation, points to the ways in which their activism and stadium performances mirror, reflect, and try to overcome government through affect enacted by the police. The second contribution by Derya Özkaya in this book, “(Re)Creating a New Gezi: The Affective Politics of Saying No to the Presidential System in the Aftermath of Popular Uprisings” further develops her analysis from Chapter 5 to examine the post-​Gezi political landscape in the context of rapid authoritarian consolidation in Turkey. She focuses on the electoral mobilization of the No-​Campaign against the introduction of a presidential system through a constitutional referendum in 2017, widely considered the government’s final step in establishing an authoritarian regime. Özkaya scrutinizes how campaigners attempted to create a new Gezi by tapping into the affective archive of previous affective alliances. Drawing on participant observation and in-​depth interviews with local political activists in Kadıköy and Maltepe (both in Istanbul) and the anatolian city Eskişehir, the chapter critically examines what kinds of affective attachments and/​or detachments were transmitted in the different attempts at coalition-​building in the aftermath of the Gezi protests. On the one hand, she notes the growing desire for togetherness which led to productive encounters between diverse actors who ultimately managed to form affective alliances for the No-​Campaign. In this sense, the chapter demonstrates how Midān Moments travel in time and space. On the other hand, Özkaya also notes the endurance of the same limits to these affective alliances which she had already observed at Gezi. Thus, she notes that both the potentials and limits of the affective dynamics of the Gezi protests were replicated during the No-​Campaign in Turkey. In conclusion, she cautions against the suspension of contentious issues for the mere sake of maintaining the positive feeling of acting together, as this can lead to what she terms as “politics of postponement” (Özkaya in this volume, p. 144).

Introduction  9 A Decade Later: Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation The chapters in Part IV of the book interrogate the memory of the protests, scrutinizing the affective archives they created and maintained over a decade amid depression, hope, and despair. In his chapter “ ‘What, There Was a Revolution?’ Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011”, Samuli Schielke weaves together personal experience with fragments of ethnographic fieldwork and historical narratives to reflect on the active work of remembering, forgetting, and mythologizing which accompanied the January uprising from the beginning. He also carves out the affective moods which accompanied and enforced such work, such as the anger and frustration fuelling a continuation of the uprising, the celebration of revolutionary glory which enabled a simultaneous erasure of its traces, and the painful labour of acknowledging defeat. He incisively shows how “broken fear” can feed into post-​revolutionary violence and polarization. Schielke argues that the reason for the popular acceptance of the authoritarian aftermath in Egypt lies in the fact that ruling elites were able to “to co-​opt revolutionary language and symbols, tactics and affects, and because it was able to re-​occupy spaces of revolution in both material and symbolic terms” (Schielke in this volume, p. 137). He also emphasizes that Tahrir cannot be isolated from the larger history of revolutions and protests in Egypt. The chapter offers a rich account of erasure, archiving, and recreation and co-​opting of memory. It does so by taking the readers not only through the years after the revolution but also by tracking the wider history of protest and rebellion in colonial and postcolonial Egypt. It is with this history of protest in mind that, irrespective of victory or defeat, he recalls a saying in Egypt: “There was a revolution? One day there will be another one” (Schielke in this volume, p. 178). Meltem Ahıska`s chapter, titled “Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory: Remembering the Gezi Event”, explores the relation between event and memory with her diligent analysis of the affective memory of the Gezi protests. Situating the Gezi events within the wider history of violence and repression in Turkey, she argues that they created a “virtual geography” which suspended the order of things in national time and space. For instance, when protesters chanted the slogan “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance”, they dislocated Taksim Square from its national space and dissolved the national frame. This enabled the protest to reverberate in other sites of resistances such as Brazil, as Ahıska draws out into her analysis. Such a disruption of the national frame creates a virtual geography which becomes a space for new political imaginaries. Her chapter shows how the Gezi events were significant in revealing the thresholds of remembering and forgetting and how they enabled eradicated memories to (re)enter public discourse. The boundaries between yesterday, today, and tomorrow thus became blurred and introduced what Ahıska calls a “radical contemporaneity” to the Gezi events. She argues that the affective memory of the event, or “the memory transformed by political participation, provide potential points of entry to the

10  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders politics of the present against the ongoing state violence and loss” (Ahıska in this volume, p. 196). She concludes that the sustainability of the Gezi events is rooted and ingrained in this affective memory in this affective memory. The final chapter of the book by Hanan Sabea titled “Flashes of Revolutionary Times: The University as a Meshwork of Hope, Despair, and Endurance” offers a close reading of both the memory of the uprisings and its aftermath by focussing on a university protest. The chapter chronicles a strike by campus workers at the American University in Cairo in the summer of 2017. As a participant and observer of the strike, Sabea reads the different episodes of protest at the University not only as a microcosm of the shifting political landscape in Egypt but also as a layered temporal field through which affective and tactical struggles of 2011 travel, transforming meanings of potential, risk, hope, and endurance. She situates the strike within a wider history of university struggles from 2008. These strikes constitute a complex and incomplete archive of affects, tactics, aesthetics, and risks inherent in daring to imagine the possibility of a different world. Sabea offers an intimate, visceral, and affective reading of this strike in a situation in which the post-​ revolutionary moment had regressed dramatically. The trajectory of hope, despair, and endurance which is traced in Sabea`s chapter is echoed also in the analyses of Schielke and Ahıska. Despite the macropolitical developments in both Egypt and Turkey, which have drastically overturned the optimism for a better future which guided the uprisings, the memory of the protests remains a vibrant archive—​with its cracks and ambiguities—​which any analysis of political transformation must attend to. Outlook This book will be published in 2023, a year which also marks the decennial of the Gezi protests, the centennial of the founding of the Turkish Republic, and the 12-​year anniversary of the Egyptian uprising. Whereas scholarship on the mass protests in 2011 and 2013 was shaped by hasty euphoric descriptions and analysis, today, many accounts of the protests stress their increasingly autocratic and violent aftermath because of the rapid deterioration of the political situation in both Egypt and Turkey. After the protests, the current rulers of both Egypt and Turkey unleashed a violent and dedicated multi-​ tiered campaign to undo the effects of the protests by way of legal, physical, and discursive repression. Importantly, repression was also combined with constant efforts to appropriate, re-​interpret and re-​orient the diverse revolutionary and emancipatory affects of the protests. In Turkey, the political system changed substantially over the last decade as parliamentary democracy was replaced by a presidential system giving nearly unrestricted powers to President Erdoğan. Grave encroachments on civil society, the systematic criminalization of almost all forms of dissent, and the erosion of basic freedoms is no longer limited to particular groups or regions such as the Kurds or south-​eastern Turkey but now also extends to privileged segments of society who were rather exempt from such treatment

Introduction  11 previously. The ongoing persecution of former participants of the Gezi protests is a case in point. A court case against alleged instigators of the Gezi Park protest has framed the protests as a coup attempt and resulted in a life sentence for Osman Kavala, Turkey`s most prominent philanthropist and civil rights activist. Of the 15 other prominent activists charged in the same case, seven received 18-​year sentences (The Guardian 2022). Other cases are pending. Another example of the intensifying decay of the political culture is the incarceration of elected Kurdish mayors and opposition leaders, such as Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yüksekdağ since 2016 (HRW 2020). The situation is not too different in Egypt, as authoritarian and military rule by a small and powerful elite which controls state institutions continues. The last large-​scale protests since the re-​election of President al-​Sisi in 2018 took place in September of 2019, but they were heavily suppressed. Some local initiatives as well as cultural, environmental, and social groups remain active but they are under constant threat. Overall, human rights are constantly and violently threatened in Egypt. Against the background of this grim situation, evaluations of the mass protests and uprisings tend to be clear cut and negative, especially from a functionalist and institutionalist perspective in political science. They focus on re-​autocratization, human rights violations, and ongoing political and economic crises, all of which shape the everyday realities for millions of people. Without trivializing these macro-​political developments, such a regime-​level focus is highly problematic as it taps into ingrained narratives of seemingly stable “oriental despotism” and feeds into a discourse of “Arab exceptionalism 2.0” (Harders, 2018, p. 411). This implies that Middle Eastern political orders are by default autocratic and different from the rest of the world, which underwent several waves of democratization. Moreover, regime—​and elite-​centred perspectives which focus on the presumed stability of ingrained dictatorships miss out on social and cultural transformations taking place at the societal level. They also tend to underestimate the agency of young and globally networked populations. Moreover, after most observers (and many activists, for that matter) failed to anticipate uprisings of this scale, a short-​ lived process of reflection and self-​criticism emerged in political science and related fields in area studies. Today, it seems that both the discipline and elites in the regime the regime are back to business as usual instead of attending to the continuous dynamics in which “ordinary people change the Middle East”, as sociologist Asef Bayat had already observed in 2009 (Bayat, 2009). In contrast, this book highlights the non-​linear dimensions of transformation processes which are marked by contingency, ambivalence, and ambiguity. The contributions in this volume show both the changes and the challenges transported by the intense encounters and experiences which are at the core of what we refer to as Midān Moments. Beyond the question of success and failure, they point to the open-​endedness and capaciousness of these events and show that for a comprehensive understanding of political transformation, it is critical to attend to the affective dynamics of mass protests.

12  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders Notes 1 The naming and the assessment of the events since January 2011 is highly contested. In Egypt, many people speak about the “25-​January-​Revolution”, or the “18-​Days”. In 2013 the “30-​June-​Revolution” was added (see Chapter 9 in this volume). In Turkey, the Gezi protests are referred to as a resistance, an uprising or, as Ahıska suggests in this volume, as an event. For a detailed discussion on the wording in Egypt, see Harders (2018). For a critique of the Eurocentric and essentializing term of Arab spring, see Ayata (2017). 2 The terms “Middle East”, “MENA” region (Middle East and North Africa) are highly problematic as they are a result of the imperial and colonial legacy in the region. Bilgin (2004) has sharply criticized the geopolitical interests expressed in the term “Middle East”, for instance. Instead of “MENA”, “SWANA” (Southwestasia and Northafrica) is sometimes used as an alternative, yet it also leads to confusion regarding which Southwestasia it specifically refers to. For the sake of clarity and accessibility, we employ the term MENA region in this book despite our unease with the term. 3 This research is based on our longitudinal study on the affective dynamics of mass protests in Egypt and Turkey. The first research project “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​Political Transformations—​The Cases of “Tahrir” and “Taksim” (2015–​ 2019) included doctoral researchers Derya Özkaya and Dina Wahba. The second research project “Emotion and Affect within the Context of Authoritarian Transformations in Egypt and Turkey” (2019–​ 2023) included the doctoral researchers bahar firat and Ricarda Ameling. Both research projects were part of the Collaborative Research Center 1171 “Affective Societies: Dynamics of Social Coexistence in Mobile Worlds” which was funded by the German Science Foundation. 4 While the latter can be attributed to the fact that the affective turn has largely bypassed area studies, the former certainly results from grouping Arab countries together and comparing them with each other. Turkey`s modern identity as a Western-​oriented, secular republic largely rests on its demarcation from other Muslim Arab countries. This seems to have affected the scholarship on Turkey, in which hardly any comparison between Turkey and its neighboring countries and former Ottoman colonies (which are largely referred to as the Arab world) exist. In contrast, numerous comparisons with Latin American countries and Turkey do exist.

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Part I

Affect, Mobilization, Midān Moments Conceptual Reflections

2 Midān Moments1 and Political Transformation Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders

For the past two decades, the study of emotions and protest has evolved into a vibrant field within social movement studies (SMS). Focusing on the protest practice of occupying public squares, we propose the concept of Midān Moments to analyse the emotional and affective dynamics of such mass protests. We developed the concept in the course of our longitudinal study of the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, and the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, Turkey. In this research, we analysed the role of affect and emotions both during and after the protests. We were particularly concerned with the following. While the bulk of social movement scholarship has engaged with the question of why people protest, we wanted to shift the focus towards thinking about what protest does to people. What happens during extraordinary moments of acting together before, throughout and after mass protest? Here, we were especially curious about occupations of public squares during which protesters remained in the square for days and turned it into an alternative model of living together. Both during the occupations of Tahrir and Taksim, the intense affective dynamics were much felt and talked about, as popular expressions such as the “Gezi spirit” shows. But an empirical analysis and an materially grounded conceptualization of what happens during these intense affective dynamics on the square as well as its transformative potential after the protests poses a gap in the scholarship. Our concept of the Midān Moments is based on empirical observations that we obtained from our longitudinal study in both Egypt and Turkey over the course of eight years and aims to respond to this gap. For our concept, we adopt the term Midān from Arabic, where it means both “square” and “battlefield”. The two different meanings of word midān captures aptly the spatial and antagonistic dimensions of the concept, while Moment refers to its temporal component. The concept of Midān Moments attends to episodes of mass protest within a delineated space—​ such as an occupied public square—​ which are characterized by intense affective relationalities engendered by the bodily co-​presence of protesters as well as to practices relating to these spaces. We argue that in such extraordinary moments, affective ruptures can disrupt and destabilize pre-​existing emotional DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-3

18  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders repertoires of fear, hate, repression, and respect for the socio-​political order. When such pre-​existing emotional repertoires are thrown out of joint, possibilities for new ways of being and relating to each other can emerge. But at the same time, these affective ruptures can also raise new conflicts or intensify existing tensions. We want to highlight the ambivalence and complexity of the affective and emotional dynamics during such raptures: On the one hand, a sense of possibility for social change emerges in such moments. On the other hand, we emphasize that such situations also are marked by ambiguity which poses limits to these possibilities. Thus, looking at Tahrir Square, Gezi Park, and other sustained occupations through an affective lens complicates narratives of both an utopian square and a presumably failed revolution or uprising. With this concept, we aim to counter simplistic appraisals of collective action as either a failure or success by shifting the attention to the affective dynamics of extraordinary episodes of mass protests. These affective dynamics, we argue, reveal as much about a society’s past tensions as its future ones. Furthermore, the concept also attends to processes of travelling in time and space, extending to distant localities, virtual spaces, and memories. The transmission of affects and emotions elicited in such extraordinary events can evoke new political practices. Significantly, these new political practices often escape the level of research and media coverage afforded to sustained mass protests. Such new local political practices, in which actors engage in formal or informal, local or national, violent or peaceful types of participation, may feed into political pluralization processes and lead to the intense politicization of many participating protesters. At the same time, such participation may contribute to polarization, which may be instigated from above but is also felt and practised from below. Thus, the concept of Midān Moments allows for an analysis of political transformations during and after mass protests which can account for the non-​linear, multi-​directional, and at times contradictory developments unfolding in the aftermath of such struggles. In contrast to much of the scholarly work in SMS, the concept we propose combines agency, time, and space in relation to affect and emotions to account for the multi-​layered and ambivalent qualities of political emotions and affects. Emotions and Protest in Social Movement Studies While passions were given a productive and important role in early conceptions of politics such as in ancient Greece, western social sciences have commonly treated people’s emotions and affects as dangerous and in need of control (Ayata, 2019). This was deemed necessary because affects could be stimulated (and abused) by skilled despots and politicians, and could therefore develop disruptive power. Sociologists from Gustave Le Bon to Max Weber were wary of crowds and their allegedly uncontrollable, dangerous, and even pathological emotions (Gould, 2009). Liberal and deliberative political thought in particular advances the idea that participation

Midān Moments and Political Transformation  19 in the political sphere is performed by rational actors who are moved by identifiable interests and are engaged in tempered public deliberation about the collective good (Greco & Stenner, 2008 and Chapter 3 in this volume). Post-​war US–​American and continental political science, both underpinned by rationalist assumptions and a normative interest in democracy and good governance, followed this line of reasoning. Broadly speaking, affect and emotion were neglected, feared, and/​or analytically relegated to lower-​class “dangerous masses”, non-​democratic forces, women, or colonial subjects (Bargetz, 2014; Stoler 2007; Staiger, Cvetkovich, & Reynolds, 2010). In the same vein, political participation was largely thought of in legalistic, institutional, and conventional ways, and understood narrowly in terms of rational citizens making informed electoral choices according to their interests. Yet this picture changed after the field of SMS emerged following various mass mobilizations in the 1960s. With anti-​colonial movements flourishing in the former colonies and movements for civil rights, peace, and women’s rights emerging in many countries across the world, protest, participation, and the complexities of mobilization attracted more scholarly attention. Social Movement Studies dedicated itself to the analysis of movements, their repertoires of protest, and street politics as important aspects of the democratic process rather than disruptive political contestation (Aminzade et al., 2001; McAdam, Tarrow, & Tilly, 2001). Early works within SMS remained entrenched within rationalist paradigms, analysing the mechanisms of mobilization, resources, and political opportunity structures which enabled contentious politics. They did so in an effort to shield both movements and the emerging scholarly field from allegations of irrationality and irrelevance (Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2001). Yet after the cultural turn in SMS over the past two decades, these rationalist and functionalist approaches were increasingly questioned, and emotions were pushed to the forefront of the study of movements, protest, and participation. In a number of seminal publications, social movement scholars emphasized that in contrast to political psychology, which is interested in individual emotional states, the social and political dimension of emotions are critical for a complex comprehension of collective action and protest (see Chapter 3 in this volume; Aminzade & McAdam, 2001; Della Porta, 2016; Flam & King, 2005; Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2001; Gould, 2009; Jasper, 2018). Emotions and affects are highly relevant for the analysis of repertoires of contention, framing strategies, the recruitment of movement members, the mobilization of protest, and the sustainability of movements; they are crucial to understanding how movement identities as well as a sense of belonging are forged. Typological distinctions have been proposed between short-​term and long-​term, or reciprocal and shared, emotions (Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2001), and between “affective loyalties” as attachments or aversions and “moral emotions” as feelings of approval or disapproval (Jasper, 2011,

20  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders p. 287). In their analysis of the emotional dynamics of the Arab uprisings, some scholars (Benski & Langman, 2013; Della Porta, 2016; Pearlman, 2013; Khosrokhavar, 2018; Rommel, 2022; Schielke, 2017; Volpi & Jasper, 2018) stress the importance of emotions such as fear, grief, and shame alongside anger, joy, and pride. Similarly, Helena Flam (2005) distinguishes between “cementing emotions” and “subversive emotions” to understand the dynamics of “emotional liberation”, a process in which actors disrupt old feelings of loyalty and construct new (oppositional) emotional bonds (p. 31). Cognitive and emotional liberation, she argues, need to be conceptualized as mutually reinforcing processes. Building on these insights, we argue that mass protests and occupations especially can engender such processes due to the intense emotional and affective dynamics in the square. These dynamics feed into the emergence of new feelings and the disruption of an established “emotional habitus” (Gould, 2009, p. 10). Such new feelings can be very disquieting. As a result, protests not only need material and immaterial resources, resonant frames, ideological orientation, moral shocks, and engaged actors, but also require an understanding of these as emotional processes which are necessary in order for the protest to be sustained (Aminzade & McAdam. 2001; Flam & King, 2005; Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2001; Hoggett & Thompson, 2012). Movements engage in “emotion work” (Hochschild, 1979); protesters need ways to read anger or frustration in order to translate feelings into activism and to create specific, emotionally attuned repertoires and an “emotional habitus” (Gould, 2009, p. 10). Given that collective mobilization tends to be much less tidy than the typologies of SMS suggest, emotion work is even more important. Our research on mass protests and occupations in Turkey and Egypt shows that protesters often experience mixed feelings, ambivalence, and ambiguity (Ayata & Harders, 2018, Chapters 4, 5, and 6 in this volume). Their assessments can change from one moment to another, just like the situation in an occupied square might change suddenly from boredom and anxiety to the affective intensity of a threatening attack from security forces or counter-​ movements. Deborah Gould (2009) emphasizes the non-​linearity and complexity of emotions in her study of the ACT UP movement in the United States (see Chapter 3 in this volume). She argues that affect and emotions must not necessarily be categorized as either “positive” or “negative” for protest. For instance, in her reading, despair can lead to both mobilization and immobilization. Her approach to human motivation derives from an understanding of affect as “nonconscious, noncognitive, nonlinguistic, noncoherent, nonrational, and unpredetermined” (Gould, 2009, p. 23). Gould proposes an “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, p. 23) which also informs our approach to the Midān Moments concept. For Gould, affects and emotions are distinct but intimately related bodily and cognitive states. Affect is not a clearly delineated state of the mind or body but rather an intensity or an atmosphere which impinges immediately on the body and the mind (von Scheve & Slaby, 2019). Gould emphasizes that perceptions

Midān Moments and Political Transformation  21 of rational interest, rights, dignity, and of being included or excluded are shaped, informed, and structured by affects and emotions because they are formed through our embodied practices in the social world. Approaching human motivation in this way thus enables us to make sense of what drives people to cast a vote, join a demonstration, become members of a party or stay in a group even though the meetings are boring and the agenda is not very promising. Building on these important insights, the concept of Midān Moments offers a shift in perspective. Rather than asking why people protest, which is still one of the core questions in SMS literature, we ask what protest does to people. How does experiencing the intense affective dynamics of protesting together affect participants? What are the impacts of collective experiences of inchoate, non-​linear, and immediate feelings, registered as bodily intensities and connectivity, in the aftermath of protest? What does protest do to an individual’s relationship to the collective, to the self, to the political community, and to political transformation? These are the questions we seek to explore with our Midān Moments concept. Midān Moments and the Occupations of Tahrir and Taksim Following a series of popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East starting in December 2010 which led to massive changes in the region, the occupation of public squares once again became a popular form of protest around the globe. Our concept of the Midān Moments emerges from the in-​ depth study of two occupations of public squares, namely the occupations of Tahrir Square in Cairo in 2011 and Taksim Square and Gezi Park in Istanbul in 2013. However, our analysis of the intricate dynamics of affect, emotion, and politics also offers important insights into other forms of protests and occupations taking place over a sustained period of time. The concept refers to episodes taking place in a specific space which are characterized by intense affective relationalities. These affective relationalities are brought about through the bodily co-​presence of protesters and the practices experienced in these spaces over some time (Butler, 2015). Some of these practices involve political deliberation, decision-​making, and basic forms of political protest. Crucially, the very act of occupying and defending a space requires daily maintenance and service provision related to health, food, security, and communication. These intense bodily experiences, which emerge in the context of new political practices and unlikely personal and political encounters across social and political divides, can evoke different affective attachments. The sustained practices of protest and occupation in the public square are embedded within a complex web of “affective arrangements” (Slaby, Mühlhoff & Wüschner 2019) marked by capacity and potentiality. Hanan Sabea describes occupations as a “time out of time” (Sabea, 2013; 2014, p. 74). This is the case because occupations allow experimentation with new ways of being,

22  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders both at the individual and collective level. They can lead to affective ruptures which disrupt previous emotional and political constellations, such as fear of repression, reverence for the current political order, and love or hate for a particular group. Participants can experience an “emotional liberation” (Flam, 2005, p. 20) which enables new alliances, new political practices, and new ways of relating to each other. As Hemmings argues, “to know differently we have to feel differently” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 150), and occupations of public squares offer ample opportunity to do so. However, the outcomes of these possibilities are fundamentally open and contingent. Hardt and Negri (2012) consider occupied squares “factories” producing political affect, which in their reading necessarily leads to emancipation and new political subjectivities. However, our study of the Tahrir and Gezi protests show that the experiences in the square are too manifold, messy, and at times contradictory to be categorized in such a linear manner. Even though romanticized notions of protest movements are rather common in analyses of recent protests, it is important to account for the ambivalences, ambiguities, and limitations which emerge from spatially inflected affective dynamics (el Houri, 2018; Sabea, 2014; Schielke, 2015; 2017, Soudias, 2018). Fear and hope, excitement and boredom, love and hate, affective community building and alienation, and a range of other personal and collective experiences are felt simultaneously during the protests (see Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, and 11 in this volume). All of these contribute to the intense affective relationality in the square. While at times they enable new alliances and new encounters across intersectional hierarchies based on race, gender, class, and religion, they can also intensify and consolidate existing hierarchies, conflicts, and antagonisms. Therefore, we emphasize the complexity and ambivalence of Midān Moments, which contain both a sense of possibility and the very limits of these possibilities. Our choice of the term Midān Moments captures this focus on ambiguities (Ayata & Harders, 2018). The Arabic word midān can mean battlefield but also refers to a field, place, or square (Viré, 2012). The word midān describes the field in which princes and noble youth were trained in martial arts in Persian antiquity. This etymology lends weight to the notion of the Midān as a place of physical battle and contestation (Knauth, 1976). At the same time, just like the English word field, it also hints at intellectual or political battlefields. The Midān is embedded in the city as a socially produced space; it is thus as much a product of power structures as it is a site of resistance (Brenner, 1999). It is a well-​defined place and a locus of everyday practices which create and structure the urban fabric. Multi-​ faceted power struggles unfold in this historically and politically situated socio-​political space. We use the term “moments” to emphasize the direct and instantaneous dimension of relational affect. As a temporal marker, our use of moments resonates more with momentum than situations, events, hours, or days.

Midān Moments and Political Transformation  23 As a concept, Midān Moments refer to many different encounters in a distinct temporality. It combines two temporal registers: The immediacy of, for instance, an affective atmosphere which imposes itself in a matter of seconds and can lead to an immediate rupture of the well-​known, and the emergence of new ways of feeling which lasts longer. In this sense, Midān Moments encapsulate a “transformative event” (McAdam & Sewell, 2001, p. 110). Transformative events “come to be interpreted as significantly disrupting, altering, or violating the taken-​for-​granted assumptions governing routine political and social relations” (McAdam & Sewell, 2001, p. 110); they “cannot un-​happen” (Schwedler, 2016, para. 10) and they cannot be unfelt as Harders argues in Chapter 4. At the same time, moments can be repeated, remembered, and lived again due to the affective attachments they carry. As such, they gain momentum over time, a process which is important to explore for a better understanding of the mid-​to long-​term effects of such events. The Midān Moments concept also refers to the transmission of the affective dynamics of the square over time. This happens in the aftermath of protests when personal and collective memories create an affective archive which can be reinvigorated at different times and in different places. For instance, memories of victory, violence, and loss are important reference points for local mobilization long after the initial protests (Özkaya 2020). The affective archive of the protests is both an individual and a collective affair, an institutionalized effort and a personal memory (see Chapters 9, 10, and 11 in this volume). The archive is also part and parcel of global, mediated flows of objects and signs, which circulate in what Sara Ahmed calls an “affective economy” (2004, p. 120). An affective archive of the protests was initially formed at Tahrir and Gezi Park. Yet this archive travels and accrues value through circulation in space and over time (see Chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 in this volume). It is multivalent as it can inspire many different political practices, from protests to election campaigns (see Chapter 8 in this volume). In 2018 and 2019, protesters in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq actively referred to the repertoires and slogans of this affective archive of 2011. With such practices, protesters challenge institutionalist and functionalists accounts of the uprising which focus on its presumable failure or success. When fleshing out the Midān Moments concept from the occupation of Tahrir Square and Gezi Park, we can point to at least two important overlapping “affective arrangements” (Slaby & Mühlhoff, 2019) which structure the affective and emotional dynamics of the square: One is related to the Midān as battlefield, and the other is geared towards the political practices which created and sustained Tahrir and the Gezi Park as a utopian space (Keraitim & Mehrez, 2012; Sabea, 2014; Telmissany, 2014). The Midān is configured here both as a utopian space and a socio-​political battlefield in which class, gender, and religious and political differences became less relevant or open to renegotiation for a certain period of time (Holmes, 2014;

24  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders Chapters 5 and 6 in this volume). Our findings corroborate Sabea’s argument that these “moments and spaces are key nodes in enabling the emergence of a critical imaginary that assembles a different possibility of ‘a people’ and a polis” (Sabea, 2014, p. 73). At the same time, these differences and latent conflicts were still present. They reappeared both visibly and subtly, and were sometimes openly violent and at other times less so. They thereby functioned as important constraints on the desire to begin anew in a utopic moment (Ayata & Harders, 2018: Wahba, 2020a and b; Özkaya, 2020 and Chapters 4, 5, 6, and 7 in this volume). For instance, one might experience the coming-​into-​being of a collective by shouting and protesting in concert, loudly demanding “bread, freedom, dignity, and social justice” in Egypt, or “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” in Turkey. This resulted in moments of deep affective resonance between men and women, old and young persons, secular and religious people, leftists and conservatives, or the rich and the poor in Egypt and Turkey. However, moments of dissonance emerging from multiple layers of conflicting emotions and differing affective arrangements were also experienced on the ground, for instance by Turkish and Kurdish protesters (see Chapter 6 in this volume). Yet as Özkaya emphasizes in the case of Gezi, rather than confronting existing conflicts and tension, for instance with regard to racism against Kurds, these conflicts were circumvented and postponed to salvage the sense of unity among protesters. Another important example is the missed opportunity to majorly confront the century-​long denial of the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. The occupied Gezi Park itself bears the historical marks of the dispossession of and violence perpetrated against Armenians in Turkey, since it was built on land adjacent to a confiscated Armenian church and its cemetery whose tombstones were used for the construction of the park. As Özgül and Parla (2016) discuss in detail, even though a group of Armenian activists forcefully raised the issue, this did not result in deeper engagement with the normalization of dispossession and violence against minorities in Turkey or the privilege of white Turkishness. Thus, counter to what social movement research usually suggests, participants often do not recount one specific mobilizing emotion being dominant. Different affective arrangements, which might be simultaneously dissonant and resonant due to the various possibilities of affective attunement, complexly interweave to shape individual experiences in the square. The decentred perspective we propose here, is important for the creation of an intersectional and situated account of the affective dynamics of mass protest. Our own research, as well that of other scholars (Chapter 7 in this volume; Amar, 2011; Ismail, 2012; Özkaya, 2020; Soudias, 2018; Khosrokhava, 2018; Winegar, 2012; Wahba, 2020a), shows that the access to the squares and the practices in the spaces are deeply gendered and racialized, and ordered along the lines of class, ethnicity, or religion. This becomes apparent when it comes to care work such as feeding occupiers or to sustaining an occupation through battles with security forces. Such gendered or racialized constraints

Midān Moments and Political Transformation  25 are even more strongly pronounced when it comes to the ways in which the personal is deeply political; e.g. when women and men needed to negotiate their participation in quite different terms. Transmission of Midān Moments Beyond the Square The affective dynamics of the square are not bound to the place in which they are generated but, as we argue, they form repertoires and memories which can travel across time and space (Schielke, 2015; 2017 and Chapters 8, 9, and 10 in this volume). These affective archives can be reignited in distant locations, years after the protests have subsided. However, their transmission already begins during the protests, as they involve varying levels of participation and thus different affective intensities. For instance, some activists live and sleep in the square during the occupation, while others join only at certain times, thus connecting the occupied square with their homes, districts, and far-​away places. The in-​and outflow of persons already carries the emotional and affective dynamics of the occupied space to distant localities during the protests. At the same time, the experiences and practices in the occupied square are rooted in earlier experiences of protest and participation (Bamyeh, 2013; Chapter 7 in this volume), and they are part and parcel of a process of prefiguration (van de Sande, 2013) in which participants try to practice what they envision. These exceptional moments are rife with new political imaginaries which are simultaneously rooted in specific social and political histories. Hanan Sabea aptly describes this situation as “Tahrir’s Extraordinary Ordinariness” (Sabea, 2013, para 7). Thus, the affective archive travels across time and space, and it feeds into new practices of political participation. Such practices may be formal or informal, local or national, and violent or peaceful. Instead of merely looking at mass uprisings as short-​lived events which must be assessed in terms of their success or failure, the Midān Moments concept directs our attention to affective archives travelling across time and space. This allows us to understand and analyse political transformation below the level of regime change and to attend to the more long-​term and less visible effects of such processes. This is true of Turkey and Egypt, which on the one hand have become much more authoritarian, repressive, and polarized after the mass uprisings, but on the other hand have witnessed resilient and sustained local political practices from below as a result of the protests (Grimm, 2022; Harders & Wahba, 2017; Wahba, 2020b; Holmes, 2018; Özkaya, 2020; Chapters 8, 9, 10 and 11 in this volume). These local political practices feed into larger protests and forms of resistance which challenge the regime from time to time. Thus, tracing the trajectory of the affective dynamics of pass protest in the concept Midān Moments enables us to analyse the medium-​and long-​term processes of transformation which continue to take place long after cameras, protesters, and security forces have left occupied squares.

26  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders Outlook: From Protest to Participation To capture empirically how both the affective archive and its ensuing “repertoires of contention” (Tilly, 2008), i.e., the slogans, street practices, symbols, and discourses of the occupations, travel, we propose to approach them as a form of political participation rather than protest. Protest is merely one among many types of political participation. Conventionally, participation has designated public, collective, voluntary, and non-​professional activities aiming to influence the government or politics. In the last decades, this notion has continuously expanded to include the ever-​growing diversity of forms taken by political agency, such as contemporary modes of “creative, personalized and individualized” action including street parties and consumption boycotts (van Deth, 2016, p. 1). In recent years, these debates have been informed by approaches emphasizing the affective dimension of such agency, like the concept of “affective citizenship” (Ayata, 2019). Despite these novel conceptualizations, research in the field of political sciences continues to mainly focus on democratic politics and thus misses the opportunity to engage in more refined debates about informal and less visible types of agency. However, important work on such ways of participation is being carried out in anthropology and critical area studies. For example, Asef Bayat (2009) analyses the public impact of individual agency in the “quiet encroachment” of massive, albeit individualistic, informal “non-​movements” in Egypt and Iran. Diane Singerman (1995) alludes to the importance of neighbourhood networks in the practices of ordinary citizens in Egypt, and Ismail (2006) looks into the workings of the “everyday state” in Egypt. James C. Scott (1985) famously analysed less visible forms of resistance as the “weapons of the weak”. In line with these works, our broader conceptualization of participation includes informal, individual, hidden, illegal, and ostensibly non-​political actions and networks, as well as organized public collective action within and beyond institutionalized frameworks. In more abstract terms, it includes all practices geared towards “involvement in the social, political, and economic processes of formal and informal resource-​ allocation in a society” (Harders, 2013, p. 116). Such involvement is always informed by intersectional categories of social inequality, such as class, race, religion, ethnicity, and gender (Crenshaw, 1989). Thus, when the repertoires and memories of the occupation travel across time and space and inform political practices elsewhere, they might materialize as less visible, informal ways of keeping the utopian or dystopian quality of the moment alive. Sustained mass protest is not the rule but the exception, both in democratic and authoritarian polities. Thus, we offer the Midān Moments concept also as a means to grapple with the emotional and affective dynamics of mobilization beyond highly visible mass events. Highlighting the temporal and spatial components of mass protests, the Midān Moments concept focuses on affectively and emotionally charged dynamics and ruptures. These

Midān Moments and Political Transformation  27 situations encompass transformative moments which inform and feed into manifold symbols, discourses and practices in the aftermath of protests and in various locations thus constituting an affective archive. Once the moment gains momentum, it develops its own “affective economies” (Ahmed, 2004, p. 117) fuelling a diverse array of practices and discourses which we conceptualize as participation. At the same time, the affective and emotional charge of such extraordinary events is fundamentally open and contingent. In the cases of Egypt and Turkey, both countries underwent extraordinary mobilization and polarization. For some, feelings of enthusiasm and solidarity turned into hatred and violence along with a deep polarization. High hopes led to deep exasperation and disillusion. Fear is among the most interesting and ambiguous feelings, as the “breaking of fear” appears to be one of the major emotional processes which accompany uprisings under conditions of repression. Schielke argues that (…) broken fear is a positively existing sentiment: It is fear, but it is broken, reconfigured in a seemingly chaotic way. It can be described as an affective complex in its own right that involves anxiety, excitement, terror, courage, unrest, hope, and an attitude of assertively sticking to one’s own point of view. Broken fear as the emotional tone of the revolutionary stormy season does not allow us to distinguish neatly between positive and negative effects of the revolution. They belong to the same process, the same sentiment. (Schielke, 2017, p. 210) Such drift and polarization were also carefully orchestrated from above, with state-​controlled media and the security apparatus deliberately targeting those groups which challenged the status quo, such as the urban poor, leftists, women, LGBTQ persons, or racialized minorities. Both Egypt and Turkey intensified their so-​called war on terror, escalating state violence and igniting popular violence. At the same time, both the Erdoğan and the Sisi governments alluded to experiences in the occupied squares with the intention of replicating them for their own purposes when they organized mass rallies (Ameling, firat & Harders, 2023). Activists and state proponents struggle over the memory of events and fundamentally disagree about the meanings, thus turning memory, mourning, and archiving into highly contested post-​occupational activities (Chapters 9 and 10 in this volume; Roccu & Salem, 2019). Schielke (Chapter 9 in this volume), too, argues that affects and emotions fundamentally matter for understanding the intense autocratization which followed the uprising in Egypt, which he relates to the successful co-​optation of the symbols and language of the revolution. At the same time, the “affective ontology” (Gould 2009, p. 23) of the Midān Moments reminds us that despair and depression are political, too and can productively inform the agency of activists (Gould, 2012). Therefore, as the

28  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders memories of events travel across time and space, they reveal their potentiality both in the disengagement of former protesters and in conventional political events such as elections and referendums. Conventional opportunities for participation are used by activists to revive the affective charge of past events in order to increase electoral mobilization. Such practices and concrete references to the occupations are the visible and tangible expressions of deeper socio-​political transformations. They are fundamentally contingent in the sense that a struggle for “bread, freedom, and dignity” can end up in more authoritarianism which nevertheless retains an affective archive of that struggle. It is this enduring, conflicting, and subcutaneous sense of possibility that marks the transformative potential of Midān Moments. Note 1 This chapter is a revised version of a chapter which was originally published as: Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2019). Midān Moments. In J. Slaby & C. von Scheve (Eds.), Affective Societies. Key Concepts (1 ed., pp. 279–​288). New York & London: Routledge.

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Midān Moments and Political Transformation  31 Counter-​Revolution in Egypt a Year after January 25th. Retrieved from https://​ cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​a-​time-​out-​of-​time-​tah​rir-​the-​politi​cal-​and-​the-​imagin​ary-​ in-​the-​cont​ext-​of-​the-​janu​ary-​25th-​rev​olut​ion-​in-​egypt Sabea, H. (2014). ‘I Dreamed of Being a People’: Egypt’s Revolution, the People and Critical Imagination. In P. Werbner, M. Webb, & K. Spellman-​Poots (Eds.), The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (pp. 67–​92). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Schielke, S. (2015). Egypt in the Future Tense: Hope, Frustration, and Ambivalence before and after 2011/​ Samuli Schielke. Bloomington; Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Schielke, S. (2017). There Will Be Blood: Expectation and Ethics of Violence during Egypt’s Stormy Season. Middle East Critique, 26(3), 205–​ 220. doi:10.1080/​ 19436149.2017.1336023 Schwedler, J. (2016). Taking Time Seriously: Temporality and the Arab Uprisings. https://​pom​eps.org/​tak​ing-​time-​seriou​sly-​temp​oral​ity-​and-​the-​arab-​uprisi​ngs Scott, J. C. (1985). Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven u.a: Yale University Press. Singerman, D. (1995). Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Slaby, J., Mühlhoff, R., & Wüschner, P. (2019). Affective Arrangements. Emotion Review, 11(1), 3–​12. doi:10.1177/​1754073917722214 Soudias, D. (2018). On the Spatiality of Square Occupations: Lessons from Syntagma and Tahrir. In A. Starodub & A. Robinson (Eds.), Riots and Militant Occupations: Smashing a System, Building a World –​ A Critical Introduction. (pp. 75–​95) London; New York: Rowman & Littlefield International. Staiger, J., Cvetkovich, A., & Reynolds, A. (Eds.). (2010). Political Emotions. New Agendas in Communication. London: Routledge. Stoler, A.L.(2007) Affective States. In: D. Nugent & J. Vincent (Eds.), A companion to the anthropology of politics (pp. 4–​20). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Telmissany, M. (2014). The Utopian and Dystopian Functions of Tahrir Square. Postcolonial Studies, 17(1), 36–​46. doi:10.1080/​13688790.2014.912194 Tilly, C. (2008). Contentious Performances. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. van de Sande, M. (2013). The Prefigurative Politics of Tahrir Square –​An Alternative Perspective on the 2011 Revolutions. Res Publica 2013, 19, 223–​239. van Deth, J. W. (2016). What Is Political Participation? In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. Retrieved 11 May. 2023, from https://​oxfor​dre.com/​ polit​ics/​view/​10.1093/​acref​ore/​978019​0228​637.001.0001/​acref​ore-​978019​0228​ 637-​e-​68 Von Scheve, C. & Slaby, J. (2019). Emotion, Emotion Concept. In J. Slaby & C. Von Scheve (Eds.), Affective Societies: Key Concepts (pp. 41–​51). New York: Routledge. Viré, F. (2012). Maydān. In P. Bearman, Bianquis, Th., Bosworth, C. E., van Donzel, E., Heinrichs, W.P. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Islam (2nd ed.). Leiden: Brill, https://​doi. org/​10.1163/​1573-​3912​_​isl​am_​S​IM_​5​067 Volpi, F., & Jasper, J. M. (2018). Microfoundations of the Arab Uprisings: Mapping Interactions between Regimes and Protesters. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. https://​doi.org/​10.1515/​978904​8536​160 Wahba, D. (2020a). A Thug, a Revolutionary or Both? Negotiating Masculinity in Post-​Revolutionary Egypt. META –​ Journal, 14, 56–​65. https://​doi.org/​10.17192/​ meta.2020.14.8265

32  Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders Wahba, D. (2020b). Urban Rights and Local Politics in Egypt: The Case of the Maspero Triangle. Retrieved from www.arab-​ref​orm.net/​publ​icat​ion/​urban-​rig​hts-​ and-​local-​polit​ics-​in-​egypt-​the-​case-​of-​the-​masp​ero-​trian​gle/​ Winegar, J. (2012). The Privilege of Revolution: Gender, Class, Space, and Affect in Egypt. American Ethnologist, 39(1), 67–​70.

3 Affect and Mobilization A Conversation with Deborah Gould Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders

Cilja Harders:

Your seminal book Moving Politics (2009) on ACT UP, the direct action AIDS movement that grew out of lesbian and gay communities in the United States, has been a key point of reference in our discussion on affect and mobilization since we began our own research into the uprisings in Egypt and Turkey. The way you carved out the importance of affect and emotions in political mobilization was an excellent starting point for our case studies. We dwelt especially on your conceptualization of an “affective ontology” in the study of political participation and agency. Thinking about human agency as fundamentally affective and emotional helped us bring these dimensions into the analysis of major political transformations. Building on our empirical material from the uprising and occupation of Tahrir Square in 2011 and from the mass protests around Gezi Park in 2013, we then later developed the concept of the Midān Moment. Over the course of this research, our understanding of affect and emotion has changed several times. I am curious how your own thinking on affect and emotions has changed since you published Moving Politics in 2009? Deborah Gould: I’ll start by saying how I arrived at emotion and affect in the first place. ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) led me there. I wanted to make sense of this movement, which had absolutely structured my life for six years, and I first turned to social movements literature. Scholars there usefully directed my attention to political opportunities, mobilization resources, and framing processes, but that dominant paradigm in the literature could not account for the emergence and trajectory of ACT UP. So, I was provided with the wonderful occurrence of a case coming up against the limits of a paradigm and thus inciting DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-4

34  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders theory revision. The empirical material—​ especially the strangeness of a new constellation of illnesses that seemed to be affecting only certain populations, and gay and bisexual men in particular—​pointed me towards meaning-​ making, the question of how people in gay worlds initially made sense of what came to be called AIDS, and that led me to the cultural turn in social movement studies and in the social sciences more broadly. As I combed through lesbian and gay newspapers to get a handle on that sense-​ making, it quickly became apparent that lesbians’ and gay men’s earliest understandings of AIDS were saturated with emotions—​and quite ambivalent ones at that. I turned to the pre-​eminent theorist of ambivalence, Freud, and also to theorists like de Beauvoir, Du Bois, and Fanon, who helped me to think about the import of ambivalence and self-​division in social life, as well as the psychic and affective effects of oppression.   Simultaneously, as I got deeper into my research, I was experiencing my own emotional responses to what those of us in ACT UP lived through as deaths of our friends and comrades accumulated around us. As I wrote in Moving Politics, there were moments during my research when I was thoroughly undone, overcome by a rush of grief, a feeling that I simply hadn’t consciously felt amid the action. I wanted to understand more about the workings of emotions and feelings—​my own and the movement’s—​ and also the relation between feelings and meaning-​making and politics. I turned to philosophy and the sociology and anthropology of emotions, work largely carried out by feminists. Their concepts and perspectives were helpful for thinking about the socially constructed nature of emotions and the way power is exercised through and reproduced in our feelings: Hochschild’s feeling and emotion rules (1979); Lutz’s perspective on emotion as ideological practice (1988); Gordon’s emotion cultures (1989); and Jaggar’s outlaw emotions (1989). The work of social movement scholars who were turning to emotions was also illuminating, especially the work of Jeff Goodwin, James Jasper, Francesca Polletta, Verta Taylor, and Nancy Whittier. Bilgin Ayata: What then prompted your turn to affect theory? Deborah Gould: These rich literatures really set the ball rolling for me, and then eventually my empirical research into lesbian and gay political responses to AIDS pointed me towards affect theory as well. I found that, in the earliest years of the epidemic, there was a struggle going on within lesbian and gay

Affect and Mobilization  35 communities about what forms of activism to pursue, and the discourses through which that struggle was being fought were emotionally saturated. A few early voices expressed anger and tethered that to the need for militant, disruptive activism. However, these voices were drowned out by others who paired their advocacy of activism like lobbying and candlelight vigils with evocations of feelings like gay pride, stoic nobility in the face of death, fear of greater social rejection, and anxiety about anything that might rock the boat and make gay folks appear even more disreputable. It was a struggle for counter-​hegemonic dominance within lesbian and gay communities—​carried out in and through strikingly different emotional registers—​and the more moderate politics initially won. My research found a dramatic shift about five years into the epidemic in what I ended up conceptualizing as the prevailing emotional habitus in lesbian and gay communities. That shift blew open the then-​reigning political horizon among lesbians and gay men, creating space for confrontational direct-​action AIDS activism.   I needed to account for that shift in the emotional habitus and in forms of AIDS activism, but even more, the case prompted a slew of general questions about political imaginaries and their conditions of possibility, questions I’ve been investigating and wrestling with ever since: about senses of political possibility and impossibility; desired futures and how to get there; why and how different forms of activism are taken up when they were previously unthinkable; why and how political horizons—​ notions of what is politically possible, desirable, and necessary—​ emerge and take hold across some swath of society; and what causes a political horizon to be relatively truncated or, alternatively, wrenched further open. These questions ask how the forces that make up a conjuncture are felt, how such widespread felt experiences shape political (in) action, and how alternative futures take hold imaginatively and with what effects. My questions about political activism, in short, quickly became inseparably intertwined with questions about emotion.1 Cilja Harders: So you had to turn to different scholarship on emotions? Deborah Gould: My case demanded an analysis of how feelings in a community emerge, come to circulate widely, and then change over time, but the emotion literatures I initially turned to were better at synchronic than diachronic analysis. Concepts like feeling rules and emotion cultures help us to see the socially constructed nature of emotions, for example, but they don’t

36  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders provide an account of their own emergence or shifts in their composition over time. And because such concepts orient towards social and cultural norms, they emphasize what is probable over the potential that something else might occur. That makes those concepts better at accounting for the reproduction of social life than social change. Social constructionist accounts also aren’t great at accounting for the bodily dimensions of feelings, and how we get taken over by intense feelings, as I was during my research, when I was suddenly overwhelmed by an unfamiliar grief.   Those limitations spurred me to search for other ways to conceptualize emotion, which led me to William Reddy’s important work on emotives. That concept allowed me to think about how repeated articulations or evocations of certain feeling states help to produce those very feelings, and, in a group context, help to establish both prevailing feelings within the group as well as its emotional habitus. At the same time, I wanted to carve out some conceptual space for the unnamed, for feeling states that were, as yet, inarticulable and less than fully conscious, inchoate but nevertheless in the mix and exerting force. Expressions of gay pride in the earliest years of the AIDS crisis, for example, seemed to be masking shame that in fact was importantly shaping the forms AIDS activism was taking. My interest in that emotional complexity, in combination with the broad political questions I wanted to explore, pointed me towards affect theory. Because affect theory places sensation, movement, process, change, and potentiality at its centre, I find it particularly fruitful for thinking about political emotion. Bilgin Ayata: Which works were particularly important for you in this regard? Deborah Gould: There are many different strands of affect theory, and I pull from many of them. Raymond Williams (1977) was a key bridge for me to affect theory. His structure of feeling concept draws attention to emergent, barely perceptible sensings “at the very edge of semantic availability” (Williams, 1977, p. 134) that nevertheless exert force and have effects (Williams, 1977, p. 132), pushing us to contend with the reality that there is more to social life than what gets actualized. Structure of feeling helps me to think about present living as actively experienced and felt, as in-​process social experience that has not yet been fixed but also is not in utter flux because it is socially structured, even if only a pre-​formation. By juxtaposing structure and

Affect and Mobilization  37 feeling, Williams incites us to think the structural and the subjective together, that is, to consider how “systemic conditions are manifest in our felt experience”, to quote Ann Cvetkovich, and how “political structure[s]‌become subjectivised”, in Lauren Berlant’s words (Berlant et al., 2022, p. 373). Williams directs our attention to the disjuncture between what is hegemonic and practical experience. That helps us steer clear of a totalising sense of ideology and culture; it also provides a way to account for the emergence of new forms and thus change over time as well. That gave me traction for analysing struggles within lesbian and gay communities over understandings of AIDS and appropriate forms of activism.   Eve Sedgwick’s and Adam Frank’s read of Silvan Tomkins also helped me think about affects as an important factor in social change due to their indeterminacy regarding objects and aims, thus ensuring a tremendous degree of human freedom. I’m surely skipping over some key influences in my thinking but let me jump to the Spinoza–​Deleuze–​Massumi lineage of affect theory because it has been enormously generative for me as well. I take from it a key ontological point about a world of bodies—​human, more-​than-​human, material-​ discursive assemblages—​ affecting one another. Thinking in terms of every body’s capacity to affect and to be affected puts social life into motion, directing our attention to relation, encounter and what is thereby potentiated, open-​ended becoming rather than being, and thus the indeterminacy and play of socio-​political life. Cilja Harders: It was very useful to hear what initiated your interest. I do want to come back to my initial question: Has your thinking on affect and emotion changed since the publication of Moving Politics in 2009? Deborah Gould: I don’t think it has changed so much but I have wanted to clarify some aspects. For example, my earlier writing may have inadvertently reinscribed the natural–​cultural binary by describing affect as non-​cognitive but registered bodily experience, on the one hand, and a named emotion as a personal and conventionalized account of what one is feeling, on the other. Although that might sound like affect is “natural” and emotions are “cultural” or “social”, I tried to avoid that reinscription by arguing that affect is all about sociality in the sense that it is an effect of bodies coming into contact with one another, that is, affecting and being affected by one another, and preparing to respond. That continues to be my view, but more recently I’ve tried

38  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders to unravel that persistent, hard-​to-​shake natural–​cultural binary by thinking more about the matter of feelings and emotions, or better, their materialization.   Spinoza’s relational, affective ontology helps me. We live in a world that consists of bodies in relation to and necessarily affecting one another; indeed, to live entails being affected by and affecting in turn, with all the intensities that engenders, and with the outcome of such affectings left open. I read Spinoza’s assertion that we don’t yet know what a body can do as a prompt to reckon with the reality that a body’s capacity to be affected and to affect—​its “affectability” (Seigworth & Gregg, 2010, p. 12)—​is neither fixed nor known in advance. Beginning there allows a shift of focus from the probable towards potentiality, that is, towards what else might emerge from bodies affecting and being affected, towards other routes that might be taken, towards different worlds that thereby might be brought into being. That’s a big part of what’s at stake for me in my turn to affect. Bilgin Ayata: Could you expand a little on this notion of the affectability of bodies and what then follows? Deborah Gould: Sure. I think it’s helpful to unpack that idea that we don’t yet know what a body can do. Here’s how I think about it. An affected body prepares to respond: Stimulus-​gap-​response.2 A stimulus is something that affects. A body registers, often non-​consciously, being affected. That is to say, it feels the transition from one state to another that results from being affected—​however small that transition is—​and prepares to respond. The response isn’t automatic; that’s why it’s useful to think in terms of a gap. And that gap is overfull, bursting with potential in the sense that being affected generates multiple intensities or feeling states that (in)capacitate the affected body—​but in ways that are not fully known—​and prepare the affected body to respond, albeit in no predetermined manner or direction. That gap, then, is, as William Mazzarella (2010) puts it, “a space of unpredictable emergences” (p. 726): The body’s response—​what it ends up doing given this affectively charged terrain—​ could take any number of routes. Its response, in other words, is open: what Massumi (2002) calls the “margin of manoeuvrability” (pp. 211–​212) in every situation.   Even if it’s also the case that the constraints and pressures of what is shape what happens in that feelingful gap between stimulus and response, there is a gap nonetheless, and thus an openness about what will subsequently

Affect and Mobilization  39 happen. But in the abstract, it’s difficult to see that gap and grasp the consequent margin of manoeuvrability because we tend to subscribe to a “hydraulic” conception of feelings and emotion that naturalizes them and starts us down a deterministic path wherein a stimulus registers—​ i.e., is felt—​and produces an automatic response: stimulus → response. Feelings, here, are understood to flow naturally and automatically from a given stimulus, and to lead, again naturally and automatically, to the body’s response. The gap goes missing, as does recognition of the attendant figuring out what then to do. My concern here is political as much as conceptual. A strong left, in my view, is one that sees that its task of drawing more and more people into politics requires attending to the way in which the structural is subjectivised and how that might be altered, and thus to both the gap between stimulus and response and to the active feeling that happens in that gap. Cilja Harders: That is to say, how we render feelings and emotion really matters? Deborah Gould: Yes, exactly. A familiar hydraulic rendering sees feelings and emotions as natural, pre-​ existing substances that reside within individual persons, have fixed properties, and are poised to burst onto the scene when triggered. What’s useful about such an account is that it conveys the force of bodily feeling, but in rendering emotions and feelings as explosive, autonomic ready-​mades, hydraulic accounts already know what a body is and what it can and will do, thereby fixing us within a stimulus → response model that obscures the openness of every moment.   Feminists, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and philosophers have provided social constructionist accounts of feelings and emotions that challenge any such naturalization and automaticity. They remind us that, rather than originating within the individual subject, feelings are socially shaped. Such accounts illuminate a lot. But they can also hinder our grasp of the openness of socio-​political life because their core concepts—​e.g., feeling and expression rules, emotion cultures—​emphasize what is probable over the potentiality that something different might occur, as I said before. Also, social constructionist accounts often seem inadequate in the face of our own experiences of being overtaken by intense feeling, when we, for example, explode in fury, seethe with resentment, burn with embarrassment, or collapse in grief. If we do not account for the bodily force of feelings, we neglect much about emotion.

40  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders

We need a way of rendering feelings and emotions that holds together such embodied, visceral experiences with the constructionists’ insight that feelings are not given but instead are socially shaped. And we need something else as well; we simultaneously have to wrestle with the significance of the fact that, in preparing an affected body to respond—​but in any number of potential directions—​ feelings ensure there is always a margin of manoeuvrability in socio-​political life. The hydraulic model and the social constructionist response not only cancel out one another’s insights; both also fail to consider and plumb the significance of that potentiality, thus failing to grasp the openness of every situation. Bilgin Ayata: Would you say that you developed the concept of emotional habitus as a way to engage with some of these conceptual problems? Deborah Gould: Yes, I think so. I was trying to hold on to social constructionist insights while reckoning with the way we experience our feelings as natural, but I don’t know that the emotional habitus concept adequately registers the reality of potentiality. It tries to, by emphasizing the role of practice in its production and reproduction and by highlighting the improvisational aspects of such practices, but as a concept it is, of course, oriented towards social reproduction, even as I also used it to account for social change.   So, to address both of your questions, Cilja, since Moving Politics I have tried to make it clearer in my writing that I see feelings as neither socially determined nor autonomic drivers that determine behaviour but rather as a material manifestation of potentiality—​ a body’s active registering of being affected by all that it encounters, a registering that often is non-​conscious but nevertheless prompts a figuring out what then to do. It seems to me that thinking about emotions in terms of the affectability of bodies opens up a lot for us. It reminds us to mind, and mine, the gap between stimulus and response. In that gap is the feelingful registering of being affected, a variety of potential responses, and the figuring out what then to do. That has both theoretical and political significance. We, as activist scholars, when attuned to the actual openness of a body’s response and to the active feeling that happens in that gap, can ask a number of historically and sociologically minded theoretical, empirical, and political questions, starting with, what are people feeling? And extending to, what has induced those feelings to emerge and crystallize?

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What are the points of contact, the relations, that have helped to materialize such feeling states? Why might specific feelings become more prevalent and widespread in a given moment in time? And more: in what ways do such feeling states (in)capacitate, and how have they been tethered to specific actions? What allows greater attunement to the diversity of feelings in a given moment, and what are the possibilities for developing more of a relation to such states? What helps to materialize specific political feelings across a population, and what might facilitate their dematerialization? For those that are incapacitating, might it be possible to “work them through”, that is, come to know them better and perhaps thereby loosen their hold? These are the sorts of questions that currently guide both my research and my activism. I’m curious about your perspectives here, Cilja and Bilgin—​what prompted your interest in affect? For me, it started with a dissatisfaction with more conventional approaches in political science, my academic discipline. I found especially those with a strong rationalist bearing to be too limited in their approach to human agency in the political realm. That’s why I found your work, Debbie, tremendously helpful, for instance when you use an affective ontology to better understand the unpredictable, unclear, and spontaneous layers of human action. For one, it is an empirical reality that large-​scale uprisings are almost entirely unpredictable. So, while political scientists try to predict collective behaviour and use structural and functionalist arguments to explain it, they often fail due to their rationalist paradigms. This is not to say that humans do not have interests—​quite to the contrary. But how these interests, which can move me or others into action, come into being, how they change and what impacts them, how they are linked to my beliefs and the normative setup of my life—​that is a completely different question. And thus, an ontology which includes emotion and affect, and which conceptualizes us as fundamentally related beings who affect others and are affected by others, is more accurate. The other important generative aspect of looking into affect and emotion is the way different strands of affect theory elucidate the link between affect and power. For me, understanding that there are no politics without affect—​ I am quoting Donovan Schaefer (2019) here as one of many who stressed this point—​fundamentally strengthened my grip on issues of

42  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders

Bilgin Ayata:

hegemony and exclusion. How are we governed by and through feelings? How does the “affective state” work, to take up Ann Stoler’s (2007) famous formulation? How are the seemingly “un-​emotional” registers of an ideal rational political debate fundamentally charged with emotion and affect (Bens et al., 2019; Bargetz, 2014), and what then—​ and this will be the last name I drop here—​do emotions do, as Sara Ahmed (2004) has asked? My interest and engagement with affect studies changed when I returned from the United States to Germany after completing my PhD. My first encounter with affect studies had been early on during my graduate studies but I had not been too excited about it then. After my undergraduate studies in Germany, I had gone to the United States where the affective turn was in full swing. On top of it, I was doing my PhD at a hotbed of affect studies, Johns Hopkins University. But despite the popularity of affect theory on our campus, I kept my distance at that time and was much more interested in postcolonial studies. The reason for this was that I found the discussions of affect theory too distant or neglectful of the urgent questions that postcolonial theory was advancing, especially on racism. I remember that in the affect seminars, workshops, and conferences which I was attending, I was, on the one hand, very intrigued by the way affect studies were pushing the limits of intellectual debates from the angle of feminist, queer, and transgender studies. On the other hand, it was also very alienating to see how questions of whiteness and racism did not really enter into the discussion. This was of course at a time before, for instance, Sara Ahmed was widely read and discussed in affect studies, let alone before Fanon’s writings were considered more broadly in affect theory. With the scholarship of Ahmed, Weheliye (2014), Palmer, and others, the theme of affect and race/​racism has now been established in affect studies. Nevertheless, I do find it striking that powerful critiques of the whiteness of affect theory, such as the one advanced by Palmer (2017; 2020), are coming out and being discussed only now, more or less two decades after the affective turn. During my graduate studies, however, I was quite disheartened to see how, despite the actual rhetoric of speaking about race and racism, the reluctance to engage sincerely with whiteness in knowledge production in the United States was after all not that different from Germany, which I had left in 1996 because of its suffocating and blunt denial of anything related to

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racism. The neglect of race back then in affect theory was to me just another indication of that. Ironically, my take on affect theory changed very much when I returned to Germany after my PhD. I had been away from Germany for more than a decade after living in the United States and Canada for my graduate studies and a stint of a few years in Turkey between my MA and PhD. When I came back to Germany, I was disappointed to see how much the academic landscape was still proudly Eurocentric and largely ignorant of established paradigm changes which had come with affect studies or postcolonial theories, despite all the talk on internationalization, globalization, diversity etc. in German universities. In many ways, the intellectual debates lagged two decades behind contemporary academic discourses in the United States. When I taught at the Political Science department at FU Berlin, my courses on postcolonial international relations were one of the first offered on this topic—​in 2012! Affect studies were not even discussed back then, except for in a few gender studies and philosophy departments. Thus, when Cilja approached me in 2014 with the possibility of joining a group of scholars who were seeking to establish a collaborative research cluster on affective societies, I thought that—​in the given context—​this was an opportunity to maybe perforate the thick borders of the dominant rationalist and positivist paradigms and open up spaces also for the topics of racism and postcolonialism. Ironically, while in the United States, I had found affect theory too limited due to its neglect of racism, in Germany I recognized its potential to advance and deepen our thinking on race and racism. My interest in affect theory thus was re-​activated and resulted in my work on affective citizenship (2019) and the collaborative work with Cilja on the Midān Moments. Within the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) Affective Societies in Berlin, I could also see how over the years, the topics of racism and colonialism became more and more important for the CRC. So indeed, affect studies ended up becoming an intellectual door opener for the German context. Perhaps we could turn to the concept of Midān Moments now. We have been in conversation with you ever since we started our project on the affective dynamics of mass protests in Turkey and Egypt. At different moments, we also met in person in Berlin to share some of the insights we had gathered over the course of the project thus far. We always found your observations from the ACT UP movement, as

44  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders well as your engagement with the Occupy Movement and your examples from local coalition building in the United States, very productive for our own thinking. How was that experience from your end? What kinds of reflections did the concept of Midān Moments engender for you? Deborah Gould: I want to begin by returning to our first encounter with one another in real space. We met at the International Conference on Affective Societies in Berlin in April 2017. My recollection is that I gave a talk in the morning—​ “On (Not) Knowing What Is To Be Done (in 17 affective registers)”—​ and afterward, you two, with your doctoral researchers Dina Wahba and Derya Özkaya, asked some questions, and the five of us then huddled together over lunch and talked and talked and talked. There was an urgency in that conversation. You all were intent on thinking about the affective dimensions of the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo and the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul as well as their aftermaths. I believe you had all read Moving Politics, and my recollection is that our conversation traversed a number of topics, from the conquering of fear that collectivizing in authoritarian contexts both requires and enacts, to the amazing solidarities that erupted amid the action, to questions about the success, failure, and legacies of these key moments in activist history. I especially recall the part of our conversation where we talked about the difficulties and instabilities of various instances of solidarity, and the shame and despair among some Egyptian leftists after they “stood by”, as one of you said, when the Egyptian military and security forces, having deposed President Morsi, opened fire on pro-​Morsi demonstrators who had occupied various squares in Cairo in 2013, killing hundreds and wounding thousands more.   What struck me most about that conversation was its urgency as we moved back and forth between theory and practice, from activist concerns to scholarly conceptualizations, and from political conundrums to comparisons across cases. And I also remember that we simultaneously were emphatically historical throughout, talking about the specificities of each case, the contexts within which particular feelings seemed to emerge and take hold, while also abstracting from the specific cases we were familiar with to think conceptually and theoretically. That was the context of our first meeting, and that’s when you introduced me to your Midān Moments

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concept, I believe. It’s a concept that speaks to me, especially your emphases on bodily copresence, the affects thereby engendered, and the ruptural, even sacred, aspects of extraordinary episodes of collective protest action wherein ordinary life is suspended and everyone involved is transformed in some fundamental ways. That, of course, describes such an important dimension of political protest—​it was certainly true in the case of ACT UP—​and reminds me of Durkheim’s notion of “collective effervescence”, the electricity and exaltation that emerge when people amass and are physically close to one another. But where Durkheim, in line with his bias towards social harmony, emphasizes the way the rituals amid such episodes produce and reproduce a “we-​ness”, the Arabic Midān, as I’ve learned from you, joins together the notion of a public square and a battlefield, thus drawing our attention to the limits of all collectivities engaged in political action, to the tensions that are already built in, historically, and that may emerge in the future. That is an important reminder that the potentiality generated amid these episodes, where people not previously in contact encounter one another and act together to bring change, is not only or always liberatory. The new ways of being and relating that emerge, and the new worlds thereby built, can too quickly paper over persistent power differentials, can produce new forms of domination and exclusions, and so on. Yes, this was a major concern we had. We were critical of the many romanticizing and euphoric writings on both Tahrir and Gezi Park that had come out in the first few years after the protests. These texts disregarded this dimension of the protests and focused on the great moment of coming together without attending to the ambivalences and limitations. In contrast, in our research team we all had different concerns regarding the euphoric writings on the protests, based on our previous work and engagements. The doctoral researchers in the project back then, Derya Özkaya and Dina Wahba, had been active participants in the protests. Cilja and I were both in Berlin when they happened, but we were observing them closely. We all agreed that the romanticization in the writings neglected important power dynamics from the square: For Derya, it was primarily the issue of class; for Dina, it was gender; for Cilja, the urban poor; and for me, the question of race and racism. We aimed for a more complex and nuanced analysis that paid as much attention to the possibilities

46  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders as to its limits. Another concern of ours was that much of the writing focused on the political centres of Cairo and Istanbul, without really considering whether and how the experiences of the square travelled well beyond these centres. As a result, we became curious as to whether the affective dynamic also travelled across time and space. Deborah Gould: It’s so important to point to protest politics that occurred outside of the urban political centres. And in terms of the affective dynamics from these key events travelling across time and space, during the 2011 occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, all of my activist friends in the United States were glued to the Internet, searching out first-​hand activist accounts and analyses as we tried to make sense of events as they unfolded. The Occupy Wall Street protests and occupations that started in September 2011 were surely inspired by what happened in Tahrir. Even before Occupy, during or right on the heels of the Tahrir occupation, there was a significant labour uprising and occupation in the United States, in Madison, Wisconsin, and it was clear at the time that the revolution in Egypt inspired those Wisconsin labour activists. The immediate cause of that eruption was that Wisconsin’s Republican Governor, Scott Walker, proposed a Budget Repair Bill (BRB) that cut the compensation of public sector workers and severely curtailed their collective bargaining rights (except for fire-​ fighters and police). It was a huge attack on unions. In response, union members from multiple sectors, graduate student workers from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in particular, began organizing against the BRB and quickly escalated to an occupation of the State Capitol Building. Protesters had signs and banners that said things like “Welcome to Wiscairo”, “From Egypt to Wisconsin: We Rise Up”, and “Government Walker: Our Mubarak” (Benjamin, 2011). One report indicates that when the Wisconsin occupiers learned that activists in Tahrir “were constantly scrubbing the square, determined to show how much they loved the space they had liberated” (Benjamin, 2011), activists in Wisconsin’s Capitol Building followed suit. That is concrete evidence that Midān Moments travel across time and space.   As I’m thinking into the Midān Moment concept, something I’m noticing is that I tend to default to the positive feelings that it connotes: exuberance, connectivity, the awe and euphoria that come from joining together and taking part in something larger than oneself. You’ve written that you chose the term to evoke, as well, the tensions within

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movements and activist spaces more generally, but I suppose when you are talking about Midān Moments travelling across space and time, you might also be defaulting to the positive meaning in the sense that it is those positive feelings that we notice as having been transmitted in some manner. Is that right? Can you say more about the different aspects of these extraordinary episodes of collective action that you wanted to bring together in the concept, and are you satisfied that the term does that work for us? Yes, absolutely. There is a lot of stress on positive experiences in the empirical material that we collected. Thus, for me, the limits were not immediately visible when looking at the occupation of Tahrir, because many people talked about their utopian experiences on Tahrir with a smile on their face. Many remember good, exciting, and enthusiastic emotions. Our interlocutors indulged in good feelings such as the togetherness, the crossing of class and gender borders, the feeling of being attuned to each other in a huge mass of people, the fighting together, and the partying together. Of course, the fact that the Egyptian protesters were able to chase President Mubarak out of office also contributed to the overall feeling of success, achievement, and hope. People remember Tahrir as a fundamentally empowering experience. But a closer look at the narratives also reveals ambivalence and many mixed feelings. In my chapter in this volume, I stress the ways in which class and gender, for instance, fundamentally structured access to the square and to politics, and how violence demarcated the physical and emotional space of Tahrir Square. Such rifts and exclusions, which were visible and which were felt on the revolutionary square, are hard to overcome. Many other social inequalities further structured the post-​revolutionary stage. The months and years after the occupation were characterized by an incredibly creative and empowered population that engaged enthusiastically in politics on all scales, from the neighbourhood to the parliamentary level. At the same time, tentative and shaky coalitions that emerged on the square between Muslims and Christians, men and women, poor and rich, and liberals and conservatives were systematically attacked and destroyed both by the security apparatus and by all those who were against political change (Wahba 2020). For activists, the years after the occupation were a chain of huge demonstrations and many, many clashes and fights, which were marked by a lot of state violence

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against protesters, but also by violent clashes between former “comrades of the square”, by violence against Christians, and extreme public violence against women. The Rabaa massacre in 2013 is an important turning point in this respect, too. Thus, a close reading of the data also revealed a lot of ambivalence and ambiguity. It is only through an affective lens—​ an affective ontology—​ that I learned to attend to the rifts and silences more systematically. Another important factor in conceptualizing Midān Moments as fundamentally ambivalent is the Turkish experience because, as I learned from Bilgin and Derya, the relationship between the Gezi participants and the Kurdish movement was highly ambiguous from its inception. Yes, indeed. The situation in Turkey was different than in Egypt, where the Kurdish movement had already been mobilizing against their oppression for four decades. The armed conflict between the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK) and the Turkish army had dominated the domestic agenda ever since. The Gezi protests erupted at precisely the moment when the Turkish government initiated a peace process, which projected the possibility of a political solution for the first time. Of course, it was clear that this peace process was rather a strategic move from the government to contain the regional empowerment of Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Nevertheless, it was a very important moment for Kurds in Turkey, and many hoped that decades of war and persecution would finally come to an end. Thus, the political concern of the Kurdish movement was very different at that moment than it was for the protesters in Istanbul. In Chapter 6 in this volume, bahar firat offers a detailed analysis of how this impacted the Gezi protests. The peace process lingered over the Gezi protests and could have been a source of momentum to turn this government-​led initiative into a peace movement from below. Such a peace process could have pushed for a different, more sincere kind of reconciliation. It would have sought a reckoning over past failures regarding the Kurdish issue as well as the denial of the Armenian Genocide. But this did not materialize. On the one hand, the occupied squares and protests led to unprecedented encounters and coalitions during which the themes of racism, the Armenian Genocide, and Kurdistan were at times addressed, as the contributions in this volume by Ahıska, firat, and Özkaya show. But ultimately, the trickier, more fundamental questions with respect both to the Kurdish issue and the Armenian Genocide, were

Affect and Mobilization  49 postponed in order not to endanger the fragile coalitions that had been formed, as Derya Özkaya argues in Chapters 5 and 8 in this volume. This is why it was very important for us to highlight both the potentials and the limits of the protests in our Midān Moment concept.   In this context, I would like to bring up your use of the term “composition”. You don’t speak about coalitions but instead use the concept of “composition”—​can you explain this in more detail? Deborah Gould: I don’t object to the term “coalition” at all, but I think that, in some ways, it has come to connote pre-​existing groups, each with its abiding identity and interests, that strategically work together in pursuit of some goal. The term “composition”—​which speaks to aggregating, joining together, and thus to a relating among parts—​sounds more processual to me, maybe because it has a verb-​like motion built into it in the sense of the composing, or coming into being, of a whole through some combining of parts. I’m suggesting we think about any political collectivity—​ including an ostensibly pre-​existing group—​as a composition of parts that somehow have congealed into a whole: provisionally, temporarily, and porously. I think of composition as a question because, while the coming together of political collectivities happens all the time, it is never natural or inevitable, meaning “composition”—​ whether class-​ based or revolving around other dimensions of being and desiring—​is a question rather than a given, always, and thus requires inquiry. In addition to those relational and processual dimensions, I like the term “composition” because in emphasizing the articulation of different parts together into a whole, it helps us to think about touching across difference and something new thereby emerging. This is about convergence without unity in the sense that the different parts maintain their specificity, which is to say that this isn’t about overcoming difference but rather about coming together across difference, where every part is altered in that being together. The process is affective all the way through, in that very precise meaning of affect as the capacity to affect and be affected by. I’m interested in how participants affect and are affected by that coming together, in that kind of convergence without unity, and what is made possible thereby. Part of this is akin to what Spinoza says to us: We don’t yet know what a body can do. And we also don’t yet know what a collectivity of bodies can do.3   We not only don’t know what will be potentiated by a coming together, we also don’t know what will then

50  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders emerge from that potentiality. We can’t know any of that in advance. When I say that composition is always a question, I mean that in a scholarly sense, but also in a political sense. In saying that composition is never a given, I’m saying that it is always a something to be done. Thinking in terms of the question of composition opens up a terrain for left politics by attuning to the complexities and promises of composition with all of its affective dimensions. Cilja Harders: I find the idea of composition very important. What does a new composition produce, and what does it enable? A new grouping can produce resonance and dissonance, and the unity we might feel in moments of acting together cannot always be repeated. It doesn’t work twice; it just works in that moment. And then the moment is over because so many other things happened between, let’s say, this first enchanting demonstration and a potential second one. In the meantime, especially in the tumultuous and highly eventful days of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, people changed their minds, their party affiliations, or their practices. So the idea of composition is about agency, I think. An agency which can lead into a more conventional coalition or not. Deborah Gould: Yes, composition entails decomposition as well. The term “composition” points us to the question of the formation or the deformation of, let’s say, a revolutionary subject. It comes out of Italian autonomist Marxist operaismo (workerism), which used the concept to talk about the composition of the working class, and they developed the concept specifically to challenge the more common idea that capital drives the whole process. They argued that, in fact, capital is constantly responding to the working class and adapting itself to what the working class is doing, particularly its forms of resistance. So, it’s very much about agency in that sense, Cilja. I’m appropriating the term from workerism, but I’m not engaging in their debates. To me, it’s not only and always about class (at least in a reductive sense), although I’m interested in the composition of a class. But what I particularly like about the term is that it raises the question of the coming into being of a political protagonist, thereby clarifying that such a subject doesn’t always exist, and that there’s nothing in some collectivity’s essence that explains its emergence. The term instead points us towards historical process and the historical nature of the forming and deforming of collectivities.

Affect and Mobilization  51 It’s a term that is used in art, music, and writing, and it really helps us to think about the parts that make up the whole. If the parts are arranged differently, if they have different relations to one another, then the composition is different. It allows for all of that kind of variability. It also points towards togetherness, being in something together, and of course how that being together unfolds is always a question. Another point to emphasize is that composition is not necessarily conscious, although there can be a conscious effort to compose a collectivity. But it often doesn’t happen consciously. And as I said earlier, there’s no foreordained outcome in a coming together either; we don’t know what will happen amid that being affected and affecting. Even as we know there always are tendencies and probabilities, thinking in terms of the affective dimensions of composition, and of politics more generally, reminds us to think about these processes as open-​ended. Part of what I’m getting at is that the process of composition, no matter how it happens, always brims with potential. We have to hold onto that; affect reminds us to think in terms of a margin of manoeuvrability. Maybe not as much manoeuvrability as Massumi would have us believe, but there is that margin of manoeuvrability in every moment. Because the outcome of encounter is not foreordained, the process of composition leaves a lot open—​it leaves a lot of play and a lot then to play with! From a left activist perspective, that’s something to attune to. Notes 1 My interest in political emotion deepened further through collaboration with my extraordinary interlocutors and comrades in Feel Tank Chicago (Lauren Berlant, Vanalyne Green, Amy Partridge, Mary Patten, Matthias Regan, and Rebecca Zorach) and the broader Public Feelings project (including Ann Cvetkovich, Lisa Duggan, José Muñoz, and Katie Stewart)—​all key contributors to different strands of affect theory, especially of the feminist, queer, and left variety. 2 Mazzarella similarly points to this gap, crediting Henri Bergson. See “Myth of the Multitude, or, Who’s Afraid of the Crowd?” (2010, pp. 726–​727). 3 I raise that question in Gould, 2017.

References Ahmed, S. (2004). Affective Economies. Social Text, 22(2), 117–​139. Bargetz, B. (2014). Mapping Affect: Challenges of (Un)Timely Politics. In: M. L. Angerer, B. Bösel & M. Ott (Eds.), The Timing of Affect: Epistemologies, Aesthetics, Politics, (pp. 289–​302). Zürich/​New York: Columbia University Press.

52  Bilgin Ayata, Deborah Gould, and Cilja Harders Benjamin, M. (2011). From Cairo to Madison: Hope and Solidarity Are Alive. Retrieved from www.huffp​ost.com/​entry/​from-​cairo-​to-​madi​son-​hop_​b​_​826​143 Bens, J., Diefenbach, A., John, T., Kahl, A., Lehmann, H., Lüthjohann, M., Oberkrome, F., Roth, H., Scheidecker, G., Thonhauser, G., Ural, N.Y., Wahba, D., Walter-​Jochum, R. & Zik, M. R. (2019). The Politics of Affective Societies: An Interdisciplinary Essay. Bielefeld: Transcript. Berlant, L., Cvetkovich, A., Gould, D., Boler, M., & Davis, E. (2022). On Taking the Affective Turn: Interview with Lauren Berlant, Ann Cvetkovich, and Deborah Gould. Cultural Studies, 36(3), 360–​377. doi:10.1080/​09502386.2022.2040562 Gordon, S. L. (1989). Institutional and Impulsive Orientations in the Selective Appropriation of Emotions to Self. In: D. Franks & E. D. McCarthy (Eds.), The Sociology of Emotions: Original Essays and Research Papers (pp. 115–​ 135). Greenwich: JAI Press. Gould, D. B. (2009). Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP´S Fight against AIDS. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. Gould, D. (2017). Becoming Coalitional: The Perverse Encounter of Queer to the Left and the Jesus People USA. Scholar & Feminist Online, 14(2). Retrieved from: www. diapha​nes.net/​titel/​becom​ing-​coal​itio​nal-​the-​perve​rse-​encoun​ter-​of-​queer-​to-​the-​ left-​and-​the-​jesus-​peo​ple-​usa-​7290 Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. (2010). The Affect Theory Reader. New York: Duke University Press. Hochschild, A. R. (1979). Emotion Work, Feeling Rules, and Social Structure. American Journal of Sociology, 85(3), 551–​575. Jaggar, A. M. (1989). Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology. Inquiry, 32(2), 151–​176. doi:10.1080/​00201748908602185 Lutz, C. (1988). Ethnographic Perspectives on the Emotion Lexicon. In V. Hamilton, G. H. Bower, N. H. Frijda (Eds.), Cognitive Perspectives on Emotion and Motivation (NATO ASI Series, Vol 44, pp. 399–​419). Dordrecht: Springer. Massumi, B. (2002). Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Mazzarella, W. (2010). The Myth of the Multitude, or, Who’s Afraid of the Crowd? Critical Inquiry, 36(4), 697–​727. Palmer, T. S. (2017). “What Feels More Than Feeling?”: Theorizing the Unthinkability of Black Affect. Critical Ethnic Studies, 3(2), 31–​56. doi:10.5749/​ jcritethnstud.3.2.0031 Palmer, T. S. (2020). Otherwise Than Blackness: Feeling, World, Sublimation. Qui Parle, 29(2), 247–​283. doi:10.1215/​10418385-​8742983 Schaefer, D. O. (2019). The Evolution of Affect Theory: The Humanities, the Sciences, and the Study of Power (1st ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Stoler, A. (2007). Affective States. In D. Nugent & J. Vincent (Eds.), A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics (pp. 4–​20). Malden: Blackwell. Wahba, D. (2020a). Affect, Emotions and Political Participation in (Counter) Revolutionary Egypt. (PhD Unpublished Thesis). Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin. Weheliye, A. G. (2014). Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human. Durham: Duke University Press. Williams, R. (1977). Structures of Feeling. In Marxism and literature (pp. 128–​135). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Part II

The Affective Dynamics of the Occupations

4 The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt An Affective Reading of Tahrir 2011 Cilja Harders

Introduction Ramy, a software engineer and Coptic Christian, who was no longer politically active at the time of the research,1 recalls January 28, 2011, when protesters took over Tahrir Square, in a focus group discussion in early 2017: It was the first time in my life that I stood at gunpoint. The clashes started and the day ended, but it was the first time I heard the chant “Down with the regime”. … Later, I found some people pushing a police vehicle; they wanted to dismantle it and sell its parts as spare parts. The atmosphere was tense with yelling and gunfire. It was the first time I felt scared; not for myself, but for my family. … That night the police forces retreated and the curfew was enforced. The next day, I went to the square. There was a huge number of protesters. I felt the air was different there. I felt happy, afraid, and worried. (Focus Group Discussion (FGD) in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 490–​503) Ramy’s description brings the revolutionary days of mass protest2 which began on January 25, 2011, in various Egyptian cities and on Tahrir Square in Cairo specifically to life again. His narrative highlights the different stages of the occupation and their affective atmospheres, from deadly battle to festivity. For many of our interlocutors, the square had an almost irresistible pull, created by the intense sensuality of the bodily co-​presence of thousands of different people. Ramy invokes a wide array of competing emotions and behaviours, ranging from fear to euphoria, from risking death to celebration. In this chapter, I build on the Midān Moments concept which was developed by Bilgin Ayata and myself in the framework of a collaborative research project (2018, 2019 and Chapter 2 in this volume). Following our concept, I read the occupation of Tahrir in 2011 as an event in a space which enabled new and different feelings to come into being. I argue further that these new feelings cannot be unfelt, even years after the protests. DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-6

56  Cilja Harders We can almost smell, see, hear, and feel along with Ramy as we recall the pictures of occupied Tahrir Square which went viral globally in 2011. The peaceful crowds in Egypt were subject to intense media coverage and became an international icon of successful mass protest. They were imbued with hope and were followed by extraordinary politicization, pluralization, and polarization. But more than ten years later, political demobilization and depression are the dominant feelings among many activists and the broader populace. Many former revolutionaries and political scientists agree that the revolution failed, and the military and its authoritarian elite prevailed. Since the summer of 2013, when former president Mohamed Morsi was deposed by mass protests followed by a coup and his followers were suppressed in a bloody massacre, repression by the al-​Sīsī government has constantly increased, reaching unprecedented dimensions today (Hamzawy, 2017; N.N., 2019, 2022; N.N., 2023). Economic crises, a highly volatile regional context, and interventions by foreign actors such as the United States, the European Union, and various Gulf countries (Fahmy, 2015; Holmes, 2018) add to the daily hardship and stabilize the dictatorship.3 At the same time, it is important to think “beyond a simple assessment of failure and success”, as we stress in the Midān Moments concept (Ayata & Harders, 2018, p. 129; El Houri, 2018; van de Sande, 2013). More elite-​ centred and functionalist approaches to the transition can barely capture the chaotic, unpredictable, and open-​ended processes of contention described by Ramy above; with their focus on institutional politics and authoritarian resilience, they miss the fundamental contingency of political dynamics. Also, as I argued in my earlier work on “state analysis from below” (Harders, 2015; Harders, 2013), the dynamic impact of individual and collective agency on structural conditions is underestimated by such a reading. Drawing on an actor-​oriented, processual conceptualization of politics and political transformation, Bilgin Ayata and I developed the concept of the Midān Moments. It enables an empirically grounded analysis of these transformative events and their affective, spatial, and temporal registers: The concept of the Midān Moment allows for an analysis of political transformation after mass protests that can account for the non-​linear, multidirectional and at times contradictory developments in the aftermath of such struggles. … Going beyond a simple assessment of failure or success, a focus on the affective dynamics of extraordinary times of collective protests reveals as much about a society’s past tensions as its future ones. (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 129) Building on the Midān Moments concept, in this chapter I read Tahrir as one of the places in which manifold processes of transformation—​and resistance to such transformation—​unfold in intersectional ways while protesters

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  57 engage in diverse political practices. At the same time, it is important to de-​ centre Tahrir 2011 in time and space because the protests and the processes of transformation neither started nor ended there. In the Midān Moments concept, we build on feminist sociologist Deborah Gould’s “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, pp. 23–​24) which allows us to account for the deep visceral attachments to the revolution which were created in 2011. With an affective reading, the “revolutionary situation” (McAdam, Tarrow, & Tilly, 1996, p. 24) of 2011 emerges as a cognitive as well as bodily experience. It was encapsulated in a political vision, as a lasting feeling, or maybe a brief shiver when a certain smell or sound reached the body. In this sense, affects and emotions are a fundamental dimension of “transformative events” (McAdam & Sewell, 2001, p. 110 ff.) which “cannot un-​happen”, as political scientist Jillian Schwedler (2016, paragraph 10) correctly observed. In this chapter, I argue that the January 25 Revolution also cannot be unfelt, even after years of repression and depression. This analysis, based on Gould’s (2009) “affective ontology” (p. 23), helps us to account for the more long-​term, less visible, and more subtle forms of change which grew out of the Egyptian uprising. As philosopher and feminist Clare Hemmings pointedly said, “to know differently we have to feel differently” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 150), and revolutionary occupations offer ample opportunity to do so. But, as we stress in the Midān Moments concept, the direction, scope, and intensity of change is fundamentally open due to the highly ambiguous forces of affect (Ayata & Harders, 2019; Chapters 2 and 3 in this volume). To substantiate my argument, I introduce the “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, p. 23) which informs our thinking about affect, human agency, and politics in this volume’s section “Affect, Mobilization, Midān Moments: Conceptual Reflections” Affective ontologies are premised on an understanding of affect as situated, as we spell out in the Midān Moments concept. Therefore, section three describes the context of the January 25 Revolution. This contextualization also requires a decentring in time and space in order to accommodate the Midān Moments’ conceptual focus on the ambiguity and fluidity of the situation itself. In section four, I engage with the emotional and affective dimension of the events of January and February 2011. Once again performing a decentring movement in time and space, I scrutinize their peculiar mix of euphoric, depressed, hopeful, horrified, peaceful, and violent feelings. I detail what it is which cannot be unfelt and how this is bound up with Tahrir, as well as spaces beyond the famous square. I show how, for many people, the revolution—​ so closely linked to the occupation of public space—​started at home when participants re-​negotiated their personal and political positionalities. I then share highly charged recollections of police and protester violence and read these in light of persisting class and gender divisions in Egyptian society. I conclude with reflections on how this revolutionary experience, which cannot be unfelt, feeds into less visible, more long-​term processes of transformation in Egypt.

58  Cilja Harders Reading Tahrir from the Perspective of an Intersectional Affective Ontology Marwa, a freelancer who became politically active after the 25 January Revolution, did not bring anything to the show-​and-​tell exercise of the focus group discussion. She explains why: Yes, [I destroyed] everything that reminds me of the revolution. Even the places; I tried to make new memories to replace the old ones related to protesting. Stuff like that, clothes, and anything I brought back from the square trigger many feelings inside; they’re not always painful, but more often than not they are. One does not have the energy or tolerance for such feelings anymore. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 104–​108) Marwa’s story exemplifies the visceral and immediate quality of affect. She describes the more subtle charge of objects, places, smells, and sounds which once made a deep and lasting impression on her. For Marwa, anything connected to Tahrir was strongly emotionally charged and could “trigger many feelings”. She cannot avoid these strong affects, which impose themselves immediately on her, activated by a picture, the clothes she wore then, or a song. Even at the time of the research project, five years after the revolutionary situation, her feelings could not be unfelt and were so burdensome that Marwa nevertheless actively tried to unfeel them. But unfeeling or undoing was not possible due to the visceral nature of affects; Marwa could only try to avoid physical, sensual, and material triggers. Not thinking about the euphoria of 2011 was more feasible than indulging in such feelings now that it seemed impossible to feel them again. The affective link to the past is a luxury she cannot afford in the harsh oppressive climate of the al-​Sīsī regime, as “one does not have the energy or tolerance for such feelings anymore”. Marwa’s narrative exemplifies Deborah Gould’s (2009) conceptualization of human agency and subjectivity within the framework of an “affective ontology” (p. 23). Gould stresses that affect can account for the fact that political attachments sometimes, perhaps frequently, derive from visceral and inchoate fears, resentments, anxieties, desires, aspirations, senses of belonging or non-​ belonging, that an individual (or an ideal, or an organization) somehow stirs up and addresses. (Gould, 2010, p. 29) Accordingly, participation in mass demonstrations and the experience of toppling a dictator leave deeply embodied traces on participants due to their affective qualities, shaping agency in often unpredictable ways. Such intense experiences can produce empowering as well as haunting bodily states,

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  59 shaped through a variety of activities such as occupying a public space, clashing with police, engaging in discussions with others, cleaning the streets, watching TV, or bringing food to activists on Tahrir Square. Frequently, our interlocutors described their experiences in the occupied square as empowering, enchanting, and inspiring, but sometimes also as shocking, surprising, and disturbing. Consequently, the concept of Midān Moments focuses on “moments of rupture in which pre-​existing emotional repertoires of fear, hate, repression, or respect for the political order are destabilized” (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 279) while also acknowledging the ambivalences and limits of such collective euphoria. In an “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, p. 23), affect and emotions are understood as distinct but intimately related bodily and cognitive states. Emotions are “object- or situation-​ directed affective comportments that are sorted into culturally established and linguistically labelled categories or prototypes, such as fear, anger, happiness, grief, envy, pride, shame, and guilt” (von Scheve & Slaby, 2019, p. 44). Emotions are episodic; they start and they end, and they often impel humans to act. Affect, in turn, is “not on/​ off; it’s always present” (Schaefer, 2019, p. 64); it is a mode of connecting to the world and to oneself rather than a delineated state of the mind or body (von Scheve, 2017, p. 9). Affect is felt as intensity which impinges immediately on the body and the mind, and such intensities cannot be unfelt or forgotten. This is also reflected in our research experience, as interlocutors often forgot the technical details of these highly eventful days in interviews. However, they always seemed to clearly remember their feelings and the affective charge of specific situations, items, or places. Feelings cannot be falsified; they can be silenced, brushed over, or maybe re-​coded in the way Marwa tried to do, but the affective traces of the events cannot be erased. In the Spinozian tradition, affect is fundamentally relational; it entails the capacity to be affected and to affect others (Slaby & Mühlhof, 2019, pp. 29–​ 30; Bargetz, 2014, and Chapter 3 in this volume). This relationality is an important theme in our data, too. The narratives are often structured by practices of moving—​in the city, to Tahrir, or to other people—​and being moved by experiences of and with others. It is also in this sense that Marwa tried to erase the “impressions left by others” (Ahmed, 2004, p. 25) and sought to escape the memories of the January 25 Revolution, which are mediated through people and places, smells and objects, and the feelings they stir. At the same time, participants often alluded to the fundamental socio-​ relational quality of human life. They did this, for example, when they tried to assuage their family’s fears over their own urgent wish to take part in a potentially deadly demonstration. Access to the mass protests and the ensuing feelings were fundamentally structured along the lines of class and gender, as Winegar (2012) and Hafez (2019) importantly stressed. Their accounts tie into our interlocutor’s stories, which immediately speak to the feminist conviction that the personal is indeed political. Political agency and its emotional and affective registers are deeply mediated through intersectional inequalities

60  Cilja Harders based on genders, ethnicities, classes, religions, (dis)abled bodies, sexualities, or age (Crenshaw, 1989). Accordingly, in this chapter, when tracing the diverse feelings which cannot be unfelt, I focus on the affective dynamics of protest as mediated through gender, religion, and class that decentre Tahrir in time and space. Contextualizing and De-​centring Tahrir 2011 and the January 25 Revolution It is important, yet almost banal, to stress that the changes signalled by the January 25 Revolution neither started nor ended at Tahrir—​midān at-​taḥrīr or, in its English translation, Liberation Square. This is the case despite its prominence in the media coverage and the memories of our interlocutors.4 Nevertheless, political activism had already intensified in the decade before 2011 through a wave of successful strikes, a growing independent workers’ movement (Abdalla, 2020), an emerging blogosphere (Badr, 2022; el-​Hamalawy, n.d.), the Kifaya Movement, the al-​Baradei campaign, and the silent vigils for victims of police brutality like Khaled Said, to mention but a few (Abd el-​Fattah, 2022; Holmes, 2018; Korany & El-​Mahdi, 2012; Soudias, 2014; Sowers & Toensing, 2012). Shenker (2016), El-​Sharnouby (2018), and Fahmy (2015) chronicle up to two centuries of popular unrest and unravel the longue durée of protests in Egypt in order to situate the events on the square. Sabea argues that these “moments and spaces are key nodes in enabling the emergence of a critical imaginary that assembles a different possibility of ‘a people’ and a polis” (2014, p. 73). Such diverse memories, histories, and practices all feed into the different affective layers of Tahrir, which Bilgin Ayata and I describe elsewhere in more detail (Ayata & Harders, 2018). The experiences of the 2011 protests are inscribed in the physical environment of the place as much as on the bodies of the protesters, thus fuelling the physio-​ spatial ways in which the 25 January Revolution cannot be unfelt. Ramy, the Coptic activist, recounts the story of a temporally and spatially de-​centred square in the run-​up to the mass protests, when other places had greater importance than Tahrir. On New Year’s Eve in 2010, a bomb killed more than 20 worshippers and injured around 70 in front of a church in Alexandria after mass, and people took to the streets in Alexandria and Cairo (N.N., 2011): After the bombing of El Kedeseen, Christians were the first to protest against the Ministry of the Interior. There was a mass protest in Shubra.5 The number of people was unbelievable, and the protest had huge momentum since many civil movements joined in solidarity and were present; it was a lot more than was suggested on TV. The protest took place on Shubra Street. While I was there, I found a Christian guy I knew leading the chants. I couldn’t believe that Christians were protesting. It was the first time they had engaged in the public sphere on such a large

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  61 scale. After the protest, I met my friends and all we could talk about was what had happened in Tunisia. And the main point in the conversation was not to dream, because that would end terribly. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 476–​484) Ramy speaks to the fact that local, regional, and international events alike can feed into the emergence of a “revolutionary situation” (McAdam, Tarrow, & Tilly, 1996, p. 24). Local activism in Egypt tied into the surprising events in neighbouring Tunisia, where long-​time dictator Ben Ali came under growing pressure from public protests. He fled to Saudi Arabia on January 15, 2011, and this fed into mass protests in other countries which led to the departure of a string of dictators in 2011. Ramy also describes the stark contrast of hope and fear which activists felt, and he aptly depicts the atmosphere shortly before the uprising. Dreaming about deposing a dictator “would end terribly”, as the powers of the Egyptian police state were frightful. Violence was to be expected. With an affective ontology in mind, we can grasp the intensity of such contradictory feelings of hope, courage, fear, hesitation, and sombreness. And yet, Ramy and many others came out onto the streets only a few days later; they did so with their fear and not by necessarily attempting to overcome it. They protested against corruption, police violence and police impunity, lack of freedom and dignity, and growing social inequality among other issues (El-​Ghobashy, 2012; El-​Mahdi & Korany, 2012; Shokr, 2012). Ramy’s narrative also shows how established societal divisions were challenged even before the occupation of Tahrir and how strong the affective charge of such new experiences was for him. Members of the Coptic Christian minority can be found in all social classes in Egypt, and they have to balance experiences of discrimination with the fact that church leaders have always sided with the ruling regime to protect their communities (Tadros, 2013). Thus, the emergence of public Coptic resistance mattered a lot to Ramy, and he found the sight of a Christian leading the demonstration chants especially remarkable. Throughout the occupation, inter-​ faith solidarity actions, such as protecting each other’s prayers in Tahrir, became powerful and widely covered symbols of a new solidarity among previously divided Egyptians (Tadros, 2013). Such unforeseen encounters with the other deeply touched many people, greatly contributing to the empowering affective resonance of the newly emerging understanding of the people (Sabea, 2014) which many participants experienced in the occupied square. However, as we stress with the Midān Moments concept, such promising collectivity beyond established social divides was fragile from its inception, as it was punctuated by dissonances and silences. Between Battlefield and Utopia: Tahrir 2011 There are many descriptions of the first 18 days of protest, including the 15 days of the occupation until president Mubarak resigned. However, only

62  Cilja Harders few observers and participants dwell in detail on the emotional and affective qualities of these extraordinary days, or the “time out of time” as Egyptian anthropologist Hanan Sabea (2013, para. 1) aptly coined it. These works inform my analysis to an important degree and they contribute to a thick description of a specific historical situation which shapes affects as “situated affect” in spatial, temporal, political, and cultural ways. Keraitim and Mehrez (2012) stress the festive character of the occupation of Tahrir as mulid, which indicates the birth of something new. Beyond the famous slogans demanding “bread, freedom, and social justice”, Ghannam (2016) and Sabea argue that the revolutionary square is about the disruption of what constituted the politically and socially familiar (i.e. the system writ large or the nizam). The system is not only limited to the state and its organs, but also to structures and social categories (such as gender, religion, ownership, market, communal, and neighbourhood) that constitute the realm of the social. (Sabea, 2014, p. 72) Sholkamy (2012) stresses the liminality of the event and the deep joy of togetherness, which included men and women, old and young, Nubians and Bedouins, Christians and Muslims, and rich and poor. Bamyeh (2013) proposes understanding the revolution as a form of enlightenment in which fundamentally new forms of knowledge emerged. El-​ Sharnouby (2018), Hanafi (2012), Khosrokhavar (2018), Wahba (2020a, 2020c) and Schielke (2015, ­chapter 9) trace the emergence of new political subjectivities through the affectively charged practices on the square and after the occupation. But this is neither an easy nor a predictable path, as these authors and our interviewees stress. The square had “utopian and dystopian functions” as Telmissany (2014) observes, its violence ranking among its most important ambivalent features. In the affective reading proposed here, the occupation is best understood as a multi-​sensory experience charged with smells and sounds, as well as with practices such as setting up a camp, working in the clinic, producing a bulletin, eating, sleeping, shouting, fighting, singing, joking, arguing, running, and resting.6 Shared moments of euphoria when shouting famous slogans such as “bread, freedom, social justice”, “leave”, “the people want to bring down the regime” (Colla, 2012) co-​exist with frightful street battles. Such practices come with intense but mixed feelings which oscillate between affective dissonances and resonances, all of which leave deep impressions on the body and the mind. The Midān Moments concept differentiates between two main “affective arrangements” (Slaby et al., 2017, p. 1): The square as a battlefield and the square as utopia (Ayata & Harders, 2018; 2019). Both feed into the affective intensities of the January 25 Revolution; the starting points for (new) feelings which cannot be unfelt.

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  63 The Utopian Square Many people told us how they had arrived at Tahrir after often adventurous and dangerous journeys. Others deliberately stayed away because of the danger or because they did not believe in the success of such a demonstration. Our interviewees mention feelings of fear, guilt, sorrow, and anger, but also doubt, insecurity, and hesitation. Ramy spoke about his fear of having “impossible dreams” about political change which would end horribly. Many shared a moment of disbelief between January 25, when the first huge demonstrations happened, and January 28, when Tahrir and other squares in the country were occupied after day-​long clashes. A third group of people could not reach Tahrir Square on that Friday, due to the lack of transportation and because of gender or class barriers, forcing them to negotiate with their families over their going to Tahrir.7 Shaimaa, who worked with an international organization at the time of the discussion, remembers how her revolution started at home with a serious fight about class and gender boundaries. She ended up not going to Tahrir in the days of the occupation, but the events on the square were nevertheless central to her politicization: It was the first time I had a fight with them. My grandmother said, “Do you see the people and how barefoot and naked they are?” I told her “So what? I’m one of the people and I’m barefoot and naked as well,”8 and it turned into a fight. I left and had no clue where to go and my father told me not to stay home by myself. I didn’t want to stay home feeling that infuriated. It was the first time I had yelled at my family, and they called me impolite and said I had a terrible upbringing. When I left them, I decided to go to the square instead of going home. I went to the main street but there were no means of transportation … I went home. I stayed home alone and a few days later I went back to M. (a provincial town) (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 282–​293) Shaimaa recalls that it was the first time she had challenged her families’ rules and opinions in such a strong way. The “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, p. 23) used here helps us understand the intensity of such personal and yet fundamentally political struggles. Children argued with their parents; husbands, wives, and children lied to their families before leaving through the back door; friends anxiously waited for calls. People were often stuck in an emotional dilemma: How could they reconcile feelings of care with the strong desire to take the possibly deadly risk of being part of the January 25 Revolution? Later, people’s senses of obligation towards the other—​to family and friends—​were perhaps even more troubled by the strange feeling of being emotionally closer to unknown fellow protesters on the square than to their own relatives due to their shared experience of the occupation. In the session, Shaimaa shared in more detail how events in the square dominated her interest while she was in the provincial town of M. Even

64  Cilja Harders from afar, the affective and emotional pull of the square was strong. Shaimaa experienced a double de-​centring, both in time and place. Despite the fact that she could not participate in the occupation of Tahrir, her story of becoming is closely linked to this space and her positionality as a young woman. Afterwards I went to M., and, of course, my mother locked me up so that I wouldn’t go anywhere. And then I went back to Cairo and started going to the square behind their backs … I was in a state of awe and disbelief. And it was the first time I had ever felt free deep inside. I felt like a human being. That reflected in my personal life; I started doing everything I was afraid to do before. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 295–​298; 312–​315) Shaimaa shared a narrative of fulfilment, of how, after a long journey, she reached the square and her own personal revolution could materialize. With an affective reading it is clear how processes of personal and political liberation go hand in hand, and how challenging established authorities starts at home, moves to the streets, and flows back to the homes of many people, especially young people and women of all ages. Shaimaa’s story shows how transformations necessitate the reconstruction or even destruction of old bonds, such as family bonds. She challenged conventional gender roles and freed herself from some gendered expectations in the ways many young people of all genders did after 2011, thus pointing to one of the major, albeit macro-​politically less visible long-​term outcomes of the mass protests. Interestingly, our interviewees underscored these emotionally taxing family battles more than the emotional stress which might result from, for instance, unlearning feelings of loyalty towards long-​term president Mubarak, as Flam’s (2005) or Jaspers’ (2011) work would suggest. As a result, for Shaimaa and many others, the feeling of freedom was the strongest and dominant emotion linked to the 25 January revolution. It was reflected in her relationship to her family, her subsequent gender activism, and her becoming and being a revolutionary. Samuli Schielke’s (2015) anthropological work traces in more detail how this process is deeply rooted in “an affect of rejection … It is a struggle that is centred on the ability to desire something different as an aim in its own right” (pp. 208–​209). Shaimaa also remembered how it took her a while to trust her own new feelings and to believe that it was possible to indeed feel free and change. Her narrative beautifully speaks to Hemmings’ conviction that “to know differently we have to feel differently” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 150). Feeling differently was, for Shaimaa, an empowering experience, which indeed led to new ways of thinking. Accordingly, the memories of 2011 were full of positive emotions for her and transformative affects to which she could still relate at the time of the research. For Marwa, who was teaching at a private university in 2011, the most vivid memories of the revolutionary days were how difficult it was for her to transgress class barriers. Getting access to the masses and feeling in unity

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  65 with the people was not easy for her, and she was also not prepared for the heavy fighting and violence: I used to think that I couldn’t be part of any mass meeting of Egyptians—​ of course, this is not how I think now—​they’re savages who would want to steal from me or harass me; that was what I thought of the people. On January 25, I was in Ain Sokhna with my friends. That night, while watching a foreign channel on TV, I saw the way people looked in the square. I knew my friends were there and I started doubting the way I thought. On January 26 and 27, more people started joining the protests and I started feeling like I wanted to join them regardless of right or wrong. And I wasn’t sure where the people I wanted to join were or what they looked like. I joined the protests on January 28, but I didn’t manage to get inside the square because of the tear gas and other such things. I wasn’t familiar with all that. I suddenly found myself stuck in the middle of those people whom I didn’t want to mingle with. They were helping me, and they even put me first. They kept me safe from harm during clashes. At that time, my feelings changed, and I started thinking Egyptians were great and my fear of them was groundless. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 555–​571) Marwa (and others from the same upper-​ middle-​ class background) still remembers her astonishment and insecurity in light of the masses of ordinary people of whom she had learned to think badly. But the experience of mutual help, of keeping a stranger safe from danger regardless of her gender or class, left deep affective traces. Marwa reflected on how the interaction with the other first changed her feelings and then her thinking in fundamental ways. Hemmings has stressed the importance of dissonant and surprising moments for the initiation of serious changes. She argues that politicization as a feminist often starts with “feeling an ill fit with social descriptions, feeling undervalued, feeling that same sense in considering others; all these feelings can produce a politicised impetus to change” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 150). In this sense, Marwa’s learning process likewise started from affective dissonance and feelings of insecurity, fear, and class prejudice, which were challenged in the process of participation. Marwa learned to trust other people, and thus, the class barrier could be transgressed. For Marwa, the people—​fellow Egyptians—​went from being unknown strangers to caring friends, companions, and maybe even comrades. Considering the already discernible wave of hyper-​nationalism and media-​ stimulated xenophobia in the wake of the protests, it is important to note that Marwa speaks of “Egyptians” rather than “Egypt”, and that her positive feelings were geared towards actual human beings rather than the nation or the state. In slight contrast to her narrative, Egyptian analyst Ahmed Shokr observes that in the first 18 days of the uprising, the discourse of freedom was soon “taken over by expressions of patriotism. … the consensus against

66  Cilja Harders Mubarak developed into a jubilee of national pride” (Shokr, 2012, p. 45). Part of the joy of the square came into being when shouting “Egypt, Egypt” or waving an Egyptian flag, not least because pre-​organized protesters were in agreement that no political party insignia should be used on the occupied square. Thus, for many, protesting because one cares for a better Egypt was one way of overcoming deep social, economic, and ideological divides. For some, it felt like being in love with the people, with whom they shared the space and time of the occupation (see Chapter 5 in this volume). Schielke reads the ensuing mobilizations as a difficult love affair between the individual and the nation. According to him, the revolution “was a process of rediscovering and strengthening love for the nation that until then had showed little love for its sons and daughters” (Schielke, 2017, p. 208). For Marwa and others, feelings of love, trust, closeness, sameness, being bound, and togetherness left deep visceral and cognitive impressions. Tahrir emerged as a space of possibilities, as Sabea (in this volume) observed. But protesters also experienced dissonance, embarrassment, and discomfort, and this peculiar mix of feelings of the “utopian square” could not be unfelt, as the vivid memories of the focus group participants show. The Violent Square Alongside the sense of freedom and fulfilment, of joy and strength, and of love and enthusiasm, many interviewees invoked the square as a battlefield. They remember violence in Tahrir and beyond.9 Witnessing arbitrary police violence on TV or on social media led many people to join the protests, driven by a sense of “moral shock” (Jasper & Poulsen, 1995) which eroded the “cementing emotions” (Flam, 2005, p. 20) which typically work to sustain an existing political and social order. In such a moment, people may start a journey of “emotional liberation” (Flam, 2005, p. 20) because they conceive of state actions as immoral and outrageous and turn their feelings into action. Many activists spoke about the strong affective charge of horribly violent scenes, which was also tangible in the focus group. Ahmed felt too weak physically to be part of a battle and spent the night before January 28 in a far-​away neighbourhood. On January 28, the Friday of Rage, he had trouble reaching the lower-​class neighbourhood adjacent to Tahrir Square where he lives. In his narrative, anxiety and fear are inextricably linked with rage about the situation, care for his mother and brother, and a fundamental sense of insecurity. Such mixed feelings reflect the contingencies and unpredictability of any revolutionary uprising, and they are probably shared by a majority of people in Egypt regardless of their political convictions. Ahmed remembers January 28, 2011, as follows, and describes the various fears he faced: After sunset, the police started retreating and the people took over the streets. I had no clue what to do then. I went back home to my mom crying

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  67 because my brother had joined the protests. I kept wondering whether he was alive or not. I went out to look for him at our friends’ places and in the cafes we went to. I couldn’t find him. I kept on searching everywhere for him, then I went into Tahrir Square and downtown. I can’t describe my fear of the gunfire, the beating, and the clashes I witnessed there. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 402–​409) Almost all the interviewees stressed their fears in a similar fashion, as well as the intensity of those moments when they were in mortal danger for the first time. People feel fear and insecurity, and the immediate bodily reactions such as a racing heart, heat, cold, and the urge to run away. Such feelings are intractably linked with the smells, sounds, and physical environment of an embattled square with armoured vehicles, people using all kinds of makeshift weapons, digging out stones from the pavement, and throwing Molotov cocktails. The affective and emotional layers of the January 25 Revolution were thus also inscribed on the body through the smell of teargas, the sounds of shooting, the roaring helicopters in the air, and the slogans chanted together. Such a mix of feelings and impressions creates intense, immediate, and long-​lasting sensory, bodily, and cognitive impressions, which cannot be unfelt. Ahmed’s narrative also reflects his astonishment over the unexpected police behaviour on that day; after fierce battles, the police retreated from the streets, and later, the army moved in (El-​Ghobashy, 2012; Ketchely, 2017). But the death toll was high. According to Wikithawra (n.d.), 1,075 people lost their lives all over Egypt during the first 18 days of mass mobilization. Many protesters died in the first days: The death toll between January 25 and 28 alone amounted to 551 victims, with protesters mostly killed by gunshots and while attacking police stations (Ketchely, 2017, p. 32). Ahmed witnessed police violence and violence from protesters on his way through a restless city centre. He describes a scene which touched him deeply and which, like many other incidents of violence, stuck with him. Such scenes cannot be processed; they can only be recounted. I saw the worst scene I have ever seen in my entire life. Someone killed a person for a jacket. I went back home because I had given up the hope of finding him [his brother]. I couldn’t reach anyone, so I decided to leave things in God’s hands. I stayed home and I slept for two hours. My brother came back home holding a soldier’s shirt and two tear gas canisters. I asked him what these [items] were and what exactly he had done! He told me that they had “beat the shit” out of those infidels who were killing people in front of their eyes. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 414–​417) Ahmed’s brother was probably involved in violence against the police, who were beating, arresting, and killing protesters. In one of the few works on

68  Cilja Harders the role of the urban poor in the uprisings, Ismail (2012, 2013 and in this volume) claims that the Egyptian revolution was a “revolution against the police” (p. XX). She examines the ways the built environment of Cairo, and a history of police violence in lower-​class neighbourhoods and resistance against it, were central to enabling and sustaining the uprising. On January 28, many police stations all around the country were attacked and set on fire. These attacks and the decentralized marches kept security forces scattered and forced them to defend their stations rather than fighting demonstrators, greatly contributing to the success of the protests. This argument was stressed by some of our interviewees but also by Ismail (see Chapter 7 in this volume), El-​Ghobashy (2012, pp. 32–​33), and Ketchely (2017, ­chapter 2). Ahmed’s narrative relates to these local battles and scenes of violence. Ramy also vividly recalls a highly charged and violent scene which indicates the immediacy of affect and the intensities of its inscription on the body and the mind. It shows how class and gender were important fault lines in the experiences of the revolution. In Ramy’s story, a group of young men, whom he calls baltagiya (thugs), gathered to take revenge on members of the security services in their neighbourhood while Tahrir Square was occupied. Baltagiya are local criminals for hire who often collaborate with the police or are used by them for dirty work (Amar, 2011; Wahba, 2020a; 2020c). Many of them were forced into this position with false charges of petty crime. Some of them were thus victims and perpetrators at the same time, when they were turned into local police informants as a means of controlling potentially unruly poor populations (Ismail, 2006 and Chapter 7 in this volume). We had a police officer called Mohamed F. who was infamous for his tyranny … I started noticing that the thugs from all the areas Mohamed F. served came over, and they were armed with weapons and Molotov cocktails. But there was one person that I could never forget. He was carrying a whip and was wearing a sleeveless shirt in that cold weather. There were whip marks on his back. He grabbed my attention because he looked different from the rest. Those people came to kill Mohamed F. and whoever objected would be killed before him. The MP of the area contacted the Armed Forces, so they sent an armoured vehicle. I started hearing people talking about the reason why they wanted to kill him. I kept on waiting for the guy with the whip, to hear what he had to say. He said that he didn’t want to kill him; he only wanted to whip him, just as the officer had whipped him. At that moment, I felt my whole body shivering. I don’t know why. After that, there was an exchange of gunfire. I couldn’t imagine that people had reached this stage of fury. (FGD in Cairo, January 21, 2017, lines 506–​525) Ramy’s narrative speaks strongly to the bodily intensities of affects, as he recalls the scene and his shivering in the tense and dangerous situation. He remembers his readiness to act at a moment’s notice, as well as the large

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  69 amount of anger, hate, and ire he sensed. His narrative helps us understand how prepared some people—​ particularly lower-​ class men—​ were to fight the police once the opportunity arose. Ramy encountered a violent man who had been harmed and humiliated and who carried the bodily marks of inhuman treatment. This man now acted from an empowered positionality, thus embodying what the revolution also meant to many: A struggle for karāma (dignity), which includes the right to claim one’s rights, and to undo what had never been just but still occurred on a daily basis in an authoritarian system and a brutal police state. Ramy’s encounter also underscores the ambivalent position of the army, which was often lauded by protesters for not shooting at the people and for presumably protecting the revolution. Here, however, the army intervened to protect the representative of the old order, embodied by a hated police officer and the member of parliament who came to his rescue.10 Violence on the square, especially for lower-​class men, is therefore one crucial link between police brutality before the revolution and enduring clashes after the occupation had concluded as Ismail (2012 and in this volume), Ryzova (2020), and Wahba (2020a; 2020c) also show. The affective dynamics of the January 25 Revolution were fuelled by both enthusiasm and fear in many different shades. These emotions allowed people to imagine that a different we was possible and to dream “of being a People”, as Sabea (2014, p. 67) aptly put it. Our material indicates a strong sense of empowerment but also points to the living with (broken) fears as important feelings of the January 25 Revolution. At the same time, such imaginaries were also based on hate or contempt, and they were sustained by practices and memories of violence. Schielke argues that “broken fear” is the major emotion of the uprising and its aftermath. It is a positively existing sentiment: It is fear, but it is broken, reconfigured in a seemingly chaotic way. It can be described as an affective complex in its own right that involves anxiety, excitement, terror, courage, unrest, hope, and an attitude of assertively sticking to one’s own point of view. (Schielke, 2017, p. 210) Such a reading speaks to the turbulent and eventful aftermath of the January 25 Revolution, which was rife with popular mobilizations, ongoing street protests and occupations, an immense political creativity, deep politicization, a heavily mediatized counter-​revolution informed by persistent social tensions, and violence which was yet to come.11 Conclusion For many participants, experiences on occupied Tahrir and beyond were life changing and had a major impact on their personal and political trajectories. Intense affects were inscribed on the body through the interactions on the square, the smell of teargas, the sounds of shooting, the festive mood,

70  Cilja Harders or the slogans chanted together. This mix created intense, immediate, and long-​ lasting sensory, bodily, and cognitive impressions which could not be unfelt or undone, even after years of repression and depression, as the narratives presented here show. Such affective dynamics fed into the creation and sustenance of a highly politicized, engaged, and enthusiastic public. On the one hand, the participants practised joyful togetherness while trying to change the system. On the other hand, the revolutionary experiences were also intimately linked to violence and other disturbing encounters as people tried to cross social, ethnic, religious, or gendered divides. With an “affective ontology” (Gould, 2009, p. 23) and the Midān Moments concept in mind, we can attend to the open, ambivalent, and odd situations which shaped the experiences of activists. These moments are part and parcel of the affective and emotional register of “transformative events” (McAdam & Sewell, 2001, p. 110.) and their turbulent aftermath. By definition, such events “cannot un-​ happen” (Schwedler, 2016: para.10) and, as I argued in this chapter, they also cannot be unfelt, not least due to the visceral qualities of affect. Even though the January 25 Revolution offered ample opportunities for new feelings and thus new thinking to emerge, our interviewees also spoke about the difficulties and possible limits of such endeavours. For Hemmings (2012), such dissonances and ambiguities are potentially even a pre-​condition for change rather than an impediment. Becoming a feminist, she writes, often starts with a feeling of dissonance. As a result, she has been concerned with “imagin[ing] a politics that begins from experiences of discomfort without generalising these as shared by all subjects or as the basis of transcendence of difference” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 158). A process which begins with discomfort—​and does not feed into identity politics e.g. in the sense of exclusionary nationalism—​entails longer, more stressful, as well as unpleasant processes of unlearning gendered or class privileges. Similar processes had begun for some of our interviewees, and some of them were enthusiastically ready to question themselves, the system, the familiar, and all rules. They felt free for the first time, felt finally like a complete human being, and they could relate to their fellow citizens in new ways. Yet the ongoing politicization, which included such processes of unlearning, of navigating discomfort, and of thinking about a politics which is not rooted in identity claims along the established lines of class, gender, religion or race in Egypt, was interrupted early on by violence both from above and from below. Most importantly, it was absorbed into more exclusionary feelings of nationalism and antagonistic group conceptions. In addition, the political space for lessons learned from new feelings and new practices constantly diminished through increasing repression. At the same time, the fragile new coalitions of the square were systematically attacked and came under pressure through violence against Copts, violence against women, violence against the lower classes, and the return of a vengeful security apparatus (Abd el-​ Fattah, 2022; Sabea, 2014; Schielke, 2017; Wahba, 2020a, 2020b). Turning enthusiasm and openness into hate and

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  71 resentment required the constant material and affective efforts of powerful agents, and the success of this undertaking was not a forgone conclusion. It is in this sense, that—​as Schielke pointedly said—​the “same moods and affects that enable revolutions can also be used to end them” (Chapter 9 in this volume, p. 180). This process culminated in the violent and bloody summer of 2013, when the security forces turned against the protesters on two other squares in Cairo (Grimm & Harders, 2018; Grimm, 2022). They did this with the open, at times tacit, support of all those who supported the so-​called restoration of order and the end of President Morsi’s rule, as Sabea (2014) and Schielke (2015, 2017 and Chapter 9 in this volume) have described. The events of 2013 left many activists stunned, silenced, and full of guilt (Harders & Wahba, 2017). These feelings, too, it seems, cannot be unfelt. Thus, the affective archive of the uprisings is multi-​layered, filled with moments of joy and victory but also with memories of defeat, depression and sorrow. They all feed into the post-​2011 transformations, informing and shaping them in politically productive, yet fundamentally open ways. Acknowledgements This chapter is rooted in a collective effort within a research project by Bilgin Ayata, Derya Özkaya, Dina Wahba, and myself, and I thank them for more than four years of thinking together. The project was situated in the “Affective Societies” collaborative research centre at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany and was funded by the German Research Foundation DFG. Its first stage lasted from 2015 to 2019. I thank psychiatrist Dr. Nabil Elkot of the Shams Psychology Center for his friendship, for opening spaces, for keeping us safe, and helping us throughout. From the beginning, he has been an inspirational partner and friend in this project and has generously shared his thoughts, time, and resources with us. I am even more indebted to Um Hassan, Abu Minna, Gamal Eid and Hassan Saber for almost three decades of friendship, inspiration and the willingness to always greatheartedly share with me. Without their patience and generosity, I would have never been able to do my research. I thank Bilgin Ayata, Hossam el-​Hamalawy, Dina El-​Sharnouby, Muna el-​Shorbagi, Jannis Grimm, Hassan Saber and André Weißenfels for their willingness to read earlier drafts and for their important critical comments about my work. Notes 1 The empirical material quoted here was collected in a focus group discussion in early 2017 in Cairo featuring three men and three women between 20 and 30 years, including both activists and non-​activists. The session was led by Dina Wahba and Dr. Nabil Elkot. It was recorded, transcribed, and translated from Egyptian Arabic to English. I quote from the translated version as “FGD”. All quotes are anonymized due to security concerns. I interpret the data with a focus on affect and

72  Cilja Harders emotion, with special attention to possible silences and ruptures. Throughout the research project, I personally attended other focus group discussions in Cairo and also conducted interviews together with Dina Wahba. In addition, I had conducted qualitative fieldwork in Egypt on a regular basis since the mid-​1990s, and between 2011 and 2019, I visited Egypt almost every year for research trips. 2 The wording and assessment of the events since January 2011 have been highly contested academically and politically. In Egypt, many people speak of the “25 January Revolution”, or the “18 Days” (of which Tahrir was occupied for 15 days); in 2013 the mass protests of the “30 June Revolution” happened and were followed by a coup on July 3 (see also Schielke in this volume for a more detailed discussion). In political science, a revolution conventionally implies a sudden, comprehensive, and usually violent change of the political order. I use McAdam, Tarrow, and Tilly‘s (1996, p.24) differentiation between “revolutionary situations” and “revolutionary outcomes”; the latter signifies a fundamental re-​organization of the political system. In my understanding, the mass protests of 2010/​2011 in the Arab World were a major rupture of established authoritarian social contracts and thus constituted revolutionary situations. As renowned Egyptian historian Khaled Fahmy (2015, p. 81) stressed: “… never before in our long history … have we managed to topple a leader from power”. The “revolutionary situations” did not, however, yield revolutionary outcomes in the medium term (Harders, 2015). 3 Given the wealth of publications about Egyptian politics in the last decade, I cannot possibly do justice to this vast literature. See Pace & Cavatorta (2012); Grimm (2022, ­chapter 1); Lynch (2021) or Lynch, Schwedler, & Yom (2022) for a more thorough engagement with major lines of this scholarly debate. 4 Rabbat (2011), Salama (2013), and Ziyada (2015) provide important socio-​ historical and architectural analyses of Tahrir Square as a central political space in the urban fabric of the Egyptian capital. Said (2015) describes Tahrir Square as a main locus of political struggles in Egypt and traces how this history has fed into the conceptualization of the square and the travelling of protest repertoires over time. The late eminent Egyptian sociologist Mona Abaza (2018) importantly linked counter-​revolutionary urban restructuring, memory, and street activism in her reflections on nostalgia, amnesia, and post-​2013 depression. 5 Shubra is one of the biggest districts in Cairo. Today, it is a middle–​to lower-​ middle-​class district in the north of the city centre with a reputation for conviviality between the Muslims and Christians living in the area. 6 For concrete first impressions of the occupation, the interactive map available from the BBC (2011) is useful. The 858 archive (https://​858.ma/​.) assembles 858 hours of video material and offers deep insights into the events. A documentation of art, graffiti, film, and other creative products of the revolutionary days is available in the “Politics, Popular Culture and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution archive” (https://​egyp​trev​olut​ion2​011.ac.uk/​). A documentation of violence can be found at wikithawra (https://​wik​itha​wra.wordpr​ess.com/​). The posts, photographs, and comments of prominent figures in Egypt’s blogging scene (https://​arab​awy.org/​ date/​2011/​, https://​egy​ptia​nchr​onic​les.blogs​pot.com/​, or https://​thean​grye​gypt​ian. wordpr​ess.com/​2021/​01/​25/​10-​years-​defea​ted-​but-​not-​dead-​jan25/​), to mention but a few) document the events from the perspective of active participants and observers. Mada Masr (www.madam​asr.com/​), an independent online news outlet which can no longer be reached in Egypt, offers critical coverage of the events and

The Revolution Cannot Be Unfelt  73 their aftermath in Arabic and English. See also Schielke in this volume for more detail on the different archival projects which engage with the Egyptian uprising. 7 See Winegar (2012) for similar observations. 8 Shaimaa’s grandmother’s comment echoes the vicious media campaign during the protests, which played on prevalent class prejudices and portrayed demonstrators as poor, dirty, uneducated, prone to violence, and chaotic. The occupied square was represented as a space of violence, illicit drugs, and unlimited sexuality (Badr, 2022; Lindsey, 2011). 9 Even though the Egyptian uprising was often labelled “peaceful”, it was violent from its inception (El-​Ghobashy, 2012; el-​Hamalawy n.d.; Ketchley, 2017; Soudias, 2015). Khosrokhavar (2018, p.163) argues that peacefulness on the square was a widely shared attitude in the struggle for karama (dignity) as opposed to the violence and indignity of the state and security apparatus. I tend to agree but this attitude coexists with widespread acts of violence such as throwing stones or Molotov cocktails, attacking and burning police stations, attacking plain-​clothes police officers, incidents of looting, attacking foreigners and journalists, and other forms of localized violence by civilians brought on by the onslaught of the security forces. The diverse violence of the 18 days was also a taste of what was still to come, namely ongoing violence from the security services against protestors, sectarian violence against Christians, violence against women, violence against the LGBTQI community, criminal violence, and street violence in protests. 10 For a good account of the position of the security forces, the army, and the revolutionaries’ hopes towards and frustrations with them, see Ketchley (2017) and Holmes (2018). 11 The occupation of Tahrir in January and February of 2011 was intense and special, and it was also (only) a starting point for two and a half highly mobilized, politicized, polarized, violent, and uprooting years with constant street politics. Egypt went through a long series of mass protests including a steady stream of so-​called milliuniyas—​ mass demonstrations on Tahrir Square on many Fridays—​deadly street battles, parliamentary elections, presidential elections, constitutional reform, flowering activism on all scales (Ibrahim & Singerman, 2014; Harders & Wahba, 2017, Shenker, 2016; Wahba, 2020a; b; Grimm, 2022), and the bloodiest massacre of civilians in Egypt’s modern history at Rabaa and Nahda squares in August 2013 (al-​Arian, 2022; Grimm & Harders, 2018; Sabea, 2014; Schielke, 2017). This event, which happened after mass protests in June 2013 and a coup in early July 2013, constituted a fundamental rupture in the mobilization process and in the memories of activists. But despite the ongoing repression and criminalization of street activism, diverse local protests (Abd Rabou, 2016) and a significant amount of activism continued well into 2016 and 2017 (Harders & Wahba 2017; Wahba, 2020b). Mass demonstrations happened in 2016 in relation to the Tiran and Sanafir Islands (Grimm, 2022, ­chapter 7). With al-​Sīsī re-​elected as president with no opposition in 2018, the last protests on a broader scale happened in September of 2019 and again in 2020, but they were heavily repressed (N.N., 2019; Magdi 2020). Nevertheless, local initiatives still pursue their cultural, environmental, and social activities. However, they are under the tight control of the security apparatus, and overall, human rights are constantly and violently threatened in Egypt today (N.N., 2022 and 2023).

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5 Revisiting the Promises and Inspiration of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings through an Affective Reading of Collective Action Derya Özkaya Introduction “Maybe it was just a feeling; I cannot remember exactly,” said Şebnem,1 a socialist feminist activist in her fifties, when I asked about her motivation for going to Taksim Square. She had been involved in different cycles of protests and taken part in different forms of political organization for the previous three decades. But she was surprised how a couple of uprooted trees, the bulldozers that entered Gezi Park, and the police violence became a stimulus for millions, triggering a wave of massive anger all around the country during the summer of 2013. She was among those angry protesters. After watching the news about the takeover of Taksim Square and Gezi Park by protesters, she travelled 30 km from her home in Maltepe on the Asian side of Istanbul to Taksim Square in the city centre to take part in the uprisings.2 Almost four years later, when I spoke with her, she could barely remember the sequence of events, but she vividly remembered the most violent scenes from the street clashes in and around Taksim Square. She recounted with dismay: Actually, I remember, but I cannot explain. Something was happening there, something inhuman. If we did not react to this, what would we raise our voice for? We had to be there without thinking about anything else. Despite her difficulty in describing it, she was captured by the impulse of collective resistance against violence in the streets. But she also remembered her fears: Of course, we were all afraid. There were very few who were not. But there are some things that you have to do whether you are afraid or not. When I went there first, I felt like there is something here, something that we have never seen before. (Interview conducted in Maltepe, Istanbul, February 28, 2017) In a country marked by continuous state violence and the persecution and violent suppression of any kind of difference to create a “unified Turkish nation,” DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-7

80  Derya Özkaya the popular uprisings by a diverse range of actors—​including white-​collar professionals, socialists, feminists, workers, Alevis, Kurds, LGBTQI +​people, anti-​militarist activists, (ultra)nationalists, anti-​capitalist Muslims, and many more—​mesmerized not only the participants in the protests but also scholars writing about the uprisings. As I have discussed in detail elsewhere (Özkaya, 2020), while the allure of collective resistance by previously politically and culturally isolated, marginalized, or stigmatized communities spurred discussions on the possibility for a new understanding of politics or the emergence of new political subjectivities, this has not yet been empirically analysed. We also require further elaborations on whether and how the differences among the participants were negotiated in these utopian moments and what kinds of contradictions they unleashed. Now, almost a decade later, in light of the oppressive political and socio-​economic conditions that currently prevail in Turkey, mainstream interpretations of the Gezi uprisings often take the form of two dominant narratives: While some of them recall the euphoric emotions and intense feelings of solidarity, creativity in action, and togetherness in the occupied parks and squares, or the effervescence of mass mobilization in the streets, others see the uprisings as failed or lost political opportunities and broken promises for change. When I conducted interviews with protestors in 2016 and 2017,3 the affective intensities of collective resistance were still invigorating, yet, the dominant tone in the narratives was one of frustration, despair, and hopelessness in the face of the authoritarian transformation. Aiming to challenge and deconstruct such interpretations which mostly reproduced either the romanticization of these mass mobilizations or the disappointment in them, in this chapter, I offer a critical analysis of the Gezi uprisings informed through their affective contours of collective action as a means of assessing the transformative potentials and also limitations of popular uprisings. Acknowledging the complexities of collective action and their inevitable contradictions, promises, and shortcomings, I analyse which collective emotions were generated and shared through the encounters at different sites and phases of the uprisings. Inspired by Sara Ahmed, I also ask whether and how these collective emotions worked “to mediate the relationship between the psychic and the social, and between the individual and the collective” (Ahmed, 2004, p. 119). To do so, I elaborate on whether and how the collective emotions of resistance turned into political action, which I regard as manifestations of the potentiality of change. Thus, instead of analysing the political subjects who created the uprisings based on the diversity of participant profiles, I wish to direct attention to the dynamic relationality between these subjects, their collective actions, spaces, emotions, and affects, which were continuously reshaped as the crowds were mobilized in city streets, squares, neighbourhoods, and public parks. Thus, I do not just examine how the protestors related to each other and created new affective bonds but also how they (re)acted in response. To undertake an affective reading of the Gezi uprisings, I utilize Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders’ concept of Midān Moments (2018 and 2019) as

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  81 an analytical tool to provide a situated analysis of the politics of affect and emotions in collective action and political participation. To do so, I elaborate on the multi-​layered emotional and affective dimensions of collective action during the occupation of the historically contested spaces of Gezi Park and Taksim Square in Istanbul and in the two-​weeks of encampment in Eskişehir, a Central Anatolian town, during the summer of 2013. As the main slogan of the uprisings Her yer Taksim, her yer direniş! (Everywhere is Taksim, Resistance Everywhere!) highlights, mass protests swiftly spread across the country. However, existing scholarship barely discusses these collective experiences of resistance beyond the occupation of Gezi Park. Criticizing this Gezi-​Park-​centred “gaze” in scholarly, journalistic, and artistic discussions, the multi-​sited ethnographic research like this kind conducted for this chapter provides an opportunity to track the affective and political reverberations of the uprisings beyond the political centres. Analysing how the affective atmospheres (Anderson, 2009; Brennan, 2004) of the uprisings were felt and also reproduced through collective actions of diverse political actors in different locations, I show how my ethnographic material adds further complexity to understandings of how Midān Moments are formed in different contexts. Despite the over-​emphasis on the occupation in Gezi Park, which has been at the heart of scholarly analyses so far, Turkey’s popular uprisings extended their spatial and temporal limits beyond the occupied Gezi Park and Taksim Square and (re)created their public spaces in provincial cities and towns across Turkey. As in the case of Eskişehir, which I will elaborate on in the following parts of the chapter, these moments emerged even in the absence of a Midān as a concrete space. This occurred via the transmission of the affective dynamics of Taksim Square and the decentralization of Midān Moments. Broadening the affective and spatial dimensions of the Midān, I take the occupation of public spaces as a reference point and then show how Midān Moments were on the move at different locations during the uprisings. In doing so, I both draw on and aim to contribute to the conceptual and empirical analysis of Midān Moments in the case of Turkey’s Gezi uprisings. To this end, in what follows, I first scrutinize the diverse yet sometimes contradictory affects and emotions that motivated the protestors to create alternative forms of resistance and coexistence, which, in turn, generated a collective sense of togetherness. Building on the multi-​sited ethnography in Istanbul and Eskişehir and in-​depth interviews with participants in the uprisings, I argue that the collective desire to preserve this togetherness triggered temporary alliances that unleashed distinctive experiences of solidarity among diverse political actors. Borrowing from, Lawrence Grossberg (1984, p. 227 and 1997, p. 31), one of the pioneering figures in cultural studies and affect theory, I conceptualize them as “affective alliances” through which the political practices, narratives, and material environments are invested with and continuously reshaped by affect. In my reading, which I discuss elsewhere in more detail (Özkaya, 2020), affective alliances

82  Derya Özkaya opened new possibilities for solidarity and collective action generating new attachments among the participants and supporters of the protests. Yet, as I show in detail based on the protestors’ narratives, they were not always in harmony and free from tensions or dissonant affects. The unequal division of labour in the daily practices for sustaining the occupations, the spatial arrangements of the encampments, the cleavages regarding the form and locations of the protests, and the “improbable encounters” (Schafers & Ilengiz, 2013) with contested political subjects triggered feelings of resentment, anger, and discomfort, as well as the joy and enthusiasm of collective resistance. As my interview excerpts below demonstrate, in such moments of ambivalence, these cleavages were often suspended and even suppressed to prevent any potential conflicts or divisions among the participants. These reactions were rarely the result of prior discussions or mutual agreements; rather, I argue that they were based on an unspoken consensus on maintaining the co-​presence of the diverse composition of the uprisings. This unspoken consensus was often motivated by the “intoxication with the politics of the beautiful moment” (Dean, 2016, p. 158) and constituted glamour for many others who joined the mobilization at different phases. At the same time, it ultimately reaffirmed the pre-​existing inequalities among the participants and had the effects of either silencing or overshadowing the demands or expectations of particular socio-​political groups. Hence, I resume that on the one hand, the affective alliances of the Gezi uprisings made the most massive political mobilization in the recent history of Turkey possible. On the other hand, by reclaiming the urgency of the politics of alliance against the common “threat” of increasing authoritarianism, the uprisings contributed to the “politics of postponement” (Özkaya, 2020), circumventing any kinds of antagonism or division and postponing an outspoken (self)criticism on the foundations of the contested issues of the past. “Witnessing the beauty of fighting together” The occupations of public spaces and the continuous mobility of a multitude of political actors during the summer of 2013 in Turkey stimulated alternative forms of being, acting, and living together by transmitting collective emotions and affective intensities at different phases of the uprisings. Not only in the occupied Gezi Park and Taksim Square but also in all sites of resistance—​streets, boulevards, ferries, metros, neighbourhoods, and local parks—​ protestors were bound by constellations of affective encounters. Neither state violence nor government’s targeting discourses could prevent the proliferation of collective political action in the subsequent days and months. Even when faced with violent police attacks prior to the occupations and despite mass injuries, protestors felt motivated to act in concert. As some of the main slogans of the uprisings indicate, protestors even turned the brutality of the police, who excessively used teargas and water cannons,

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  83 into joyful chanting like Biber gazı, oleyy! (Tear Gas, Oleyyy!) By building barricades, fighting the police, throwing stones, helping the injured, marching and chanting in rhythm, cleaning the streets, forming food chains, creating a library and an infirmary, abolishing money and creating an alternative economic system based on exchange, organizing meetings, forums, concerts, open lectures and many more, and spreading the news from the sites of resistance on social media, protestors created an alternative way of life in the course of the uprisings. In re-​appropriating time and space through collective actions, millions of people—​either as occupants and regular participants or as visitors and passers-​by—​experienced new and alternative forms of economic, social, and political life that were inspired and influenced by a much larger cycle of protest movements and popular uprisings, in Egypt’s Tahrir Square and Athens’ Syntagma Square, in Tunis and Seattle, in Madrid and Brazil. While contesting the existing system through different forms of collective action, these massive mobilizations also created “a scene of emotional contestation” (Berlant, 2005, p. 47) that entailed sharing outrage with the oppressive politics of the ruling regime, the hope for an alternative future, and the desire to live together across differences. The intensities of such collective feelings of resistance produced their own affective temporalities and spatialities and thus memories. Özlem, a young feminist activist who has been active in the women’s movement for a couple of years, recalled the violent street clashes before the occupation: When I think about it now, it’s a very, how to say, a moment that feels like a dream. It was very nice, we were going into Istiklal [Avenue] from the side streets, we were marching on. When the police were attacking, we were going back slowly. Those who were fighting in front were going to the back, and those who were behind were moving forward. It was so strange to witness the injured people being carried to the side streets, having medicine applied in their eyes, made rest a while, before returning again. And we did all these without speaking. With people whom I do not know. This seems very, very strange to me, in terms of organization or resistance. That collective anger and harmony … I don’t know how it was created. But it was something that was very, very empowering emotionally. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, July 28, 2017) The way the protestors continuously (re)organized themselves without making a central decision—​ considering the vulnerabilities of people and taking care of each other—​made the protestors feel stronger together than they were apart, gave them a collective sense of belonging, and stirred a desire for collective action. Confirming Özlem’s depiction of the collective resistance, Metin, a self-​defined socialist in his fifties emphasized that:

84  Derya Özkaya There is no cleavage in conflict and barricades. Whoever tries to create one would fail. Because the issue of who you are cannot be discussed under the threat. You would only feel very close to others standing next to you. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, May 10, 2016) Being exposed not only to police violence but also to each other, protestors have built bonds of trust with strangers without questioning their identities. They were motivated to mobilize while simultaneously trying to foster solidarity by the shared affective states due to being included in such massive concerted political actions and standing with each other against the repressive state power. These moments of collectivity underpinned the transformative potential for political action and helped establish new communities based on mutual responsibility and care.4 On June 1, police forces retreated from the streets and thousands of protesters occupied both Gezi Park and Taksim Square, putting up barricades and starting an alternative organization of daily life in the park. The collective empowerment of the protestors, as Özlem mentioned continued with the (re)-organization of daily life in the encampments, which became the protestors’ homes. Cevahir, a young anarchist university student in Istanbul, who was a member of a students’ organization at the time of the uprisings, described the occupation in Gezi Park as follows: After those two days of street clashes, we witnessed excessive creativity among people, which came out as a result of our encounters and learning from each other. Something started everywhere as if it were coming out of the ground. Suddenly, people built a library, kindergarten, market, infirmary, and many more. The fact that such a large group of people began to live together actually triggered concrete needs. Here, for example, you do not need any program; those concrete needs actually created it. In other words, we entered another phase. This living together started to define our alternative existence and imaginations as well. Actually, graffiti explain everything regarding the emotionality there. For example, one of the most striking pieces of graffiti for me was: “Were there so many beautiful people in life?” It was just graffiti, but we saw all together how we started to live another life and how that process was difficult. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul on May 10, 2016) Judith Butler, in their reflections on the Occupy movement, discusses how bodily needs like protection from violence, medical care, food, and shelter are crucial to politics. It is not enough to bring these urgent needs into the square; they should also be placed at the heart of political demands (Butler, 2015). Yet, as the occupation evolved, these concrete needs were combined with a desire to create an alternative life and to protect it. By acting in solidarity rather than rivalry and creating affective attachments despite their differences across political and ideological divides, protestors spontaneously created a new way of life built on their concrete needs and through their

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  85 shared feelings rather than shared ideologies or political principles, demands, or aims.5 Affective Alliances of Turkey’s Midān Moments In his critical analysis of the depoliticization of rock-​n-​roll after the 1960s as a result of postmodern politics, Lawrence Grossberg describes the affective relationship between rock-​n-​roll and its fans as “affective alliance” which is “an organization of concrete material practices and events, cultural forms and social experience which both opens up and structures the space of our affective investments in the world” (1984, p. 227 and 1997, p. 31). Inspired by Grossberg, I define the unique experiences of togetherness during the uprisings which emerged as the manifestation of a temporary commitment to live together across differences as an alternative mode of being and relating to each other as affective alliances. These affective alliances within the uprisings are often invested with collectively shared emotions like rage against the government, the excitement of belonging, togetherness, and trust, the pleasure of resistance, the hope for change, and the strong desire for freedom. They also served as antidotes to the feeling of loneliness. This particularly applied to marginalized individuals such as Erdem, a member of the LGBTQI+​ movement in their thirties, who described the period they spent in the occupied Gezi Park as follows: I was excited. I mean how many times could I have witnessed resistance in my life? … Witnessing the power of social change, society’s common demands, and discomfort, and seeing the beauty of fighting together made me feel very good and not lonely anymore. (Interview conducted in Taksim Square, Istanbul, July 20, 2017) Erdem’s happiness about not feeling lonely anymore and developing a collective sense of belonging to an emerging community in resistance resonates in interviews I conducted in the inner Anatolian city Eskişehir, where also protests took place in parallel to Istanbul. Nermin, a young academic who became involved in a protest movement for the first time in her life, expressed how the resistance made her feel: It’s so complicated; I don’t know how to explain it! You know we all have a utopia in our minds. There is an ideal that you always want to reach. It seemed like that moment I could catch it. It seemed like a moment that I could make a historical contribution, be a part of it, and cooperate with everyone. There was such hope in me. I am very proud of being a part of it. (laughing) It gave me the joy of living; I felt really good. (Interview conducted in Eskişehir, June 3, 2016) Filled with hope and joy, motivated to make utopia a reality, and feeling proud of being a part of such a collectivity, many protestors like Nermin

86  Derya Özkaya continued to stay in the encampment and also contributed to the reproduction of the occupations. As the interview excerpts above vividly illustrate, the acts of coming, acting, and living together with many others reproduced a desire, induced by collective resistance, to live differently than one had before and created affective attachments by establishing new ties of trust and belonging. Both protestors and scholars alike widely accepted this temporary commitment to living together as a demonstration of an alternative mode of being and relating to each other and presented this togetherness as the major political promise of the uprisings. However, following Nikita Dhawan’s (2020) call for attention to be directed to the limits of transnational solidarity and the emancipatory potential of street politics, I argue that we need to look more closely and critically at the relational dynamics of concerted political action to understand and analyse its challenges and transformative potential. Dhawan criticizes how an over-​emphasis on the politics of inclusion and visibility of diverse actors in contemporary protest movements reproduces a depoliticized analysis by disregarding various unequal power dynamics among participants. I, therefore, believe it is crucial to critically engage with and deconstruct celebratory narratives on the transformative potential of the Gezi uprisings that often claim that the uprisings overcame the ethnic, gender, and class-​based differences that had structured previous political mobilizations in Turkey.6 The Expansion of Collective Resistance and the Liminality of Solidarity Suggesting a materialist feminist approach to analyse the limits of the Gezi uprisings through a critical elaboration on the performances of the protests, anthropologist Öykü Potuoğlu-​Cook has focused on the exclusions that the participants of the uprisings reproduced in the name of inclusion and argued that “solidarity in times of ‘common suffering’ can be a liminal state. It suspends social differences and past antagonisms temporarily” (Potuoğlu-​Cook, 2015, p. 107). Questioning the limits of visibility of various constituents, she directed the readers’ attention to the difference between visibility and audibility and called her readers to consider “how old and new hierarchies are crafted at these resistance sites” and to avoid “the romance of resistance,” as formulated by Lila Abu-​Lughod (1990, p. 41). Indeed, upon further inquiry, the unique communal atmosphere of the uprisings was not always full of joy. Countering the utopian depictions of the uprisings, Özer, a self-​defined Trotskyist with no direct affiliation to any political party or organization, referred to the tensions and conflicts that boiled up among the participants and expressed his discomfort about the encampment in Istanbul: After the barricades were set up, almost no one knew what to do for about two days. It was just blank … Naturally, any kind of conflict also reached a deadlock. Freedom is beautiful, but the problems of collective life with

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  87 tens of thousands of people could not have been discussed in detail … For instance, the gaze of those people who were constantly on guard at the barricades at the other people in the park … People who did not even have gas masks on the barricades saw others wearing masks worth hundreds of liras when they went to the park to get food. Or some people were coming as tourists while others were in a more organic relationship with the resistance itself. And such tensions were growing more and more. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, May 20, 2016) Besides the indeterminacy of the massive political mobilizations, Özer’s emphasis on the reproduction of pre-​ existing stratifications among the protestors demonstrates that while the uprisings claimed to be all-​inclusive, they could not propose alternatives to erase class-​based differences. As in many of the previous protest movements in Turkey, working-​class people were at the forefront of the resistance and were at risk of being directly exposed to violence without any protective equipment, unlike the middle-​ class participants in the uprisings. This spatial constellation of the protestors may also partly explain why almost all of the victims of the uprisings who lost their lives came from working-​class and ethnic minority backgrounds, both in Istanbul and other cities.7 When the moments of police interventions were eclipsed by the joyful, creative, and humorous moments of the occupation, the laudatory analyses of diversity foreshadowed the rifts among the protestors. At this point, the multi-​spatiality of the uprisings, which made such massive political mobilizations possible, also gave rise to conflicts, simultaneously engendering anger, antagonism, and resentment among different groups of protestors who “enjoyed the moment” in the encampments while many others were still resisting the police violence in street clashes. This was highlighted by Sema, a socialist feminist activist in Kadıköy, Istanbul: When we took Gezi, the resistance was going on in other places, and this made me feel like a collapse after a while. I mean, we were sitting back. On the one hand, ultranationalists were trying to occupy Dolmabahçe [a 19th-​century palace, where Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s presidential office was located at the time of the uprisings, that also gives the district its name], and we did not go there, since they were ultranationalists. I think we made a tactical mistake there, too. We could have supported them, but we did not, because we said that we did not know what they were doing, it was unclear what they did … We stayed [at Gezi], and we were in a quite sterilized field. Yes, we occupied the park, but there were no police, and there was no conflict. However, there was a constant conflict in all the cities and Dolmabahçe. So, this was how I felt: It was as if we were very comfortable, and other people were paying the price for it, and we didn’t. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, May 10, 2016)

88  Derya Özkaya As the masses grew in number and the spatial boundaries of the occupation expanded, the protestors found themselves dispersed across different sites of resistance. I argue that while this diffusion of resistance created a spatial distance between some of the participants, it generated emotional detachment as well. While this distance was not visible during the street clashes or on the barricades, unifying protestors against the violent threats, multiple divisions and boundaries, visible or invisible, reappeared as the occupation continued. In Istanbul, the spatial distance was crystal clear. Traditional revolutionary leftist organizations stayed in Taksim Square, which was symbolically important for their decades-​long resistance.8 While the small group of anti-​capitalist Muslims stood in-​between Taksim Square and Gezi Park, reformist leftist political parties, unions, women’s and LGBTQI+​organizations, urban initiatives, autonomous groups, and örgütsüz/​bağımsız (nonaligned) individuals who were not affiliated with a political party, group, or movement or who had limited ties but were not active in a party/​organization/​group, set up their tents in Gezi Park. In Eskişehir, similar contestations emerged, often concerning the direction of the street demonstrations, during the 13-​day encampment in front of a shopping mall, Espark, which served as one of the main attractions in a city that lacked a square. This çadırkent (tent city), as protesters called it, where they established a commune and a common stage for the meetings, forums, and concerts and (re)created a home for many until the police brutally evacuated, was one of the centres of Eskişehir’s Midān Moments. In the meantime, there were also massive marches and violent police attacks in a small public park, Etipark, and its surroundings, where the young population of the city socialized, as well as in Yunus Emre Street, where the provincial organization of the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, Justice and Development Party) was targeted by protestors as a symbol of the government and in the main avenues of the city centre connecting the tent city and the AKP building. Hence, as with the uprisings in Istanbul, there was a continuous movement between the different sites of resistance, a process that served to (re)create different layers of affective attachment and also detachment to the shared spaces, as one of the young occupants Begüm recalled: I guess from the first night, the crowd was divided. We had the same discussion every night. One part of the crowd always stayed in front of Espark, and the tents were at Resistance Square [protestors in Eskişehir call the encampment either “Tent City” or “Resistance Square”], and the others were going to Yunus Emre [Street] every night, and there were conflicts with the police. (Interview conducted in Eskişehir, June 10, 2016) Even though there was not a single representative body for taking collective decisions on the spatial organization of the encampments, the positioning of different groups in the occupied spaces was the result of a tacit agreement; it was not random. Both the politically organized protestors and nonaligned

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  89 individuals preferred to stay where they had pre-​existing or newly established affective, political, and/​or institutional ties. While these affective and spatial dynamics evoked affinities, opening new ways of becoming in some instances, they triggered tensions or discomfort as well. Similar contradictions were also evident in terms of the sustainability of the occupation and the organization of daily life in the encampments. Irmak, an urban planner who had taken part in the protests against the reconstruction plans in Taksim Square even before the uprisings, also noted the limits of solidarity in the encampment in Eskişehir: There were people who were coming to the tent city to participate in the events and there were others who were staying there to protect the encampment. This was a clear distinction. I mean those who were drinking and laying on entertainment during the daytime were then leaving. Towards morning you could see that there were few people who were cleaning, distributing food, and taking care of other things. I mean not all of the protestors were contributing to the occupation. (Interview conducted in Eskişehir, May 20, 2016) Even though there were no pre-​defined rules or commitments for participating in collective life during the occupations and the daily life of the encampments were often organized spontaneously, Özer’s and Irmak’s observations and critiques demonstrate that togetherness requires collective labour and different forms of contribution in order to be maintained. Their reactive engagement with the other protestors’ enchantment with the carnivalesque and utopian moments in Istanbul and Eskişehir also hints at the fact that the jouissance of the commune and the alternative life in the occupied public spaces was not celebrated by all occupiers. This also reminds us of the contradictions and limits of an overemphasis of co-​presence in analyses of the political promises of occupy movements. Besides the spatial arrangement of the uprisings and the daily organization of the encampments, the encounters with the “others” through collective action created uneasy feelings along with excitement. For instance, although there were celebratory analyses of the iconic photo showing two protestors, one of them carrying a Turkish flag and the other the flag of the pro-​Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, running away from police attack and teargas, as one of the most transformative moments, the very existence of the Kurdish protestors, with their own language and dances, created tensions, particularly with the ultranationalist groups. Mahir, a Kurdish Alevi university student who had been living in Eskişehir for five years at the time of the uprisings, describes conflicts over the presence of Kurdish protestors: When we shouted Kurdish slogans, some people were grumbling. [I]‌t was not like attack, but they were either grumbling or warning and sometimes scuffling when we shouted Kurdish slogans like Biji Biratiya Gelan! (Long

90  Derya Özkaya Live the Brotherhood of Peoples!) or slogans like “Murderer state!” We were reacting to the ultranationalists, too. When they shouted a slogan we didn’t like, we were shouting our slogans louder to drown theirs. But we never warned them about their slogans. We only tried to drown out their voices with our slogans. It was like that. (Interview conducted in Eskişehir, February 18, 2017) Despite the euphoria of “togetherness,” political and historical resentments were never far from the surface when it comes to the most contested issue in Turkish politics for the past decades, namely Kurdish identity and self-​ determination (for a detailed analysis, see Chapter 6 in this volume). While their visibility in shared spaces somehow forced others to accept their existence, albeit with restrictions on contact, their audibility still created discomfort. They hence felt the need to be louder. Returning back to Potuoğlu-​Cook’s rightful reminder, “after all, missed messages and enduring social resentments among ‘the oppressed’ might speak as loudly as euphoric solidarity” (Potuoğlu-​ Cook, 2015, p. 111). Even though the economically, culturally, and ethnically excluded participants in the uprisings had to speak more loudly to be heard at almost all sites of the resistance, they did not attract equal attention, either from other participants or from the existing scholarship. “The presence of others replaces ideology,” said Mohammed Bamyeh, in his talk on the role of pleasure in revolutionary movements, focusing on the 2011 and 2019 uprisings in Egypt. In the talk, he claimed that this co-​ presence is what makes such moments so attractive.9 Similar comments have also been made when defining the distinctive features of the popular uprisings and Occupy movements around the world in the last two decades. Describing these mass mobilizations as being “beyond ideologies,” commentators and participants alike have embraced visibility and the coexistence of disparate actors in public spaces as representing these extraordinary moments’ political promise and potential for change. I think these experiences of togetherness and coexistence through the occupation of public spaces, which I conceptualize as affective alliances, not only make these moments attractive but also possible. However, contrary to Bamyeh, I would argue that this co-​presence does not replace ideology; rather, it suspends ideological differences for the sake of protecting the collectivity against different forms of threats. My empirical material shows that while the shared intensities of collective action evoked affective openness to alternative modes of being and becoming, they did not abolish the differences based on protesters’ ethnic, gender, class-​ based, and ideological backgrounds. On the contrary, these differences remained untouched, which enabled the reproduction of further rifts among the collectivities of these moments. Elsewhere I conceptualize this in detail as a “politics of postponement” (Özkaya, 2020) which is shaped by the political necessities of the present as well as the desire for togetherness and hopes for change in the face of the authoritarian transformation in Turkey. It has also shaped the post-​Gezi political opposition in Turkey and is still being

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  91 operationalized by political dissenters at different moments of contention (see my other chapter in this volume). Conclusion: Midān Moments as Spatial, Temporal, and Affective Suspension While I was writing this chapter, there were various talks, lectures, and essays circulated within the academic and non-​academic networks in the context of the tenth anniversary of popular uprisings in the MENA region. They mostly discussed what remains of those “beautiful days,” often focusing on the 18 days of occupation on Egypt’s Tahrir Square. This question remains relevant in Turkey, although the euphoria of the Gezi uprisings and their transformative effects on collective resistance are long gone. Instead of suggesting answers to the question of “what remains” based on the case of Turkey’s popular uprisings in 2013 (see Chapter 10 in this volume), my purpose in this chapter was to revisit those “beautiful days” during the two-​week occupations in Istanbul and Eskişehir and critically discuss their political promise, inspirations, and contradictions specifically in relation to collective action. While doing that, I paid close attention to the affective and emotional dynamics of collective action to offer an alternative analysis elaborating on the complexities and ambivalences of such extraordinary moments for politi­ cal transformation. Even though the political demands of the uprisings could not be realized, “Gezi” has become an almost mythical reference to freedom, democracy, hope, dignity, and justice for many people who are looking for an alternative way of life in Turkey. It continues to haunt the collective memory of its participants and supporters. The critical imaginary inspired by the uprisings is still crucial for political dissent in Turkey. Considering the contingency of popular uprisings and the unpredictability of what such moments might open up, there is a need for more comprehensive research on what exactly happened that “we have never seen before” and what this entails for politics. The Gezi uprisings were distinctive as they constituted the widest mass opposition to the AKP government since its accession to power in 2002 and the most potent challenge to the legitimacy of President Erdoğan’s political hegemony. In response to this powerful challenge, the ruling government has since waged a vicious war against Gezi supporters, filing hundreds of lawsuits with different allegations. Activists and participants have continually been prosecuted for years; the current framing of the protests is as an attempt at a coup d’état.10 President Erdoğan’s specific political discourse is to attack his opponents by calling them Gezici (pro-​Gezi) and to name-​call them as traitors or terrorists. At the same time, government supporters have co-​opted and re-​enacted some of the symbols, slogans, and practices of the Gezi uprisings, trying to seize their collective memory or mediatize counter-​ narratives of the uprisings to show their loyalty to the government. Thus, this short-​lived but momentous political event is still an invigorating memory,

92  Derya Özkaya not only for the participants and supporters of the uprisings but also for their fervent opponents. One of the reasons why the political regime felt so threatened by the mass uprisings was probably the rather unique socio-​political diversity of, and the affective intensities shared by, their participants, which had never been witnessed before at this scale. At this point, I find Audre Lorde’s brilliant reminder on difference very insightful in thinking further about the complexities of collective action. In her short essay from Sister Outsider, entitled Learning from the 60s, Lorde rejects both Black nationalism and monolithic depictions of Blackness and multicultural approaches to the social movements of the 1960s. Throughout her critical interventions regarding the nostalgic approaches to 1960s Black politics, she articulates a politics based on difference within Black communities, a politics shaped around multiplicity and heterogeneous entities that are always already in coalition with others who have diverse ethnic, class, and national identities. For Lorde, “Unity implies the coming together of elements which are, to begin with, varied and diverse in their particular natures” (Lorde, 1984, p. 147). However, such coalitions are not free from tensions as Lorde emphasizes: “Our persistence in examining the tensions within diversity encourages growth toward our common goal” (Lorde, 1984, p. 147). Hence, to undertake a comprehensive analysis of politics and the political, we need to attend to the existing tensions among the diverse political actors who came together in the occupied parks, squares, and streets and look at the boiling conflicts under the surface. During the summer of 2013, public squares, parks, streets, and even apartment balconies in many neighbourhoods around the country were sites of unprecedented experiences of coexistence through collective resis­tance. This unleashed a potential for affective relationality through differences and opened possibilities for new ways of becoming. Building solidarity networks around urgent needs, spreading joy, humour, and the pleasure of collective action, and generating affective attachments of belonging, enthusiasm, and trust, these moments of mass political actions led their participants to create affective alliances. While disrupting the socio-​spatial order and the tempo­ rality of the mundane through collective actions, these alliances suspended but did not abolish the pre-​existing conflicts among their participants. Mostly shaped by the intensities of feelings and animated by the urge to protect this unique experience of togetherness “at the moment,” these alliances led to a silencing of both the prior socio-​political divergences in the recent history of Turkey and the differences of future political imaginations. While trying to keep the multiplicity of their composition, these affective alliances served to reproduce a tacit agreement to keep intact the contentions of the past—​ suspending existing cleavages, postponing discussions of conflicting issues, enabling diverse visions for the future, dissolving boundaries—​that made this popular uprising in recent Turkish history possible. Thus, I argue that the affective dynamics that are captured by the concept of Midān Moments despite their potency, can make them an impediment to these moments’ future.

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  93 However, long after the crowds have dispersed, the collective affective intensity of a particular place and time can be reconstituted to form new poli­ tical entities with affective intensities of their own, energetic offspring of the uprisings that spawned them. Thus, an affective reading of the Gezi uprisings, as the concept of Midān Moment suggests, enables us to understand both the transformative and emancipatory potential and the contradictions and limitations of these mass political mobilizations. Notes 1 All names of my interlocutors mentioned in this chapter are pseudonyms. 2 To emphasize the plurality of the protestors’ profiles, the variety of collective actions performed simultaneously at different locations, and the expansion of the mass mobilization across the country expanding the occupied Gezi Park, Istanbul, I use the “Gezi uprisings” in the plural form throughout the chapter. 3 This chapter is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the framework of the research project “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​Political Transformations” at the collaborative research center Affective Societies (SFB 1171) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). The project analysed the transformative potentials and limitations of affects and emotions for political participation and transfor­ mation during and in the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings in Egypt and the 2013 Gezi uprisings in Turkey. 4 One of my interlocutors directed my attention to the significance of the protestors’ calls to run slowly and carefully, shouting “Calm down! Calm down!” repeatedly under the police attacks, as a manifestation of this collective sense of care and solidarity. Recalling the violent evacuation of the Gezi Park occupation on the night of June 14, 2013, he mentioned that despite the abrupt police violence, with excessive use of plastic bullets, gas canisters, and water cannons, there were no deaths and fewer injuries than expected as the result of these calls, which transmitted the collective sense of trust among the protestors. 5 Considering the multiplicity of actors and the diversity of their demands and expectations, it was difficult to create a well-​defined designated alliance around particular demands embraced by each and every constituent of the uprisings. Taksim Solidarity’s attempt to position itself as the representative body of the uprisings and efforts to formulate common demands did not receive popular support. Its exis­ tence and practices created feelings of disenfranchisement among some protestors. Yet despite the extreme heterogeneity of the constituents, a set of common demands did emerge, at least during the occupations: to prevent the government’s renewal plans in Taksim, to preserve Gezi Park, and to ensure the sustainability of the protests. 6 There is a sizeable body of scholarship on the Gezi uprisings that reproduces romanticized engagements with the uprisings’ potential to challenge or transform the unequal power relationships among participants. These accounts suggest that participants were seized by the “Gezi spirit,” understood as creating alternative ways of doing politics, practicing democracy, and engaging in active citizenship. For such analyses, see Inceoglu (2015) “Encountering difference,” Karakayalı and Yaka (2014) “The spirit of Gezi,” Gambetti (2014) “Occupy Gezi as politics of the body,” and Yılmaz (2018) “Revising the Culture of Political Protest.”

94  Derya Özkaya 7 Almost all of the Gezi “martyrs”—​ namely Mehmet Ayvalıtaş (20), İstanbul; Abdullah Cömert (22), Antakya; Mustafa Sarı (27), Adana; İrfan Tuna (47), Ankara; Selim Önder (88), İstanbul; Ethem Sarısülük (26), Ankara; Zeynep Eryaşar (50), İstanbul; Medeni Yıldırım (18), Lice, Diyarbakır; Ali İsmail Korkmaz (19), Eskişehir; Ahmet Atakan (22), Antakya; Serdar Kadakal (37), İstanbul; Hasan Ferit Gedik (21), İstanbul; Berkin Elvan (15), İstanbul—​were from the urban poor neighbourhoods in different parts of the country and almost all of them were Alevi as well. 8 Beginning in the mid-​ 1960s, Taksim Square has been a symbol of collective resistance for left-​ wing politics and anti-​ government protests following the acceleration of revolutionary leftist struggles and labor movements. Particularly following the bloody May Day of 1977, Taksim Square became a site of May Day commemorations for revolutionary leftists in Turkey and a place where workers’ unions and socialists insisted on conducting demonstrations, even in smaller groups, despite the official ban between 1978 and 2010. Taksim Square was officially opened for demonstrations in 2010 following the violent street clashes between the police and the protestors who attempted to celebrate May Day in Taksim Square in 2007, 2008, and 2009. 9 For the recording of the seminar (Bamyeh, 2021). 10 A series of court cases for judging the Gezi uprisings were opened over the years, the first in 2014. Two of these court cases ended with the acquittal of the “suspects.” Yet with the joinder of cases, the Gezi court case was reopened in May 2021 for the trial of a group of activists, journalists, and human rights defendants including Osman Kavala, a businessman, a philanthropist, and one of the most prominent civil society figures in Turkey. Kavala has been in Silivri Prison, İstanbul, since 2017 with various unevidenced allegations of political crime and was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the government (“Türkiye­­­: Free The Gezi 7,” 2022). Along with Kavala, his co-defendants – architect Mücella Yapıcı, lawyer Can Atalay, urban planner Tayfun Kahraman, film producer Çiğdem Mater, documentary filmmaker Mine Özerden, higher education director Hakan Altınay and university founder Yiğit Ekmekçi were each sentenced to 18 years in prison.

References Abu-​Lughod, L. (1990). The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power through Bedouin Women. American Ethnologist, 17(1), 41–​55. doi:10.1525/​ ae.1990.17.1.02a00030 Ahmed, S. (2004). Affective Economies. Social Text, 22(79), 117–​139. doi:10.1215/​ 01642472-​22-​2_​79-​117 Anderson, B. (2009). Affective Atmospheres. Emotion, Space and Society, 2(2), 77–​ 81. doi:10.1016/​j.emospa.2009.08.005 Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2018). Midān Moments: Conceptualizing Space, Affect and Political Participation on Occupied Squares. In J. Slaby & B. Röttger-​Rössler (Eds.), Affect in Relation: Families, Places, Technologies (1 ed., Vol. 1, pp. 115–​ 133). London: Routledge. Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2019). Midān Moments. In J. Slaby & C. von Scheve (Eds.), Affective Societies: Key Concepts (1 ed., pp. 279–​ 288). New York & London: Routledge.

Revisiting the Promises of Turkey’s Gezi Uprisings  95 Bamyeh, M. (2021). The Erotics of Revolution: An Outline of Emotions in the 2011 and 2019 Uprisings. Paper presented at the EUME Berliner Seminar, Zoom. www. eume-​ber​lin.de/​en/​eve​nts/​calen​dar/​deta​ils/​the-​erot​ics-​of-​rev​olut​ion-​an-​outl​ine-​of-​ emoti​ons-​in-​the-​2011-​and-​2019-​uprisi​ngs.html Berlant, L. (2005). The Epistemology of State Emotion. In A. Sarat (Ed.), Dissent in Dangerous Times (pp. 46–​78). Michigan: University of Michigan Press. Brennan, T. (2004). The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Butler, J. (2015). Notes towards a Performative Theory of Assembly. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Dean, J. (2016). Crowds and Party. London: Verso. Dhawan, N. (2020, 25.05.2020). (Im)Possible solidarities: Transnational feminist politics and the erotics of resistance. Eurozine. Retrieved from www.euroz​ine.com/​ imp​ossi​ble-​solid​arit​ies/​# Gambetti, Z. (2014). Occupy Gezi as Politics of the Body. In U. Özkirimli (Ed.) The Making of a Protest Movement in Turkey:# occupygezi (pp. 89–​102). Palgrave Pivot, London. Grossberg, L. (1984). Another Boring Day in Paradise: Rock and Roll and the Empowerment of Everyday Life. Popular Music, 4, 225–​258. Retrieved from www. jstor.org/​sta​ble/​853​365 Grossberg, L. (1997). Bringing It All Back Home: Essays on Cultural Studies. Durham; NC: Duke University Press. Inceoglu, I. (2015). Encountering Difference and Radical Democratic Trajectory: An Analysis of Gezi Park as Public Space. City, 19(4), 534–​544. Karakayalı, S., & Yaka, Ö. (2014). The Spirit of Gezi: The Recomposition of Political Subjectivities in Turkey. New Formations, 83(83), 117–​138. Lorde, A. (1984). Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley: Crossing Press. Özkaya, D. (2020). The Affective and Emotional Dynamics of Collective Action in Turkey`s Gezi Uprisings and Their Aftermath. (Ph.D). Freie Universität Berlin. Potuoğlu-​Cook, Ö. (2015). Hope with Qualms: A Feminist Analysis of the 2013 Gezi Protests. Feminist Review, 1(109), 96–​123. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/​sta​ble/​ 24571​876 Schafers, M., & İlengiz, Ç. (2013). Improbable Encounters: Marching for Lice in Kadıköy. Fieldsights. Retrieved from https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​imp​roba​ble-​enc​ ount​ers-​march​ing-​for-​lice-​in-​kadı​köy Türkiye­­­: Free The Gezi 7 (2022, 17.06.2022). Amnesty International. Retrieved from https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2022/06/turkiye-free-the-gezi-7/ Yılmaz, Z. (2018). Revising the Culture of Political Protest after the Gezi Uprising in Turkey: Radical Imagination, Affirmative Resistance, and the New Politics of Desire and Dignity. Mediterranean Quarterly, 29(3), 55–​77.

6 The Limits of an Encounter When the Çapulcu Met the “Terrorist” bahar firat

The Turkish society was surprised by the advent of the Gezi Park protests in June 2013, as it had not anticipated neither the scale of the protests nor the composition of the protesters. Cleavages existing since the foundation of the Turkish Republic were exacerbated in the period of Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, hereafter AKP) rule. Bringing together disparate sections of society for the common cause of protecting a public park, the nationwide protests at Gezi in 2013 were welcomed by all those opposed to AKP rule as a moment of hope amid deepening polarization. Within a couple of days, the protests had turned into a growing manifestation of resistance from a plurality of people with “unlikely and uncommon political stances” (Yashin, 2013) to the AKP’s authoritarian policies. In a societal context which was predominantly Sunni-​Muslim, the coming together of Islamic Marxist, socialist, queer, feminist, Armenian, Alevi, and Kurdish individuals and groups—​the whole range of “others”—​produced intense affective and emotional encounters which were unprecedented for many protesters (see Chapter 5 in this volume). The longing of these groups to meet each other and the affective atmosphere which enabled the protesters to revisit their perceptions about various “others” nevertheless had certain limits. Despite the utopian claims, a division between groups of protesters remained. Existing scholarship has analysed the affective aspects of recent political protests and political transformations, including the Gezi Park protests of 2013, in multiple ways (Gambetti, 2014; Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta, 2001; Jasper, 2018; Yashin, 2013). As Özkaya shows in this volume for the case of Gezi, protesters sought not only to prevent the repurposing of Gezi Park into a site for military barracks and a shopping centre but also named affects and emotions as propulsive forces for their participation. They frequently mentioned strong feelings like hatred or anger, and they discussed their need to disclose them. Protesters also spoke about the urge to protect their dignity, to claim their freedom, and their right to seek out hope, joy, and happiness. An equally important motive for protesters was their desire to challenge the arrogance of the ruling AKP and the Prime Minister at the time, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Besides the rage and frustration directed DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-8

The Limits of an Encounter  97 against a growing authoritarianism, protesters also emphasized their wish for connection, empathy, understanding, and solidarity (Özkaya, 2020). Yet as Ayata and Harders (2019) have shown in their analysis of the protests in Gezi Park and on Tahrir Square, these protests contained both ambivalences and potentialities. With the concept of Midān Moments Ayata and Harders move away from analyses which view the events on the square as a kind of utopia, emphasizing instead that the moment already entails its own limit and that old cleavages cannot be easily overcome. Building on this insight, my analysis of the Gezi protests focuses on the Kurdish issue in Turkey as a central political and societal locus of long-​ lasting conflict and violence. My chapter scrutinizes the encounter between the majority of the Gezi protesters and the Kurds in the affective atmosphere of occupation and resistance.1 As the rapprochement between the majority of protestors, who playfully adopted the term çapulcu (literally meaning marauders, a name given to them by Prime Minister Erdoğan), and the Kurdish protesters did not proceed without contention, I aim to reveal the limits of this particular encounter from an affect perspective. I will illustrate how the participation of Kurds in the protests was approached with caution and suspicion, particularly due to the question of whether they genuinely belonged to the affective community which was built on the square or stood apart from it, and how this caution and suspicion affected their encounter. When using the term Kurd/​ish, I am not referring to a reified and essentialized category within a racialized population but mobilize it as a political term. Arguably for the majority of non-​Kurdish participants, interacting with the Kurds during the protests generated various historical and political associations, ranging from the Kurdish protesters at Gezi to the Kurdish political movement and the Kurds as a people. This encounter between the Gezi protesters and the Kurds is significant in three ways. First, the Kurdish struggle has dominated the country’s agenda over the past few decades despite the existence of numerous other divisions of class, ethnicity, and religion in Turkey. It holds a distinctive place because of the longstanding state violence against the Kurds: The mass displacement of millions of Kurdish civilians, the atrocities committed in the context of the “war on terror”, particularly in the 1990s, the disenfranchisement and incarceration of members of the Kurdish movement, and the near-​continuous rule of Turkey’s Kurdistan by means of a state of exception from the early days of the Republic until today. Second, this encounter during the Gezi protests occurred at a time when a contested peace process was underway between the state/​ AKP and the Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, hereafter PKK). The AKP government advanced this peace process with the promise of finding a political solution to end the armed struggle which had been ongoing since 1984. Lastly, the (non-​)/​participation of the Kurds/​Kurdish political movement in the Gezi Park protests has been a point of fierce discussion among activists and intellectuals since the beginning of the protests.

98  bahar firat Following Ayata and Harders (2019), I approach the encounter at Gezi as a hopeful yet fragile moment. Thinking this encounter through the conceptual framework of the Midān Moment, I illustrate the limits of its transformative potential. To underscore the “difficulty of achieving social transformation and the intractability and endurance of relations of power, even in the face of collective forms of resistance” (Ahmed, 2014, p. 12), I point to the importance of the historicity of affects, their circulation in the materialization of collective bodies in Gezi Park (Ahmed, 2004, p. 122), and their impact on the encounter. For my analysis, I juxtapose two figures: The çapulcu, referring to the young, middle-​class Turkish protesters, and the Kurds, historically framed as or associated with “terrorists”. Using the lens of affective economies (Ahmed, 2004), I analyse how past histories of such associations played out in the Gezi protests and how “terrorist” as a term “sticks to some bodies as it reopens past histories of naming” (Ahmed, 2004, p. 131). Acknowledging the fact that regardless of our intentions, “affects also force us apart, or signal the lack of any real intersubjective connection” (Hemmings, 2012, pp. 152–​153), I look specifically at the experience of empathy and its meaning in this encounter. I critically engage with empathy “as a privileged way of connecting with others” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 152) and discuss the limits of empathy as it was experienced in Gezi Park. Further, I query which calls for action or demands for collective politics it implied (Ahmed, 2004, p. 39). Throughout my analysis, I conceptualize affects as the “whole extended family of affective phenomena that encompasses, for instance, emotions, feelings, sentiments, moods, atmospheres” (Slaby & Mühlhoff, 2019, p. 30). The Significance of Gezi as a Moment of Hope for Change Recent studies refer to the Gezi Park protests as a key moment in the transformation of Turkey’s political landscape, signalling its “authoritarian turn” (Erensü & Alemdaroğlu, 2018; Esen & Gümüşçü, 2016; Öktem & Akkoyunlu, 2016; Yılmaz & Turner, 2019). According to these studies, the Gezi Park protests were both the culmination of discontent with the AKP’s increasing authoritarianism and the start of the ruling party’s consolidation of authoritarian policies. Indeed, by the summer of 2013, Turkey had reached a crucial political and emotional juncture: The ruling AKP was undertaking efforts to achieve peace and reconciliation in the Kurdish issue, and state atrocities committed in the republican period were being disclosed (Ayata & Hakyemez, 2011). At the same time, Turkey was subjected to a wave of multi-​layered violence that involved different forms of suppression and exploitation stemming from neoliberal capitalist policies (Coşar & Yücesan-​ Özdemir, 2012) and an unprecedented societal polarization (Erdoğan & Semerci, 2017). Despite its role as a watershed moment in this authoritarian drift, scholars have pointed out that Gezi was nevertheless unique in terms of political

The Limits of an Encounter  99 protest and participation. Yılmaz (2018, pp. 55–​56) notes that the Gezi Park events unleashed “a novel political dynamic that led to the transformation of the culture of political protest”. Karakayalı and Yaka (2014) argue that the protests resulted in new forms of political subjectivity and agency which are no longer grounded in ethnicity, religion, citizenship, or class. According to Gambetti (2014), the protests were carried out by “a corporeal assemblage that acted as a living multiplicity” (Gambetti, 2014, p. 98). Gezi has also been praised for constituting and being sustained by the practices of political friendship (Çıdam, 2017). These processes nurtured an understanding of (doing) politics differently, namely by facilitating the emergence of inclusive and active citizenship practices as well as the possibility of direct, participatory politics (Demiryol, 2018). According to Yılmaz, the revision of protesters’ views of the so-​called other during the protests was marked by a “strong desire to overcome the noted stereotypical images, dominant conventional opinions, and despotic political imagination” (Yilmaz, 2018, pp. 68–​ 69). Göksel and Tekdemir hence speak of the Gezi Park protests’ broader “impact on the formation of an alliance between the Turkish left and the Kurdish political movement” (Göksel & Tekdemir, 2017, p. 377). By contrast, Özkaya (2020) has contested these approaches. Critically interrogating the foundations of these alliances, she instead finds a “politics of postponement” (Özkaya, 2020, p. 7; 144). While the AKP, to the great disappointment of protesters, remained in power after the national elections on June 7, 2015, it did lose the parliamentary majority it had held since 2002. Moreover, the pro-​Kurdish alliance Halkların Demokratik Partisi (Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) passed the national electoral threshold of 10% for the first time and thus entered parliament.2 One might argue that the hope for a different society and politics which was affectively flaunted at Gezi Park in the summer of 2013 found electoral resonance. Today, almost a decade after the protests, as authoritarianism, state violence, and political polarization in Turkey have even been exacerbated, Gezi Park is still referred to as a source of inspiration. The Affective Encounter of Çapulcu and “Terrorist”: Suspecting “Affect Aliens” Studies carried out during and in the immediate aftermath of the protests noted that the majority of Gezi Park protesters were Turkish, middle-​ class, educated young professionals (KONDA, 2014; Bilgiç, 2018, Bilgiç & Kafkaslı, 2014). During the first days of the occupation, Prime Minister Erdoğan called these protesters “çapulcu”. The Turkish word literally means looter or marauder. Erdoğan, in an attempt at degradation and criminalization, used the term to insult the protestors. It not only implied the use of violence against the police, vandalism of public goods, and the disturbance of fellow citizens but also sought to indicate a moral inferiority, exemplified by accusations of having entered mosques with shoes or drinking alcohol in

100  bahar firat these spaces. The protesters, however, almost immediately reappropriated the term, thus revaluing it, and started proudly using it to define themselves and their actions. They termed these actions chapulling: Peacefully, creatively, and humorously resisting oppression, claiming space while respecting and taking care of each other, regardless of one’s identity. Within a very short time, the çapulcu and the act of chapulling became the slogans of the resistance, and the negative connotation of their initial usage never became dominant.3 By the time of the Gezi protests, the word “terrorist” had already been in circulation in official discourse for almost 30 years and primarily implicated the Kurds. The 1990s were decisive in that sense: When the armed struggle, which had started in 1984 between the PKK and the Turkish state, turned into a low-​intensity war in the 1990s (as it was coined by Doğan Güreş, the Chief of General Staff between 1990 and 1994), profound changes in the perception of strategic threat and national security transformed the conceptualization of the enemy in Turkey. Accordingly, the issue of separatism and the PKK was defined as the primary threat to national security (Paker, 2010). The Anti-​Terrorism Law No. 3713, which was first enacted in 1991 and has repeatedly been criticized for its vague definition of terror/​ism, enabled arbitrary and systematic criminalization of the Kurdish movement. Accompanied by the official mantra “There is no Kurdish problem in Turkey, only a terrorism problem”, a perception of Kurds as threats to the security and indivisible unity of the state and nation became prevalent in this period. The direct association of Kurds, both as a people and a political movement, with terror/​ism was soon engrained. At the same time, due to the internal displacements, processes of dispossession, and emergence of new labour markets resulting from the armed conflict, the Kurdish population came into increased contact with the rest of the population. Thus, both the conflict itself and prevalent discourses of national security, enemies, terror, and separatism have shaped the social relations between Kurds and the rest of Turkish society. What happened during the encounter between the çapulcu and the Kurds? To start with, from the very beginning, the question of whether Kurds were present at Gezi Park was fiercely discussed (Ayata, 2014). One frequently reiterated view was that the Kurds participated at Gezi as individual protesters but not as members of the Kurdish movement in order not to jeopardize the ongoing peace process; hence, their presence was deemed insignificant.4 Thus asking the question “Where are the Kurds?” became a critique of the ostensible Kurdish reluctance to side with the Gezi Park protesters, both during and after the Gezi protests.5 The peace process was another moment of hope which predated the Gezi Park protests, although it was not characterized as such.6 Responding to these critiques, Selahattin Demirtaş, then co-​chairman of the Barış ve Demokrasi Partisi (Peace and Democracy Party, BDP, a predecessor of the HDP), stated that the movement was not distancing itself

The Limits of an Encounter  101 from the Gezi Park resistance per se but from the pro-​coup mentality, the putschists, and the counter-​guerillas who had caused so much pain and loss for decades, especially for the Kurds. These groups, he claimed, were also present at Gezi as part of an anti-​AKP alliance (Demirtaş, 2013). Even after the Gezi Park protests had ended and the government had terminated the peace process, the initial hesitation of the Kurdish political movement to participate in the protests was repeatedly used by the political opposition as a pretext for allegations of collusion with the government. The Kurds’ task was not an easy one, as they were expected to join the protests but had an additional burden to bear: On the one hand, they were tasked with proving the sincerity of their participation in a protest perceived as a legitimate and honourable challenge to the oppression, degradation, and violence of AKP authoritarianism. Yet on the other hand, unlike all the other groups who participated in the protests (anti-​capitalist Muslims, LGBTI+​people, Kemalist nationalists, radical left groups, communists, anarchists, ecologists, etc.), Kurds had to perform their commitment with particular intensity in order to overcome suspicion against them and to convince other protesters that they were a genuine part of this affective experience. Kurds had to prove that they were neither a threat nor an “alien” to the protests (Ahmed, 2010) because the suspicion against them was not limited to the presumption that they were furtively collaborating with the government for their own political cause. It also entailed the (not always openly expressed) question of whether they were “affect aliens”, meaning whether they “experience[d]‌happiness from the right things” (Ahmed, 2010, p. 1) or lacked the right feelings to do so. This question was raised because the protests abounded with Turkish flags and other Kemalist, nationalist symbols, including the Turkish national anthem and the slogan “We’re the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal”. Thus, I argue that the question of whether they genuinely belonged to the affective community which was built on the square or stood apart from it lingered over Kurdish participants throughout the protests. As Ahmed (2014) argues, it is important to look beyond the actual affective encounter, that is, to look at specific histories—​histories of the relations between the state and society as well as histories of violence, resistance, and revolt—​that “stick”. Moments of contact in affective encounters involve not only subjects but their histories. According to Ahmed (2004), these histories do not need to be uttered; they are known even without being declared. They precede bodies and must be taken into consideration when seeking to grasp the way bodies are mediated in actual affective situations (Ahmed, 2004, p. 127). The affective community which was built in Gezi Park was certainly not devoid of affective baggage related to the history of Turkey’s Kurdish issue. The Kurdish body that was pointed at, had a history and it was this history that came before the Kurd and rendered the Kurdish body dangerous even before it arrived (Ahmed, 2014, p. 212). This was recalled by one female protester—​a lawyer and self-​identified activist—​as follows:

102  bahar firat In Gezi, we saw the possibility of living together. Back then we had a contact which was very body-​to-​body, so that people who didn’t know each other were hand in hand, in the same tents, and fought together. They ran in the same direction. They set up the same barricades, nobody knew who was what [belonging to which political, religious, ethnic group] … But that was a movement which was meant to end. We were able to fight up to a point. But then they had to separate our hands, we were not supposed to touch anymore. And again, unfortunately, by revealing the sickening problems of Turkey’s history, [it was said that] the Kurds came, [it was said that] the illegals came … There was contact and trust, which was calming … Until they have managed to break the contact by separating our hands, our bodies, and heads from each other. (Interview conducted in Istanbul, July 19, 2017) The interviewee referred to the contact “with people without even knowing who they are” as a precious and comforting aspect of the Gezi protests, and she remembered the discomfort which emerged when the Kurds were isolated and this contact was interrupted. At the moment of contact, the recognition/​remembering that a given person was Kurdish allowed non-​Kurds to acknowledge injustice done to the Kurdish community and engage in self-​ criticism (and maybe even to feel shame). Yet this recognition and remembrance also opened up a space to cast suspicion on the Kurds. Ahmed (2014, p. 211) has described the recognition of somebody as a stranger as an affective judgement which involves suspicion and the perception of danger. The contact, then, was not broken because one group learned who the “other” was but because non-​Kurds were reminded of the fact that this particular “other” was Kurdish. Even if Kurds participated in Gezi as individual subjects, they were encountered as political subjects whose bodies and histories had been associated with terror/​ism throughout the history of the Republic. This not only raised suspicion but evoked emotions of fear and distrust. Hence, the contact established with suspected “affect aliens” (Ahmed, 2010) was a fragile one: In the encounter between the çapulcu and “terrorist”, distance was created by a past in which Kurdish bodies were labelled as terrorists, radicals, bandits, abscesses, reactionaries, vulgarians, and bumpkins (Yeğen, 1999; Beşikçi, 1992; Ergin, 2014) among other things. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to review Turkey’s Kurdish issue in detail. Yet only a contextualized reading of the encounter can explain the limits of affective politics and the affective alien/​stranger dynamics on the Midān. Hence, it is important to stress certain key aspects of this history: The assimilationist nation-​ building policies used to construct (and sustain) a Turkish nation and a Turkish state through the “epistemic production of its other” (Günay, 2013, p. 181) were significant in this regard (Bozarslan, 2008; Güneş & Zeydanlıoğlu, 2014; Yeğen, 1999; 2007). Kurds as a nation with a separate identity and language were denied recognition and rights; their political movements were suppressed and their political leaders

The Limits of an Encounter  103 criminalized. While the total assimilation/​extermination of Kurdishness and the Kurdish realm was attempted through violence and the association of Kurdishness with terror, treason, and separatism, the official narrative also used a brotherhood/​kinship discourse. This discourse argued that the Turkish and Kurdish people were interconnected because they were relatives or presumably religious fellows and was deployed to defend the refusal of rights and freedoms to the Kurds. The contention that the Kurds and the Turks do not belong to the same (affective) community (anymore) or had disengaged from one another emotionally had been advanced with increasing frequency by Kurdish politicians since the early 2010s.7 The number of attempted lynchings of members of the Kurdish political movement and Kurdish seasonal workers increased precipitously across the country throughout the 2010s (Borsuk, 2016; Gambetti, 2013). Before the Gezi Park protests, an earthquake in the eastern city of Van in October of 2011 and the Roboski massacre at the Turkish/​Iraqi border in December of that year, in which 34 young Kurdish civilians who were believed to be members of the PKK were bombed, had already fuelled the discussion of emotional disengagement.8 Kurdish politicians raised concerns about emotional disengagement and a lack of empathy after these events, as the majority of Turkish society seemed rather indifferent to the injustice and suffering experienced by Kurdish civilians. At times, there were even displays of Schadenfreude. On a popular Turkish TV show, the host framed the expectations of earthquake survivors to receive official disaster relief as absurd, since in normal times the people of the region were hostile against the state and attacking security forces.9 Similarly, there was a broad consensus among the wider Turkish public that since those who were killed in Roboski were smugglers—​a common practice of cross-​border trade among Kurdish villages—​their deaths were deserved. Their life was not deemed worth protecting and their death was not worth mourning (Butler, 2004). The differentiation between legitimate and illegitimate objects of emotion, such as empathy, love, and grief, generated and secured a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate lives (Ahmed, 2004, p. 191).10 Gezi Park as a “Peace Festival”, or the Missed Opportunity to Bridge the Gap Gezi is often labelled a spirit, a dream, a glorious instance of resistance, and a saga. Many described the overall atmosphere as akin to a festival. The affectivity of the protests; the bodily proximity and contact; the togetherness; the hope, joy, and euphoria; and the music and dance in Gezi Park reminded one Kurdish protester of Newroz (Kurdish new year) celebrations. At one spot in Gezi Park, there was even a banner with the slogan Bijî Aşitî (Long Live Peace) written on it. For this Kurdish protester, Gezi Park had the potential to become a place for Kurds and Turks to finally meet, to bridge

104  bahar firat the aforementioned emotional gap, and to reinvigorate affective bonds by becoming a festival of peace: It was exciting and strange. It could have been the festival of peace. A celebration of peace including everyone, regardless of one’s identity, ethnic group, age, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Had this been the case, Turkey would not be so dark right now. I’ve followed many events, such as various Newroz celebrations or the Xabur process in 200911. In such celebrations, Kurds were nearly alone, they had very few friends with them. But this time, everybody was there and everybody was actually waiting for the Kurds to come: ‘Over there from Besiktas, Kurds will come in the thousands before you even know it’, everybody said. And sure, they were not awaited only for their support in fighting against the police. Everybody there was longing for the meeting to happen. (Interview conducted in Istanbul, July 21, 2017) This protester expected that, with the much-​awaited arrival of the Kurds, the protests would turn into a Newroz-​like festival in which the demand for peace would be embraced. Newroz has long been emblematic of the major demand of the Kurdish political movement and society for peace, or aşitî, in Turkey. Historically, it has been a symbol of Kurdish resistance to (state) oppression and tyranny throughout the Middle East (Bozarslan, 2002). Newroz celebrations have always been instances of mass mobilization, even when they were prohibited and violently attacked by security forces (Aydın, 2014; Aykan, 2014). The above quote from the Kurdish protester in Gezi links Newroz and Gezi Park by referring to the Newroz celebrations which had been permitted to take place earlier that year in Diyarbakir. This celebration was the apex of a moment of hope for change when the peace process was announced. The protester compares the affective intensity and transformative potential of the two. The peace process initiated by the AKP was advanced through secret negotiations between the MIT (Milli İstihbarat Teşkilatı, Turkish Intelligence Agency), imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, and cadres of the PKK/​KCK (Komalen Civaken Kurdistan, Kurdistan Communities’ Union) known as Oslo talks. As part of that process, on January 3, 2013, two BDP deputies visited Öcalan on Imralı Island, where he had been imprisoned since 1999. For the majority of Kurds, the public reading of Öcalan’s message during the Newroz celebrations in March 2013 in Diyarbakır marked the true start of Turkey’s peace process: Sırrı Süreyya Önder, a BDP MP, read Öcalan’s letter to a crowd of over a million people, announcing that the time had come for “PKK armed entities to withdraw from the Turkish border” and for “cooperation, unity, embracing, and mutual blessing” to take place between Kurds and Turks.12 Yet the Gezi Park protests never became a festival of peace in the sense imagined and hoped for by Kurdish participants. The notion of peace neither featured in common appraisals of the protests, nor was it an explicit

The Limits of an Encounter  105 demand of the protestors. The same was true across the country. The hope and expectation triggered by the peace process was crucial for the Kurds of Turkey (Gürses, 2018), however, although a certain sense of relief came from the fact that there were no more deaths as arms were laid down, Turkey`s majority population viewed the Kurds’ hope and expectation with some trepidation. Some even considered the prospect of peace itself an untenable compromise, as it was unthinkable of the state negotiating with members of a political movement that was deemed illegal.13 The affective charge of peace, what it stood for, and the fact that peace was eventually going to be made with “terrorists” did not go unnoticed on the Midān of Gezi Park either. Feeling and Knowing Differently Although Prime Minister Erdoğan initially used the word çapulcu to describe the protesters in Gezi, he did not wait long to invoke the label of “terrorists” to differentiate between them. On June 17, 2013 Erdoğan spoke to an audience of hundreds of thousands in a large public speech in Istanbul.14 This rally had been convened as a reaction to protests in Istanbul on the previous day following the eviction of protesters from Gezi Park. Here, he complained to his supporters about the proximity between different (political) actors and their symbols at Taksim Square. Besides “illegal leftist organizations”, the main target of his critique were symbols of the “terrorists”—​that is, the Kurdish political movement—​their flags, and pictures of Kurdish political parties and Öcalan: The Atatürk Culture Centre is a public institution. It has been invaded by illegal organizations. Some rags and tatters were hanging there. There were pictures of terrorists … We cannot leave this place to these terrorists. It is cleaned now. You have seen what was there on the Republic Monument. The head of the separatists, next to him the picture of Atatürk, next to it the Turkish flag. Now I am reaching out to nationalists: I ask the CHP and its followers, how could you do that? The head [leader] of the terrorist [organization], Atatürk, and the Turkish flag? Why could you not go there and take them down? (Erdoğan, 2013) In her discussion of affective solidarity, Hemmings (2012) considers the experience of feeling differently. This feeling arises from an affective dissonance and is a significant precondition for knowing differently (2012, p. 150). In a similar vein, Åhäll has argued that an affective shift may inspire critical thinking and the possibility to imagine an alternative politics (2018, p. 44). What was a source of anger, condemnation, accusation, or something that needed to be cleaned up for Erdoğan was an essential part of the affective experience of protesters on the square: These contacts and encounters initiated a shift which made participants feel differently about the “other”

106  bahar firat and further moved them to know differently. The now-​iconic picture of the Atatürk Culture Centre and the Republican Monument which President Erdoğan referred to in his speech were not exceptional snapshots in that sense.15 One protester recalled this unexpected encounter vividly. She described herself as Turkish and tolerant of other peoples’ ethnic identities but said she was raised by a family with a particular hatred of the PKK leader Öcalan, who they referred to as Apo, the “baby murderer”. She also pointed to dominant narratives circulating in schools, the media, and politics which had influenced her. Like President Erdoğan, the protestor recalled the different flags flying at Taksim Square as she discussed how she experienced contact and plurality there. She talked not only about her own experience and how it altered her attitude but how she observed this process among other protestors: Next to the park there was this HDP tent and after a couple of days they hung up an Apo flag [a flag with the portrait of Öcalan on it].16 I definitely considered myself to be at some [political] distance from Apo but the flag didn’t annoy me because it was never an ethnic issue for me. But still, those narratives, constructed memories, the information you have, your family being Kemalists, and so on … And then, there was this day when I was waiting for a friend; it was her birthday, and we were going to surprise her. On June 6. So, I am eating my meatballs and waiting for my friend. And there is this group of two or three friends. This memory has really stayed with me to this day. I just watch people and listen to their conversations. One of the guys stopped. He raised his head, you know, he looked at the Apo flag. He said—​pardon my French—​“Fuck this shit!” He continued, “I will never come here again. Look at this Apo flag.” And the guy next to him said: “Why would you say that? If you have your Atatürk, then he has his Apo.” I found that very strange. They were very similar people; it was kind of obvious. They came there with the very same social codes, you know. The first guy wanted to leave, saying “I won’t come, what the hell is that”, and then his friend stopped him, saying “Hey, don’t make something out of nothing, man. It’s just an Apo flag that they hung. It isn’t Apo himself they’re bringing here, right?” And they walked away. “How beautiful is that!” I thought to myself, “how nice, how beautiful!” (Interview conducted in Istanbul, July 5, 2017) At a time of rising authoritarianism and deep polarization, this young protester was impressed by the conversation she overheard, reflecting the “beauty” of a contact non-​Kurdish protesters had with a Kurdish political symbol. For the two participants she had listened to, this contact unlocked possibilities for feeling, comprehending, and acting differently in relation to the “other”. However, these possibilities did not always unfold smoothly. The protester also reported that on one of the following days, she witnessed

The Limits of an Encounter  107 a fight between the Kurdish and the ultra-​nationalist protesters. She decided to listen to what they had to say about the event: I saw the Kurds there. They were very furious, discussing this fight. I remember that I sat on their corners and shores. Although I had begun to address some of my prejudices against them, I still had very little information about the Kurdish movement back then. Anyway, I still didn’t choose to go and sit with the Workers’ Party guys (İşçi Partililer). I preferred to listen to them [the Kurds]. (Interview conducted in Istanbul, July 5, 2017) This testimony is illustrative in two ways: First, it exemplifies how the encounter with certain Kurdish symbols—​for example, the Öcalan flag—​ moved the protester, despite her reservations. Indeed, it was not only the flags but also other forms of representation which were welcomed as signs of coexistence, difference, and plurality on the square. These prompted people to initiate contact with others and further fuelled a sense of joy about this new sense of togetherness, as well as hopes that it would travel outside the square. As far as images are concerned—​objects such as the traditional scarf, the poşi; Kurdish music including Kurdish guerrilla marching tunes; the Kurdish traditional dance halay, or the strength attributed to Kurds as fighters—​it appears that differences on the square were able to coexist. However, there were reservations regarding this embrace of coexistence, with the image of Öcalan representing the ultimate limit. The Midān brought voices, slogans, songs, flags, banners, and bodies closer together, thus enabling contact. There were moments when the distance between bodies, resulting from the affective memory of violence, could be diminished. Yet this distance never completely disappeared, as the “difference was read off the surface … through the circulation and movement of particular signs between bodies” (Ahmed, 2004, pp. 126–​127). Against this background, the second illustrative aspect of this testimony is the fact that the protester who thought that the passer-​by’s reaction to the Öcalan flag was beautiful still sat on the “corners and shores” of the Kurds, not next to, or with them. Hence, regardless of protestors’ intentions, a particular form of affective baggage, memory, and imagined future injuries (invoked directly by Erdoğan talking about terrorists) prevented the intertwining of the çapulcu and the “terrorist” into one collective body, one corporeal multiplicity (Gambetti, 2014). The Limits of the Transformative Effect of Affects: Empathy vs. Pity The plurality of the “others”, the immediacy of the violence from the security forces, the collective experience of brutality as bodily pain, and the heightened awareness of the media’s misleading reporting during the protests led participants not only to feel differently but sent them on a quest to know

108  bahar firat differently. When protesters were asked what the protest had done to them—​ that is, what transformations they had experienced in their encounters with various “others”—​ the development of empathy was probably the most frequently mentioned aspect.17 What kind of empathy emerged from this encounter? What did this empathy imply in terms of political transformation? Protesters mentioned that they valued this bodily and affectively intensive experience not only because it represented a dignified form of resistance from a plurality of people against the arrogance, evil, and violence of Erdoğan and the government. Such experiences were also precious because the shock of experiencing disproportionate violence and being ignored by the media enabled them, finally, to empathize with others, particularly the Kurds. The object of this empathy was the state violence faced by the Kurds throughout these years as well as their non-​or misrepresentation in the mainstream media (İnceoğlu, 2016). One participant recalled the general distrust of the mainstream media among the protesters, who they blamed for having obscured the reality of the Kurdish issue for so long, just as they had reported on the protests in a biased fashion: They [non-​Kurdish protesters] were saying “We didn’t know that things were like this because the press was not reporting it. Now we saw that the press did not report on us either. God knows what happened there. If we had known, we wouldn’t have acted that way. We understand now.” (Interview conducted in Istanbul, May 20, 2016) In Turkish, depending on context and vocal emphasis, “God knows” can be interpreted in two ways: On the one hand, it points to the limits of human will, comprehension, and action. As opposed to God, humans are limited in their capacity to know, understand, and act. When someone says “God knows”, she/​he is indicating the smallness of the human against the might of God, who has full comprehension, is in full control of his deeds, and has the last word. A second meaning, however, implies the limitlessness of human evil: Human will and capacity to hurt, harm, and torment others may well be beyond human comprehension and morally unacceptable. Yet this does not necessarily mean that a person does not know what this unlimited evil is capable of achieving. On the contrary, it can be seen as an act of active not knowing, or knowing what not to know, as Taussig puts it in his discussion of public secrets: These are things that are generally known but cannot be articulated (Taussig, 1999, p. 5). In this context, the protester used the second connotation. The “there” mentioned by the protester while pointing to the “places Kurds live” indicates not only geographical distance. It also implies the uncanniness of a territory which is the homeland of the Kurds yet has no name in the common vocabulary of the protestors. What might have happened “there”—​that is, in “the region”, “the East”, the “South-​East”, or the cities where predominantly Kurdish (-​origin) citizens live—​cannot even be imagined and articulated by outsiders.

The Limits of an Encounter  109 In her account of the politics of pain and the ethics of responding to it, Ahmed (2014) narrates the testimonies of pain felt by indigenous Australian children who were taken from their families, and she discusses the conditions of possibility for these testimonies to be heard (2014, pp. 30–​34). She focuses on the impossibility of sharing this pain through empathy and argues that the testimonies “give flesh to feelings that cannot be felt by others”, (2014, p. 39) not even by our most intimate acquaintances. Hence, they do not call for the listener to engage in “attentive hearing, but for a different kind of inhabitance” (2014, p. 39). In the years after the protests, the political situation in Turkey has deteriorated and state violence against the Kurdish opposition and territories has escalated. Against this background, a male, Armenian protester said that much of what had been learned, seen, and felt at Gezi had been forgotten: They (the non-​Kurdish protesters) saw the hypocrisy of the media. Then, I think they forgot about it; I don’t know. They saw some things about Kurds. Then, they forgot that too. Maybe they wanted to forget. It didn’t fit their expectations, I suppose. (Interview conducted in Istanbul, June 20, 2017) The focus on forgetting is even more remarkable when considering the timing of these interviews. Following the Gezi protests, a chain of crucial events unfolded within a very short period of time, including the June 2015 elections and the snap election of November 2015, the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, the 2017 presidential referendum, and the subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections of 2018 that dramatically altered the political system. Erdoğan revived the security state (Yilmaz & Turner, 2019, p. 77), returned to violence and a repressive securitization strategy in the Kurdish problem (Azgın, 2020, p. 5), along with an overall securitization of dissent (Esen & Gümüşçü, 2020). Different events generated an environment of fear, terror, and despair during this period, including the government’s response to the destruction of Rojava by ISIS in 2014, bomb attacks on rallies of pro-​Kurdish or pro-​peace groups, and curfews and clashes in Kurdish city centres in 2015–​ 2016 which caused the death of hundreds of civilians. Against this backdrop of a longstanding open secret of violence against the Kurds being thus revealed in all its brutality, a Turkish, male, white-​collar protester discussed the experience of Gezi Park in a way which points to a critical dimension of empathy: Well fine, but this means that either people prefer to forget what they have understood or they never actually understood much in the first place. We understood only that particular part which was about us. (Interview conducted in Istanbul, May 20, 2016) In her discussion of a feminist politics of transformation, affective dissonance, and affective solidarity, Hemmings (2012, p. 147) argues in favour of

110  bahar firat “moving beyond empathy as a privileged way of connecting with others”. Empathy, as Hemmings reviews (2012, p. 152), may be a form of engagement which in its worst form “may signal a cannibalization of the other masquerading as care” (Kaplan, 1994); it may be indiscernible from pity, as it is “in white Western consideration of ‘global others’ ” (Doezema, 2001; Trinh, 1989); and it may signal the need to focus on “struggles and loss of authority that real empathy requires” (Lugones & Spelman, 1983). Hemmings herself argues that to be empathized with could be a horrific prospect, indeed, one resulting in the dissolution of the other’s sense of self, if the empathetic subject is associated with violence, or if the terms of recognition (being “in need”, say) are resisted. (Hemmings, 2012, p. 153) Focusing on the concept of reciprocity as a central precondition for empathy, Hemmings states that this expectation bears the “risk of universalizing the subject’s experience as a sound basis for engagement with others; it ignores the historical and political reasons why others may not be able or not wish to reciprocate” (Hemmings, 2012, p. 153). The Turkish protester critically evaluated the distinction in feelings of empathy and pity towards the Kurds and what this meant in terms of solidarity. His observation clearly put into words what the aforementioned critical accounts of empathy underline, namely the (reinforced) existence of hierarchies between those with less power and resources—​i.e., those who are perceived to be in need of empathy (Hemmings, 2012, p. 153)—​and those who are in a position to offer and eventually withdraw it: Well, there you have a possibility: You say to yourself, “That could have been me”. It is a feeling of empathy, so to say. But in pity, there is no empathy. You think, “That will never happen to me, but too bad it happened to them, what a pity! Let me go and say a couple of words [of consolation]”. But is this real solidarity? No, it is not. It was an effort at solidarity or a feeling of solidarity. But to have real solidarity, that feeling has to be transformed, its methods and means have to be developed … Those connections could not be built [in Gezi], soon everyone has returned to their initial position: “They are terrorists, they are separatists, they have murdered soldiers, etc.” (Interview conducted in Istanbul, May 20, 2016) The protester detects different kinds of injustice here: First, he mentions the injustice inflicted on the Kurds in the past—​something which could never happen to him in that way. Then there is the current injustice, which was created by failing to maintain the connections created during the protests and which let “everyone return to their initial position”. Finally, there is

The Limits of an Encounter  111 the injustice wreaked by the pitying subject. This pitying subject was not able to seek and utilize genuine means to transform the moment of contact into a real act of solidarity but was focused on attaining a better feeling simply by noticing the injustice. Having the capacity to transform one’s feelings into empathy was indeed a reflection of the already existing hierarchies between different feelings and bodies. Although the affective contact between the çapulcu and the “terrorist” contained the possibility of transformation, “the difficult relation between (in)justice and emotion”, as Ahmed (2004) explains, points to the fact that the “costs of injustice cannot necessarily be repaired by the transformation of feelings” (p. 193). On the contrary, the transformation of bad feelings into good ones (such as hatred into love, indifference into sympathy, shame into pride, and despair into hope) “can repeat the forms of violence it seeks to redress, as it can sustain the distinction between the subject and object of feeling” (Ahmed, 2004, p. 191). Conclusion This chapter revisited the encounter between the Kurds and the non-​Kurdish majority of Gezi Park protesters in an affective atmosphere of occupation and resistance. While I characterized the Gezi protests as an example of a Midān Moment, or a hopeful yet fragile meeting, I have demonstrated the limits of the encounter between the çapulcu and the “terrorist” in light of the significance of Turkey’s Kurdish issue. In order to understand not only the possibilities but also the limitations of their encounter with regard to the transformative potential of the experience, I scrutinized the affective baggage which was brought to the square more closely. Concerning the history and affectivity of bodily pain and harm, along with the memories of death, revolt, resistance, and rebirth inscribed on the body, I argued that a distance existed between the Kurds and the rest of the Gezi Park protesters from the very beginning. While the Gezi Park protests enabled the establishment of contact, this contact was fragile. It could be broken as soon as the non-​Kurds were reminded of the past and possible futures, and the Kurds were relegated to the realm of the illegitimate/​illegal by invoking histories of association. I treated emotions as “the very flesh of time through which the past persists on the surface of the bodies” (Ahmed, 2014, p. 202) and argued that the fragility of the contact at Gezi Park has to be linked to “histories that stay alive … and shape lives and worlds in the present” (Ahmed, 2014, p. 202). Accordingly, I suggested that despite the rise of empathy and the realization of injustice, the distance between the Kurds (as “terrorists”) and the rest of the Gezi Park participants (çapulcus) could not be elided. Arguably, this was also one of the reasons why the moment could not be revived during the political events unfolding after Gezi. The extremely intense affective relationality on the square, enacted through bodily co-​ presence and shared experiences, opened spaces of possibility

112  bahar firat for feeling and knowing differently and enabled encounters across existing social and political cleavages. However, the transformative moment of Gezi was limited because the distance between the çapulcu and the “terrorist” remained. Gezi participants creatively managed to appropriate the initial çapulcu insult, which Erdoğan had used to degrade, humiliate, and criminalize them, and created a common, positive identity out of it. Yet, despite the fact that after all, the members and demands of both groups were linked and even branded as terror/​ists during the protests the notion of the çapulcu never expanded to embrace the “terrorist” as such. Notes 1 This chapter builds on research conducted within the scope of the project “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​ Political Transformations—​The Cases of Tahrir and Taksim” from 2018 to 2019 and the follow-​up project “Emotion and Affect within the Context of Authoritarian Transformations” at CRC Affective Societies, FU Berlin, 2019–​2023. The project is funded by the German Research Foundation DFG. For the empirical analysis, I examined the qualitative interviews which were conducted by team member Derya Özkaya. 2 An electoral threshold designates the minimum share of total votes cast in a general election which a political party has to receive to be eligible for seats in parliament. Up until very recently, Turkey had a 10% national threshold, the highest legal threshold of any Council of Europe (CoE) member state. This threshold has been criticized for many years as it obstructs fair representation. With the amendments made through the Law No. 7393 on April 6, 2022, the electoral threshold was lowered from 10% of the national vote to 7%. Even with 7%, Turkey continues to have the highest threshold among CoE member states. For further information, see www.loc.gov/​item/​glo​bal-​legal-​moni​tor/​2022-​04-​24/​ tur​key-​par​liam​ent-​pas​ses-​law-​amend​ing-​elect​ion-​laws-​and-​lower​ing-​electo​ral-​ thresh​old/​ 3 Chapulling, i.e., the term describing what the çapulcu does, has always been spelled in an anglicized way, using ch instead of the Turkish letter ç. 4 Based on the results of empirical research carried out in Istanbul and Izmir, Yörük (2014) argues that this was not the case. The findings indicate that based on the percentage of Kurds in the population of the respective cities, there was no significant difference between the participation of Kurds and Turks in the Gezi protests. 5 In an early assessment of the resonance of the Gezi Park protests in Turkish Kurdistan, Bozcalı & Yoltar (2013) link the hesitancy to engage in the protests to the history of a specific regime of state violence in Kurdistan as well as to the expectation of recognition of Kurdish collective political agencies. 6 Following its first general election victory in November 2002, the AKP promised to solve the long-​standing problems of the country which it saw as hailing from the founding Kemalist elitist regime. One important objective in this undertaking was to reinforce its own position against the Kemalist military and bureaucratic apparatus. It undertook democratization reforms which also aimed to resolve the Kurdish issue. In 2009, the AKP declared an official “Kurdish Opening”

The Limits of an Encounter  113 policy, through which it not only gained the electoral support of the Kurds but also further decreased its popularity among Kemalists, who objected to the efforts on the grounds that they threatened the indivisible integrity of the nation and the country. Subsequent attempts to reach a solution between 2009 and 2012, which were first termed the “Kurdish Initiative”, then the “Democratic Opening”, and finally the “Unity and Brotherhood Project”, represented a “moment of hope” (Gürses, 2018: 130), particularly among Kurds. See also Yeğen (2015). 7 In April 2010, Ahmet Türk, leader of the pro-​Kurdish DTP (Demokratik Toplum Partisi, Democratic Society Party, predecessor of the BDP), was attacked and punched in front of a courthouse in the Black Sea town of Samsun, where he was attending a trial. On this occasion, Türk and other political figures of the Kurdish political movement gave speeches in which they stressed the importance of maintaining the emotional bonds between the Kurdish and Turkish peoples in order to enable coexistence. In a meeting on the occasion of the International Peace Day in September 1, 2011, Van MP Aysel Tugluk stated that emotional disengagement would lead to political disengagement sooner or later, as there was so much death, pain and anger, rendering a common future impossible (www. hurri​yet.com.tr/​gun​dem/​tug​luk-​duygu​sal-​kopus-​siya​sal-​kop​usa-​gotur​ecek​tir-​ 18627​657). 8 On the evening of December 28, 2011, the Turkish Air Force bombed a group of 37 villagers from Roboski (Ortasu) and Bujeh (Gülyazı), border villages of Şırnak, as they were crossing back from Iraqi Kurdistan. Thirty-​four villagers were killed. Seventeen of them were children, with the youngest only 12 years old. According to news reports, this event saw the largest number of Kurdish civilians killed in a single attack. The targeted group, presumed to be PKK guerillas, was actually comprised of border traders, or “smugglers”. 9 “The police, who are being thrown stones by little children at every opportunity, were the first who came to the earthquake scene and responded … Let the hands of those who throw stones at them at normal times be broken. They’re thrown stones like birds, they’re shot in the mountains. And yet, when something happens, it is said, let the soldier come, let the police come. Let’s set the balance. Let’s not hunt them like birds. It is not that easy. Everyone should know one’s place” See, “Müge Anli’s shocking comments on the earthquake in Van”, 24.10.2011, www.yout​ube.com/​watch?v=​JGbR​qQly​CdI 10 According to the lawyer and founding member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Eren Keskin, this societal indifference could not be explained solely with reference to state discourses: “Unfortunately, the pain experienced by the Kurds is not internalized by others of this geography. This cannot be explained with the state only. Two days after Roboski, most of the people celebrated New Year’s Eve, and they did not do it by force of the state”. https://​twit​ter.com/​Ozgu​ruz_​org/​sta​tus/​1343​5736​7152​ 5421​056 11 On October 19, 2009, former PKK guerillas entered Turkey from the Iraqian Xabur border, without being taken under custody. While Kurds welcomed the group as a peace envoy and the action as an explicit move towards peace, the

114  bahar firat Turkish nationalist opposition heavily criticized the Xabur initiative. The mainstream media condemned the peaceful welcoming of the group as a “victory parade of the PKK”. 12 For the full text, see: https://​peace​inku​rdis​tanc​ampa​ign.wordpr​ess.com/​2013/​03/​ 24/​ocal​ans-​histo​ric-​new​roz-​2013-​statem​ent 13 The opposition parties CHP (Republican People’s Party) and MHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, Milliyetçi Hareket Partisi, National Action Party) were critical about the peace process on the grounds that it beard the risk of ethnic disintegration of the Turkish society, and posed a danger to the country’s identity as unitary nation-​ state (Yeğen, 2015:6). In a 2014 survey, more than 91% of the BDP electorate replied that they supported efforts to end violence and establish peace. This rate was 75% for the AKP electorate, 29% for the CHP, and 28% for the MHP. In the same survey, 83% of the Kurdish-​speaking respondents stated that they were supporting the peace process, whereas among non-​speakers this rate was 52% (Yılmaz, 2014). 14 It was the second of a series titled “Respect to National Will Rallies” that were organized as reaction to the Gezi protests. 15 In another symbolic picture of the protests which depicts “unlikely and uncommon political stances” (Navaro-​Yashin, 2013), two protesters are shown running away from a water cannon, hand in hand. What makes it symbolic is that one of the protesters is carrying an Atatürk flag, while the other is bearing the flag of the pro-​ Kurdish political party BDP. On the sidelines, a bystander is flashing the Grey Wolf sign, the mark of the Turkish ultranationalists. 16 It was actually tent of the BDP, the predecessor party of HDP. 17 “Hmm, smells like empathy” was a popular phrase used to define the experience in the Gezi Park protests. See GeziYazı Başkaldırının 140 Vuruşu, www.yout​ube. com/​watch?v=​PCzT​o6xR​XRw

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Part III

Midān Moments Traveling in Time and Space

7 The Egyptian Revolution against the Police Salwa Ismail

The Egyptian revolution began on January 25, 2011—​Police Day—​a public holiday that commemorates the role of the police in the resistance against the British occupation in Egypt. It started as a day of protest called for by a number of youth groups and activists, among them April Sixth and the Facebook group Kulina Khaled Said (We are all Khaled Said). The organizers of the protests on that day wanted to subvert the celebration of the police and turn the day into an occasion to indict the institution in charge of policing—​ in a sense, putting it on public trial. Primary among the objectives of the organizers was the removal of General Habib al-​Adli, the then-​minister of the interior, who had been in that position for 14 years and under whose leadership the ministry came to represent the most feared and despised apparatus of government. The ministry has been associated with routinized violent practices against civilians held in police stations, including torture and sexual violation, the internment of political dissidents by its state security organs, the surveillance of activists, the rigging of elections, and the protection of core ruling regime interests. The case of Khaled Said concerned an incident of police brutality in Alexandria in June 2010. Said, a young man, was dragged out of an Internet café by two undercover police officers and was violently beaten to death while in police custody. The incident was emblematic of a mode of operation on the part of police that threatened the integrity of life for ordinary citizens. To understand the strength of the feelings surrounding this case and its powerful role in mobilizing youth against the police, we should take a broader look at the background of anti-​police sentiment to see that for large segments of the population, engagement in the uprising was an expression of opposition against the police as an institution of everyday government, which operated throughout the social body and infiltrated the nooks and crannies of society. To grasp the character of the police in Egypt, we need to consider the police not only as an organization in charge of public security, but as an agency of government in the broad sense. In terms of areas of remit and rationalities of government, the Egyptian police approximate the police project of state envisioned by social thinkers of eighteenth-​century Europe and DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-10

122  Salwa Ismail discussed by Michel Foucault (2007a, pp. 311–​332; 2007b, pp. 333–​361) in his genealogy of modern governmentalities. As in this project, the Egyptian police’s governmental reach covers, among other things, markets, transport, roads, food supply, public utilities, public morality, and taxation, in addition to public security and national security. The organizational chart of the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior reveals the extensive remit of police monitoring and surveillance activities and the degree of specialization and complexity of its departments. It is not only the maintenance of public order that made the police so present in people’s everyday lives; rather, it was their interventions in the government of the social that brought ordinary citizens face to face with the police on a daily basis.1 By its very design, the police apparatus in Egypt is intrusive and represents a semi-​military body. The use of overt violence in police practices of government both heightened and complicated this intrusiveness. It should be noted that there are political factors that consolidated the police presence in society, notably the role it was assigned in stifling the Islamist opposition in the 1980s and 1990s. The security police and the criminal and investigative police operate out of police stations located at the neighbourhood level and in central offices in cities throughout the national territory. This local presence and associated activities of surveillance intensified during that period and directed much of the resources and energies of the police to the monitoring of youth suspected of belonging to Islamist groups. The public security and political objectives relating to the Islamist opposition are not the only factors to note. The expansion of security politics has also occurred in conjunction with the withdrawal of the state from welfare provisions and the promotion of neoliberal economic policies beginning in the 1980s and continuing more fully into the 1990s. An important development in this regard was the growth of the informal labour market and informal housing alongside the increased privatization of social services. This development also meant that spaces of social life were increasingly gaining relative autonomy from the state. For example, informal employment removed citizens from the clientelist networks of public sector jobs. In other words, larger segments of the population ceased to be clients of the state and were no longer bound by the social contract of earlier days whereby political quietism was exchanged for social goods. The social and economic autonomy represented grounds of challenge to the regime, which, in turn, it sought to contain through the expansion of security politics. In particular, police presence and interventions have expanded in the popular quarters of large cities. Ordinary citizens’ encounters with the police take place in outdoor markets, on roads and highways, in public transport, alleyways, and in their private dwellings. Very often, these encounters involve violence and humiliation. At the heart of police government of the social lie practices of surveillance and discipline of the body and the affect. I contend that the people’s rising during the revolution was directed at the terms of police government through the affect. In putting forward this

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  123 proposition, I highlight the role that physical punishment and verbal violence play in the disciplining of bodies and minds. In making this argument, I want to draw attention to practices of discipline falling outside the genealogical account provided in Foucault’s (1995) history of modern forms of discipline. Indeed, in his account, emphasis is put on the rationalization of disciplinary practices as manifested, notably, in the shift away from physical violence acted on the body to practices of normalization acted through the body. In her engagement with Foucault’s account, Begoña Aretxaga (2005) notes that Foucault does not address the question of what happens when rationalization falters and technologies of normalization are disrupted because the subject either rejects normalization or because power succumbs to the excess of its theatrical staging (p. 58). I want to take up Aretxaga’s question in my inquiry into police practices of government and the subject’s resistance. The orientation of the account I give below is that rather than a breakdown of rationalization, the use of physical punishment and verbal violence are elements of police government that operate through the manipulation of socially embodied emotions, in particular by modulating feelings of humiliation and citizens’ anxieties about becoming the subject of public spectacles of humiliation. In this respect, I draw attention to the affective associations of ordinary citizens’ encounters and relations with the police as constitutive elements of their subjectivities and as informing their modes of action. My analysis of the people’s rising up against the police looks into the structure of feelings that develops in interaction with the police and that has come to guide the acts of protest and resistance during the Tahrir Days and in their aftermath. My approach to the structure of feelings emerging in encounters with the police and guiding individuals’ interaction with them draws on theorizations of emotions as socialized embodied feelings that are marked by sociocultural norms and called forth in recurrent social experiences.2 Drawing on my fieldwork in Cairo’s new popular quarters—​conventionally referred to as informal quarters—​and in informal markets, I will sketch out the patterns of interaction with the police and the structure of feelings towards the government of the police that developed in the processes of interaction.3 In this structure of feelings (or affective register), a sense of humiliation and of being humiliated is deeply felt by ordinary Egyptians. The experience of being humiliated in encounters with the police underpins affective dispositions such as anger, disdain, and revulsion towards the police. Everyday Government of the Police In my fieldwork on everyday-​life politics in Cairo, I collected numerous narratives of ordinary people’s encounters with the agents of various police departments. The narratives revealed patterns of interaction and elucidated mechanisms of discipline and control deployed by the police. In this paper, I will draw on these narratives to sketch out key elements of people’s everyday encounters with the police. To begin, it is important to note that

124  Salwa Ismail different police departments carry out specialized monitoring and surveillance campaigns known as hamalāt. These pertain to the management and control of various activities and spaces of the urban setting. In this regard, there is an important spatial dimension to policing practices, with popular quarters being subject to the most intrusive and continuous campaigns. Outdoor markets are subject to Supply Police and municipality police campaigns. Supply Police were originally tasked with monitoring prices of food provisions at the time when prices were set by the Supply Ministry within the frame of “socialist” government in the 1960s. With economic liberalization, food prices became market-​driven, but a legal requirement to advertise the price remained. This requirement was used as a pretext for Supply Police raids on markets. However, Supply Police oversight extends to such matters as the conformity of subsidized bread to certain standards. Market campaigns are occasions of conflict and confrontation as well as spectacles and rituals of state power as embodied in the agencies of the police. In these campaigns, or “raids” as they are called by vendors, police control of livelihood in the form of seizing vending scales is one of the most contentious acts. Incidents of seizing poor vendors’ scales were narrated by my interviewees as evidence of the injustice of government that undermines poor people’s efforts to earn a living. As scales are the main equipment of earning a livelihood, vendors resist their seizure and, in the process, enter into confrontation with police officers that may result in verbal or physical intimidation or abuse (being shoved around or beaten up). These accounts follow the same narrative lines that could be gleaned from the events surrounding Muhammad Bouazizi’s self-​immolation in Tunisia in 2010. Bouazizi rejected the seizure of his goods, and being slapped by the municipality officer and was thus being humiliated in public. This kind of encounter has long been part of people’s daily experience in public space and has entered into the structuring of feelings towards government. A tale related to me by a young university student and vendor in Bulaq al-​Dakrur, a new, informal quarter in the greater Cairo region, exemplifies this daily experience.4 Briefly, the incident involved the seizure, by the police, of the vending scales of a young female vendor (perhaps 17 years of age) and her subsequent beating when she resisted. When recounting the incident, my narrator noted that as he witnessed the assault on the young woman, his immediate thoughts were to intervene. But he restrained himself, fearing a physical fight with a police officer in uniform, a fight that would land him in jail and possibly cost him his career. He also commented that the police action was likely to lead the young woman to become deviant (tanharif), meaning to become morally loose. I recall this narrative here to underscore two observations from the account: first, feelings of solidarity between citizens and constraints on expressing that solidarity and, second, people’s assessment of the effects of police power on the citizen. The first observation highlights the anger felt as well as the desire to take action on behalf of a fellow citizen in the face of what is seen as police

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  125 brutality. It also puts a focus on constraints on action in such circumstances. In my discussion of this case, I caution that we should not interpret the reticence of my narrator to intervene as indication of a submissive subjectivity. Indeed, when we read this narrative alongside other accounts of encounters with the police, it becomes clear that there are no a priori subjects of submission or rebellion. Rather, contingent factors enter into the subject’s formation and performance. For instance, it is reasonable to imagine that Bouazizi had goods seized from him before or that his fruit cart had been overturned on earlier occasions. I suggest that such experiences, and the structure of feelings that develop in and from them, enter into the making of an oppositional subject who may act alone or in concert with others at a given moment. I will come back to the question of the subject’s action and performance in my discussion below of the youth’s accounts of the police practice of ishtibah wa tahari (suspicion and investigation), which entails being stopped, questioned, and possibly detained for investigation. The other observation to draw from my narrator’s account is that of the assessment of the police as corrupting the citizen. By conducting themselves violently and unjustly, the police are seen as accomplices if not instigators in the corruption of society and the breakdown of morality. Further, government is seen as undermining people’s efforts to make a living. Indeed, this was poignantly underscored by another of my informants in Bulaq who said that “life was better before government came” in reference to the efforts by state agents to bring the area under their control. If, in the market episode of confrontation with police recounted above, the narrator appears as a submissive subject concerned with the consequences of intervening and fearful for his career and family, albeit angry and disdainful, in other episodes rebellious subjects can be seen forming and performing. One of the most telling of these was related to me by Ayman, a 27-​year-​old tile layer.5 I will dwell on Ayman’s story briefly. Like many young men in popular quarters, Ayman was the subject of the police practice of ishtibah wa tahari. The incident of his arrest began when a police patrol car passed in front of his house in one of the quarter’s alleyways. He happened to be standing in front of his house at the time and momentarily exchanged looks with a police officer in the car. The next day the same officer patrolled the alleyway and again looks where exchanged. Following that, the officer approached Ayman, asked for his identity card, and then he took him to the police station. At the station, he was charged with possession of drugs. When brought before the prosecutor two days later, Ayman denied the charge and countered that he was arrested because he dared look a police officer in the eye. Police falsification of drug charges has been a common procedure and is understood as a mechanism of control of young men. A former high–​ranking officer asserted that in the 1990s in Cairo alone, police fabricated about 57,000 drug-​possession cases on an annual basis (Ismail, 2006). Ayman’s reflex betrayed defiance, which positioned him as a subject suited for practices of discipline and punishment that aim to turn “rebellious” subjects into docile ones. Ayman ended

126  Salwa Ismail the account of his arrest with a commentary on the inevitability of the people rising up against such practices, though he added the qualification that such an uprising needs a leader of Salah al-​Din’s or Urabi’s stature (Ismail, 2006). In the accounts given by my informants, it is possible to get a sense of the structure of feelings towards the police that develops in the experience of ishtibah wa tahari. Young men spoke often of their feeling humiliated—​ihāna and mahana were the two emotion terms most often used. The feeling of being humiliated—​sensing an injurious attack on one’s self-​esteem and self-​ respect—​is incited by being beaten, pushed around, or insulted in public or in police stations and detention cells. The young men I worked with recounted their experiences with the police in terms that convey their feeling of a rupture or tear in their sense of self as a result of being subjected to demeaning and degrading treatment. One young man, reflecting on the experience, asserted “ana ibn balad wa dami hur wa ma’balsh al ihana” (I am a son of the country, my blood is free and I do not accept humiliation). This statement points to tensions between the sense of self articulated in the idiom of popular classes and the humiliated subject of police discipline. What crystallize from the narratives of young men are strong feelings of contempt, disdain, and disrespect towards the police. These feelings develop out of the familiarity with police modes of operation and out of a reflective engagement about their propriety in terms of social norms of interaction. As corruption became a feature of the activities of the police, their claims to be protecting citizens and maintaining public order became hollow. In an ad hoc group discussion I had with young men from Bulaq, many noted that the police used their campaigns to raise funds—​that is, to create a bribe situation. The youth questioned and ridiculed the transport and traffic police campaigns, saying that they were primarily designed to extort money on behalf of the government and for personal use, particularly to purchase mobile telephone credit. In the narratives of interaction between the police and the people, respect, as a social norm, arises as an important motif. The narratives underscore how the police undermined particular social norms of interaction and by doing so transformed everyday civilities. Police used forms of address considered demeaning and belittling when stopping citizens, in particular those from popular quarters and socially disadvantaged backgrounds. For example, taxi drivers recount that when stopped by police for verification of driving papers, the police officer usually addresses the driver as “boy” as in “fayn awra’ak ya wala” (where are your papers, boy). The violation of civilities relating to age in cases when the driver is older is particularly distressing. One driver told me that on one occasion, he objected to this derisive form of address and that speaking up led to a verbal altercation with the police officer that ended with him being taken to the police station and presented to the public prosecutor on charges of attacking a police officer. This type of exchange is typical and is recounted by drivers throughout Cairo. A citizen experiences these

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  127 encounters with police on the street, in the municipality, and various other spaces, and gains a cumulative understanding of their workings, coming to see the police as a vast network of aggressive overseers. The disrespect shown by police officers when interpellating subjects is intended to elicit obsequiousness in them. It is one of the modes of simulating haybat al-​dawla (the awe of state) that has been projected as a defining feature of the Egyptian state. Police monitoring extends to both intimate expressions of self and outward appearance as they classify subjects of innocence and suspicion. In interviews, youth noted that their clothes, posture, and personal grooming were all factors that projected them as subjects of suspicion (and possibly innocence). In discussions about their experience, they explained that being well dressed, having a scar on the face or hand, the type of haircut, or the length of the beard were all factors in their subjectivation by the police. The test of docile subjectivity could take place at road checks for drivers’ licenses or during night patrols. A gold jewellery manufacturer and merchant in Cairo’s al-​Moski market recounted how he felt compelled to shave his beard after he was arrested one evening by the police. Devout and Salafi-​ leaning in religious practice (that is, a self-​fashioned follower of the tradition of the prophet and his companions), hajj Ahmad grew a beard as an expression of his commitment to the Salafi way. He narrated how his experience of ishtibah wa tahari led him to alter his appearance so as to avoid being subject to the practice. He recalled that one evening on the way home following a delivery to a customer, he was stopped by the police and detained for a few days. During questioning and to fend off the charge of being an Islamist, he denied his religious commitment and feigned being a transgressor of religious injunctions to secure his release. When he was transferred from State Security Intelligence to the Investigative Police, he considered that he was reborn and shaved his beard. He reasoned that the outward signs of his religiosity were too costly as he had to worry about his work and his family. Hajj Ahmad assessed his reaction and that of others as manifesting weakness in the upholding of devotion and commitment. He said “our Islam is that of zalantahiyya (pretenders).” Hajj Ahmad’s experience and his assessment of the impact of police practices on his sense of self and his ability to be faithful to his religious convictions resonate with the account given by the young merchant in the market. The key issue for both, as it is for many citizens, is that police practices were undermining their personal dignity and self-​respect and hence their senses of self. It could be argued that they did not like how they were being governed. Foucault noted that the critique of the police project of government raised the issue of individual self-​government capacities as a necessary ingredient of government. This critique pressed for limitations on government by harnessing individual capacities of self-​government to state government. In the accounts of encounter, the subject’s reclaiming her capacity to govern herself in certain domains is clearly present.

128  Salwa Ismail The Backstreets of Tahrir: “The People Want to Bring Down the Police” An important feature of the Egyptian Revolution was the mobilization of large crowds and their congregation peacefully in public squares throughout the country. Marching in large numbers and forming the million-​man/​woman processions were spectacular acts of the revolution as experienced and seen in Tahrir. Yet other activities that were crucial to the success of the first phase of the revolution were given less visibility and prominence in reporting and writing about the revolution. These activities took place in popular quarters and targeted the police directly. While large numbers of protestors poured into Tahrir and other public squares, many residents of popular quarters took their grievances and defiance to police stations and detention centres. In the first few days of the revolution, 99 police stations were burned down and many detention cells were opened and detainees let out. The bulk of the police stations attacked were located in Cairo popular quarters such as Helwan, Imbaba, Bab al-​Shi’riyya, Bulaq al-​Dakrur, al-​Mattariyya, and al-​ Gammaliyya. The same pattern can also be noted for Alexandria and other cities where large mobilization took place. It is also important to underscore that in these clashes with the police, there were many fatalities among the protestors. According to local activists, a small number of the protestors killed during the days of Tahrir were in Tahrir. The majority were in popular quarters. Official reports depicted the attack on police stations as the work of baltagiyya (thugs and criminals). However, it is difficult to sustain this view if we take a closer look at the scale of the clashes and the level of popular participation. I will offer here an interpretative account of the action and put forward the proposition that the assault on the police, while motivated by popular anger against police practices in these areas, arises out of an existing repertoire of contentious action that had developed over the previous decade. This extends further back to incidents of extraordinary confrontations, such as the 1986 rebellion of the soldiers of central security, when the young conscripts rose up in protest over low pay and indenture-​ or slave-​ like employment conditions. This event marked the emergence of police stations as targets of rebellious action. In response, the government of the day turned key police stations in Cairo into virtual fortresses with blocked access roads and heavily armed security stationed all around (good examples are police stations in Ma’adi, Helwan, and Giza). Before the revolution, and aside from the 1986 events, the most notable attacks on police stations took place in small towns outside big cities. Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing throughout the 2000s, a number of towns saw mini-​uprisings in which local police stations were targets. These mini-​ uprisings were reactions to specific incidents of police violence where a detainee died because of torture, or when the police shot at demonstrations organized to protest living conditions, for example, the famous events of Hamoul, Mit Nima, and Belqas (Ismail, 2006). During these earlier events,

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  129 people surrounded police stations and set them on fire. They also set fire to armoured police cars and destroyed equipment. If we review the documentation of human rights organizations, we find that many of the police stations that were burned down during the revolution were known to have been places where violence and torture had been perpetrated against citizens. While the targeting of police stations had an element of a settling of accounts, its purpose was also to disarm the police so that the protests could continue.6 In some parts of Cairo, the confrontation with the police took the form of street wars or urban guerrilla warfare. Drawing on press coverage, uploaded videos, and interviews with protesters in Tahrir Square and Bulaq al-​Dakrur in March 2011, I will retrace a few of these battles to illustrate how they were integral and necessary to the revolution. The account of the battles serves to draw attention to the place of popular quarters in the geography of resistance, and to the spatial inscription of popular modes of activism. One of the battles took place in Old Cairo, in the area known as Fatimid Cairo and hence was dubbed in some press reports as “the battle of Fatimid Cairo” (“The battle of,” 2011). Fatimid Cairo comprises historical sites such as al-​Azhar mosque and old popular quarters such as Gammaliyya. It is also the home of Egypt’s largest popular market, namely al-​Moski. The earliest reported battle began on January 29, 2011, and lasted until morning of the next day. It unfolded in the main thoroughfares of Al-​Azhar Street and Port Said Street and ran into the alleyways of al-​Moski. At one end were the security forces and, on the other, stood the protestors. The stand-​ off ensued when the security forces tried to block demonstrators who had reached Bab al-​Shi’riyya quarter from al-​Nur mosque in Abassiyya quarter and were proceeding on Port Said Street. There the demonstrations stopped at al-​Banat Mosque Square in the heart of Gammaliyya when the police fired on demonstrators with rubber bullets and threw tear gas canisters. The youth ran into al-​Moski alleyways, and the merchants closed their shops as chases ensued. There is much in this account that recalls the repertoires of contentious action in previous historical periods—​for example, the space of the battle and the manoeuvres of the protestors (Burke, 1989, pp. 42–​56; Ismail, 2000; Raymond, 1968, pp. 104–​116). However, there are novel elements as well. As the protestors on al-​Banat Mosque Square were, being chased, other demonstrations came out of the historic mosques of al-​Azhar and al-​Hussein in the direction of the adjacent district of Ataba, on the way to Tahrir. At this point, the battle with the security forces broadened. The people surrounded the security forces between al-​Banat Mosque Square and Bab al-​Khalq Square and in front of the Cairo Security Headquarters and some set the back of the Security Headquarters building on fire. Taking into account the space of the battle and the places from which the crowds came, I suggest that the topography of Fatamid Cairo was one already marked by quotidian encounters with the police and by antagonistic relations between the residents and merchants, on the one hand, and the police, on the

130  Salwa Ismail other. These conflictual relations with the police—​having to do, for instance, with conduct and the use of space in market areas—​are compounded by the fact that the area attracts many tourists and, hence, is subject to added security surveillance. Throughout 2010, when I was conducting fieldwork in al-​Moski market and in the neighbourhood of Gammaliyya, there were police vans, roadblocks, and security checkpoints positioned throughout the area. Young workers in shops and workshops were regularly stopped by the police and asked to show their identity cards. On occasion they were taken to the police station. Merchants and workshop owners spent a part of their day trying to secure the release of a worker or relative.7 Commenting on constant police monitoring, one merchant told me: “Egypt is beating its children with shoes.” To explain this figurative expression, he added “You only understand this when you feel the hand coming down on the back of your neck.” The hand being referred to here is that of the police officer. In vernacular idiom al darb ‘ala al-​afa (beating on the back of the neck) symbolizes degradation and humiliation. Physical beating by police officers is not limited to this type of demeaning assault, but it stands for the experience of humiliation.8 Set against the background of relations between Gammaliyya residents and Moski merchants and vendors on one side, and the police on the other, the battle of Fatimid Cairo represents an extension of ongoing conflicts with the police relating to the area’s livelihood. This is not to argue that in each neighbourhood the grievances were simply local. Rather, my argument is that police government was experienced locally and was inflected with each quarter’s specificities. At the same time, there are shared experiences and common understandings at work in the popular quarters’ battles against the police. As noted earlier, the clashes with the police in popular quarters facilitated the movement of protestors and their ability to proceed to Tahrir and other central city squares. This was particularly true in the case of Bulaq Abu al-​ Ila. Processions from Ramsis’s Al-​Fath mosque situated north of Tahrir went through Bulaq Abu al-​Ila to avoid the heavy security presence on Ramsis Street, the main connecting road. The protestors marched on Shar’i Bulaq al-​ Jadid, where they were joined by local residents. During the chases while entering Tahrir or when engaging in clashes to force a retreat of the security forces from Tahrir, Bulaq Abu al-​Ila offered refuge and shelter and its residents blocked their streets in the face of advancing security officers. In later accounts, when Bulaq Abu al-​Ila inhabitants found themselves accused of sectarian assaults on the sit-​in in front of the Radio and Television Building at Maspero, they would remind everyone of their role in the Tahrir battle and of their historical record of patriotism dating back to the period of French colonial conquest of Egypt. As in Gammaliyya, on January 27, Abu al-​Ila residents engaged in street warfare with central security soldiers. In the early days of the revolution, they raised banners demanding social and economic rights and they also removed

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  131 the photos of New Democratic Party figures from the area. Then, the demands were harmonized with the slogans of Tahrir and became focused on the fall of the regime. When the central security forces attempted to enter the area with armoured vehicles, the protestors, who included many local residents, repelled them, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at them. Streets of Bulaq Abu al-​Ila, such as Shari’ Abu al-​Ila al-​Jadid, Na’im and Sabtiyya, became veritable war zones according to press reports. Bulaq Abu al-​Ila has a long history of antagonism and conflict with the police. Residents have been subject to much pressure to give up title to their homes to make way for multinational construction investment projects in the area. To speed up their dispossession, residents were denied permits to rebuild their homes or to repair them so as to prevent their collapse. The municipality ordered the demolition of some homes and the municipality police was in charge of the implementation of the orders that occasioned stand-​offs over the few preceding years. The translation of locally grounded antagonism into an engagement with national protest and revolutionary action, witnessed in Gammaliyya and Bulaq Abu al-​Ila, could also be observed in new popular quarters such as Bulaq al-​Dakrur. At the quarter level, the police station was stormed and set on fire. At the same time, quarter residents’ participation in the protests on January 25 was crucial to the mobilization on that day. Tellingly, the youth organizers of the Police Day protest sought support from the quarter and worked with its residents to organize a march from Bulaq to Tahrir. They identified a known meeting point on Nahya Street (the quarter’s main street) for the march and some of the youth leaders went there to help with the local organization and bring people out on that day. By all accounts, the march was successful, with some 1,500 people marching out of the quarter to Tahrir and, in the process, encouraging residents of other quarters to join (interview with one of the youth leaders, Cairo, February 2011). Bulaq residents’ presence on the first day, when the crowds were still relatively small, contributed needed experience in confrontations between protestors and police. Undoubtedly, it is this experience and the strength of opposition to the government of the police among the quarter’s residents that presented it as an ideal space of recruitment of protesters on National Police Day (January 25)—​what was to become the first day of the revolution. It is relevant here to recall that the residents’ everyday encounters with the police have occasioned varied practices ranging from evasion to outright defiance (Ismail, 2006). The youth, in particular, have occupied positions of opposition in their interaction with the police. This, in part, motivated some to join Islamist groups and others to form neighbourhood fraternities and fashion a strongly territorialized identity. The argument that I want to underscore here is that the infrastructures of mobilization and protest lay in the microprocesses of everyday life at the quarter level, in their forms of governance and in the structure of feelings that developed in relation to state government.

132  Salwa Ismail The People versus the Police: Enter the Baltagiyya Police practices of government have rested on the classification of the population into categories of subjects identified for various types of specialized policing. For example, certain police campaigns and practices of street control focus on “juvenile delinquents”, while others aim at “street children.” The policing of young men from popular quarters as a category of dangerous population finds its rationale in the construction and reinvention of the baltagi (plural baltagiyya) as a socially disruptive and potentially criminal subject. During the revolution and its aftermath, the question of baltaga (thuggery) and baltagiyya gained greater public prominence. It is relevant here to recall how baltaga was reinvented and became a vector of power and resistance involving the people and the police. Baltagiyya has long been used as a category to name a particular subject of police government (El-​Messiri, 1977; Ismail, 2006). Indeed, the epithet baltagi was attached to some Islamist activists in popular quarters—​perhaps most famously, Sheikh Gaber, the “emir” of Imbaba, who was arrested during a large police campaign in Imbaba in 1992. However, the construction of baltaga as a national security issue took shape as the Mubarak regime appeared to have contained the challenge of militant Islamist groups in the mid-​1990s. At that time, a public discourse on the social problem of thuggery gained prominence in the media and in official pronouncements. The articulation of the problem was associated with the expansion of informality in housing and in outdoor markets. The management of the populations of the seemingly unruly districts of the city was now being diagnosed as a social problem relating to a type of social deviance which required normalization interventions (Ismail, 2006). Sociological and criminological experts supplied a profile of the typical baltagi: “A thug, usually a young, unemployed, poor illiterate man. He lives in a shanty or slum area, but he usually works in the middle–​and upper-​ middle-​class districts where people need his services to replace the rule of law” (as cited in Tadros, 1999). Statistics were quoted to substantiate the extent of the problem. Thus in 1998, Zakariyya Azmi, the then-​general secretary of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), claimed that there were 130,000 baltagiyya in the Greater Cairo area. Meanwhile, the Centre for Sociological and Criminological Studies reported a total of 5,000 thuggery cases registered for Cairo and pointed out that 70% took place in popular areas of the city. In 1998, following the media campaign, the People’s Assembly passed Law 6, known as the baltaga law. Articles of Law 6 furnish the police with powers of arrest and detention of citizens suspected of undermining public order through displays of aggression or physical strength or through intimation of the intention of causing harm (Ismail, 2006). At the core of the legislation’s objectives is the body of the young man, which is identified as the object of discipline and punishment.

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  133 The official account of baltaga is highly contested, however. The questions of what baltaga is and who is a baltagi were given different responses by ordinary citizens and particularly those residing in popular quarters. As the named category of population from which thugs were said to issue, not only did they reject the stigmatization, but also they told a different tale. In Bulaq al-​Dakrur, baltagiyya was the name that the residents gave to police informants and to minivan drivers who ran neighbourhood minivan services, known as the carta system. In my interviews, stories about baltagiyya activities and transgressions against local communities cast the baltagiyya as police agents. It was common for my informants to speak of the drug dealers as being under police protection. One of my interviewees, a young man who belonged to an Islamist group (al-​Tabligh wa al Da’wa), recounted how he, along with other group members, chased away the drug dealers in his neighbourhood, only for them to make a comeback under police protection. In another case, when members of the community complained to the police about the threatening conduct of a resident who was a habitual drunkard and who harassed women on the street, they were told to take care of the problem themselves (Ismail, 2006). Police failure to respond when called upon by citizens was not interpreted as neglect of duty. Rather, it was understood as an element of their policy of deploying a vast network of watchers and informants who are given leeway with regard to their conduct and activities. Police would position informants in the local communities by providing them with vending kiosk licenses and by appointing them to the carta system. The management of the carta system has to do with the allocation of turns among drivers at a given service line. The carta appointee is in charge of settling disputes among drivers relating to turns and to waiting spaces. Police farm out the position to one of their informants and it is understood that he would, in discharging the job, have recourse to physical violence to settle disputes—​that is, act as a baltagi. The incorporation of thugs as an arm of the police went beyond the control of popular quarters to include the rigging of elections and the suppression of demonstrations. It is against this background that the entry of baltagiyya—​as a contentious descriptor and label for opposing actors in Tahrir Square and in subsequent episodes of violent conflicts with the police—​mobilizes an existing register of police–​citizen interaction. In the early days of the revolution, the police withdrew from the streets. While this may have been the result of being pushed out by the force of the demonstrations, it was also a strategic retreat to create a security vacuum and hence dampen support for the protests. At the same time that the police withdrew, it was charged that they let loose their informants—​baltagiyya—​on the demonstrators, most notably in what became known as the Battle of the Camel. In the 18 days of Tahrir, the protesters were represented as ordinary citizens led by the al-​thuwwar (revolutionaries). Tahrir radiated images of middle-​ class youth bravely

134  Salwa Ismail and peacefully defying tear gas, water cannons, and live bullets. Following Mubarak’s resignation and the ascendance of the State Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), these images gave way to the pitched battles of largely less well-​off youth on Mohammad Mahmoud Street and on Mansour Street in the vicinity of the Ministry of the Interior. The SCAF, the official media, and some independent media have been quick to cast these protestors as baltagiyya. Newspapers and TV programs have replenished the supply of baltagiyya stories. The narrative orientation of much of these stories is that the protestors are not revolutionaries, but are baltagiyya. It is precisely in these terms that one satellite television show concluded its reportage on an attack on the police head of the Bulaq al-​Dakrur station. In the reportage, a group of young men were paraded and then interviewed as the suspects held in connection with the attack.9 The parade was intended to reinforce the stereotype of poor, popular-​class residents as thugs and to convey to the viewers that these young men were typical of the youth now active on the streets. Another widely viewed talk show hosted police officers and army generals to discuss the violence on the street and to endorse tougher policing. Faced with this renewed stigmatization, activists from popular quarters have been at pains to counter the charges of thuggery. In Bulaq Abu al-​Ila, the members of the local popular committee met to discuss issues of land ownership and threats of eviction relating to state expropriation of vacant lots in the area and to a plan of further expropriation. As was the case prior to January 25, the speakers at the meeting asserted that they were not baltagiyya. One speaker said: “ihna mish baltagiyya, ihna nas muhtarama, ihna nas mutahadira” (We are not baltagiyya, we are respected people, we are civilized people). He then added: “Tomorrow when we march to the Egyptian television building in nearby Maspero, we should show them that we are the example of civilization, we will teach them civilization.”10 The subject is formed and performed in a dialogic field. In this instance, the subject is publicly enacting a civilized subjectivity—​meeting, discussing, and marching peacefully, and hoping to demonstrate exemplary civilization. This is one of the facets of the enactment of public selves reclaiming citizenship rights. In one of the chants, they shout, “They say we are baltagiyya, but we are the history of patriotism” (in allusion to Bulaq Abu al-​Ila’s history of engagement in popular resistance against French occupation forces). The residents also recalled their role in supporting the revolution when their area gave aid and succour to the revolutionaries. This assertion was made in response to charges that some of the attackers on the sit-​in and demonstrations by Coptic Egyptian protesters in front of the Radio and Television Building in the Maspero area came from the Bulaq Abu al-​Ila neighbourhood.11 In response, the Bulaq inhabitants went out to demonstrate and to assert that they were the foundation of the revolution and the protectors of its dignity.12 The articulation of claims of popular quarter identity with a role in protecting the revolution is undertaken in opposition to the stigmatization of

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  135 popular neighbourhoods in public discourse and government pronouncements. According to one local commentator, the attempt to delegitimize the protestors in the aftermath of the fall of Mubarak and his cronies is a strategy of turning the people against themselves. In other words, it is a continuation of the subterranean narrative about criminals and hidden hands deployed to create a moral panic situation and to rationalize the extension of the state of emergency.13 Affect in the Revolution against the Police I want to conclude by looking more closely at how the structure of feelings that develops in interaction with the police enters into the constitution of the oppositional subject of the revolution. I do so by focusing on how particular affective dispositions have been clearly manifested in the confrontation between the youth of the sports-​fan clubs known as Ultras and the police and the Ministry of the Interior. The Ultras, originally organized by the fans of football clubs to express their loyalty and support for their chosen teams, joined the protests in Tahrir in the early days of the revolution. Experienced in skirmishes with the police, the youth occupied the frontlines of defence against the security forces and provided organizational and technical skills to repel security advances. In the aftermath of Tahrir, the Ultras took to challenging the police in charge of security at the football stadiums. They also initiated protests nearby the Ministry of the Interior in connection with the arrests of some of their leaders. Throughout the first year of the revolution, they have been in the forefront of the street battles of central Cairo, particularly around the Ministry of the Interior. As noted earlier, humiliation and anger were structuring relations and interaction with the police. These feelings were experienced when the police called drivers “ya wala” (you boy) or when they insulted youth using sexually charged language in which their mothers’ honour was verbally and symbolically violated, or when the officer’s hand came down on the back of the neck, and when sexual violence was threatened or actually inflicted. The visibility and publicness of the humiliation put a brake on challenging the police as citizens sought to avoid and evade confrontations as much as possible. Also, as I have noted, it undermined their senses of self and, for popular-​ class youth, it undermined their constructs of masculinity. For these youths, the encounter with the police was experienced as a duel between opposing men and failure to respond incited feelings of rancour and anger towards the police (Ismail, 2006). How do we see these affective dispositions expressed today? The Ultras’ conflict and clashes with the police are a visible and explicit expression of emotions cultivated in a history of violent encounters. They enact scenarios of levelling that have been imagined and written following other conflictual encounters. The songs chanted by the Ultras at the stadium and on the street in front of the Ministry of the Interior capture the enactments of their

136  Salwa Ismail vindicated selfhood and dignity. Through these performances, the youth also enact their scorn and contempt of the police. The lyrics of the Ahly Club Ultras’ song “Ya Ghurab Ya M’ashish guwwa baytna” (O crow that is nested in our homes) are an anthem of levelling and rebellion.14 In these lyrics, the officers are depicted as failed high school pupils who join the police academy by paying bribes, then become pashas (an Ottoman title conferred on high-​ level servants of the ruler and officially abolished in the post-​1952 revolution period) who deprive people of their simple pleasures. It is worth noting that the defunct title of pasha was used by ordinary citizens to address police officers in order to convey their deference and docility. Serving notice to the officers that they reject this mode of subjectivation, the youth chant: “We will no longer conduct ourselves in line with your whim; spare us your sight.” The taunt is taken up in the song “mish nasyyin al-​Tahrir” (We have not forgotten Tahrir) by the White Knights Ultras fan group of the Zamalek Club.15 The lyrics of “mish nasyyin” affirm the presence of Tahrir in the youth’s imaginary, ridiculing the police by reminding them that they were given a beating that they have not had for years. In highly publicized standoffs, the Ultras have transformed the stadiums, and then the streets of central Cairo, into stages for the spectacles of ridicule and mockery of police officers. The insults and obscene words hurled at the officers acquire their potency from the social conventions and the situational dynamics of publicity and collective participation in front of large audiences. Ultras’ performances bring down the signs and symbols of superiority and dominance, humiliating and shaming the officers. The comments on the uploaded videos of the events convey the validation of the youth’s performances in masculinist terms. The Ultras are greeted as “rigala, gid’an, gamdin” (men, chivalrous, solid). The negative comments are also expressed in masculinist terms—​the Ultras as baltagiyya. The battles of Mohammed Mahmoud Street and of Mansour Street (notably those which took place in September and November 2011 and in early February 2012) saw the Ministry of the Interior and its officers engage in what can best be described as street wars. The youth protestors’ charge on the ministry has been depicted in official statements as an attack by baltagiyya on haybat al-​Dawla (the awe of state). In response, the youth protesting in front of the ministry chant “al-​Dakhliyya! Baltagiyya!” (The Interior Ministry is Baltagiyya!). These repeated skirmishes have culminated in a stalemate whereby the Interior Ministry wants to dismantle the Ultras and the Ultras want to bring down the Interior Ministry. In this standoff, the police’s failure to intervene in incidents of violence between the different football fan clubs during matches has been interpreted as an attempt to discipline the Ultras by withholding from them any right to protection from violence. Charges of negligence and complicity were levelled at the police following the assault, allegedly, by fans of al-​Masry team on al-​Ahly supporters at the end of a football match in the city of Port Said on February 1, 2012. The massacre of 74 Ahly fans during this attack introduced

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  137 new dimensions to the Ultras’ conflict with the police. The conflict has gone beyond skirmishes in the stadiums and on the streets. The Ahly Ultras and their supporters are now seeking retribution for the police’s conduct during the Port Said events.16 The fallen Ahly Ultras are viewed as victims of a police conspiracy as well as martyrs who were targeted and punished for the Ultras’ activism and support of the revolution. In addition to the sadness and sorrow felt for the lost lives of young fans whom the Ultras group members consider as close kin, there was also shock and anger arising from the sense that these lives were treated as expendable or as “cheap souls” in the words of one activist (interview with an Ultras activist, Cairo, May 1, 2012). Further, the conviction that the police were implicated in the massacre has crystallized the Ultras’ feelings of hatred toward them in a vendetta-​type relationship (tha’r—​meaning feud or vendetta—​is the term used by some of the activists to describe their relationship with the police following the massacre). In their pursuit of retribution, Ultras activists have organized street processions and held sit-​ins demanding “haq al-​shuhada” (the rights of the martyrs), calling for the removal of the minister of the interior, a purge of the ministry’s leadership, and the dissolution of the SCAF, and the transfer of political rule to civilian authorities. In this respect, the terms for al-​qasas al-​‘adil (just retribution) put forward by Ultras protestors point to the coalescence of their objectives around the continuation of the revolution and the achievement of its goals. The Ultras’ political subjectivity is formed in opposition to the police. In their oppositional subjectivity, they have much in common with fellow citizens who occupy antagonistic positions vis-​à-​vis the police. The Ultras, the residents of popular quarters, and the middle-​class youth coalesced as al-​ sha’b (the people) on January 25, 2011. Al sha’b, the collective subject of the revolution, was constituted in the coming together of social forces and individuals formed as oppositional subjects in interaction with the police. In the rap song of the revolution, entitled “Ana didd al-​hukuma” (I am against the Government), we can hear this subject explaining his oppositional subjectivity.17 It is this subjectivity that we should bring to light when we ask: Who are the Ultras? Who are the Islamists? They are not only collectivities organized with particular goals, they are also constituted of individuals who are the subjects of police practices of humiliation: the subjects stopped at checkpoints, addressed disrespectfully when asked to show an identity card or a driver’s license; those who resist at times and those who evade or simulate obedience at other times. They are all against the police government, and during the events of the revolution they enacted their oppositional subjectivity as expressed in the overarching slogan of Tahrir: “The people want to bring down the regime.” The course and outcome of the popular rising against the police will represent a key variable in determining the future of the revolution. Radical transformation in the forms and modalities of government is required. People do not like how they are being governed—​namely, according to the Egyptian

138  Salwa Ismail version of the police project of government. This does not mean that they want a liberal government or that they see institutions such as parliament as the appropriate frame of representation. So far, popular committees appear to be the chosen form for mobilizing and articulating demands and finding solutions to local problems. Further, the continued popular activism shows that protests, sit-​ins, and civil disobedience have become favoured forms of action. How all of this will fare with the middle-​class, political-​party-​oriented liberals and Islamists is another question to consider. Conclusion The revolution continues to unfold. One of its important facets is the people’s rising up against the police. This rising is inscribed in popular quarters’ spaces and repertoires of activism, which are territorially grounded and have evolved in the history of conflict and clashes with government. The popular support for the revolution was to a large extent motivated by antagonism toward the police, guided by the structure of feelings of humiliation, anger, disdain, and revulsion. Police practices of government, which had affect as their object, undermined the ordinary citizen’s sense of self and her moral personhood. It is in relation to the structure of feelings developed in interaction with the police and to the terms in which humiliation was inflicted on youth and felt by them that we can understand the ongoing contestations involving youth of popular-​class background. The activism of the Ultras, manifested in their cultural work, their performances in stadiums, and on the streets of central Cairo, offers us a glimpse into how youth resistance is directed against police practices of government through the affect. The language and enacted resistance appear inspired by some of the same practices that they are intended to oppose as with the use of obscene insults and sexually charged language to humiliate the police officers standing guard at the stadiums or deployed in front of the Ministry of the Interior. Undoubtedly, these performances—​akin to carnival—​effect symbolic levelling, which has the potential of rendering police practices of humiliation obsolete. The centrality of socially embodied emotions in this contest points to the need for our inquiry to consider how the collective enactments of emotions could serve to challenge institutions of government, and in the process, transform them. Notes 1 Some of the domains of police intervention in Egypt predate the establishment of the police department (dhabtiyya) in the nineteenth century under Mohammed Ali and its subsequent reorganization in line with two models of policing, namely the French and British. For example, the inspection of markets evolved as an element of “wilayya” (“guardianship-​ rule”) in the early Islamic period. Inspectors of markets and of public morality in Cairo were appointed by Fatimid and Mamluk

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  139 rulers. For a discussion of police domains of intervention and relations with the people in nineteenth-​century Egypt, see Fahmy (1999). Features of the police project of government could be discerned in the description of responsibilities falling under the Ministry of Interior established by Said Pasha in 1857. These included public health, public engineering, civil schools, the public printing house, and the works of the Suez Canal. For the reorganization of the police under British administration, see writings by British colonial administrators such as Coles Pasha. Police government of the social is grounded in the “reform” and “civilizational” projects of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. In the postcolonial period, police activities were harmonized with the “socialist” principles of the Nasserist regime. A genealogical study of the police as an apparatus of government in Egypt is yet to be undertaken. 2 I draw here on Leavitt’s (1996) analytical exposé of the terms in which we can reconcile theorizations of emotions as body-​anchored feelings and conceptions of emotions as meanings that are socially and culturally constructed. 3 I conducted fieldwork in a number of popular quarters in Cairo in a period that extends from 1999 to 2011. In the early part of this period, I worked primarily in Bulaq al-​Dakrur and less so in Imbaba and Manshiyyat Nasser. The most recent extended field research I undertook was between October 2009 and November 2010 and was carried out in the quarter of Gammaliyya and the al-​Moski market. This later research was funded by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of the UK (RES-​062-​23-​2283). 4 For a discussion of this type of encounter (Ismail, 2006, pp. 132–​133). 5 For a discussion of this narrative (Ismail, 2006). 6 At the same time, the people replaced the police by setting up the popular committees for security and protection of homes and public buildings. 7 During one of my visits to the area, while walking with a resident and a workshop worker, we were stopped three times by police. My male companions were asked for identity cards and questioned, while I was asked to open my handbag for inspection. The worker remarked that being stopped by the police for identification had become a routine experience. 8 It is in this connection that a renegade police officer who broke with the police service wrote a book entitled “alashan ma tidiribsh ‘al qafak” (“So that You Would Not Be Beaten on the Back of Your Neck”) (Afifi, n.d). 9 See the segment from the program Muntaha al-​Sarah, al-​Hayat TV at http://​ youtu.be/​pZSL​aHei​kb0. Accessed February 2, 2012. Note that the referred link is no longer available due to the removal of the YouTube account that uploaded the video. 10 See Maspero seminar, “Yes to Development, No to Displacement,” held by the Popular Committee in Bulaq Abu al-​Ila at http://​youtu.be/​XvO0​AyO4​ln0 Accessed February 3, 2012. Note that the referred link is no longer available due to the removal of the YouTube account that uploaded the video. 11 The incident known as ahdath Maspero (the events of Maspero) took place in early October 2011, when the military violently dispersed the protesters, killing 26 and injuring many more. 12 See interviews with Bulaq Abu aL-​Ila residents on Mahatat Misr TV at http://​ youtu.be/​FgpV​zaQg​oQE. Accessed February 3, 2012. Note that the referred link is no longer available due to the removal of the YouTube account that uploaded the video.

140  Salwa Ismail 13 The president of the SCAF, Field Marshall Mohamed Tantawi, declared the end of the state of emergency as of January 25, 2012. However, Tantawi also maintained that matters of baltaga are to be dealt with under emergency regulations. This amounts to keeping the emergency provisions in effect. 14 See the Ahly Ultras’ performance of this chant during a football match: [drshady elnady]. (2011, May 20). ‫[ التراس اهالوي للشرطه ياغراب ومعشش‬Video file]. Retrieved from www.yout​ube.com/​watch?v=​Z4-​kDd4s​qeE&ab_​chan​nel=​drshad​yeln​ady 15 See the Zamalek Ultras’ performance of the song during a football match in June 2011: [arabcash2011]. (2011, June 14) ‫[ مش ناسيين التحرير‬Video file]. Retrieved from www.yout​ube.com/​watch?app=​desk​top&v=​wJbZ​iBpp​BYQ 16 It is charged in eyewitness and news reports of the massacre that the police failed to secure the stadium, that they were lax in their inspections for weapons that fans may have brought in with them, and finally, that they stood by while fans of al-​ Masry descended on the field and then charged on the trapped al-​Alhy fans. 17 See http://​youtu.be/​S7n4​4IHS​B3w. Accessed February 15, 2011. Note that the referred link is no longer available due to the removal of the YouTube account that uploaded the video.

References Afifi, O. (n.d.). Alashan ma Tiddribsh ‘ala-Qafak (So that You Would Not Be Beaten on the Back of Your Neck). Cairo: Madbouli al-​Saghir. Aretxaga, B. (2005). Dirty Protest: Symbolic Overdetermination and Gender in Northern Ireland Ethnic Violence. In J. Zulaika (Ed.), States of Terror: Begoña Aretxaga’s Essays (pp. 57–​74). Reno: Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada. Burke, E. W. (1989). Towards a History of Urban Collective Action in the Middle East: Continuity and Change. In K. Brown, B. Hourcade, M. Jole, C. Liauzu, P. Sluglett, & S. Zubaida (Eds.), Etat, ville et mouvements sociaux au Maghreb et au Moyen-​Orient (pp. 42–​56). Paris: L’Harmattan. El-​Messiri, S. (1977). The Changing Role of the Futuwwa in the Social Structure of Cairo. In E. Gellner & J. Waterbury (Eds.), Patrons and Clients in Mediterranean Societies (pp. 239–​253). London: Duckworth. Fahmy, K. (1999). The Police and the People in Nineteenth-​Century Egypt. Die Welt des Islams, 39(3), 340–​377. doi:10.1163/​1570060991570613 Foucault, M. (1995). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (A. Sheridan, Trans. A. Sheridan Ed. 2. Vintage Books ed. ed.). New York: Vintage Books. Foucault, M. (2007a). 29 March 1978 (G. Burchell, Trans.). In M. Senellart (Ed.), Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–​1978 (pp. 311–​332). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Foucault, M. (2007b). 5 April 1978 (G. Burchell, Trans.). In M. Senellart (Ed.), Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collège de France, 1977–​1978 (pp. 333–​361). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Ismail, S. (2000). The Popular Movement Dimensions of Contemporary Militant Islamism: Socio-​Spatial Determinants in the Cairo Urban Setting. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 42(2), 363–​393. doi:10.1017/​S0010417500002504 Ismail, S. (2006). Political Life in Cairo’s New Quarters: Encountering the Everyday State. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

The Egyptian Revolution against the Police  141 Leavitt, J. (1996). Meaning and Feeling in the Anthropology of Emotions. American Ethnologist, 23(3), 514–​539. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/​sta​ble/​646​350 Raymond, A. (1968). Quartiers et Mouvement Populaire aux Caire au XVIIIème siècle. In P. M. Holt (Ed.), Political and Social Change in Modern Egypt: Historical Studies from the Ottoman Conquest to the United Arab Republic (pp. 104–​116). London: Oxford University Press. Tadros, M. (1999). A Question of Security. Al Ahram Weekly, 448(September), 23–​29. The Battle of Fatimid Cairo. (2011, January, 30), Al-​Masry Al-​Youm.

8 “(Re)creating a New Gezi” The Affective Politics of Saying No to the Presidential System in the Aftermath of Popular Uprisings Derya Özkaya On the eve of the 2017 constitutional referendum which paved the way for the change of the political system from a parliamentarian to a presidential system in Turkey, the political situation in Istanbul was tense and volatile. Haunted by traumatic memories of political violence across the country, oppositional movements had refrained from organizing public assemblies out of concern for the safety of participants. As a result, the months before the referendum were filled with silence and fear. Aiming to dispel this fearful atmosphere, the Kadıköy Hayır Meclisi (Kadıköy No-​Assembly) published an open call for their first public meeting on January 29, which I joined as a participant observer. They were a local alliance in Istanbul campaigning against the proposed change by the government for a presidential system. The meeting hall brimmed with the excitement and anxiety shared by hundreds of people of all ages and genders who sat in seats and on stairs or stood shoulder to shoulder in every open spot, many smiling and looking around with open curiosity. The first speaker, a middle-​aged woman, introduced herself as “a woman who went into the streets during the Gezi [uprisings] and did not return home” (personal observation in Kadıköy, Istanbul, January 29, 2017). The audience erupted in applause. Following the opening speech, participants took the floor and shared their ideas about the referendum campaign. Almost every speaker used the first-​person plural to describe the Gezi uprisings of 2013: “We should organize a campaign with the Gezi spirit, inclusive and humorous, and we should refrain from using violent discourses”, and “We came together with many people from various backgrounds at Gezi and we learned how to stand side by side there” (personal observation in Kadıköy, Istanbul, January 29, 2017). A collective we, constituted during the Gezi uprisings and now reconstituting the fragmented political community in Turkey, was the leitmotif of the meeting. But who, exactly, was this we the participants referred to? In her book Living a Feminist Life, Sarah Ahmed writes that “to build feminist dwellings, we need to dismantle what has already been assembled; we need to ask what it is we are against, what it is we are for”, and she claims that “this we is not a foundation but what we are working toward.” (Ahmed, 2017, p. 2). DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-11

The Affective Politics of Saying No  143 Taking Ahmed’s inquiry into a feminist we as a cue to elaborate the opportunities and limitations of acting in alliance and building solidarity through collective action, this chapter focuses on attempts from dissenting groups in Turkey to recreate a we through the No-​Campaign for the 2017 constitutional referendum. Drawing on multi-​sited ethnographic research conducted in two districts of Istanbul—​Kadıköy and Maltepe—​and in the central Anatolian city of Eskişehir between January and August 2017,1 I will explore the ways in which these alliances contributed to envisioning a new kind of political opposition motivated by a collective sense of togetherness. This sense of togetherness was centred around the specific dynamic of acting in alliance against the authoritarian neoliberal regime of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, AKP). I will elaborate whether and how an understanding of coalition politics within a highly polarized political context can open up new avenues for sustained political action. I will also critically explore which affective dynamics are at work in the formation of political alliances and how these affects function to evoke and enact collective political action. This exploration will enable a better understanding of political transformation in the aftermath of the nationwide mass mobilization in 2013, and it will question both the longevity of and the desire for the recreation of Midān Moments (Ayata & Harders, 2018 and 2019). To answer these questions, I will first explore the multi-​layered affective dynamics of the No-​ Campaign by drawing on first-​ person accounts of participants in various alliances. After providing a general overview of the prevalent “affective atmosphere” (Anderson, 2009; Brennan, 2004) of the political opposition prior to the campaign, I will explain how these alliances changed the atmosphere of collective aspiration in the context of the Gezi uprisings. I will then discuss the limits of the we by identifying those who were excluded or distanced from it. Finally, I will query whether and how it is possible to create a sustained and effective multi-​platform politics without being restricted to the limited we and I will discuss both the possibilities and the challenges of alliance-​based political organization for oppo­ sitional politics in Turkey. Based on an analysis of in-​depth interviews with political activists who took part in both the 2013 Gezi uprisings and the No-​Campaign of 2017, as well as participant observation conducted in the post-​Gezi political landscape,2 I propose that the alliances which were established for the campaign revived the affective intensities felt and shared during the Gezi uprisings. These affective intensities were regenerated by the volunteers and supporters of the campaign through collective practices of self-​ organized citizen initiatives. No-​Assemblies and similar alliances which were established for the campaign were captured by and remobilized the affective archive of the uprisings. These groups built large coalitions of individuals and political organizations, and they adopted a language of unity in diversity, togetherness, and plurality. Those who had democratic concerns about the existing system and who shared the collective desire to change their present and future

144  Derya Özkaya convened in these assemblies to create a we. Besides their strategic aims to stop the transition to a presidential system and to disrupt President Erdoğan’s one-​man rule, they generated new ties of belonging, support, and a sense of mutual empowerment. Often motivated by the urge to unite the fragmented components of political dissent persisting under increasing authoritarianism, they thereby reproduced hope and a desire for political change. Independent of their political demands, disparate fragments of society who shared a love of their country, hope for a better future, a desire for change, and a collective sense of belonging and trust built affective communities. They also cultivated solidarity and reproduced hope through collective action, even under the increasingly oppressive state of emergency rule. These concerted efforts to build solidarity through collective political action unleashed a revival of street politics and mobilization. In that process, participants prioritized their key commonalities for the present moment in order to stand side by side for a possible electoral victory against the ruling AKP government. However, the affective ties which bound together the we of these gatherings did not always evoke affinity. On the contrary, they contributed to the reproduction of pre-​ existing challenges to collective political action. While the Gezi uprisings’ transformative political potential which had emerged through their pluralistic, inclusionary discourses and practices endured as affective references for the campaigners, political cleavages which had been suspended for the sake of protecting these extraordinary moments of resistance also remained, as I will show below. Thus, I argue that the No Assemblies of the referendum campaign engaged in a “politics of postponement” (Özkaya, 2020) by circumventing all those foundational socio-​ political conflicts among their participants and supporters that had been already postponed by the affective alliances of the Gezi uprising (see Chapter 5 in this volume). Just as these foundational cleavages had limited the possibility of creating sustainable alliances during the Gezi uprisings, they once again circumscribed possible alliances in the No-​Campaign three years later. I will provide an affective reading of the narratives and practices of the campaign and delineate both the affective resonances and dissonances of the Gezi uprisings, which I characterize as extraordinary experiences of collective action travelling across time and space as Ayata and Harders (2018; 2019) suggest. As my interlocutors’ narratives demonstrate, this travel across time and space not only transports the political potentials of Midān Moments, but also their ambivalences, ambiguities, and contradictions. These ambivalences (re) produce affective attachments and detachments among various social and political actors. (Re)constructing a We in a Climate of Fear and Repression The two-​year period immediately following the Gezi uprisings, from the summer of 2013 to the general election in June 2015, was a watershed moment for political dissent in Turkey. New formations of resistance and

The Affective Politics of Saying No  145 large numbers of new activists joined traditional political organizations, including public park forums, neighbourhood assemblies, urban movements, ecological resistance groups, cooperatives, and many more. This increase in alternative formations in the post-​Gezi political opposition appeared as a new political trajectory for dissent, thus allowing established organized groups and non-​aligned individuals to find or (re)create their political paths. While many political actors and organizations developed new collective strategies of resistance, some groups also created temporary alliances based on urgent issues of the time. This vibrant political opposition, however, was soon interrupted by a series of political developments bringing profound change to Turkish society and politics. In the national elections of June 2015, the recently established pro-​Kurdish Halkların Demokratik Partisi (Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP) achieved a historic victory by crossing the 10 per cent threshold, allowing them to enter parliament. Their success led to the AKP losing its absolute majority, which it had held since 2002. This not only led the president to order snap elections in November 2015 but also resulted in the unleashing of brutal state violence against the Kurdish-​populated provinces which shook up society and politics in Turkey. In July 2015, in a rapid change of course, the AKP government first ended the peace process with the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (Kurdistan Workers’ Party, PKK) which it had launched in 2013. This was followed by round-​the-​ clock curfews and military operations for Kurdish, thus severely curtailing everyday life for Kurdish citizens and resulting in the displacement of nearly half a million people. Moreover, the government imprisoned many democratically elected mayors and parliamentary members of the HDP and appointed trustees to municipalities in an attempt to erase Kurdish political representation from democratic politics. Under these warlike conditions, domestic politics were gradually dominated by extreme nationalist discourses and resulted in the AKP regaining its absolute majority in the November 2015 snap elections. While Kurdish citizens and their representatives struggled under warlike conditions, the rest of the country witnessed a series of deadly suicide attacks carried out by the Islamic State (ISIS) during demonstrations and in city centres. The violence of these attacks and the fear they generated triggered traumatic memories and paralysed political dissent around the country. While these bombings created a desperate and fearful atmosphere, almost bringing protest movements across the country to a halt, the political opposition in Turkey took a major turn after the attempted military coup in July 2016. The government held the supporters of the cleric Fethullah Gülen responsible for the coup, but President Erdoğan saw an opportunity in this political turmoil to criminalize the opposition and to drive them out of politics through severe campaigns of repression. Following the attempted coup, Turkey entered into a period of rule by emergency decree which was extended in three-​month intervals until July 2018. In the aftermath of the

146  Derya Özkaya coup attempt, the AKP’s authoritarian policies became more manifest, with extraordinary security measures enacted through extreme police violence and widespread protest bans across the country. The post-​coup crackdown continued with the mass detention or imprisonment of dissidents (including parliamentary members of the pro-​Kurdish HDP), several bans on public gatherings, and the forced closure of civil society organizations such as newspapers and media channels. Over the course of only three years, a heightened regime of repression and authoritarianism nearly shuttered the political opposition and protest movements.3 In such a violent and oppressive political atmosphere, the opposition movement succumbed to anger, frustration, and despair. Having lost their capacity for collective action, opposition movements could neither press for alternative political discourses nor advance remobilizing practices to this “climate of fear” as my interlocutors described it during our conversations. Yet nevertheless, although the Turkish state had sought to crack down on any kind of opposition from all segments of society, small protests against oppressive state policies continued as one-​off, spontaneous events. Political actors and organizations were no longer able to galvanize and unite the opposition; political dissent had been fractured and fragmented once again.4 Under these circumstances, President Erdoğan declared a constitutional referendum on a set of amendments which would expand and constitutionally enshrine his executive powers. The approval of these amendments would lead to the transformation of the parliamentary system into an executive presidency. Thus, the four months between the declaration of the referendum in January to the actual vote on April 16, 2017 appeared to be the most critical political period in Turkey’s rapid transformation into an authoritarian regime. The political field was dominated by the regime’s intensified polarization of “yes” and “no” voters. The possibility of such a change in the political system was galvanizing, and different segments of the political opposition coalesced around a single idea: to say “no” to the change in political system and the presidency of Erdoğan. As an immediate response to the pending constitutional referendum, the parliamentary opposition parties—​ the Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (Republican People’s Party, CHP), the HDP, and the newly established nationalist İyi Parti (Good Party)—​along with the extra-​ parliamentary leftist parties and organizations, trade unions, and associations joined forces to create the broadest possible coalition of “no” voters. These traditional political organizations were joined by activists from urban and ecological struggles, feminists, LGBTQI+​organizations, university students, the organizers and regular participants of Gezi park forums, members of the neighbourhood assemblies, and post-​Gezi local urban initiatives. In Istanbul, the No Assemblies were first established in the Kadıköy district but soon spread to districts across the city, becoming the most popular and active alliances during the referendum campaign. Similar alliances worked in cooperation with the No Assemblies under various names at different locales. For instance, in Istanbul’s Maltepe district, the Maltepe Forum that was established in the wake of the Gezi uprisings and

The Affective Politics of Saying No  147 has worked as a prominent political actor since then, took the initiative for the local No-​Campaign and brought many local actors and political organizations together in collective action. In Eskişehir, almost all the political actors who called for a “no” vote formed an alliance under the name of Eskişehir No Platform, with labour organizations, opposition parties, extra-​ parliamentary leftist organizations, youth movements, and many local associations and NGOs organizing public events and demonstrations. Other initiatives, including Hayırdan Sonra (After No) and Hayır ve Ötesi (No and Beyond), focused on voting and ballot box security, mobilizing thousands of volunteers to work as polling clerks and observers during the election. These organizations brought together political activists of all ages and genders from a range of socio-​economic backgrounds. Both the multiplicity of their political practices and the heterogeneity of their participants made the No Assemblies a collective body. Engaging in creative protest and performative interventions in public spaces, activists reproduced the carnivalesque feelings of the Gezi uprisings in their own local contexts. They did this by (re)appropriating visual as well as audio mediums for their collective action, decorating the streets, public parks, and squares with colourful flags and balloons, playing music, dancing in public spaces, and turning the campaign into spaces of euphoria and laughter. These creative practices aimed to demonstrate that the whole country could turn into a space of festivity in the event of a victory of the “no” vote while proposing alternative and joyful modes of coexistence. Employing a multiplicity of forms of collective political action and by reaching out to a broader audience through creative protests and performative interventions in public spaces, the campaigners not only cultivated hope for the possibility of change but also demonstrated self-​confidence in practising political dissent. The intense affective dynamics of these “coalition moments” (Berriane & Duboc, 2019)—​enthusiasm, belonging, pleasure, trust, and so on—​revitalized the political opposition after a relatively long period of retreat from street politics due to the increasing political violence and repression. (Re)claiming Democracy by (Re)gaining the Streets The first organizing meetings of the No Assemblies began with a few regular participants of the already existing local initiatives and political party representatives. They were gradually joined by other volunteers as news of the assemblies reached large numbers of people in other districts. From the beginning of January, the only item on the meeting agenda was the upcoming referendum, and attendants discussed extensively how to support the No-​Campaign. In almost all the meetings I attended both in Istanbul and Eskişehir, the activists referred to the campaign as “a matter of life and death”, emphasizing both that the upcoming referendum might be the last chance to safeguard the possibility for oppositional politics. This impending existential threat to democracy and freedom was a primary motivation for acting together and the particular aims of different activist groups were

148  Derya Özkaya moved into the background as diverse constituents coalesced around this larger goal. Fahriye, a member of the Kadıköy No-​Assembly and Kadıköy Kent Dayanışması (Kadıköy Urban Solidarity),5 summarized this process as follows: Especially in the last two years, since the June elections, things have changed a lot. And since the coup, another layer has been added to it. Now, we are together; we are all thinking that “no” campaign supersedes everything. These are different moments … I mean okay, we are not losing sight of our issue and our movements. But there is something else that’s bigger now. This is now our life and death, you know, we see it like that. If a “yes” vote comes along, all these environmental movements will be affected as well. That might bring the end of us, too. So now our priority has shifted. (Emphasis is mine. Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, February 28, 2017) The possible victory of the “yes” votes and the threat this posed to all dissent under the authoritarian regime pushed the various segments of the political opposition to act together for mutual survival. For this reason, the issue-​ based local and national initiatives shifted their priorities from their existing agendas to the upcoming referendum; this defined the alliance-​ building political strategy of the dissenting movement. Accordingly, each group laid out how their core issue would be impacted by a potential presidential regime and contributed to the campaign with their own practices and narratives. For instance, while Yoğurtçu Kadın Forumu (Yoğurtçu Women’s Forum)6 highlighted the government’s increasingly conservative discourses and oppressive policies targeting women, urban alliances like the Kadıköy Urban Solidarity and Validebağ Savunması (Validebağ Defense)7 focused on the environmental and ecological destruction which the existing regime had caused. This multivocality in the Kadıköy No-​Assembly enriched the practices and narratives of the campaign. Despite the tensions and controversies among the members of these alliances, which I will discuss later in this chapter, the No-​ Campaign mobilized large numbers of people. It did this by collectivizing and politicizing hope on the one hand, and joining it with the desire for change on the other. Coalescing around the shared demand of saying “no” to Erdoğan’s presidency, the pervasive affective atmosphere of the pre-​referendum period was characterized by a hope for change. This change, the assemblies hoped, would come about through the revitalization of street politics. This was repeatedly articulated by people like Selvi, who had been an activist in the feminist movement for the last two decades: Now, the only thing that gives us energy and hope is the No Assemblies or the forums established in various places. It is the existence of these

The Affective Politics of Saying No  149 different pursuits … We should not lie six feet under like we are dead even before we are dead. These are all small pieces of hope. (Interview conducted in Maltepe, Istanbul, March 19, 2017) These “small pieces of hope” were cultivated by a group of highly motivated, energetic, and stubborn volunteers through a variety of political practices which I observed during my fieldwork.8 Campaigners, charged by their hope for change, took to the streets to reach more supporters and spent long hours in organizing meetings. Yet the campaign did not always go smoothly. Participants faced detention, intimidation, and violence from the police and pro-​government crowds. By February of that year, there had been 60 attacks and 900 detentions. These attacks, some of which culminated in murder, continued on the day of the referendum itself. Yet the politics of fear and repression did not succeed in suppressing the mobilization around the campaign. The campaigners insisted on the necessity of “abolishing the threshold of fear”9 and did not retreat despite the threats. Merve, one of the most active volunteers in the Caferağa Dayanışması (Caferağa Neighborhood Solidarity) and Mahalle Evi (Neighbourhood House),10 had worked hard for the campaign since its inception and had become a leading figure of the Kadıköy No-​Assembly. During our interview, which was held two months after the referendum, she noted that she had been distributing brochures in the streets and attending solidarity nights for the referendum despite coming down with pneumonia, which she called a “state of unconsciousness”. To explain her motivation, she said: I had to be there because it was the last chance. There had to be more of us and we needed to be more united. There was a possibility of attacks by the campaigners of the “yes” votes and I should not have left my friends alone; we had to face it together. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, July 5, 2017) What urged Merve to be actively involved in the streets despite her illness—​ what made her act in a “state of unconsciousness”—​besides a sense of poli­ tical responsibility, was the sense of belonging to a collective and the desire to act and resist together. As she expressed intensely, her physical presence in collective political action and her face-​to-​face encounters with others reclaiming their rights in public space imbued these political actors with strength and motivated them to act collectively. Merve was not alone in insisting to join this togetherness. When I asked other campaigners about their motivation for participating, most of them reiterated the necessity of acting together and being passionate about the possibility of change. It was generally accepted that the campaign was distinct from previous electoral processes. It was also an opportunity to build the political opposition’s future, as Mehmet, a self-​defined socialist and one of the volunteers in Maltepe, expressed:

150  Derya Özkaya Society has an increased awareness now. So those who are disturbed by the existing system can create a common line of struggle. The issue is whether this common line can also create a centre of resistance against possible problems and conflicts which will arise in the future? Thus, there is only one way to implement this process; it is to act together. As I said, the “no” campaign may not respond to it, but it may be instrumental in the pre­ paration of its infrastructure. We definitely have differences, but I think we can bring together what we have in common and solve our problems. (Emphasis is mine. Interview conducted in Maltepe, Istanbul, February 24, 2017) Like Mehmet, many of my interviewees saw the alliances which formed around the No-​Campaign, with their shared demands and public outcry against the change in political system, as an opportunity to revive the poli­ tical opposition and to rebuild collective resistance. The only possible way to achieve this was to focus on commonalities rather than differences and to act together in alliances. They often gave examples of collective experiences during the Gezi uprisings to support the urgency of acting together. Thus, the unique form of togetherness experienced by the diverse participants in the occupations and mass mobilizations of 2013 has lingered on the political horizons of the dissenting movements. As a result, they remained a politi­ cal and affective reference for those seeking to challenge the status quo in Turkey, as I will discuss in the following section. Recalling Gezi in the No-​Campaign The campaign of 2017 was often associated with the carnivalesque atmosphere of Gezi as it created similar encounters between disparate actors with diverse economic, social, and political backgrounds and exemplified the transformative potential of collective action. From the campaign’s first organi­zing meetings to the post-​referendum protests, the practices and narratives reproduced by the activists overwhelmingly referenced the affective atmosphere of the Gezi uprisings as well as its defining, urgent need to resist together. Recalling the Gezi uprisings, the campaign became an important resource for anti-​government protests and altered both the affective atmosphere of Turkey’s political opposition and the possibilities for disrupting the expanding hegemony of the ruling regime. Filled with the excitement of collective action, pride in regaining the streets, and hope for political transformation through organized struggle, the campaign unleashed a collective effort to (re)create the affective alliances of the Gezi uprisings (see Chapter 5 in this volume). A self-​identified feminist woman who spoke in one of the meetings as a representative of a newly established initiative called Hayır Diyen Kadınlar (Women Saying No) articulated this urge in the closing moments of her speech: “We rebelled and said ‘no’ at Gezi. We showed how strong we are when we say no!” A prominent woman urban activist reiterated the same

The Affective Politics of Saying No  151 narrative: “We achieved a coming together before. We did this at Gezi, and we can do this again” (Emphasis is mine. Personal observation, Kadıköy, Istanbul, January 29, 2017). My interviewees, too, used first-​person-​plural statements when they spoke of the Gezi uprisings and their strong desire to “come together”. The collective desire for unity also fuelled the motivation to expand this togetherness and defined the main narratives of the campaign, as Deniz, a member of the youth branch of the Republican People’s Party in Eskişehir, explained: Those who are involved in the No Platform are the same people who were at Gezi. Political togetherness in Turkey has gained strength since then. It felt as though we could achieve our goals if we come together and struggle together, and then it continued. During the referendum, different segments of Turkey have come together. Social democrats, nationalists, socialists, Kurds, and Alevis were there. There were also Islamists who thought that the proposed constitution would not suit this country. So, when you look back, there were similar people at Gezi. Also, in the referendum, many nationalist people said that “I will vote ‘no’!” The HDP said “no”! Under normal conditions, you cannot bring these two poli­ tical groups together but they did come together. They both conducted different campaigns on why people should vote “no”. Many women with headscarves said, “I will vote ‘no’.” These [interactions] united society as well. This was Gezi indeed. The referendum of 2017 was the political reappearance of Gezi. (Emphasis is mine. Interview conducted in Eskişehir, July 15, 2017) For those who took part in or supported the campaign, the act of coming together, being visible again in public space, acting in concert, and producing hope through collective action—​all while living under a declared state of emergency—​were deeply reminiscent of the Gezi uprisings themselves. “Gezi gibi” (“Like Gezi”) has become a common frame used to underscore the plurality and togetherness of the uprisings. As I observed during my fieldwork, “recreating a new Gezi” was the campaigners’ strongest desire. Asked about the main legacies of the Gezi uprisings, many of my interlocutors spoke of suspending the contentious issues of the past, suspending divergent ideological stances, and suppressing dissonant affects of the present to preserve a collective sense of togetherness which I conceptualize as “politics of postponement” (Özkaya, 2020). Emir, a self-​ identified socialist, discusses this legacy in the context of the work he did for the campaign in Eskişehir: The No-​Campaign is completely Gezi. It is the continuum of Gezi. I mean, it is the form of struggle which was created at Gezi. The Eskişehir No Platform is acting like Gezi. What does it mean to “act like Gezi”? When we are working in the field, trying to reach people, distributing flyers,

152  Derya Özkaya making street propaganda, etc., we are acting with the same spirit of solidarity as in Gezi. Everybody does whatever he or she can do. It creates great solidarity. And everybody keeps their ideologies in the background and stays focused on the main target. There is a spirit in the field which is similar to the Gezi spirit. (Emphasis is mine. Interview conducted in Eskişehir July 14, 2017) The Gezi protestors pursued a strategy of focusing on the main target by keeping one’s own ideology in the background to protect the diverse composition of the uprisings for a particular period of time. However, ideological differences did not simply evaporate; the expression of these differences was merely suspended to maintain unity in the protests. While those who campaigned for a “no” vote attempted to unite around the shared expectation of stopping the transition to presidential system, ideological differences which also shaped their emotional and affective motivations continued to be “sticky” (Ahmed, 2004) and reverberated among the participants and supporters of the campaign. But this “stickiness” was not only about the potential for togetherness and joy, the enthusiasm for collective action, and the shared hopes and desires for the possibility of change. It also entailed inner tensions, discomfort, resentment, and emotional detachment. Thus, the desired reproduction of a collectivity similar to Gezi had certain limits that I will show further below. Together, but How? In the social movements literature, alliances and coalition-​building processes are considered forms of political participation through which political concerns can be made visible. Conventional social movements scholarship presumes that coalitions bring together discrete groups whose interests align for pragmatic and/​or instrumental reasons and that they focus mainly on coalition formation, organizational structures, and goals (Clark, 2010; Meyer & Corrigall-​Brown, 2005; Van Dyke & McCammon, 2010). The emotional turn, which focuses on the productive and transformative potential of emotions in political organizing, offers valuable insights into the literature on social movements and contentious politics.11 However, the affective components of collective mobilization have been rather neglected. The question of how the affective landscape of the coalition-​building process and the affective states of participants influenced the formation of alliances beyond institutional and ideological interests still requires further elaboration. At this point, Deborah Gould’s critical analysis of the coalition between Queer to the Left—​a cross-​class and multi-​racial group of LGBTQI+​activists—​and a Christian community, the Jesus People USA (JPUSA), demonstrates that politics emerge through acknowledging, collectivizing, and mobilizing the constellation of different, and sometimes

The Affective Politics of Saying No  153 contradictory, affective states. Despite the religious, ethnic, sexual, and class-​based differences between these groups, Gould argues that the political horizons of political activists expand by coalescing across differences because “thinking with others with whom you disagree widens the space in which new ideas can emerge and be tried on for size, experiments can be undertaken, feelings can alter” (Gould, 2017). Asking how being in a coalition might change its participants, she claims that a “coalition can cultivate openness to the unknown and nourish the capacity to be surprised” (Gould, 2017). This, in turn, creates the pleasure of establishing a new collectivity as well as excitement for what both parties can become as the result of this encounter. In Turkey, organizers of the No-Campaign were motivated by their encounters in public space and the capacity for collective action. As a result, widespread feelings of political impossibility prior to the campaign were suddenly replaced by a belief in the possibility of political change. Such encounters, which often contained the potential to create moments of relationality, made people feel stronger and more unified. They built trust, nurtured confidence, and helped to foster a sense of belonging and solidarity under the constant cloud of state repression. By joining together in the affective and political communities which they had created, those who had been marginalized under the AKP’s authoritarian regime found their voice after a long and dispiriting silence. By linking collective feelings of political despair, dissatisfaction, frustration, and exhaustion to the possibility of and desire for change, these alliances became crucial resources for anti-​government protests and altered the affective landscape of Turkey’s political opposition. Although the shared concerns, expectations, and demands of constituents demonstrated their unity, joint action required lengthy and often contentious negotiation. As a participant in and close observer of these meetings, I often sensed an undercurrent resentment between the various local political actors. While they regularly repeated the need to create the broadest possible alliance among the supporters of the No-​Campaign and although they spoke in the name of a collective we, conflicts simmered just below the surface. Thus, the affective atmospheres of these meetings did not always generate harmony, solidarity, and compassion. They also brought forth anger, resentment, and antagonism. Eylem, a young local activist who had been politicized in the aftermath of Gezi and became a prominent figure in many local initiatives in the Kadıköy district, elucidated one of the conflictual issues in the formation of this new coalition: I went to the municipality and asked if we could use Caferağa Sports Hall for the meeting. They reserved it for us but two days later they cancelled. Then, I wanted Kadıköy Conjugal Home and they agreed. They cancelled it again two to three days before the meeting. Why? Because the CHP and the HDP were both supposed to attend, but some of the CHP deputies

154  Derya Özkaya objected to this and created a conflict within the party. They did not want to be seen with HDP members. We made a general call, saying “People voting ‘no’ are coming together!” but they thought running the campaign together would harm them … Meanwhile, I was visiting other political organizations and I went to the United June Movement, too. I invited them to join the campaign but they said that they had made a central decision and would organize their own campaign … So, they wanted to keep their distance from the campaign because they did not want to organize together with the HDP. But our alliance included everyone. (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, July 4, 2017) This background to the coalition-​ building process was not unique to Kadıköy, as the inclusion of the pro-​Kurdish HDP in the No Assemblies created heated debates which spread to other local coalition initiatives. Most of the time, one participant would try to mediate between opposing actors or groups by reiterating the need to act together. However, these interventions rarely worked. In the meetings I observed, the parties usually stuck to their positions. These debates sometimes resulted in the political withdrawal of some volunteers or in HDP members or other political groups distancing themselves from these alliances and organizing separate campaigns. This antagonism towards HDP members was not unique to this moment: A desire to remain distant from Kurdish politicians and pro-​ Kurdish political organizations builds on and reproduces deeply rooted historical and political contestations, and it has already shaped previous coalition-​building processes. However, during organizational meetings, few people questioned this contention, and those who tried to problematize the issue were accused of disrupting the general sense of togetherness. Instead of open discussions, this contentious issue was suppressed by means of resentment and anger. The accumulation of strong affects operating beneath the surface was not limited to the issue of Kurdish politicians. During my field visits to one of the neighbourhoods in the Maltepe district of Istanbul, I witnessed a different kind of political and emotional detachment. At one of our meetings in the neighbourhood association, Ahmet, one of the oldest residents of the neighbourhood, rhapsodized about the strong sense of togetherness and solidarity shared by the diverse constituents of the Gezi uprising. After sharing some euphoric moments and praising the LGBTQI+​movement for their visibility during the uprisings and beyond, Ahmet frankly named the limits of coalitionary politics in this small neighbourhood when we spoke about the events organized for the No-​Campaign: Under normal circumstances, it is impossible! What I am saying is that if an LGBT individual comes to our neighbourhood now, maybe we won’t attack him, but we all want him to leave. In the past, we used to do that, but we don’t do that anymore. But still, we won’t ask him to spend time

The Affective Politics of Saying No  155 with us. Why? Because we are worried about other residents’ reactions. Because who are we? We are men. We are doing politics, but it is masculine politics. Thus, this culture and climate didn’t change. (Interview conducted in Maltepe, Istanbul, February 24, 2017) The act of constituting others through encounters and working towards shared goals can close the distance between previously antithetical stances. This kind of mutual becoming can generate unexpected results but is not always easy. Through these encounters, as Judith Butler reminds us, “the bounded and living appearance of the body is the condition of being exposed to the other; exposed to solicitation, seduction, passion, and injury; exposed in ways that sustain us but also in ways that can destroy us” (Butler, 2015, p. 109). Thus, being exposed to the “other” and to forms of relational becoming in alliances do not always generate companionship. It can also be destructive. As Ahmet’s account above shows, encountering the unknown other can be fascinating but it may also reproduce old contestations. Even amid the inclusionary discourses and attempts to create broad alliances, particular subjects were seen as existential threats. When pre-​existing political divisions are reproduced, the togetherness and inclusivity which are so desired are often out of reach. The divergence between political organizations in such a coalition-​building process and the unwillingness to be seen or act together keeping a physical distance also deepened the emotional distance which had been fostered by the Turkish state for years. It was not the first time that political alliances were forged in Turkey’s opposition. Similar alliances had previously been strategically operationalized by either parliamentary political parties during electoral campaigns or by extra-​parliamentary leftist organizations around particular political issues. However, in the post-​Gezi political landscape, political organizing in the form of alliances—​from the local to the national level—​became more pro­ minent. These alliances included not only the political organizations and their representatives, members, and supporters but also individuals and groups without direct connections to these organizations (non-​aligned citizens). The unusual intensity and appeal of these alliances in recent years, however, is traceable to the affective composition of dissent itself, which had been fragmented, oppressed, and captured by the collective sense of powerlessness under the increasingly authoritarian AKP regime. The collective desire to elude Erdoğan’s power, the coalition’s indomitable hope for change, and its accumulated rage against an oppressive government compelled oppositional groups and individuals to align in common cause against the AKP government and President Erdoğan. As one of my interlocutors, Merve, emphasized, all the oppositional actors “need each other certainly”, so they “have to recognize each other and learn to act together” (Interview conducted in Kadıköy, Istanbul, July 5, 2017). Thus, during this period of heightened authoritarianism, these alliances of political organizations and non-​ aligned individuals were built more out of necessity than political

156  Derya Özkaya preference. However, as the interview excerpts above demonstrate, the possibility of recognizing and learning from each other was limited, especially considering the co-​presence of ethnically and sexually diverse participants in these alliances. Besides the forms of exclusion practised in these alliances, their over-​reliance on reaching out to all kinds of emancipatory actors to prevent the transition to presidential system also diverted attention away from many other socio-​economic problems which the opposition had been struggling with for decades. For instance, while it was impossible to conduct a referendum campaign in the Kurdish cities and towns due to the ongoing military operations and curfews at the time, the No-​Campaign reproduced affective attachments to the supposedly democratic politics of the ruling regime and thereby recreated exclusions in the name of participatory action. Thus, the campaign reaffirmed the legitimacy of the referendum instead of exposing its flawed democratic legitimacy and objecting to it. Both the composition of its participating groups and the restricted view of the political field deepened already existing cleavages and produced new exclusions by reinforcing a widespread unwillingness to problematize pre-​defined boundaries. Conclusion Despite the vigorous efforts of the dissenters, the 2017 constitutional referendum was won by the “yes” voters by a slim margin. It thus approved and constitutionally enshrined the de facto rule by emergency decree and replaced a parliamentary system with a presidential system. Erdoğan was elected to the presidency on June 24, 2018 and was invested ex officio with extraordinary powers like assembling his own cabinet, holding the office of commander-​in-​ chief, and controlling the judiciary without the approval of the parliament. The transformation from a parliamentary system to an executive presidency was complete. Following this system change, calls to form new alliances against the authoritarian regime were advanced by different elements of the opposition. A desire to stand together and combine the weakened forces of the scattered opposition characterized almost all anti-​government discourses. At times, these alliances were very successful: In March 2019, President Erdoğan’s AKP lost three major cities—​Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir—​in the local elections as a result of the political opposition joining forces to campaign for the CHP’s mayoral candidates. However, the joy over this electoral victory was short-​ lived due to the relentless political oppression targeting all expressions of oppositional politics. Moreover, this electoral alliance added another layer to the politics of postponement. By suspending any critique on the CHP and limiting political imagination to electoral politics only, the constituents and supporters of this alliance contented themselves with achieving an immediate and pressing goal. Such affectively charged periods of alliance-​building, as I have discussed throughout this chapter, contain both opportunities and limitations as they are

The Affective Politics of Saying No  157 characterized by momentary affective intensities for creating a collective we around a shared political demand. The affective investments of constituents and supporters of these alliances include rage against the government and the existing system, a sense of gratification and honour in practising resistance, the excitement of belonging to and trust in a community, and the investment in desire for change. All of these investments motivated a diverse set of political actors to undertake collective political action. Thus, these different forms of alliance empowered and politically moved participants and supporters by generating attachments in the service of resistance, mobilizing new affective ties of belonging and support, and reproducing a desire for collectivity, particularly under the increasingly authoritarian regime. Although working towards a collective we creates affective communities characterized by togetherness, and despite the strong desire for democratic change and freedom, these affective states themselves are not always oppositional, as I showed in this chapter. As Sara Ahmed (2004) aptly reminds us, the (trans)formative potentials of affect are embedded in different historical and political contexts, each building on and regenerating an archive of feelings and an accumulation of sensations referring to past impressions. All of these are bound to the ideological, political, and economic formations of collective action, which have been shaped by the state’s systematic exclusionary politics. Analysing the affective investments of the No Assemblies also revealed the risk of reducing politics to a narrative of unity and togetherness in the face of urgency to achieve the common goal. The strong desire for change in the current moment called upon the alleged unity of the Gezi uprisings to suspend ethnic, religious, gender, ideological, and class-​based boundaries in order to revitalize a collective sense of togetherness. Thus, while pre-​existing contentious issues were suspended in favour of standing together against a common threat, they remained active in the background, weighing on the possibility to take effective, unified political action. This is one of the main challenges to sustained political transformation: What is postponed or suppressed ultimately continues to accumulate underneath and reappear as challenges and limits of future collective action. Notes 1 This chapter is based on my dissertation research, which I carried out within the scope of the research project “Political Participation, Emotion and Affect in the Context of Socio-​Political Transformations” at the collaborative research center Affective Societies (SFB 1171) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG (German Research Foundation). 2 The empirical material used in this chapter is part of my dissertation research for which I conducted ethnographic fieldwork in the districts of Kadıköy and Maltepe in Istanbul and Eskisehir over the course of nine months in May–​June 2016 and January–​July 2017. I conducted a total of 53 in-​depth interviews with 60 interviewees from different political backgrounds who had participated in the Gezi

158  Derya Özkaya uprisings and were or are members of local alliances which had been established following the uprisings. During this period, I was also a participant observer at the weekly meetings of these local alliances, and I attended their public events, press conferences, demonstrations, and commemoration ceremonies of the Gezi uprisings in both cities. I am deeply grateful to my interview partners and all my interlocutors who generously shared their ideas, feelings, and time. In this chapter, I refer to my interview partners with pseudonyms to protect their anonymity. 3 For a detailed analysis of this period, see Küçük & Özselçuk (2018), Bargu (2018) and Özdemir & Özyürek (2019). 4 There is no systematic investigation of the number of political actors involved in collective political action during this time. However, the decrease in both poli­ tical actions and actors were frequently mentioned by my interlocutors, who were still trying to organize collective action in their locales despite being monitored by police and experiencing other difficulties. However, for a general idea of the restricted political field and a systematic analysis of the protest bans during the state of emergency rule in Turkey, see Arslanalp & Erkmen (2020a; 2020b). 5 In December 2013, neighbourhood assemblies established in Kadıköy following the Gezi uprisings came together under the name of Neighbourhoods against Urban Transformation, rallying around the principle of the right to the city. Since March 2014, this local urban initiative continues its activities under the name of Kadıköy Urban Solidarity (KKD). KKD works in collaboration with professional associations, trade unions, NGOs, academics, and civil organizations. Its main focus is to protect social and ecological benefits from rent-​based transformation of the city. All its activities are carried out by volunteers and the group is open to participation from anyone living in Kadıköy. 6 Following the occupation of Gezi Park and Taksim Square during the Gezi uprisings, the protesters gathered in public parks and organized public forums throughout Istanbul and other cities during the summer of 2013. One of the most crowded and long-​ lasting park forums in Istanbul was Yoğurtçu Park Forum in the Kadıköy district. After a couple of weeks, regular participants of the forums established working groups and organized workshops to discuss particular issues and create alternative resistance strategies. A group of women activists established the Yoğurtçu Women’s Forum at the end of the summer of 2013 in the park. Since then, they and hundreds of other women have continued to meet regularly to discuss numerous topics and to take part in several political campaigns. 7 Validebağ Defense, one of the local urban initiatives formed after the Gezi uprisings, was established to protect Validebağ Grove, one of the last remaining green spaces in Istanbul. It measures 354,000 m² in size and is located at the intersection of Kadıköy and Üsküdar districts on the Anatolian side of Istanbul. Validebağ Grove was certified as a natural protected area in 1999. However, following the government’s decision to build a large mosque in the grove in September 2014, locals organized in groups including Validebağ Defense and Validebağ Volunteers. These groups conducted a campaign to protect the grove against the so-​called landscaping and rehabilitation project launched by the Ministry of the Environment and Urbanization and the AKP’s Üsküdar Municipality. 8 For an ethnographic analysis of the role of hope in the referendum campaign, see Özkaya (2020).

The Affective Politics of Saying No  159 9 This has been a byword for the political opposition in Turkey since the Gezi uprisings. Several protestors ascribed their participation to abolishing the threshold of fear despite experiencing police violence. 10 Through the end of July 2013, a group of regular participants in the Yoğurtçu Park Forum made a general call to create more localized neighbourhood assemblies to influence the city-​wide political decisions in their neighbourhoods. After several meetings, eight neighbourhood assemblies were established. Some of them quickly became prominent political actors in their districts, playing an active role in local politics and organizing demonstrations, panels, and activities in ­collaboration with other solidarity groups and political organizations. Participants in these ­neighbourhood assemblies established several new groups based on their common needs and shared interests which had clear fields of activity. Caferağa Neighborhood Assembly was one of these groups. The members of Caferağa Neighborhood Assembly also squatted a vacant building and turned it into a cultural centre, which they named Neighbourhood House. They continued to hold their meetings and other public events in this space until it was forcibly evicted by the police in December 2014. 11 From the late 1990s, initiated by a few sociologists studying social movements, the emotional turn in the study of social movements and other forms of contentious politics challenged the dichotomy of emotions and reason. Scholars of the emotional turn (Aminzade & McAdam, 2001; Calhoun, 2001; Goodwin & Jasper, 2006; Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2000, 2001; Jasper, 2011) consider affects and emotions to be a part of all social life, including the political realm. Drawing on research on emotion in fields such as anthropology, sociology, and feminist studies, they challenged the perception of emotionality as irrationality, arguing that human beings can simultaneously be rational and emotional, and that they can think strategically and follow their interests. Although the emotional turn provided important contributions and offered valuable insights to the literature on social movements and contentious politics, it has shortcomings. Failing to contextualize emotions within larger histories of social movements, this literature reproduced binary oppositions—​good/​bad, productive/​non-​productive emotions—​for political action and did not correlate different types of emotions with different social movements (Goodwin & Jasper, 2006; Goodwin, Jasper, & Polletta, 2004; Nussbaum, 2015).

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160  Derya Özkaya Arslanalp, M., & Erkmen, T. D. (2020b). Repression without Exception: A Study of Protest Bans during Turkey’s State of Emergency (2016–​2018). South European Society and Politics, 25(1), 99–​125. doi:10.1080/​13608746.2020.1748353 Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2018). Midān Moments: Conceptualizing Space, Affect and Political Participation on Occupied Squares. In J. Slaby & B. Röttger-​Rössler (Eds.), Affect in Relation: Families, Places, Technologies (1 ed., Vol. 1, pp. 115–​ 133). London: Routledge. Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2019). Midān Moments. In J. Slaby & C. von Scheve (Eds.), Affective Societies: Key Concepts (1 ed., pp. 279–​ 288). New York & London: Routledge. Bargu, Banu. (2018). Year One: Reflections on Turkey’s Second Founding and the Politics of Division, Critical Times, 1(1), 23–​48. Berriane, Y., & Duboc, M. (2019). Allying Beyond Social Divides: An Introduction to Contentious Politics and Coalitions in the Middle East and North Africa. Mediterranean Politics, 24(4), 399–​419. doi:10.1080/​13629395.2019.1639022 Brennan, T. (2004). The Transmission of Affect. New York, NY: Cornell University Press. Butler, J. (2015). Notes towards a Performative Theory of Assembly. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Calhoun, C. (2001). Putting Emotions in Their Place. In J. Goodwin & J. Jasper & F. Polletta (Eds.), Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements (pp. 45–​57). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Clark, J. A. (2010). Threats, Structures, and Resources: Cross-​Ideological Coalition Building in Jordan. Comparative Politics, 43(1), 101–​ 120. doi:10.5129/​ 001041510X12911363510475 Goodwin, J., & Jasper, J. M. (2006). Emotions and Social Movements. In J. E. Stets & J. H. Turner (Eds.), Handbook of the Sociology of Emotions, Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research (pp. 611–​635). Boston, MA: Springer US. Goodwin, J., Jasper, J. M., & Polletta, F. (2000). The Return of the Repressed: The Fall and Rise of Emotions in Social Movement Theory. Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 5(1), 65–​83. doi: 10.17813/​MAIQ.5.1.74U39102M107G748 Goodwin, J., Jasper, J. M., & Polletta, F. (2001). Passionate Politics: Emotions and Social Movements. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Goodwin, J., Jasper, J. M., & Polletta, F. (2004). Emotional Dimensions of Social Movements. In D. A. Snow & S. A. Soule, & H. Kriesi (Eds.). The Blackwell Companion to Social Movements (pp. 413–​432). Malden, MA: Blackwell. Gould, D. (2017). Becoming Coalitional: The Perverse Encounter of Queer to the Left and the Jesus People USA. Scholar & Feminist Online, 14(2). Retrieved from www.diapha​nes.net/​titel/​becom​ing-​coal​itio​nal-​the-​perve​rse-​encoun​ter-​of-​queer-​to-​ the-​left-​and-​the-​jesus-​peo​ple-​usa-​7290 Jasper, J. M. (2011). Emotions and Social Movements: Twenty Years of Theory and Research. Annual Review of Sociology, 37(1), 285–​ 303. doi: 10.1146/​ annurev-​soc-​081309-​150015 Küçük, B., & Özselçuk, C. (2018). Fragments of the Emerging Regime in Turkey. South Atlantic Quarterly, 118(1), 1–​21. Meyer, D. S., & Corrigall-​Brown, C. (2005). Coalitions and Political Context: US Movements against Wars in Iraq. Mobilization (San Diego, Calif.), 10(3), 327–​344. doi:10.17813/​maiq.10.3.f8u6t4u2708kw442

The Affective Politics of Saying No  161 Nussbaum, M. (2015). Political Emotions: Why Love Matters for Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Özdemir, S. S., & Özyürek, E. (2019). Civil and Civic Death in the New Authoritarianism: Punishment of Dissidents through Juridical Destruction, Ethical Ruin, and Necropolitics in Turkey. British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 46(5), 699–​713. Özkaya, D. (2020). The Affective and Emotional Dynamics of Collective Action in Turkey`s Gezi Uprisings and Their Aftermath. (Ph.D). Freie Universität Berlin. Van Dyke, N., & McCammon, H. J. (2010). Strategic Alliances: Coalition Building and Social Movements. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Part IV

A Decade Later Affect, Memory, and Political Transformation

9 “Revolution? There Was a Revolution?” Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 20111 Samuli Schielke “Revolution? There was a revolution?” I first heard this question in the winter of 2011 and 2012, when it was repeated among people who had participated in protests against the Mubarak regime and the following military rule, and who had hoped for a radical revolutionary transformation of Egypt. As a rhetorical question with considerable ambiguity, I suggest it can be understood in three ways. First, it is both a sceptical and accurate assessment of facts. There was indeed no revolutionary transformation of the kind that would have substantially changed societal and political power structures. One of the groups involved in the uprising—​the Muslim Brotherhood—​did gain control of the office of the president and the cabinet of ministers for a short period of time, but even during that time, key institutions of power remained in the hands of the old regime. However, something akin to a revolution was nevertheless going on. A president was in fact overthrown, and then another, and the country was in turmoil with far-​reaching consequences. A second way to understand the question is as a demand for more revolution. In conversations with people in Alexandria and a nearby rural area who shared a political leaning towards the left, this question was often followed by a claim that the revolution had been “stolen” by the military and Islamists. Understood in this way, the question is linked with a radical revolutionary affect that celebrated revolution as an aim and end in its own right, rather than as a means towards an end. A third possible interpretation emerged as the question above gradually transformed from a rhetorical one into a genuine inquiry. Many of those involved in the events from 2011 to 2013 now wonder and try to understand what actually happened. This interpretation of the question as one that invites inquiry has inspired a wave of new research by people who once were revolutionaries themselves.2 With each interpretation, it is important to keep in mind the two different dimensions of the word revolution. The first dimension, explicit in the French etymology of révolution, is that of a dramatic reordering, a full change of direction. In this sense, a revolution is a radical transformation of societal and DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-13

166  Samuli Schielke political structures and relations of power. The second dimension is explicit in the etymology of the Arabic word for revolution, thawra, derived from a verb meaning “to be stirred, to arise, to revolt” (Wehr & Cowan, 1976, p. 109). In this sense, a revolution is an affective state or event of agitation and revolt that is real, regardless of its eventual success or failure. For those who lived through the events in Egypt since 2011, the question about revolution concerns both concrete political and societal effects, as well as shifts in the gaww (affective atmosphere) or mazāg (mood) that have prevailed among certain people in certain moments. This ambiguity is reflected also in my essay. On the one hand, I speak about the revolution as a movement, an effective political project pursued by those who wanted to change state and society in one way or another. The revolution in this sense was defeated and came to an end, but some of the dreams and memories it generated live on. On the other hand, the revolution was an event, a conflict from which some actors emerged as victorious and others not. In that sense, the army stands as the uncontested winner of the revolution; however, the historical continuity of uprisings in Egypt raises question marks about the sustainability of that victory. Weaving together personal experience of being a frequent visitor in Egypt before, during and after the revolution, fragments of ethnographic fieldwork,3 and historical narratives, in this chapter I reflect on the active work of remembering, forgetting, and mythologisation that accompanied the January uprising, as well as the affective atmospheres (see Chapter 2 in this volume) that accompanied and enforced such work. This includes the anger and frustration that motivated a continuation of the uprising beyond its initial phase in January and February 2021, the celebration of revolutionary glory that enabled a simultaneous erasure of its traces, and the painful labour of acknowledging defeat that may be the breeding ground for new protests and actions to come. The question “Revolution? There was a revolution?” was also intrinsically an inquiry about memory. To ask whether there was a revolution is to insist on remembering what happened, in response to attempts to rewrite history by the current rulers. This involves more than just remembering the facts: it is also about keeping alive a revolutionary attitude. I approach this question as an invitation to trace the struggle to remember the revolution that has continued since 2011. Now, a decade later, calling into question whether there was a revolution can also be a way of resisting its celebratory co-​optation into hegemonic narratives of the state and its allies. My own role as an anthropologist is also a part of the story. Approximately three months before the revolution, sometime in October or November 2010, an Egyptian journalist asked me in a coffeehouse conversation in Cairo: “Do you think that there will be a revolution here in Egypt?” I answered that I didn’t think it would happen, and that I would also not support it, because in a revolution, things get broken, people get killed, and in the end, the wrong people seize power. This, in fact, is more or less what happened—​and

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  167 yet I today see myself as a supporter of the January 25 Revolution, in the sense that I sympathise with and support the hope that moved people to join protests in the streets. The memory of the revolution is also a memory of this hope, and remembering it today raises the question of what kind of hope there may be now. The unsteady character of the revolutionary period that began in January 2011 and ended sometime in 2014 complicates its memory. The emotions expressed, assessments of the situation, and declared stances of many people have changed repeatedly, and sometimes rapidly. Many Egyptians who actively participated in the events of that time told me that they have vivid memories of the emotions they experienced and the affects expressed at the time, but that they could not remember well what was when, and had to reconstruct the chronology afterwards. It is not the task of this essay to reconstruct chronology. Others have done that many times, each of them partial and partisan in one way or another. I have not encountered an objective, neutral chronology of the events that would not already be part of a struggle over the meaning and memory of the revolution. One of these struggles relates to naming: was 25 January 2011 a revolution, an attempted revolution, an uprising, a conspiracy, or something else? Was the military takeover from 30 June to 3 July 2013 a coup d’état, a counterrevolution, a revolution of the people, or something else? Any narrative of the events involves a politically motivated performance of selective affective memory. In the following I attend to some such performances of affective memory that I have encountered since 2011. First, the occupation of spaces, the inherent affective and political values that became ascribed to the occupation, and the co-​optation of some of those affects and spaces; second, attempts by the state to erase sites and memories of the uprising, and attempts in response by former revolutionaries to generate a living archive where those sites and memories may persist, and finally, the question of new beginnings after acknowledging defeat. Occupation and Co-​optation A photo I took on 1 February 2011 (Figure 9.1) shows a banner with a slogan that became a central demand of the uprising: “The people want to bring down the regime.” The slogan originated in Tunisia, where it was coined in December 2010. It has been used in all uprisings in Arabic-​speaking countries since then. The phrase is an adaptation of a famous verse by Abu al-​Qasim al-​Shabbi (1909–​1934) “If one day the people will to live/​then fate must an answer give” (English translation by Lewis & Visonà, 2012, p. 229) and follows the same poetic metre. Al-​Shabbi’s verse is cited in the Tunisian national anthem (Colla, 2012). Three days later, I bought a copy of the state-​owned daily newspaper al-​ Ahram, which reported on the protests in a positive tone for the first time on

168  Samuli Schielke

Figure 9.1 “The people want to bring down the regime.” The sheet of paper held by a woman on the right reads “The people and the army are hand in hand.” Tahrir Square, Cairo, 1 February 2011. Photo by Samuli Schielke.

this day. “Hundreds of thousands on Tahrir Square demand change” was the headline (“Mi´at al-​alaf ,” 2011, p. 1). On 12 February 2011, the morning after Mubarak’s resignation, al-​Ahram ran the headline “The people brought down the regime” (“Al-​sha`b asqat,” 2011, p. 1). For additional effect, the afternoon edition of the daily set the headline in a handwritten script of a kind that was used in the Nasser era—​when the military government that later evolved into the Mubarak regime still was a revolutionary one. Other subheadlines on the same front page announced: “The Armed Forces administer the affairs of the state” and “The youth of Egypt forced Mubarak to depart.” Al-​Ahram, a newspaper that is widely known to be supportive of the government, presented the toppling of the regime as an accomplished fact although in reality, it was not the youth but the military that now ruled the country. It promoted the idea of a quick, swift, and successful completion of the revolution that aligned well with a widespread euphoria in which those people, who only a few days earlier had anxiously hoped for a quick return of law and order, could also participate. This mood was also widely shared by international commentators, and involved the highly selective romanticisation and mythologisation of revolutionary youth.4 Immediately after Mubarak’s resignation, Egyptian media popularised a narrative of a happy revolution where everybody won and nobody was at

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  169

Figure 9.2 Souvenir trade on Tahrir Square, March 2011. Photo by Samuli Schielke.

fault. Poems and novels were written, celebrating the revolution. Souvenir trade flourished on Tahrir Square (Figure 9.2). Spontaneous collective street cleaning actions worked to symbolically and materially remove the trash of the past. They also whitewashed many signs of the struggle that had been ongoing only a moment earlier, replacing them with cheerful patriotic slogans and Egyptian flags (Winegar, 2016). The revolutionary aesthetic and affect of confrontation and anger were side-​lined by a patriotic aesthetic and affect of harmony and unity—​but only for a while. Further, many of the key actors changed their tactics over the course of revolutionary events: confrontational and divisive at one moment, cooperative and reconciliatory at the next. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood initially declared on 25 January that it would not join demonstrations. However, from 28 January onwards, it became a key mobilising power of protests during the 18 Days, which is the shorthand used by Egyptians to refer to the period of the occupation of Tahrir Square and protests that ended with Mubarak’s resignation on 11 February. Throughout 2011 and 2012, the organisation presented itself to the military as a willing partner, and frequently participated actively in the patriotic celebration of a happy accomplished revolution through aesthetic gestures. Then, during its short

170  Samuli Schielke period of rule in 2012 and 2013, the Brotherhood sent mixed messages of general national unity and inclusion, while also articulating Islamic solidarities and alliances that excluded other actors. Only after the coup d’état against President Morsi in 2013 did the Muslim Brotherhood adopt confrontational language and acts again. However, they would ultimately be defeated by the military, which enforced its dominance with a combination of extreme violence and slogans of patriotic unity of the people against terrorists. This trajectory could not yet be anticipated in the immediate aftermath of the protests in Spring 2011. And yet from the beginning, the evident co-​ optation of the revolution by state media and actors convinced many of those who wanted a radical transformation of state and society to not celebrate the revolution, but rather insist that it must continue. This was an unpopular minority stance, but there were moments when those who rallied for it spearheaded the events. They became known as the revolutionaries or, perhaps better, revolutionists because the revolution itself increasingly became their main aim and pursuit. In March 2011, there was a new, partial, occupation of Tahrir Square (Figure 9.3). It was the second occupation of the square since Mubarak’s

Figure 9.3 “Our revolution continues until the fall of the regime.” Sit-​in at Tahrir Square in March 2011. Photo by Samuli Schielke.

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  171 resignation—​the first one had been cleared by the military weeks earlier. The occupation attracted only a small number of people. A few days after I took this photo, the sit-​ in was violently dispersed and the protesters were arrested. Afterwards, protesters repeatedly attempted to occupy the square, and the numbers of participants gradually increased, peaking in the Mohamed Mahmoud Street uprising in November 2011. This uprising can be considered the key event for the formation of the revolutionaries, or the revolutionists, as I call them. Theirs was an affective rather than ideological stance, insofar as they were decidedly against party politics and elections, and foregrounded revolution and street battles as ends in their own right (Ryzova, 2020). For the revolutionists, revolution was not simply something they wanted to realise through the occupation of squares and street clashes. Rather, what Ayata and Harders (2019) call the Midān Moment, coming together in occupied squares and street battles was the revolution itself for them. This was a shared affect of revolutionary freedom and determination, embodied, for example, in the stance of saying no, in the atmosphere of large demonstrations, in the enthusiasm and tension of street battles, and in the sensory quality of inhaling teargas—​a very unpleasant experience which however makes one angry and agitated afterwards (Schielke, 2015, pp. 204–​215). While the revolutionists repeatedly fought to occupy Tahrir Square, the Muslim Brotherhood chose a pragmatic path to power through elections. Initially, it looked like a promising strategy. But when pressure against Morsi and his administration increased in the summer of 2013, members of the Brotherhood and other supporters of Morsi went out onto the streets again, occupying the Rabea El-​Adawiya Square in Northeast Cairo as well as other squares in Cairo and other cities. On 14 August 2013, the tactic of occupying public squares was tragically terminated with the violent storming of the Rabea sit-​in and others, resulting in the killing of between 600 and 1400 people, the vast majority of them protesters.5 The Muslim Brotherhood and its mostly Islamist allies did not withdraw when it was evident that a massacre was imminent. My interpretation is that the leadership of the Brotherhood were hoping for a country-​wide uprising if a massacre was committed against the sit-​in. In fact, in an immediate reaction to the storming of the sit-​ins, there were numerous attempts to storm police stations and churches around the country, however, these were ultimately unsuccessful. Supporters of Morsi were unable to unify the political spectrum in the manner of Tahrir in January and February 2011. Instead, their occupation of squares became the subject of increasingly violent hate speech and a nationalist sense of urgency to “fight terrorism” by media and supporters of the army that paved the way towards a massacre (Schielke, 2017). Thus when the new military rulers eventually committed the massacre that had already been expected by all sides, this did not result in their fall; instead, it became a turning point towards the consolidation of their victory.

172  Samuli Schielke With few exceptions, the occupation of squares has repeatedly ended in defeat in Egypt. And yet, prominent occupations have become a key reference for new political myths. Every occupation represents a possibility that could not be transformed into long-​term realities, but was real for a moment in the utopian space and shared affective mood of the occupied square. The famous 18 Days of Tahrir in January and February 2011 (actually only 15 days, because the square was occupied on 28 January) represents the unique cooperation and unity across ideological and class divisions. From the point of view of the revolutionists, the Mohamed Mahmoud Street uprising appears as the finest hour of uncompromising action, accomplished as it was without the Muslim Brotherhood and in decided opposition to pragmatic negotiations and party politics. For supporters of Islamist movements, the massacre at Rabea El-​Adawiya Square became a powerful emotional symbol of martyrdom and righteous struggle—​visualised by a hand showing four fingers (in reference to the literal meaning of Rabea, fourth). Showing the Rabea sign as gesture or image is meanwhile a terrorist offence in Egypt, which proves that the state takes symbols seriously. While the occupation of squares has become increasingly futile for realising specific aims, the political myths that emerged from occupied squares have proven to be more durable. They remain in circulation and may have the power to keep alive some of the hopes that motivated the uprising (similar to the hopeful and haunting memories of Gezi Resistance and other conflicts in Turkey (see Chapter 10 in this volume). And perhaps defeats are better suited to crafting myths, for they are surrounded by an aura of purity and unrealised potentiality. They are untainted by the compromises and realpolitik that follow in the wake of victories. Meanwhile, the state has learned to control formerly occupied squares on its own terms, and with great success. Today, Tahrir and Rabea El-​Adawiya squares are thoroughly controlled and ordered spaces, and offer no possibilities for oppositional events. Through consecutive renovations between 2015 and 2020, Tahrir Square has been turned into a spectacular space symbolically and materially under military occupation. The official memory of the revolutionary period narrates the uprising of January 25 either as a foreign conspiracy or as an ambiguous prelude to mass protests on 30 June 2013 that paved the way for the military takeover. Some who participated in both events remember their experiences in 2011 with pride, but feel more uneasy when recalling their role in 2013. In the summer of 2013, a remarkable number of supporters of the January 25 revolution genuinely believed that they were participating in a correction of the revolution’s course, not a counter-​revolution. I was among those, and believed it for several days, which I later considered one of the most stupid things I have ever believed in. It was stupid insofar as it was evident that the army was the most powerful actor and would naturally pursue its own agendas. And yet from within the intensity of the moment, the enthusiasm of others who thought along similar lines, and from within the polarised

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  173 struggle over the memory of what had happened until then, it seemed reasonable. I argue that the counter-​revolution was successful in Egypt in large parts because it was able to co-​opt revolutionary language and symbols, tactics and affects, and because it was able to re-​occupy spaces of revolution in both material and symbolic terms. It was able to mobilise revolutionary hope, and by so doing it was able to win the revolution. Erasure and Archiving The regime that came to power at the end of the revolutionary period has worked hard to claim authority over the interpretation and sites of revolutionary events. While Tahrir Square has been occupied and co-​opted into a symbolic site of state control (e.g., with an obelisk erected at its centre), some other material memories of January 2011 have been systematically erased over time. An interesting example is the former headquarters of the National Democratic Party (NDP). The NDP was created by President Anwar El Sadat to serve as a successor of the Arab Socialist Union that had provided the organisational framework for single-​party rule in Egypt since 1962. The NDP was the ruling state party under Sadat and Mubarak. It served primarily as a network for the clientelist distribution of resources and services to the functionaries and supporters of the regime. Opponents of the president saw in it the quintessence of corruption under Mubarak. The modernist building that housed the NDP and that stood in immediate proximity to Tahrir Square was constructed in 1959 and was intended to house the Cairo municipality (RiadArchitecture, n.d.). But soon afterwards, the Arab Socialist Union moved in. On 28 January 2011, at the peak of the revolution, the building was set on fire. It is not known who set the fire. The building was still burning the next morning, when the now-​iconic photo of smoke emanating from the building against the background of downtown Cairo’s skyline was taken (Figure 9.4). I remember my arrival in Cairo on 31 January 2011. I got into a taxi at the airport and expected to see scenes of destruction. Contrary to my expectations (that had been fed by media reporting about looting), Cairo appeared quite undamaged. Tanks and armoured vehicles stood at intersections, and few people were out on the streets, and yet the city was intact and its overall appearance normal—​until we reached the Sixth of October Bridge and passed the NDP headquarters. It was only when I saw the enormous ruin blackened by fire that I realised there was a revolution going on. Afterwards, while anti-​Mubarak graffiti was whitewashed or replaced by patriotic praise for the revolution, the burned-​up ruin of the NDP headquarters remained in place, serving as a visible landmark of the revolution for several years. The future of the building (which was listed as a protected monument) became the subject of a public debate, with proposals ranging from demolition to renovation, including the idea to give it a new purpose as a museum of the revolution (Boer, 2015; Cairobserver, 2011; RiadArchitecture, n.d.).

174  Samuli Schielke

Figure 9.4 The NDP headquarters on fire, 29 January 2011. Photo by Dan H. /​ Darkroom Productions. Creative Commons license CC BY-​NC 2.0. Source: www.fli​ckr.com/​pho​tos/​dark​room​prod​ucti​ons/​540​4944​318

According to Hala Makhlouf (2017), there were several unrealised ideas and proposals for such a museum. After 2013, supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in exile also presented a digital model of a memorial site of the Rabea El Adawiya massacre. It is, of course, impossible to realise any such plans under the current rulers of Egypt. And even under more favourable conditions, it would have been exceedingly difficult to reach a consensus about what and who should be remembered in a museum of the revolution, and in what form. After all, there is not even basic agreement about what happened. As long as it remained in place, the NDP headquarters was a perfect memorial of such a controversial event (Cairobserver, 2011), because simply by virtue of its continued existence as a ruin, it served as a reminder that something had happened. This debate about a memorial was decided by the state in a definitive fashion in summer 2015. The building was demolished. It was announced that a park would be built in its place, but the lot remains empty. Erasing the ruin was clearly more urgent than building anything in its place. Around the same time, however, a thriving movement of documentation and archiving emerged, working against the co-​optation, occupation, and erasure of the memory of the revolution. Many of those involved in such documentation projects were once among the radical current of the revolutionists. Their

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  175 work is not only about rescuing information. It is also an attempt to reclaim and pass on the revolutionary spirit in a moment when direct action and confrontation seem futile. From the beginning, attempts to reoccupy squares and revive the revolutionary mood of struggle were accompanied by engaged projects of documentation and archiving. Prominent among them are the theatre project Hakawi al-​Tahrir (Stories of Tahrir, its English edition was titled Tahrir Monologues), the Kazeboon (Liars) project that showed documentary video material in public places, and the Mosireen collective that edited video footage from clashes and other events into short, aesthetically attractive, explicitly engaged, and openly partisan movies that were distributed through a YouTube channel.6 Such projects were organised mainly by groups of people who had a good command of English, and were versed in styles of popular culture and political language shared by audiences of the Global North. They were able to successfully address international audiences. Activist work of the kind they were engaged in between 2011 and 2013 is currently impossible in Egypt. And yet both in Egypt and in various locations of exile, a remarkable number of Egyptian researchers, artists, and activists have been working to protect at least the memory of the revolution from erasure. A particularly comprehensive project is the online archive 858.ma that was initiated by the Mosireen collective in 2017 (Mosireen collective, 2023). It contains the entire unedited video archive of the collective (over 858 hours). On the landing page of the archive, the cursor turns into the iconic photo of the burning NDP headquarters (Figure 9.4)—​another example of the symbolic power of the ruin in evoking the mood of revolutionary struggle. Defeat and Continuation These projects of archiving and remembering the revolution are currently not primarily aimed at direct resistance against the current government. Instead, the question that moves them is: What can we do now, after defeat? In February 2017, one of the initiators of the Mosireen collective presented the 858 archive at the Berlin International Film Festival. She explained that such archival projects were also an attempt to continue resistance by other means, after the space for public action had become minimal or non-​existent. The moderator of the event appeared troubled by the idea. He repeatedly asked why she and the collective did not insist on continuing the uprising on the streets. Here, two different attitudes towards radical action collided. The moderator presented a common activist trope, according to which radical movements must never acknowledge defeat. The co-​initiator of Mosireen presented a more pragmatic stance, according to which the struggle can only continue if one first acknowledges the realities on the ground; this is also necessary to avoid further loss of life and energy. In my experience, the latter view has gradually become the dominant one among former participants in the revolution in Egypt. In the autumn

176  Samuli Schielke of 2013 and spring of 2014, I would still find people from the leftist and Islamist political milieus in an optimistic mood overall, expecting that things would still turn out fine in the end. The former were not yet ready to admit that they had effectively helped new military rulers to seize power. The latter were not yet ready to believe that the military had been successful in defeating them through a combination of populism and extreme violence. In the following years, the recognition of defeat gradually spread in both political milieus, resulting in a wave of despair and disillusionment that continues to date. Projects like 858.ma are perhaps also a form of resistance against despair. And contrary to what the moderator at the Berlin Film Festival seemed to believe, a defeat also means the possibility of a new beginning—​a possibility that a continuation of the same struggle by the same means does not offer. In his literary essay The Book of Sleep (written in 2013 and published in Arabic in 2017), Haytham El Wardany, an Egyptian writer who lives in Berlin, reflects on sleep as a non-​binary other side that accompanies the waking world like a shadow, or perhaps underlies it like a layer of soil. El Wardany directly addresses the issue of defeat: Coma

If revolution is awakening—​a long-​awaited anomaly that brings a deep collective slumber to an end—​then is not sleep a return to dispossession? Is it not a synonym for failure? A failure to reshape reality? An inability to alter the circumstances of life? A defeat in the struggle to redefine the self? But a closer look at what takes place in the instant that we enter sleep tells us something different: this moment does not mark the onset of failure; it simply concedes it. It is the moment in which the sleeper surrenders to his drowsiness and his inability to remain awake. The failure comes first, whether it is the failure of the self to maintain control or the defeat of the collective in its fight for change. The moment of actual sleep comes after this: the moment of failure is conceded, and is not its cause; the moment of defeat’s acceptance, not of its production. The individual’s sleep is the act of a self that has dropped the reins, and collective slumber is the act of a group which knows the battle has been decided and that to remain on the field would be suicide. The self which does not sleep is a neurotic self, plagued by itself. The group that does not sleep is wilful and proud, unable to alter the reality because it exists cut off from it. For it to reconnect to reality—​for it to gather itself again and wake—​it must doze a little. The sleeper who comes to bed with unrealizable hopes soon wakes again, inspired with a new dream. The failure to alter reality is a failure that can be overcome and escaped but the failure to apprehend this initial failure and accept it is a complex failure: not a sleep from which one may wake, but a coma. (El Wardany, 2020, pp. 29–​30, translation by Robin Mogher)

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  177 The idea that it is necessary to doze a little became widespread in Egypt after the military seized power in 2013. At the same time, the government promised stability to its citizens and international allies. For many Egyptians, stability is a genuine hope and desire: a predictable state of gradual improvement in which people and things are in their right places. For former supporters of the revolution, however, the stability provided by the government also means that one must wait while the future remains unclear. El Wardany’s poetic meditation on sleep and loss should be understood in this context. In the face of a defeat, it is at first necessary to withdraw a little and to make sense of what happened. Only after doing so, El Wardany suggests, may it become possible to regain clarity and strength. This is a remarkably optimistic vision; it invites us to think of defeat as a transition to a new beginning. Such optimism seems to also motivate the lively work of research and archiving that followed the end of the revolution. At the same time, these projects also take the question “There was a revolution?” seriously, embarking upon an empirical inquiry into what happened. They thereby expand the focus of the question to include societal conflicts and dynamics of the past two centuries that had been rendered invisible by the nationalist historical canon. A key insight of such inquiries is that the revolution of 2011 is far less singular and exceptional than it appeared to be from the point of view of participants and observers alike. This is less about comparisons with revolutions in other parts of the world, and more about the historical development of Egypt itself since early 19th century. A summary overview of important revolutions, protests, and rebellions in Egypt over the past 150 years (Diyab, 2011) shows that stability of the kind provided by authoritarian governments is by no means the normal condition in modern Egypt, and does not prevent uprisings—​perhaps even on the contrary. In 1881–​1882, Colonel Ahmad Orabi became the leader of a nationalist movement against the ruling Turkic elite, and eventually established a new government dominated by Arabic-​speaking Egyptians. He was toppled by a British military invasion, in the wake of which Egypt was occupied and colonised by Great Britain. Nationalism versus colonialism would become Egypt’s structuring social and political conflict for the next 70 years. In 1919, following years of unrest that began with World War I, a great nationalist revolution broke out, culminating in Egypt’s formal independence in 1922. Societal power relations, however, remained unchanged: the Egyptian aristocracy maintained its dominance, and Egypt remained dependent on Great Britain. In 1935, and again with greater intensity in 1946, student protests and strikes called for an end to British influence and military presence. In 1946, the protests also took aim at the increasingly unpopular monarchy. They only secured minor political concessions, but in hindsight they appear as the beginning of the end of the monarchy. In 1952, after the king had already been stripped almost entirely of power, a group of officers seized power in a bloodless coup d’état. The Free Officers, as they are called, sent King Farouk into exile and established a republic, the ideological direction of which was

178  Samuli Schielke not clear at first. In 1954, General Gamal Abdel Nasser came to power. He established a socialist dictatorship and introduced some important social reforms, most importantly the land reform whereby agricultural land was distributed from large landowners to peasants, and the nationalisation of the Suez Canal. This is the only revolution in 20th-​century Egypt that resulted in a radical transformation of state and society. The 1952 Revolution produced today’s military-​based ruling elite, and its heritage structures the political and societal conflicts that continue today. Between 1968 and 1972, Egypt witnessed a series of demonstrations and strikes in reaction to the military defeat against Israel in 1967. The protesters called for a new war as soon as possible. In 1977, Egypt was shaken by a much larger spontaneous uprising, remembered afterwards as the Bread Revolt. This uprising was directed against increases in the prices of subsidised goods (among them bread) over the course of the economic liberalisation undertaken by President Anwar El Sadat. The rebellion was suppressed, and liberalisation policies continued with some concessions. In 1981, Islamist officers assassinated El Sadat during a military parade. This inaugurated a new phase of conflicts in which Islamist movements played a key role. El Sadat’s successor, former vice president Hosni Mubarak responded to their challenge using a combination of tactics, including the accommodation of religious conservatism, the co-​optation of leftist opposition as an ally against the Islamists, as well as brute force. From 1992 to 1998, the so-​called Islamic Group (al-​Gama’a al-​Islamiya) staged an armed uprising by means of terrorist attacks, mainly targeting Christians, tourists, and the police in the south of Egypt. The uprising was suppressed with great brutality, and ended with a peace treaty between the government and the imprisoned leadership of the group (Naguib, 2009). The mid-​2000’s saw a series of large strikes. At the same time, a small but prominent coalition called for the abdication of Hosni Mubarak, whose plan to have his son Gamal succeed him became increasingly unpopular, even in regime circles. Mubarak’s inner circle appeared to believe that they had the situation under control until it was too late (Salah, 2021). Finally, from 2011 to 2014, came the 25 January Revolution, Mubarak’s abdication, the short period of rule by Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, and the successful counterrevolution that brought Abdelfattah el-​Sisi to power. He was officially elected as president in 2014, but in the north of the Sinai peninsula, a Jihadist insurrection continued throughout the decade. This brief overview shows that Egypt can look back onto a long and continuous history of uprisings. It is the history of a society with profound, long-​lasting societal conflicts and contradictions. As long as they remain unsolved, unrest and uprisings will continue. A Preliminary Ending There was a revolution? One day, a new one will follow. This is a widespread view among supporters of the revolution, and I share it. But whether this is

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  179 cause for optimism or pessimism is an open question. While the continuity of uprisings proves that when contradictions reach an unbearable level, they enable resistance that may have some success. However, the brutality and success with which the new government has established its power shows that social conflicts have either remained unresolved or been violently suppressed, and the powerful have repeatedly been able to co-​opt the energy of revolts to serve their own ends. In either case, it is evident that while the January uprising failed to bring its initiators to power, it did not remain without consequences. Egypt today is a revolutionary country in at least two regards. First, the revolutionary period from 2011 to 2014 appears to have accelerated many societal processes. I once claimed half in jest that the events of 2011 had transformed Egypt from a modern to a postmodern society. This is an exaggeration of course, and yet, Egypt today is more plural, more fragmented, and more individualistic than it was two decades ago. The state, too, has a remarkably postmodern character. It shows itself as neither authentic nor innovative, and instead copies from here and there, combining Nasserist socialism with neoliberalism, conservative moralism with a rhetoric of enlightenment, and radical nationalism with political dependence on Gulf monarchies. With such inherent and evident tensions, the current regime is perhaps also an expression of some of the contradictions of the society that it tries to control and exploit. Second, the rule of Abdelfattah el-​Sisi is also a revolutionary one, despite its continuity with the elites that have ruled the country since 1952. El-​Sisi came to power through a counterrevolution that successfully used the revolutionary language, emotions, symbols, and tactics that were in circulation after 2011. The populism and the cult of leadership around el-​Sisi also have remarkable similarities with other regimes that emerged from revolutions. Today more than ever, Egypt is ruled by means of terror—​a classic revolutionary technique (LeJeune, 2019). Revolutionary terror is well known from France, Algeria, the Soviet Union, and China, among others. Today it has a new name; it is now called the “fight against terrorism” (Schielke, 2017). In the name of a war against terrorism, people can be intimidated, imprisoned for indeterminate periods, tortured, and killed either after unfair trials or without a trial. The new stability of Egypt after 2013 is built on a wave of systematic killings, purges, and arrests. This is an important reminder that stability as a political project in the wake of revolutions does not mean an end to unpredictable and unlawful violence; instead, it means that unpredictable violence is monopolised by institutions of the state. And that, in turn, should remind us not to romanticise revolutions, because despite their hopefulness and beauty they are also destructive. This does not only entail the destruction of lives and hopes that follow in the wake of victorious and defeated uprisings alike (this has been the case in Egypt as well as in many uprisings worldwide, in some of the latter on a much graver scale). The destructive potential also involves the revolutionary affects of hope, anger, and emboldening. Their intersection was often labelled “the breaking of the

180  Samuli Schielke fear” by the participants in the events of 2011. By 2013, that same sense of broken fear (Schielke, 2017, p. 210) became a powerful weapon in the service of a successful counterrevolution. The same moods and affects that enable revolutions can also be used to end them. Notes 1 This chapter is a heavily revised version of a chapter that was originally published in German as Schielke, S. (2019). Wie, es gab eine Revolution? Niederlage, Mythenbildung und Kontinuität in Ägypten nach 2011. In M. Sabrow (ed.), Revolution! Verehrt–​verhasst–​vergessen (Helmstedter Colloquien; 21). Göttingen: Akademische Verlagsanstalt. 2 Such as the 858.ma project discussed below; ِAbdel Rahman et al., (2019); Al Salon Illustrated, (2021). 3 My ethnographic fieldwork in Egypt extends from the early 2000s until the end of the 2010s, and has taken up various themes, such as religiosity and morality, literary scenes, migration, masculinity, and ideas of good life. My first-​ hand observations of the revolutionary period were with people I originally knew from other contexts. This colours my perspective, which highlights provincial locations and people whose involvement in the events of the revolution was short-​term and not part of a long activist trajectory, rather than the cosmopolitan intelligentsia and activist scenes of Cairo that have been in the focus of most research and documentation efforts. 4 For critiques of the latter, see El-​Mahdi, 2011; Eickhof, 2016. 5 Different sources give different estimates of the death toll. See Human Rights Watch (2013); WikiThawra (2013a, 2013b). 6 The online sites that used to document the first two projects no longer exist. At the time of writing (2021), only Mosireen is still online at http://​mosir​een.org/​

References Abdel Rahman, A., El Raggal, A., Hodhoud, A., Adly, A. (Eds.) (2019). Thawrat yanāyir: Ruʾya naqdiyya [The January Revolution: A Critical View]. Cairo: Dār al-​Marāyā. Al-​sha`b asqat al-​nizam [The people brought down the regime]. (2011, February 12), Al-​Ahram, p. 1. Al Salon Illustrated. (2021). Berlin: Nawara. Ayata, B. & Harders, C. (2019). ‘Midān Moments: Conceptualizing Space, Affect and Political Participation on Occupied Squares. In B. Röttger-​Rössler, J. Slaby (Eds.) Affect in Relation: Families, Places, Societies (pp. 118–​133). London: Routledge. Boer, R. (2015). Erasing the Remnants of a Revolution. Failed Architecture. Retrieved from https://​fai​leda​rchi​tect​ure.com/​eras​ing-​the-​remna​nts-​of-​a-​rev​olut​ion/​ Cairobserver. (2011). There Is Already a Monument. Retrieved from http://​cairo​bser​ ver.com/​post/​493​9138​951/​there-​is-​alre​ady-​a-​monum​ent Colla, E. (2012). The People Want. Middle East Report 263. Retrieved from www. merip.org/​mer/​mer​263/​peo​ple-​want Diyab, M. H. (2011). Intifadat am thawrat fi tarikh Misr al-​hadith [Rebellions or Revolutions in the Modern History of Egypt]. Cairo: Dar al-​Shorouk.

Defeat, Mythology, and Continuity in Egypt after 2011  181 Eickhof, I. (2016). All That Is Banned Is Desired: ‘Rebel Documentaries’ and the Representation of Egyptian Revolutionaries. Middle East–​Topics & Arguments, 6, 13–​22. Retrieved from http://​meta-​jour​nal.net/​arti​cle/​view/​3801 El-​Mahdi, R. (2011). Orientalising the Egyptian Uprising. Jadaliyya. Retrieved from www.jadali​yya.com/​Deta​ils/​23882 El Wardany, H. (2020). The Book of Sleep. Trans. by Robin Mogher. London: Seagull Books. Human Rights Watch. (2013). Egypt: Security Forces Used Excessive Lethal Force: Worst Mass Unlawful Killings in Country’s Modern History. Retrieved from www.hrw.org/​news/​2013/​08/​19/​egypt-​secur​ity-​for​ces-​used-​excess​ive-​let​hal-​force LeJeune, J. (2019). Revolutionary Terror and Nation-​Building: Frantz Fanon and the Algerian Revolution. Journal for the Study of Radicalism, 13(2), 1–​44. Lewis, S. & Visonà, M. (2012). The Soul of Tahrir: Poetics of a Revolution. In S. Mehrez (Ed.), Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir (pp. 213–​ 248). Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. Makhlouf, H. (2017, December 2). Towards a Kairology of the Egyptian revolution. [Power Point Sildes]. Berlin: EUME. Mi´at al-​ alaf fi al-​ Tahrir yutalibun bi-​ l-​ taghyir [Hundreds of thousands demand change]. (2011, February 4), Al-​Ahram, p. 1. Mosireen collective. (2023). 858 An archive of resistance. Retrieved from https://​ 858.ma/​ Naguib, S. (2009). Islamism(s) Old and New. In R. El Mahdi and P. Marfleet (Eds.), Egypt: The Moment of Change (pp. 103–​119). London: Zed Books. RiadArchitecture. (n.d). The Cairo Municipality Headquarters. Retrieved from www. riada​rchi​tect​ure.com/​cair​omun​ipal​ity Ryzova, L. (2020). The Battle of Muhammad Mahmoud Street in Cairo: The Politics and Poetics of Urban Violence in Revolutionary Time. Past and Present, 247, 246–​317. Salah, E. (2021). Inside a regime’s last days: Mubarak and his inner circle during the 2011 revolution. Mada Masr. Retrieved from www.madam​asr.com/​en/​2021/​ 01/​28/​feat​ure/​polit​ics/​ins​ide-​a-​regi​mes-​last-​days-​muba​rak-​and-​his-​inner-​cir​cle-​dur​ ing-​the-​2011/​ Schielke, S. (2015). Egypt in the Future Tense: Hope, Frustration and Ambivalence, Before and After 2011. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Schielke, S. (2017). There Will Be Blood: Expectation and Ethics of Violence during Egypt’s Stormy Season. Middle Eastern Critique, 26(3), 205–​220. doi: 10.1080/​ 19436149.2017.1336023 Wehr, H. and J. M. Cowan (Eds.) (1976). A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, third edition. New York: Spoken Language Services, Inc. WikiThawra. (2013a). Hasr qatla fadd i’tisamay Radi’a wa al-​ Nahda wa-​ tawabi’iha [The body count of the storming of the Rabi’a and al-​Nahda sit-​ins and their aftermath]. Retrieved from https://​docs.goo​gle.com/​spre​adsh​eet/​ccc?key=​ 0ApHKfHFs3JYxdFBf​WVUy​Sk4y​SUJL​QkEz​V3Vs​dnIz​T2c#gid=​0 WikiThawra. (2013b). Hasr qatla ‘ahd al-​ Sisi/​ ‘Adli Mansur (muhaddath) hatta Yanayir 2014 [The body count of the era of el-​Sisi/​Adli Mansur] (updated) until January 2014). Retrieved from https://​wik​itha​wra.wordpr​ess.com/​2013/​11/​12/​sisi​ casu​alit​ies/​ Winegar, J. (2016). A Civilized Revolution: Aesthetics and Political Action in Egypt. American Ethnologist, 43(4), 609–​622.

10 Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory Remembering the Gezi Event Meltem Ahıska

In 2013, the Gezi resistance in Turkey shook the whole country. Although the actual occupation of the Gezi Park in Istanbul and the related protests in other parts of the country lasted less than a month and were harshly crushed by the police, the political and social repercussions were huge. Today, we are often confronted with government discourses that criminalize various political protests by ascribing to them the “evil” intention to restart Gezi.1 Yet, the government also alludes to Gezi when it organizes mass rallies “tapping into the affective archive” of the movement (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 286). For the opposition too, Gezi has become a landmark event that prompts discussions on whether its spirit of protest can ever be activated again. There is an ambivalent urge, animated by fear and desire, to return to the scene of the event. In other words, Gezi has become a haunting event. This chapter investigates the political imaginaries of the Gezi event, attending to memory, time/​space, and the potentiality of the event. To do so, I pose and discuss a series of questions. First, what is the relationship between an event and memory? My aim here is not to discuss how correct our remembrances of an event are but whether the affective memory of an event can create a difference in the order of things in the present. Lauren Berlant (2011) has argued that “we understand nothing about the impasses of the political without having an account of the production of the present” (p. 4). How does Gezi figure in the production of the present, and what is the potentiality that it generates? This also concerns questions of the sustainability of politics associated with the event. Another related question would be as follows: How does the affective memory of the Gezi event lend itself to other ways of perceiving time/​space beyond the national frame and the linear conception of progress? I would argue that the affective memory of the Gezi had and continues to have material implications for recoding and remapping time/​ space. I suggest calling this re-​coding virtual geography. Here, virtuality is not used to point to a simulation of the real2 –​but, as Gilles Deleuze has argued, reflecting on Henri Bergson’s conception of the virtual, it is used to point to something that is real without being actual. According to Deleuze, the virtual cannot DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-14

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  183 be opposed to the real; “every actuality surrounds itself with a fog of virtual images” (as cited in Bluemink, 2020). I would say that the virtual geography that Gezi has created is like a film overlaid on the normally perceived reality of national geography. The overlay of virtual on national geography not only blurs boundaries in the present but also offers a new and vulnerable yet invigorating lens through which to imagine politics. Then, there is the question of the changing borders of the intelligibility of Gezi memories in the present, which is not independent of the sedimentation of what Raymond Williams calls the “structure of feeling” over time in the national context. The present conditions of economic, social, and political crises in Turkey are destroying existing genres of narrating the past and the structures of feeling they transmit, while at the same time, the state is offering new and fantastic genres, such as fictive enactments of the Ottoman Empire, which are represented as facts. In between the genres, new thresholds are emerging for remembering the past, for remembering the “ongoing event that has not found its genre” (Berlant, 2011, p. 64). Here the eventfulness of Gezi and its open-​ended and uncrystallized form should be thought about in connection with one another. The event at Gezi Park, like the one at Tahrir Square, was “marked by the openness, fluidity and contingency of its temporal boundaries” (Sabea, 2014, p. 74). It was both a unique moment with the potential to affect the political in multi-​temporal directions, and a political movement that resonated with other movements globally across time. In this chapter, I will make a particular reference to protests in Brazil in 2013, since the dialogical interaction between the simultaneous movements in Turkey and Brazil is fruitful to discuss for the sake of my arguments. The moment and the movement blend into each other through resonance, in the sense that “Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance … It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density” (The Invisible Committee, as cited in Fırat, 2018b, p. 124). In the following pages, I will point to the vibrations of the Gezi event and discuss how Gezi both as a moment and movement altered the neoliberal and national conception of time and space, experimented with new forms of being together, and furnished an affective memory with a potential to make changes in a present characterized in some respects by despair. The Event in the Present Time: Reality and Virtuality According to Hannah Arendt (1961) “the very impact of an event is never wholly explicable; its factuality transcends in principle all anticipation” (p. 170). Something new emerges, a beginning, which Arendt associated with freedom. The slogan embraced by Gezi was striking in this respect: “This is only the beginning, continue the struggle!” Begüm Özden Fırat (2017) has traced the slogan to the Paris Commune in 1871: Ce n’est qu’un début,

184  Meltem Ahıska continuons le combat! This demonstrates the resonance between different revolutionary movements in very different contexts3 yet nevertheless asserts that a new beginning is enacted within the moment of the event. Alan Badiou (2005) has also spoken of a rupture in relation to the event: “a truth is solely constituted by rupturing with the order which supports it, never as an effect of that order” (p. xii). Badiou names “this type of rupture which opens up truths ‘the event’ ” (Badiou, 2005, p. xii) and points to a “strictly incalculable emergence” (Badiou, 2005, p. xiii). The Gezi resistance that started in 2013 and quickly spread to other places in Turkey was an unexpected event. In line with Badiou’s conception, it took many segments of society –​both those in power and in opposition–​by surprise. The 2013 protests in Brazil were similarly unexpected. As Otávio Velho has written: It is important to stress from the start that no one predicted the protests that occurred in Brazil in June 2013 and that are still with us in modified forms. Although this was felt as a bit embarrassing for the so-​called “political analysts” it also probably says something about the nature of our endeavor and calls for a bit of modesty on our part. (Velho, 2013) The appeal to modesty by Velho is ethically and politically significant as it demands an attitude that attunes itself to the affective tensions of everyday life without fetishizing political judgements, and, in doing so, helps us in understanding what an event is. As Foucault would say with regard to eventalization, suspension of our historical constants would supress the urge to come up with evident explanations and solutions and make us understand how the event entails “a ‘polyhedron’ of intelligibility, the number of whose faces is not given in advance and can never properly be taken as finite” (Foucault, 2003). One anecdote that comes from the occupied Gezi Park in the early days of June 2013 is telling in that respect. Talking with students in the occupied park, a group of politically experienced left-​wing academics, including myself, came up with hasty suggestions regarding how this movement should be organized in line with possible future targets. This also concerns the question of sustainability, which I will return to in the following pages. While words such as “what is to be done” were flying about in the beautiful summer sky that day, a young student responded by saying: “Professor, we are good here!” A couple of weeks later, the police attacked and violently kicked everyone out of the park; the occupation was forcefully ended, resulting in many injuries and the death of 12 protestors across the country. Still, this does not invalidate the fact that people, while fearful and anxious, also felt good there, which is a pending demand for affective recognition in political terms. Gezi was unexpected but it was not an isolated event. It can be grouped together with the many protests that started in the 2010s.4 According to

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  185 Begüm Özden Fırat, the 2010 protests in Tunisia triggered a global wave that first spread to Egypt and then to the various states of the United States, Greece, and Spain, before reaching Turkey, Brazil, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Armenia, Bosnia-​ Herzegovina, and Israel. Fırat has stressed that these movements focused on national and local scales that were quite different from the main political agenda of the anti-​global movements in 2000s, and has argued they can be conceptualized as square/​occupy movements. She had also referred to the many features that were common across these movements, such as occupying urban centres, collaborating with different segments of society, and organizing without hierarchy and leadership (Fırat, 2018a). I suggest that we further interrogate the scale and impact of these movements. Fırat has elaborated that square movements are not confined to the national level and have also produced strong feelings of international solidarity. One can observe this in the way different movements in different countries have referenced each other with creative slogans (Fırat, 2018a).5 But there is more to it. We need to understand how square movements have transformed their own national and local scales, thus transforming time/​ space and memory. The Gezi slogan, “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance”6 as well the Brazilian protest slogan, “Love is over. Here is Turkey now” are striking examples. They point to a moment in which locality was literally dislocated and moved from one fixed nationalized context to another, in a move determined by trans-​local and trans-​national solidarity. These moments constitute a movement or even a counter-​movement against the hegemonic movement that reproduces and marks a place as naturally national. Under neo-​ liberal hegemony, “the social is dissolved into the natural, the biological, the organic” (Comaroff & Comaroff, 2001, p. 636). The political is reduced to the technical: “A form of attachment that ties people to place, that natures the nation, that authorizes entitlement” (Comaroff & Comaroff, 2001, p. 651) reigns as autochthony. Thus, the dislocation of time/​space is significant in that it opens localities up to a completely different experience, one that is politically regenerative and provocative. This is evidenced in how Brazil, which is not only geographically but also socially so far from Turkey, seemed to “become Turkey” in the midst of protests, in how Taksim, the historically marked and strictly protected centre of the Turkish Republic, lost its distinct national code and became embroiled with “everywhere”. These are not simply metaphorical or realistic statements. Boundaries persist, not only between different countries, but also between different regions within countries. For example, in Turkey, despite the encounter with Kurdish politics during the Gezi Park protests, there was also a tension between the demands of the Peace Process mobilized by the Kurdish political movement then and the Gezi resistance at that moment.7 Taksim has remained practically and literally remote from many Kurdish districts and the specific problems experienced in that political context. Yet, at the same time, these slogans evoked possibilities “not limited or confined to a single place and

186  Meltem Ahıska time” (Sabea, 2014, p. 80).8 They were both performative and affective in creating a virtual geography. By their declaration of what is, they invoked what could be and what we want them to be9, an “infinite probability” that Arendt (1961) has spoken of concerning event and freedom. The political and imaginative dislocation of locality entails the simultaneous alteration of the fixed and naturalized time and space of the national and neo-​liberal order. The national frame fixes national borders and distinguishes localities according to hierarchies of backward-​developed, east-​west and centre-​periphery as reinforced by the neo-​liberal practices and norms of dispossession and accumulation. The national order imposes a particular attachment –​meaning that every experience is made sense of within the national frame, in accordance with the “structure of feeling” (Williams, 1977, p. 134) transmitted through the historical national repertoire. Thus, the slogan “Love is over” in Brazil evidences a new consciousness that shatters the affective attachment to the nationalized locality, which under its liberal disguise has always been mandatory. The consciousness demonstrated in the slogan is a product of the encounters of places and issues, of the centre and periphery, which have been rigidly kept apart by regimes of power. The encounters in turn produce a new space of cohabitation, a new demand for citizenship (Holston, 2013). Therefore, the slogan in the Brazilian protests is not merely a greeting sent to Turkey but also represents the creation of a new time and space within action: “Here is Turkey now”. Square movements led to important ruptures in the histories of nations and localities. Although very short in duration, they actualized their own different geographies and temporalities. However, “the revolutionary event often crumbles into pre-​ existing competing movements and ideological camps” (Werbner, Webb, & Spellman-​ Poots, 2014, p. 8). What can we do with these fragments and where can we locate them in the hegemonic national history that violently colonizes space and pushes time forward? Do these fragments have any transformative power in the present? To repeat a question often asked after Gezi: Is this a sustainable politics (see Chapter 5 in this volume)? Furthermore, what does it mean for a political movement to be sustainable? The Gezi movement demonstrated on many fronts how the existing regime, despite its pride in development and national unity, is actually divided and not sustainable. By revealing the unsustainability of the present regime, Gezi paved the way for another conception of sustainability. According to Banu Karaca, Gezi went beyond the gesture of saying “no” to power, and made visible the experiences of oppression, exclusion, and annihilation, which is differentially distributed among different regions and segments of society. Karaca argues that the new visibility “suspended the limits of what had been deemed legitimately sayable” (Karaca, 2013). Gezi appropriated and inverted the discourses imposed by the government in order to produce a broader realm of cohabitation. Distinct political stances and different experiences of struggle –​of Alevi and Kurdish politics, socialism,

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  187 environmentalism, feminism, and LGBTQI+​among others–​interacted with each other beyond their existing and disassembled political routes. This fits in with Hannan Sabea’s notion of “organizational forms of radical inclusion” as one of the defining features of “new global revolutions” (Sabea, 2014, p. 77). Yet the repertoire of collective action during Gezi was also shaped by previous political movements and actions, including the Tekel workers’ resistance in Ankara, villagers’ and activists’ ecological resistance against hydroelectric plants in the Black Sea region, and many others in urban and rural contexts for decades (Fırat, 2017). Furthermore, one can point to the connection between the Kurdish struggle for peace and the goal of peaceful co-​existence in the Gezi movement. This connection has remained less visible and more tension-​producing due to the historically entrenched enmity and discrimination orchestrated by the state against the Kurdish community in Turkey. Nevertheless, the fragile connection can be identified in the interactive political realm of Gezi in the actions, slogans, and opulent visuality that were evident here. One visual that Banu Karaca has particularly dwelled on –​one that is not among the most popular slogans and graffiti that are a part of Gezi’s legacy today–​is called “Gravity in the East”. This visual which circulated in social media, refers to Medeni Yıldırım, who was killed in Kalecik village, Lice, on June 28, 2013, while protesting the construction of a military post and shouting “we want peace, not war”. [While] eyewitnesses testified that protestors had been directly targeted, officials maintain that Yildirim was hit by a ricochet warning-​shot that was fired in the air. After his death, the slogan “In the East (i.e. Kurdistan) the bullets are not plastic” appeared, emphasizing the continued structural and physical violence that Kurds in Turkey have been subjected to. (Karaca, 2013) The visual adopts a bitter yet humorous tone and implies that gravity in the East must be different, since a bullet fired in the air somehow found and killed a Kurd. It reveals that the long history of state violence against the Kurds cannot be sensed in hegemonic idioms and remains imperceptible for the West (the western parts of Turkey). Despite their differential lethality, the plastic bullets used by the police around Taksim and the real bullets in the Kurdish regions represented different faces of the same regime. The very awareness of this fact can be regarded as a concrete manifestation of the performative slogan “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance!”. This also shows that Gezi was not just a square movement and that its effects were not confined to the centre, namely Taksim Square. In Brazil too, despite the media attention devoted to the centre, the protests that started in 2013 revealed the connections between the centre and periphery. Slogans very similar to the ones in Turkey were chanted by the protestors: “Rubber bullets in the centre of the city are real bullets in the periphery” (Holston, 2013). The

188  Meltem Ahıska protestors in Brazil were also not limited to urban middle classes organized through “social networks” in the metropolises. On the contrary: [The] urban protests represented a climax of a movement that started in the so-​ called peripheries … against violent inroads on their land, assassinations, big dams that will bring considerable damage to the environment, etc. In a way for the first time, the country as a whole identified with its living Indian population. (Velho, 2013) Class, gender, ethnic, and regional inequalities did not altogether disappear in these movements, of course, and they reasserted themselves even more harshly soon after. But the images of connectedness and solidarity during the events are what is important to note here; different positions and paths crossed with each other, a totally different geography was imagined, and these were real and had effects. By suspending existing reality for a short duration of time, the events created a virtuality, in Deleuzian terms, that hovers over our reality today. The perception of another time/​space during the events, or what I call virtual geography, not only had a disruptive but also a transformative power. The fact that this reality now seems so far away and unreal is directly related to the way the present is produced and perceived. The same fact also alters the question of sustainability in a particular way. Retrospectively, we seem unable to attribute futurity to the events seen from the fixed vantage point of the present time. Reality, as we perceive it today, is coded in national and neo-​liberal terms, and very much marked by crisis, authoritarian degradation, and futureless-​ness. Yet the question of sustainability gains another dimension when thought of in tandem with affective memory in relation to the virtual geography created by the event. Affective Memory and the Event In his reflections on Proust, Walter Benjamin wrote that an experienced event “is finite –​at any rate confined to one sphere of experience; a remembered event is infinite, because it is only a key to everything that happened before and after it” (Benjamin, 1969, p. 203). According to Benjamin, the connection between memory and time is never linearly set; in the act of remembering, the present moment is simultaneously folded upon the past and future moments. In this convoluted time of memory, “each moment somehow touches, one might say superimposes or overlaps, upon every other moment” (Simon, 1997, p. 365). Remembrance is multi-​ temporal and multi-​ directional (Rothberg, 2009). Therefore, in comparison to the time of the experienced event, the memory of the event is infinite; it is unbound (Bond, Craps, & Vermeulen, 2017). The concept of affective memory addresses this temporal complexity, and conveys how the affective traces of the remembered event penetrate

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  189 the texture of the present. Here, what is meant by memory resembles what Benjamin (1969) calls involuntary memory and is different from voluntarily articulated memories that demand recognition and justice.10 Struggles by different actors over memorialization have been a very significant part of memory culture in Europe since the 1960s, and continue to be important in many countries around the world, including Turkey. While the notion of voluntary memory poses crucial questions regarding crimes against humanity and human rights violations by national states and institutions, involuntary memory pertains to the level of the everyday; it is an unplanned, unorganized, and perhaps even unpredicted constellation of coincidences of the subjective and the objective worlds. Here, I do not aim to oppose voluntary and involuntary memory to each other in terms of their political significance. By highlighting that affective memory is not a deliberate attempt by the subject to remember something, or what is called the duty to remember, I would like to point to its affective potential in everyday life. As Lauren Berlant has argued, the idiom of affects, or affect theory can provide a way to assess the disciplines of normativity in relation to the disorganized and disorganizing processes of labor, longing, memory, fantasy, grief, acting out, and sheer psychic creativity through which people constantly (consciously, unconsciously, dynamically) renegotiate the terms of reciprocity that contour their historical situation. (Berlant, 2011, p. 53) Affective memory is refracted through the environment that surrounds, nourishes, and intoxicates subjects in their ordinary lives. An event is a rupture in historical time, and the affective memory of that event carries its fragments into the time of the present, in a way that is not linear but is instead web-​like, engendering an entanglement of subjects and objects. Thus, rupture and continuity can be understood differently than what is normally envisioned in linear history writing, which mostly takes the form of national history. The football fan group Çarşı, which actively took part in the Gezi resistance brilliantly captured the dyad of rupture/​continuity just after the event: “You will not be able to relive Gezi by narrating its stories over and over again. If you look differently to life after Gezi, then you have already become Gezi” (as cited in Ekşi, 2014, p. 79). “Becoming Gezi” is a thought-​provoking phrase. I understand it as a way of participating in ordinary life, of reproducing life by “making modes of being and responding to the world” in ways that differ from “normative realism” and that constitute what is called “intuitive intelligence” (Berlant, 2011, p. 53).11 Affective memory establishes another archive, “an affective archive that can be reinvigorated at different times and places” (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 285). We can also identify it as a virtual archive, which becomes part of an affective sensorium for sensing the historical present (Berlant, 2011, p. 54). Affective memory is not merely a post-​event

190  Meltem Ahıska phenomenon; it is effective because it has been collectively activated within the event. In this way, the past transforms into the present and vice versa (Neyzi, 2014). I now return to the activation of affective memory during the Gezi event by dwelling on two significant aspects: first, participation and care, and second, the transformation of memory. Bilgin Ayata and Cilja Harders have proposed an important shift in perspective in order to think about the political practice of occupying public squares. Referring to the 2011 occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo and the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, they offer the concept of Midān Moments as a way of analysing the temporal, spatial, and affective dynamics of collective action and protest in a different way. In Arabic, midān means a field, place, or square but also a battlefield. And moment refers not to situations, events, hours, or days but to a temporal register of momentum (Ayata & Harders, 2019, pp. 283–​284). Midān Moments as a conceptual tool enable a more complex analysis of resistance movements such as those in Tahrir and Gezi by highlighting the ambivalence of affective dynamics as well as their capacity to travel in time and space in non-​linear, multi-​directional ways. These are “transformative events” that disrupt the “taken-​for-​granted assumptions governing routine political and social relations” (McAdam & Sewell, 2001, as cited in Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 284). They destabilize the existing emotional habitus. However, while giving rise to new ways of being and relating to each other, they also raise new conflicts and tensions (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 279). Thus, Midān Moments reveal both a sense of possibility and ambivalence (Ayata & Harders, 2019, p. 283). One possibility offered by Midān Moments lies in the various forms of participation they have evoked and engendered over time. Ayata and Harders (2019) have proposed that we approach these movements “as participation rather than protest” (p. 285). The movements entailed a form of participation that challenged existing national and neo-​liberal modes of being and living. These movements did not only question authoritarianism and discrimination; they also problematized models of development and the subjectivities they informed. For example, in Brazil, the demands of the protestors were not limited to the abolition of public transport fares; instead, the protestors of the Free Fare Movement imagined another kind of life in the city, a right to the city extended to all. What brought the middle classes and the poor –​or the centre and the periphery–​to the city squares was that it was not possible to move around the city anymore; life in the city was simply unlivable. Not only were the public transport conditions unbearable; the city arteries for private cars were also clogged –​cars remained stuck in traffic for long hours, creating a powerful and visible symptom.12 As one protest banner noted: “A rich country is not where poor people have cars; it is where rich people use public transport” (Velho, 2013). What started the Gezi movement, on the other hand, was opposition to the cutting down of the trees in Gezi Park and the illegal13 confiscation of a public green space in the middle of the city. This was part of the project

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  191 that aimed to reconstruct an Ottoman military barracks in Gezi Park. The barracks had a symbolic political meaning; they evoked continuity with the past by adding the attributed grandiosity of Ottoman Islamic rule to the popular appeal of the government. But the project went beyond symbolic meanings because it included the construction of a hotel and a shopping mall. Thus, it also represented disjuncture, being part and parcel of the so-​called urban transformation in line with the profit-​oriented neo-​liberal policies of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) regime from 2002 onwards (Iğsız, 2013. The protestors joined in opposing the destruction caused by ongoing urban transformation, not only in Istanbul but also all around the country. Gezi was not only a protest but a form of participation. The resistance demonstrated several ways of making and organizing life differently and collectively. Forging forms of material and immaterial solidarity, searching for and finding ways to solve problems together, reactivating the skills necessary to resist attacks, and developing new ways of learning and transmitting knowledge created a radically new environment and transformed the subjects of the given development models –​subjects who had learned to adjust to the present order of things and to move forward without ever pondering the past. The Gezi resistance gave participants an opportunity to build an infrastructure of care outside of the domestic context.14 Participants developed new modes of being and of being together, new skills, and a new ethics by eating, having fun, learning, expressing feelings and thoughts, making decisions by discussion, and resisting against police violence together. Gezi has created new forms of subjectivity as well new ways of valorizing labour and re-​organizing the social relations (Fırat, 2017, 2018b). Amy Holmes has discussed how Gezi enacted an experiment for a better life, and, pointing to the fact that money was abolished during the occupation of Gezi Park, she claims that the praxis was more radical than the demands (Holmes, 2014, p. 383). Holmes contends that Gezi embraced a utopian moment. Hence Gezi was not only a movement, it also stopped the flow of time, thus freeing people from all its imperatives, and creating a “time out of time” (Sabea, 2014, p. 74). As epitomized in the standing man/​woman of Gezi, the protestors–​participants created stillness (“’Standing Man’ inspires,” 2013). According to Nadia Seremetakis (1994), stillness is “the moment when the buried, the discarded, and the forgotten escape to the social surface of awareness like life-​supporting oxygen. It is the moment of exit from historical dust” (p. 12). This is exactly what happened during Gezi, which did not only generate its own memories, particularly centering on commemorations of the protestors who had been killed and wounded by the police violence, but also re-​enacted the memories of the past. Various issues usually addressed in isolation in opposition politics –​for example, regarding Kurds, non-​Muslim minorities and Islamic dissidents, socialists, women, and LGBTQI+​people–​ were reactivated in an unprecedented way in the political encounter of the protestors.

192  Meltem Ahıska The encounter revealed different moments of loss in the process of nation-​ building. For example, the resistance at least partly rendered visible the now-​ absent presence of an Armenian cemetery in the surroundings of Gezi Park. Tamar Nalcı and Emre Can Dağlıoğlu have offered a detailed account of how the large piece of land on which an Armenian cemetery existed was taken over in 1939 by the Istanbul Municipality through a long and dubious legal process (Bir Gasp Hikayesi, 2011). Gezi Park was then built on a section of this land utilizing the marble gravestones for the stairs of the park (Mezarlığımızı Aldınız, 2013). A monument to Armenian genocide first erected in the square in 1919 and then moved to the graveyard was dismantled and disappeared in 1920s. (Lapchindjian, 2017). This was repressed but not unknown history. Memories that re-​surfaced in the wake of the collective action produced affects and hence an affective memory that was connected to present political concerns. An organization of Turkey’s Armenians, Nor Zartonk (New Awakening), set up gravestone replicas in the occupied park reading, ‘You took our cemetery, you won’t have our park!’ According to Alice von Bieberstein and Nora Tataryan, this was not only “a critique of AKP’s neo-​Ottomanism. It also unsettled common perceptions of the park as unmarked green space. It posed the question of how this ‘public space’ came into being, asking passerbys and co-​occupants to face history” (von Bieberstein & Tataryan, 2013). This was thus a transformative event that opened up the past. Affective memory was reactivated during the event, which evoked new forms of participation and altered how people related to each other, the place and temporality. It created a radical contemporaneity by joining diverse temporalities and spatialities in a Midān Moment. Agamben (2009) had argued that who is contemporary should actively perceive “the darkness of his time as something that concerns him, as something that never ceases to engage him [sic]” (p. 45). The protests that started in late May 2013 in Turkey, now referred to as the Gezi resistance, produced a radical conception of contemporaneity in this respect, a concept of contemporaneity that stood in opposition to the one much emphasized in the hegemonic discourses of modernization and progress. By creatively engaging with the darkness of its present, the resistance, to a great extent, destroyed the closure of history in Turkey. Although Turkish society is far from coming to terms with its violent and anti-​ democratic history today, the virtual geography of Gezi lingers in the present, reverberating in the clashes of political as well as everyday life –​that is, in the obstructed demands of feminists, LGBTQI+​members, environmentalists, urban activists, lawyers, and academics and others who reclaimed the public space for freedom, equality, and justice in Turkey. Progress, Thresholds of Memory and Politics in the Present The hegemonic discourses of progress and contemporaneity posit a causal link between the past and the present, between an event in the past and the

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  193 one that follows it, with the assumption that the latter has surpassed the former. This approach envisions a temporal order that closes of the past. Possible deviations or aberrations in the forward moving temporal order are then explained away with recourse to the impact of anomalies introduced by “enemies”. I have argued that the Gezi moment/​ movement has created a radical form of contemporaneity that is very different from the way the concept of the contemporary that has been utilized in the Turkish modern-​national discourse. The discourse of progress constantly pushes subjects forward in time. The future target, albeit abstract and imperceptible, is predetermined. For example, in Turkey, so-​called Westernization and contemporaneity have been tightly coupled. Informed by the broader and interconnected discursive frames of Occidentalism/​Orientalism, the present time of certain people (Westerners) has been presented as the belated future of others (Easterners) (Ahıska, 2010). The problem with such a conception of contemporaneity is not only that the West is taken as a model, but also that the linear temporal model is built on the violent expulsion of some people’s histories and memories. Judith Butler argues, “that forwardly propelled subject and the history of the oppressed are thus linked together, and we are asked to consider a double movement: propulsion and expulsion, working at once, without a clear end in sight” (Butler, 2012, p. 101). The gap in between the propulsion and expulsion is veiled, albeit thinly, by a discourse of progress. Those who are deemed to insufficiently support so-​called contemporary life15 are marginalized or simply discarded. Scott McQuire (1998) has also made an important connection between progress and loss: “the possibility of loss –​whether loss of knowledge, of species, of culture, of the past in general –​remains anathema to the ideology of progress” (p. 123). It is within this hegemonic rationale of modern development and progress that Tayyip Erdoğan, then prime minister of Turkey, mocked the political concerns of Gezi protestors about the trees by offering Europe as a model: “It is common practice in the EU that you uproot the trees if necessary, and then transplant them to another place … The environmental technologies are highly developed now” (Erdoğan’s talk at the International Ombudsman Symposium held in Ankara on September 3, 2013, as cited in Erdoğan: Avrupaya Fransız Değiliz, 2013). In this steady linear movement, both trees and people are to be removed from their place to be “transplanted” to other places, if they are not already annihilated during the process, as can be seen in several instances of traumatic loss in Turkish history.16 Political and cultural hegemony in Turkey has gained power through the repression and the denial of loss and hence does not permit public mourning. Nora Tataryan (2021) has emphasized the continuity and systematicity of the regime of denial in Turkey. Dilan Yıldırım (2021) argues that Turkey is a “non-​testimonial” society and points to different modes of testimony in the cultural realm. Under these circumstances, one can say that memory is

194  Meltem Ahıska a battlefield. There has been a war of memories since the beginning of the Turkish Republic in 1923. That is obfuscated by the cliché that Turkey does not have any memory. Esra Özyürek (2007) has written in the introduction to her edited volume The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey that “the Turkish Republic was originally based on forgetting” (p. 3). Özyürek connects this amnesia to nation-​building, and how “the founders of the new regime decided that in order to build a new identity for the new nation, they first had to erase the Ottoman legacy” (Özyürek, 2007, p. 3). This erasure was imposed on everyday life and bodies through reforms that erased “the multicultural heritage of Ottoman Empire and its emphasis on Islam” (Özyürek, 2007, p. 3). Similarly, most studies on Turkish modernity refer to this rupture with the Ottoman past as constitutive. However, today, Özyürek (2007) says, “cultural practices are replete with memory, and people relentlessly struggle over how to represent and define the past” (p. 3). Hence, the amnesia of the past is contrasted with the “shared desire for more memory” in the present. I would argue that the contrast is informed by the transformation of the reigning genre of the official narrative. It is not a coincidence, then, that there has been an eruption of traumatic memories accompanying the erasure of the Kemalist ideals of the past in the present AKP political regime, which appeals to Islamicized hegemony (Ahıska, 2014b). These are memories of multiple crimes against humanity, from the annihilation of Armenians and the non-​Christian populations in Anatolia at the end of the 19th and the beginning of 20th century to the forced exchange of populations of Greeks and Turks in the 1920s; from the ruthless tax levy on and expropriation of the wealth of Jews, Greeks, and Armenians in 1942 to the forced displacement and massacres of the Alevi and Kurdish populations that occurred in Dersim in the mid-​1930s, in Maraş in 1978, in Sıvas in 1993, and during the war against the Kurdish in the 1990s; and from the many forms of political violence against oppositional groups and individuals during the long history of the nation –​especially with the coup d’états in 1960, 1971 and 1980–​to the similar instances that are re-​surfacing today. These traumatic memory narratives do not only evoke past atrocities but also reveal cracks in official history, which rests on the denial of these crimes, leading to fierce debates about core issues, such as Turkishness, Kemalism, laicisim, nationalism, the deep state, citizenship and the national language at various sites, including the now mostly functionless parliament. Taner Akçam (2021) has pointed to the serious crisis of official history today and argued that the constitutive narrative of the Turkish Republic has collapsed. As the centenary of the Turkish Republic and the tenth anniversary of Gezi, the year 2023 is already replete with the symptoms of a crisis of memory, not only at the political level but also at the level of everyday life. The waning

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  195 of the Kemalist genre of official history is being countered by an attempt to revive an Ottoman imperial identity in political discourses as well as in cultural and aesthetic forms, a kind of neo-​Ottomanism (Tokdoğan, 2018). Yet this authoritarian attempt to restructure official history is experiencing major difficulties in sustaining the hegemony of its genre (Bora, 2021). As the memory wars continue to be fiercely fought, coupled with the crises of the system on the economic, ecological, and political fronts, we are witnessing what Berlant (2011) has called “crisis ordinariness” (p. 10). The recognition of the ordinariness and the “logic of adjustment” (Berlant, 2011, p. 3) that people variously engage with in order to survive leads us away from the analysis of meta-​level structures and ideology and brings us back to the complexity of the historical present. The historical present is textured with thresholds. Thresholds can be viewed as border zones that are materialized by power-​struggles and “memory wars”, where processes of remembering and forgetting are intermingled in particular sites and forms. In thresholds, one can find the traces of multifarious memories that have mostly been destroyed and cast into oblivion but still live on, giving rise to ghostly dreams and affects (Gordon, 2008). However, the threshold is not simply a borderline; it is an indeterminate space open to contradictory movements. The Gezi event has been significant in pointing to the thresholds between remembering and forgetting in Turkey, which have been structured by the violence of nationalism and progress and endorsed by the intertwined operations of Orientalism and Occidentalism. With its call for collective participation, Gezi suspended the limits of the sayable and the dominant habitus of everyday life. Thresholds in the historical present take us back to the event and the affective memory of the event –​not to fetishize it, but to sense its potentials. In 2013, in the midst of the moment of resistance, I wrote regarding the ambivalent possibilities of Gezi: Today gives us the possibility of a new outlook: in this twilight zone in which yesterday, today, and tomorrow lose their power codes, it gives the possibility of destroying the chronological narratives of power discourses, of facing the past without being overwhelmed by it, of liberating the present by changing the past. This “moment” does not only inevitably bear the past, and the explosion of its accumulated angers and longings in an unexpected way, but it also destroys the entrenched narratives of the past, brings the past into today, and transforms it in the present time. (Ahıska, 2013) Today the possibility seems fainter, since the “logic of adjustment” within the present crisis is producing worn-​out subjects who, in need of survival, tend to suspend the “cruelty of the now” (Berlant, 2011, p. 28). Yet, as Berlant

196  Meltem Ahıska (2011) has argued, improvization –​along with adjudication and adaptation in everyday life–​remains ongoing (p. 54). I think the Gezi moment/​movement has a significant impact on how to think of and improvise politics in relation to time, space, and affective memory. The virtual geography of Gezi has been created by coming to terms with the nationalized past and loss. A new time–​ space was brought into being by dislocating place and activating the traces of loss embedded in certain places that have been obfuscated. The affective memory of the event, or, in other words, memory transformed by political participation, provides potential points of entry to the politics of the present in the face of ongoing state violence and loss. The sustainability of Gezi is nothing more than remembering and embodying its affective potential within new political imaginaries today. Notes 1 Various court cases related to Gezi were initiated over the years, the first in 2014. Two of these court cases ended with the acquittal of the suspects. Yet with the joinder of cases the Gezi court case was reopened in October, 2021 for the trial of 52 people including the members of the football fan group Çarşı, and Osman Kavala who is in prison since 2017 and has been charged with various unsubstantiated political crimes. (3. Kez Gezi Davası, 2021). The Çarşı case was separated soon due to lack of evidence, and on April 25, 2021, in the second and final hearing of the Gezi trial, the verdict was announced. Osman Kavala was sentenced to aggravated life sentence for “attempting to overthrow the government” and Mücella Yapıcı, Çiğdem Mater, Hakan Altınay, Mine Özerden, Can Atalay, Tayfun Kahraman, and Yiğit Ali Ekmekçi were sentenced to 18 years in prison for assisting in the “attempted overthrow.” The lawyers disputed the verdict, claiming that it was not a fair trial and not even a trial (Adal & Durmaz, 2022). There are also many cases in which various protests have been criminalized as Gezi-​like events, the most recent being the protests of students and faculty against the appointed rector at Boğaziçi University that have been ongoing since January 2021 (Boğaziçi Üniversitesindeki eylemler, 2021) 2 Svetlena Boym (2001) states that “virtual reality was first imagined by Henri Bergson, not Bill Gates. Only in Bergson’s definition, virtual reality referred to planes of consciousness, potential dimensions of time and creativity that are distinctly and inimitably human” (p. 23). 3 Werbner et al. (2014) refer to this kind of “inter-​textuality” as “citational travel” in protests and revolts (p. 14). 4 Also see Werbner, et al. (2014) for a thorough discussion of popular revolts and protests in different countries as part of a “global protest” that started in 2010. 5 Begüm Özden Fırat gives some examples noting that when the Spanish occupied the squares they said “Let us murmur so not to awaken the Greeks” or the Israeli movement created a new slogan “Tel Aviv, Cairo, the same revolution”, a banner in Taksim during Gezi declared that “This place is Tahrir”, and the Brazilian protests embraced the slogan “Love is over. Here is Turkey now”. (Küresel Hareket Döngüleri, 2018) 6 The format of the slogan was taken from the Tekel workers’ resistance in Ankara in 2010 (Fırat, 2017).

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  197 7 Selahattin Demirtaş, then the chairperson of the Kurdish Party BDP, commented on Gezi saying, while the resistance of the people is to be celebrated, there are also people who want to sabotage the Kurdish Peace Process by using Gezi (Demirtaş’tan Gezi Parkı, 2013). 8 Hanan Sabea (2014) argues in the context of Tahrir in 2011 that “the revolution moved way outside of Tahrir and the eighteen days both spatially and temporally” (p. 80). 9 It could also be fruitful to rethink the meaning of “peace” in a performative manner, not only as the cessation of war but in terms of how peace is a common good or “communal luxury” (Ross, 2016) that can be shared by everyone. 10 See also Aleida Assmann’s (2014) article “  ‘The Whole Country Is a Monument’: Framing Places of Terror in Post-​War Germany” where she discusses the distinction between voluntary and involuntary memory. 11 According to Berlant (2011), “intuition is where affect meets history, in all its chaos, normative ideology, and embodied practices of discipline and invention” (p. 52). 12 Holston (2013) mentions that in 2000s the emphasis on automobile production and consumption marginalized the investment on public transport. 13 The urban planners and the Architectural Association in Turkey had filed a lawsuit in 2012 against the declared governmental urban project, which aimed to undertake a major transformation of the Gezi Park and to re-​build an Ottoman military barracks (which had been demolished in 1940 to build the park) under the name of Taksim Pedestrian Project. The court decided the stay of the execution and cancelled the project on June 6, 2013. The project nevertheless continued leading to an opposition from the people (Taksim Yayalaştırma Projesi, 2013). 14 Judith Butler and Veronica Gago pointed out to “care taken out of the domestic context” in their conversation in “Feminist International: How to Change Everything” online symposium, International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, December 11, 2020. See also The Care Collective (2020). 15 There exists a Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği (Association of Supporting Contemporary Life) in Turkey since 1989, which aims to promote modern and secular values of Kemalism. 16 I have discussed elsewhere the public vigil of the mothers/​kin of the forcefully disappeared people that continues since 1995 every Saturday at a public urban square, and known as Saturday Mothers. This is one of the most persistent movements in Turkey, one which publicly bears witness to loss. See Ahıska (2014a, 2019).

References 3.Kez Gezi Davası, bu kez 52 kişi ‘sanık’: Gezi’de Suç Bulamayacaklar! [3rd Gezi Trial, this time 52 people are ‘accused’: They Will Find No Crime in Gezi]. (2021, October 8), Evrensel. Retrieved from www.evren​sel.net/​haber/​444​576/​3-​kez-​gezi-​ dav​asi-​bu-​kez-​52-​kisi-​sanik-​gez​ide-​suc-​bul​amay​acak​lar Adal, H. & Durmaz, M. (2022, April 25). Gezi trial: Aggravated life sentence for Osman Kavala, 18 years in prison for seven others. Bianet. Retrieved from https://​ m.bia​net.org/​engl​ish/​law/​260​956-​gezi-​trial-​agg​rava​ted-​life-​sente​nce-​for-​osman-​ kav​ala-​18-​years-​in-​pri​son-​for-​seven-​oth​ers

198  Meltem Ahıska Agamben, G. (2009). What Is the Contemporary? In “What Is an Apparatus?” and Other Essays (pp. 39–​54). Redwood City: Stanford University Press. Ahıska, M. (2010). Occidentalism in Turkey: Questions of Modernity and National Identity in Turkish Radio Broadcasting. I.B.Tauris: London. Ahıska, M. (2013, June 23). ‘Kahrolsun Bağzı Şeyler’: Alacakaranlık Kuşağının İmkânları [‘Damn some things’: Possibilities of the Twilight Zone]. Bianet. Retrieved from https://​bia​net.org/​bia​net/​siya​set/​147​863-​kahrol​sun-​bagzi-​sey​ler-​ alacak​aran​lik-​kusagi​nin-​imkanl​ari Ahıska, M. (2014a). Counter-​ Movement, Space and Politics: How the Saturday Mothers of Turkey Make Enforced Disappearances Visible. In E. Schindel & P. Colombo (Eds.) Space and the Memories of Violence: Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception (pp. 162–​ 175). Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan Memory Studies. Ahıska, M. (2014b). Thinking about the Eruptions and Thresholds of Memory in Turkey Through the Imperial Complex. In A. Shibli (Ed.), A Journey of Ideas Across: In Dialog with Edward Said. Berlin: Haus der Kulturen der Welt. https://​ journ​eyof​i dea​sacr​oss.hkw.de/​betw​een-​times-​shi​fts-​in-​impe​rial​ism-​orie​ntal​ism-​and-​ occide​ntal​ism/​mel​tem-​ahi​ska.html Ahıska, M. (2019). Memory as Encounter: The Saturday Mothers in Turkey. In A. G. Altınay, María, J. Contreras, M. Hirsch, J. Howard, B. Karaca & A. Solomon (Eds.), Women Mobilizing Memory (pp. 133–​151). New York: Columbia University Press. Akçam, T. (2021, November 19). Yeni Kurucu Bir Hikaye Gerek: Kılıçdaroğlu, Tarihle Yüzleşme ve Yeni Kurucu Hikaye [We Need a New Founding Narrative: Kılıçdaroğlu, Facing History and a New Founding Narrative]. Bianet. Retrieved from https://​ m.bia​net.org/​bia​net/​siya​set/​253​605-​kilic​daro​glu-​tari​hle-​yuzle​sme-​ve-​yeni-​kur​ucu-​ hik​aye Arendt, H. (1961). What Is Freedom? In Between Past and Future: Six Exercises in Political Thought. New York: The Viking Press. Assmann, A. (2014). The Whole Country Is a Monument: Framing Places of Terror in Post-​War Germany. In E. Schindel & P. Colombo (Eds.) Space and the Memories of Violence: Landscapes of Erasure, Disappearance and Exception (pp. 135–​149). Hampshire: Palgrave McMillan Memory Studies. Ayata, B., & Harders, C. (2019). Midān Moments. In J. Slaby & C. von Scheve (Eds.), Affective Societies: Key Concepts (1 ed., pp. 279–​ 288). New York & London: Routledge. Badiou, A. (2005). Being and Event (O. Feltham, Trans. Vol. 0826458319). London: Continuum. Benjamin, W. (1969). The Image of Proust (H. Zohn, Trans.). In H. Arendt (Ed.), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections (pp. 201–​217). New York: Schocken Books. Berlant, L. (2011). Cruel Optimism. Durham and London: Duke University Press. Bir Gasp Hikayesi [Story of a Seizure]. (2011, August 26), Agos. Bluemink, M. (2020). On Virtuality: Deleuze, Bergson, Simondon. Epoché Magazine (36). Retrieved from https://​epo​chem​agaz​ine.org/​36/​on-​vir​tual​ity-​dele​uze-​berg​son-​ simon​don/​ Boğaziçi Üniversitesindeki eylemler ikinci gezi provası mı? [Are the protests at Boğaziçi University the second Gezi rehearsal?]. (2021, Janaury 6), Internethaber. Retrieved from www.intern​etha​ber.com/​bogaz​ici-​univer​site​sind​eki-​eylem​ler-​iki​nci-​ gezi-​prov​asi-​mi-​video-​galer​isi-​2153​816.htm.

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  199 Bond, L., Craps, S., & Vermeulen, P. (Eds.). (2017). Memory Unbound Tracing the Dynamics of Memory Studies (1 ed.). New York: Berghahn Books. Bora, T. (2021). Hafızayı Planlamak ve Heykelleştirmek (Planning and Monumentalizing the Memory). In E. Ertürk & S. Sancaktar (Eds.), Hafıza ve Sanat Konușmaları 2020 [Memory and Art Talks 2020] (pp. 77–​91). İstanbul: Ofset Yapımevi. Boym, S. (2001). The Future of Nostalgia. New York: Basic Books. Butler, J. (2012). Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism. New York: Columbia University Press. Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. L. (2001). Naturing the Nation: Aliens, Apocalypse and the Postcolonial State. Journal of Southern African Studies, 27(3), 627–​651. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/​sta​ble/​823​319 Demirtaş’tan Gezi Parkı direniş yorumu [Commentary on Gezi Park Resistance by Demirtaş] (2013, June 1), Cumhuriyet. Ekşi, E. (2014). Bir Atölye Çalışması: Gezi Direnişi’nin Tarihi Nasıl Yazılır [A Workshop: How to Write the History of the Gezi Resistance]. Toplumsal Tarih, 246, 75–​81. Erdoğan: Avrupaya Fransız Değiliz, Avrupayı da Biliriz [Erdoğan: We are not Greek to Europe, We Know Europe Too]. (2013, September 3), Radikal. Retrieved from www.radi​kal.com.tr/​polit​ika/​erdogan_​avrupaya_​fransiz_​degi​liz_​avru​payi​_​da_​bili​ riz-​1149​043 Fırat, B. Ö. (2017). Taksim Gezi Komünü [Taksim Gezi Commune]. In D. Fırat & C. Erdal (Eds.), Devrimci Bir Pusula: Gezi [A Revolutionary Compass: Gezi](pp. 64–​ 85). İstanbul: Ayrıntı. Fırat, B. Ö. (2018a). Küresel Hareket Döngüleri ve Müşterekleştirme Hareketleri [Global Movement Cycles and Movements of Commoning]. Müşterekler, 2022. Retrieved from https://​must​erek​ler.sehak.org/​2018/​12/​07/​kure​sel-​hare​ket-​dongul​ eri-​ve-​muste​rekl​esti​rme-​hare​ketl​eri-​begum-​ozden-​firat/​ Fırat, B. Ö. (2018b). Patterns of Revolt: On Global Uprisings and Revolutionary Imagery. Quaderns de la Mediterrània, (26), 123–​134. Foucault, M. (2003). Questions of Method. In P. Rabinow & N. Rose (Eds.), The Essential Foucault: Selections from Essential Works of Foucault, 1954–​1984 (pp. 246–​258) . London: The New Press. Gordon, A. F. (2008). Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Holmes, A. (2014). On Military Coups and Mad Utopias. The South Atlantic Quarterly, 113(2), 380–​395. doi:10.1215/​00382876-​2644176 Holston, J. (2013). ‘Come to the street’: Urban Protest, Brazil 2013. Fieldsights, Protesting Democracy in Brazil. Retrieved from https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​ come-​to-​the-​str​eet-​urban-​prot​est-​bra​zil-​2013 Iğsız, A. (2013, July 12). Brand Turkey and the Gezi Protests: Authoritarianism, Law and Neoliberalism (Part One, Part Two). Jadaliyya. Retrieved from www.jadali​yya. com/​Deta​ils/​29078 Karaca, B. (2013). Suspending the Limits of the Sayable. Fieldsights. Retrieved from https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​sus​pend​ing-​the-​lim​its-​of-​the-​saya​ble Küresel Hareket Döngüleri ve Müşterekleştirme Hareketleri [Global Movement Cycles and Commoning Movements]. (2018, December 7), Müşterekler. Retrieved from https://​must​erek​ler.sehak.org/​2018/​12/​07/​kure​sel-​hare​ket-​dongul​eri-​ve-​muste​ rekl​esti​rme-​hare​ketl​eri-​begum-​ozden-​firat/​

200  Meltem Ahıska Lapchindjian, T. (2017). 11 Nisan Anıtı [Memorial to April 11th]. Istanbul: Belge Yayınları. McAdam, D., Tarrow, S., & Tilly, C. (2001). Dynamics of contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. McQuire, S. (1998). Visions of Modernity: Representation, Memory, Time and Space in the Age of the Camera. London: Sage. Mezarlığımızı Aldınız, Parkımızı Alamayacaksınız [You took our Cemetery, you won`t have our park]. (2013, June 3), Nor Zartonk. Retrieved from www.nor​zart​ onk.org/​mezarl​igim​izi-​aldi​niz-​parkim​izi-​alam​ayac​aksi​niz/​ Neyzi, L. (2014). Geçmişe Dönüşen Şimdi: Yaşamak, Farkındalık ve Araştırma [Now that Turns into the Past: Living, Awareness and Research]. Toplumsal Tarih, 246, 88–​93. Özyürek, E. (2007). Introduction: The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey. In E. Özyürek (Ed.), The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey (pp.1–​15). Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Ross, K. (2016). Communal Luxury: The Political Imaginary of the Paris Commune. New York: Verso Books. Rothberg, M. (2009). Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization. Redwood City: Stanford University Press. Sabea, H. (2014). ‘I Dreamed of Being a People’: Egypt’s Revolution, the People and Critical Imagination. In P. Werbner, M. Webb, & K. Spellman-​Poots (Eds.), The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (pp. 67–​92). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Seremetakis, C. N. (1994). Memory of the Senses. In C. N. Seremetakis (Ed.), The Senses Still: Perception and Memory as Material Culture in Modernity (pp.1–​43). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Simon, L. (1997). Narrative and Simultaneity: Benjamin’s Image of Proust. Studies in 20th Century Literature, 21(2), 361–​380. doi:10.4148/​2334-​4415.1423 ‘Standing Man’ inspires Turkish protestors in Istanbul. (2013, June 18), BBC News. Retrieved from https://​www.bbc.com/​news/​world-​eur​ope-​22949​632 Tataryan, N. (2021). Șiddetin Temsili ve Yüzleșmenin İmkânı Üzerine Bir Deneme (An Essay on the Representation of Violence and the Possibility of Confrontation). In E. Ertürk & S. Sancaktar (Eds.), Hafıza ve Sanat Konușmaları 2020 [Memory and Art Talks 2020] (pp. 67–​77). İstanbul: Ofset Yapımevi. Taksim Yayalaştırma Projesi İptal Edilmiş [Taksim Pedestrianization Project Got Cancelled]. (2013, July 3), BBCNews. Retrieved from www.bbc.com/​tur​kce/​haber​ ler/​2013/​07/​1307​03_​g​ezi_​mahk​eme The Care Collective (2020) The Care Manifesto: The Politics of Interdependence, New York: Verso. Tokdoğan, N. (2018). Yeni Osmanlıcılık: Hınç, Nostalji, Narsisizm [New Ottomanism: Ressentiment, Nostalgia and Narcissism]. İstanbul: İletişim. Velho, O. (2013). Protests in Brasil. Fieldsights, Protesting Democracy in Brazil. Retrieved from https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​prote​sts-​in-​bra​zil von Bieberstein, A., & Tataryan, N. (2013). The What of Occupation: ‘You Took Our Cemetery, You Won’t Have Our Park!’. Fieldsights. Retrieved from https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​the-​what-​of-​occ​upat​ion-​you-​took-​our-​cemet​ery-​ you-​wont-​have-​our-​park Werbner, P., Webb, M., & Spellman-​Poots, K. (2014). Introduction. In P. Werbner, M. Webb & K. Spellman-​Poots (Eds.), The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (pp. 1–​28). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Virtual Geography and Thresholds of Memory  201 Williams, R. (1977). Structures of Feeling. In Marxism and Literature (pp. 128–​135). Oxford: Oxford University Press. Yıldırım, D. (2021). Adet Kanı, Saç ve İğne: Kendine Tanıklığın İnșası [Menstruation Blood, Hair and Needle: Construction of Self-​ Witnessing]. In E. Ertürk & S. Sancaktar (Eds.), Hafıza ve Sanat Konușmaları 2020 [Memory and Art Talks 2020] (pp. 161–​175). İstanbul: Ofset Yapımevi.

11 Flashes of Revolutionary Times The University as a Meshwork of Hope, Despair, and Endurance Hanan Sabea

How can one narrate and write affect? What is the affect that one writes and narrates? Does affect refer to what has been analytically and popularly called emotions (Ahmed, 2014; Berlant, 2017; Lutz, 1986; Stoler, 2009) or structures of feeling (Williams, 1977)? Or is affect something of a different nature even if it implicates both emotions and structures of feeling? Ayata and Harders (2018) have conceptualized affect as “relational dynamics unfolding in interaction; processes of ‘affecting and being affected’ that not only ground and inform emotions, but also exceed discrete emotional states in moments of transgression and intensity” (p. 118). But how can words on a page encapsulate and illuminate sensibilities that grip the body and move it to act and to effect events that were neither part of a plan nor a script and that maybe only in retrospect become possible to remember and narrate? Does affect exude what Bergson called “spirit memories” (Lapoujade, 2018, p. 16) that flow in bodies, allowing for the conjuring of different temporalities and forces that move us to action (Bergson, 1991)? Are these then the possibilities and potential that are configured on the spot, in the here and now, without a preconceived plan, yet always in relation to bodies, times, and spaces variously positioned? In the following pages I attempt to engage with these questions about how to think and write affect and with affect in relation to three key nodes, namely, space, temporality, and bodies. My aim is not to write yet another conceptual elucidation of affect and possibility or the unthinkable that becomes possible but rather to think with and alongside affect and the possible through a particular protest that erupted in July 2017 on the premises of a private university in Cairo. In retrospect, this strike was the last one in a long series of protest movements by workers that predated the January 2011 Revolution, though the events of 2011 marked the meanings and practices of protest in fundamental ways for all those involved—​including for me, as a faculty member who participated in those strikes—​and all those against whom protests were directed. January 2011 was not only ingrained in the memories of those who followed or opposed it but was literally archived in and on bodies and in the experiences they recalled in DOI: 10.4324/9781003273882-15

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  203 relation to tactics, routines, chants, movements, fears, expectations, anxieties, joy, despair, and aspirations. The aura of July 2017 on the plaza where the strike took place lasted for 11 long days and was infused with the air of Tahrir 2011. But was it only Tahrir that comprised the temporal and spatial node that infused the plaza space on the university campus for the workers at the university? I argue it was not only Tahrir as an event or a moment but Tahrir as a possibility that emerged and was manifested in the 18 days and in the potential it enabled. Ayata and Harders have written about the notion of Midān Moments: “These moments are imbued with a sense of possibility and of ambivalence as they may already contain—​and make vivid—​the limits of these possibilities” (Ayata & Harders, 2018, p. 116). It was the times before 2011 that took the university workers to 2010, when they experienced one of their major encounters with the administration, though it was declared by many after the 10th day a failure, where the workers gained nothing. In fact, I would argue, they gained much, since 2010 interlocked with 2011 and created more possibilities leading to 2017, not in a chronologically or linearly ordered manner, but rather because each episode or encounter makes other encounters and episodes possible. No path is necessary or predetermined, nor is any path and the potential constellation of affective bodies in time and space already given and predictable. There are always living archives in bodies of spaces, times, and collectives that conjure possibilities as much as they embody limits. The day of the workers’ protests on the university plaza is an iteration of that. The Protest in Context But when did the protests start and what were their contexts? I insist that there is no fixed date of a beginning in which an origin moment can be collapsed and to which multitudes of encounters can be reduced. As was also the case in January 2011 in Egypt, the timeline and beginning (and its aftermaths) of the protest to which I refer are elusive and multiple; one can go back to April 2008 and the Mahalla strikes, or to the Kefaya demonstrations, or to the protests against the November 2010 elections, or to the human chains that lined the Corniche in Alexandria and the Nile fronts in Cairo and mushroomed in many parts of the country after Khaled Said’s murder and the bombing of the Saints’ Church in Alexandria, to list but a few that have been rendered visible and recognizable (Abul-​Magd, 2012; Ayata & Harders, 2018; Matta, 2022; Said, 2014). The fixation on the origin defies the unforeseeable movement of bodies and affects that produced the happenings of January or Tahrir or the Midān Moments, and, in this particular case, the events of July 2017. I do not attempt to equalize time, nor to deny events, but rather to question from an affective perspective what comprises an event and how to live revolutions practically and think of them analytically. More poignantly,

204  Hanan Sabea there is the question of how to reject the dyad of thinking versus acting that has marked a lot of the writings on affect and revolution and foreground the inseparability of both as constitutive of affect and revolution. Affect as a flow of forces through bodies in acting, feeling, and thinking (Massumi, 2015) is not separated by a sequence, nor does one of these elements substitute for the other. Affect is an overpowering feeling in action that calls on and potentiates the different temporalities and the different possibilities that are not yet verbally articulated but are thought, felt, and experienced in bodies, and certainly not only rational minds. What affect enables is a rejection of the hegemony of reasoned rational action that follows from thoughts and the mind with a predetermined plan and a recognition of the possibility of action offered by a body that has a heart, a mind, memory, and affects and is also constituted constantly in the moment of action. It dislodges the singularity of thinking the human as a fundamentally rational being, the view of an epistemological tradition that emerged with the enlightenment and matured in its wake. So, what was the story of the university plaza in July 2017? A few words on context are necessary at this juncture, which I have written from my perspective as a faculty member at the university and participant in the series of protests by workers that started during Fall 2010—​or at least that was my beginning in the protests. The university is a private institution that has a 100-​year-​long history in Egypt and a close relationship to the various regimes in Egypt as well as the Foreign Office. It does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Universities, and its relationship to the government of Egypt is premised on a protocol signed in the 1970s. In short, the university is a protected space that carries substantial social, economic, and political capital in the country and hence events and happenings on its grounds bear a lot of significance in the national context and internationally. Hence, a strike by 57 workers on its premises can serve as a testing ground for what is possible in the country. Though in numerical terms, 57 workers and 11 days might seem a minuscule detail in the life of Egypt, its effects far outweigh the small numbers. In September and October of 2010, anger was rampant among housekeeping workers on account of low pay, inadequate overtime payments, the poor quality of the meal allowances, and allegations of corruption and favouritism among supervisors that became evident in annual assessments of performance. At the time, the protests at the university echoed other workers’ protests in different sectors of the economy, which were most evident in the Mahalla strikes (textile industry) and later in the tax authority staff strikes. Labour unions acted as a mere façade for control and government-​capital alliances, an instance of which was also evident on the grounds of the university. The workers’ syndicate abdicated its role of advocating for workers’ concerns and moved in line with the administration, rendering this workers’ organization a docile body. Contractual relations with the university (the employer) were also the subject of workers’ demands since many workers

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  205 lacked contracts and were hired on a casual basis. After ten days, the strike was declared a failure by participating workers, and both the syndicate and the administration emerged victorious and confident about their ability to quell the resistance. But the time of quelling or confining had passed, and soon January 2011 became a marker of “a time out of time” (Sabea, 2013). New possibilities emerged in a series of strikes on the university campus from May 2011, occurring almost monthly until November 2016. Like the rest of the country, strikes, demonstrations, and protests continued almost unabated for about three years, ending with the massacres of the summer of 2013 (Said, 2014). Imbued with the effervescence of the times, these university strikes brought together the different types of workers at the university (housekeeping, security, gardening and landscaping and some office staff1) as well as students and faculty. Again, a collective reliving or refusal to let go of the Tahrir experiences of 2011 made it possible to reconfigure old ties of alliances and solidarities, yet in the process also generating new and unexpected ones. The demands during these various protests concerned pay, security of contracts, terms of contracts, allowances and overtime, abrasive treatment by supervisors and section heads, and working hours with break times. By the summer of 2017, however, the times were drastically different, not only at the university but also across the country. Striking was illegal; gatherings of more than five people were suspect; emergency laws were in effect; and policing, surveillance, and securitization had reached a peak. Educational institutions were under a tight security grip, and independent syndicates were declared defunct and dysfunctional, if not outright outlawed. What could have impelled 57 housekeeping workers at the university to move against the tide of confinement, silencing, and acquiescence? What triggered them to resort to what they termed their last action? In their first communique to the university community on Sunday, July 17, the workers wrote: We, the housekeeping workers, started our open strike on Sunday July 16, 2017. We decided to hold a sit-​in to protest the abrupt and abrasive decision by the administration to dissolve the housekeeping department, to not renew the contracts of 170 workers, and resort to outsourcing the housekeeping operations to a private company. Our demands are: 1) revoke this decision; 2) renew the contracts of workers, 3) start serious negotiations among concerned parties about the organization of work that protects the rights of workers and the rights of the university to good service with clear benchmarks. (Workers statement to community on July 17, 2017) Silence prevailed for days while the sit-​in continued in a flurry of affective dynamics that brought the past and the present into a simultaneous plane of experience. I was part of that space and time, as a faculty member participating in the strike, supporting the workers, thinking, acting, eating, laughing, and crying with them. Our positions were certainly different, but

206  Hanan Sabea our commitments to a different present and the possibility of another future not wavering. I am writing as a witness, a participant after more than five years of the events of Summer 2017. I am writing in retrospect, but in writing, I am also reliving the intensity of the emotions and the unpredictability of the situation, though this is theoretically time past. Yet, my argument is that time does not elapse, it continues in other possibilities and in other moments, spaces, bodies, and actions. I turn next to the plaza providing an account of the last hours of the strike. Thursday, July 27, 2017 We were sitting in the plaza eating what in retrospect would be the last lunch of molokheya (Egyptian leafy vegetable), rice, and chicken. There were several students around, yet the tension in the air was rising. Everybody could feel the tension in their guts; it was visceral and corporeal. But what is it? Nobody seemed sure, no one verbalized it, but it is there, heavily descending on the group of 57 (as the group of protesting workers later came to be called) and myself. A senior administrator had already broken the silence and started negotiating with the housekeeping workers, who had been on strike for the last 11 days. It was a summer break and very few people were on campus, be they students, faculty members, or staff. Yet the 57 workers endured the silence, the isolation, and the meagre food supply. On the second day of the strike, the university administration had ordered all the different food chains not to sell any food to the workers. Emulating the model of occupied Tahrir six years earlier, workers relied on supplies coming from outside, delivered either by students or fellow workers, who would go home at night and then resume the strike during the day. But things were different that Thursday, anxiety was rising, since, following the initial talks with the administration, silence reigned again. The workers had been enveloped in a bubble of silence, and there was no reaction from the administration of the university. Waiting was the happening! It was filled with detailed routines that I will flesh out below. What made things worse that Thursday night was the SMS message that all striking workers received at 1:00 AM, which stated that those who left campus would not be allowed on the premises of the university again and they would be barred from entering campus; if they ventured on the premises, they would be considered trespassers and legal action would be taken against them. This threat of legal action was a bit novel considering the previous six to seven years of workers’ protests on campus. Why would the administration send such a message right after midnight? What was the legal premise of the threat? Would they actually dare to do it? Of course not, everyone said: The university had never brought police security on campus, nor would it resort to state security to resolve conflicts with workers and students. Despite all these verbal assurances, relying on histories of conflict and negotiation with the administration, there was still a sense of unease that

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  207 you could see markedly on people’s faces, and there were whispers in side conversations among workers and myself. I called several labour lawyers with whom we had cooperated several times before. Their responses were alarming. This is no longer 2011 nor even 2013; the times and tactics are different. They advised us to send one of the workers who had been barred from campus to the police station to report this violation by the university. The 57 workers and myself, after a series of conversations among ourselves and a Zoom call with a faculty colleague who was out of the country, obliged and sent a group of 24 workers to the nearest police station. Those were the ones who were already off campus by the time the SMS was sent. Fatehelbab went and filed a report; but instead of getting a copy or the number of the report, the police officer confiscated his ID and refused to give it back, claiming that they would send their report and case immediately to the public prosecutor, he asked the worker to wait, and he would take him to the public prosecutor! By the time he called us back on campus to report what is happening, all sorts of red flags were raised. After consulting with another labour lawyer, Hassouna called him to urge him to leave right away, even leaving his ID behind. Fatehelbab hesitated, saying he needed his ID and the officer promised to help him. I called again and in a non-​negotiating voice asked him to leave right away. He did and went home. We remained on campus all knowing the inevitable that would come yet refusing to accept it. We started our lunch late and somehow tried to exchange jokes and memories of the days before to ease the anxiousness that engulfed the place. Tea and coffee cycles resumed, more cigarettes were consumed, and the waiting became unbearable. To break the long stretches of waiting and silence—​though actually they were not that long—​we would break into singing, especially since it had started getting dark “Oh night! Extend for a few more hours so we can maintain the company of the loved ones”.2 By 9:00 PM we got a call on my cell phone from the senior administrator: end the strike now, the consequences are bad, and they will happen tonight! I got the news and my heart sank, what does he mean? What are they plotting? How? And is this related to the confiscation of the ID at the police station? Many questions, fears, and no clear answers. I called a couple of lawyers and they sounded more alarmed and recommended that we start thinking about strategies to end the strike without losing too much. What? End the strike now, after 11 days in the most difficult conditions and at a time when striking has been made illegal by the regime? Yet the 57 were still holding their ground, going sometimes without food, sleeping on the steps of the plaza, not even in a closed room, with security personnel circling around them endlessly and knowing full well that the CCTV cameras were surveilling every minute of their activities. Shortly after these phone calls, I pulled one of the workers to the side and explained the situation. For the first time in seven years, I saw Hassouna cry, he could not believe what was still coming, he was exhausted, having slept

208  Hanan Sabea on the plaza steps for the last 11 days, and he simply collapsed emotionally and mentally. A message from the legal office at the university: We have filed a case about an illegal work stoppage, striking, and an unlawful occupation of the university’s premises against the 57! The news was spreading very fast and emotions were getting high. Agitation was visible in the frantic movement of bodies. Cell phones ringing, voices rising, chatter, no stillness anymore but agitation that was felt, seen, and heard. A call with a former security personnel: You are the testing ground of the government, in alliance with the administration. If the clamp down succeeds at the university, it signals that much more can happen outside. Another phone call from the senior administrator, by then it was almost 11:00 PM. End the strike or the police will move onto campus and collect all of you based on the charges the university has filed! It was not a threat anymore, but the reality of a different time! What was unthinkable six years earlier became part of the possible! We had to collectively reach an agreement about what to do next. “We will not leave, nor end anything”, “Let the police come, and we will make them our prey, as we know every inch on campus” (personal observation, Cairo, July 27, 2017). One of the workers used the analogy of a children’s game, and everybody laughed. We laughed and then the laughter turned into sobbing for several workers, who had lived through and endured bad moments. Someone would start singing and we would follow, but slowly the voice of the singer would give in to the fear of what was coming next. Flashes of memories of abuse, or earlier success stories at strikes, of funny episodes during previous moments in the struggle that made this collective, were all erupting simultaneously. Fear. Anticipation. Betrayal. Pride. Strength. Longing. Sobs. Laughs. Cheers. Hugs. Claps. Sounds. Touches. A duration of a few minutes that felt like the meshwork of the worlds of the collective patched together over years of struggle. It was becoming too late. Voices and cries: “If we end and leave now, we will be picked off like flies by the security forces circling campus from the outside”; “They will not dare do this, this is The University; they will not be able to live with the shame of the action of brining the police onto campus”; “Shame! What Shame? They do not know shame”; “We are not Cairo University, we are the University”; “I have not been home with my family, I want to see them”; “We can’t give up now”; “Let’s lure them in and beat them up in the tunnels”; “Are you crazy” (all quotes from personal observations, Cairo, July 27, 2017) and on and on it went. Another phone call from the senior administration: What is the verdict? Remove the charges in the morning, present the documentation that legal action will not be taken against us, and then we will end the strike. It would be impossible to leave campus at this late hour with no transport available. More waiting, another phone call: We will provide a space for all to sleep the night; in the morning, the university lawyer will head to the police station

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  209 to withdraw the charges, accompanied by a student representative and a worker representative. We start packing and campus security move the workers to one of the classrooms that was opened for the workers to spend the night. I head home with the fear of being picked up by the police the minute I step outside campus. Friday, July 28, 2017 8:00 AM. A screaming voice on the phone: They are throwing us off campus and we refuse to go through the gate since they will not allow us back in. The deal is over! I rush to campus and call the senior administrator. He says move off the campus and then we will withdraw the charges. It is a very hot July Cairo day, with temperatures reaching almost 40 degrees. Anger, frustration, betrayal, and internal fights start to break out among the workers! Everyone is on edge. We insist on not leaving without the paper evidence that the charges have been withdrawn. The administration sends the lawyer to the gate where we are standing, and fighting erupts with security personnel who want to push us by a few meters to the other side of the gate, to be on the street outside the university premises. We send workers with the lawyer and by that time two labour lawyers arrive on campus, and one accompanies the university lawyer to the police station. The senior administration insists we vacate campus and move the remaining two meters to be outside the gate. We move in the heat and the sun and another cycle of threats and counter threats start. We hold the administration responsible for any health emergencies of dehydration and sunstroke. They backtrack and let workers stay under a big tree at the gate on the campus; I and some other workers refuse and occupy the sidewalk to the gate. On the ground with one bottle of water and nothing that protects us from the heat and sun. Let someone collapse and we will reach another level. We will not move inside and we hold the university responsible for anything that happens. Senior administration gets worried and orders us back onto campus away from the sun and the public spectacle at the gate; we refuse and continue sitting on the sidewalk in front of the university gate. The strike continues. The news makes it to social media; there is live streaming of the event; and a few staff, faculty, and workers start to gather. Some security staff get alarmed and enter the grey zone of thinking about what to do: comply with the administration or support the workers? In a gesture of support, they pull large umbrellas to provide some shade. Students bring bottled water, and the waiting continues. Food starts coming, followed by singing and chatting. Maybe things will change, more bodies, more affect, and more effects? Maybe a potential is emerging? No one seems to know what comes next. Sitting, waiting, sweating, and taking a breath in the sweltering heat. But the crowd is expanding. The spectacle moves more bodies to the collective. Memories of the last Friday in Tahrir Square flash: waiting for Mubarak to

210  Hanan Sabea be removed from power; waiting for the administration to rescind its legal threats; waiting for the potential to emerge; and the duration holds something in its unfolding present. The future is being formed in the actions of the present. A few hours later, the lawyers and workers come back with the document indicating the withdrawal of the case. Negotiations start. They offer horrible terms for ending workers’ contracts; lawyers give their advice: collectively refuse to sign; and another moment of strength and power sweeps the place. There is more pressure from the university’s lawyer, HR officers, and security guards to accept the terms of the university agreement to leave. Talks in small groups. “Go under the shades”; “Don’t sign, this is a travesty”; “I can’t wait for litigation to take its course, and what if we lose then?”; “We cannot lose if we stay together and collectively do it”; “Do you see what happened in the country, we all lost”; “No, no one lost, stop this talk” (personal observation, Cairo, July 28, 2017). Anger rises. Shame, hesitation, arguments, and counterarguments. More smaller groups get formed. Now more whispering, two start shouting at each other. Time moves slowly yet fast. Then we see the body of one worker move behind the groups and into the security office. Within an hour, the first case goes behind the back of the group and signs the agreement! Silence. Total silence. Stunned faces. Angry faces. From behind the security office door, we hear “I have kids to feed and better get six months’ compensation than nothing if we continue litigation and refusal” (personal observation, Cairo, July 28, 2017). More silence envelops the place. At the intensity of the silence, slowly and as if hoping that the silence would conceal the moving bodies, more workers line up to enter the security office to sign. No one is looking the others in the eye. Eyes look to the ground. There is silent queuing to get in the office and sign. Eventually, a long line is formed and workers queue to sign the agreement. Some stood in the line sobbing. Sobbing in silence. Others stood, just stood there with bodies fixed one behind the other. To mark his entry into the line, Hassouna utters: “They win, we lose! But it is not over yet!” (personal observation, Cairo, July 28, 2017). Or maybe it is? Affective dynamics do not have to produce the effects we desire, nor do they follow the plan that we indirectly assume we have scripted in the back of our minds. Realizations of potentials emerge in action, movement, and words. But they are also not singular, rather multiple, contradictory, and tense. The silhouette of the workers’ body, mainly a shadow that passed and the words whispered behind closed doors was a gesture to a shift in the constellation of possibilities. Anything could have happened at that moment. Maybe a fight could have broken out; maybe workers would have locked their colleague in with the security officers, the Human Resources staff, and the lawyer in the office; maybe only one would have signed but the others would have stood fast. None of these were planned, nor desired, they were all possibilities that were imbricated and potentiated in the moment. But that move by one worker into the security office to sign the university agreement

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  211 for a six-​month compensation in return for tendering resignation ushered in the foreclosure of other possibilities at that moment. It was as if the silence, the shadow, and the silhouette of the body signalled the slowly dawning recognition of the limits of the situation for workers, who feared for their families, their lives, and their ability to feed and care for those who depend on them. It was also a realization that brought the limits of the last few years after January 2011 to the fore. We had to accept that these are our limits! More bodies moved to the security office and to the line that formed to sign the agreement. Thinking and acting happened simultaneously, but as affective bodies that carry archives of particular positions in life. Affect is not without history or memory, since the bodies through which affect moves are never without histories and memories. Affects are immersed in the histories of moving bodies and durations that constitute these bodies. The position of contracted workers, who lived through years of casual labour relations, and endured the disciplining of their bodies and souls, left traces on how to imagine the possible. The years of struggle since 2010 cracked the shell of how to mobilize and to form a collective that is willing to challenge the limits of the possibility of what was then proclaimed as the failure of the 2010 protests. But in retrospect, 2010 was certainly not a failure but a node in a longer temporal span. The 2010 struggles collided with 2011, producing a different opening, but traces of all that had happened before remained. They also produced a revised common sense of what to expect, how to move, and what to call for. This was not exclusive to the workers and the administration of the university. Action defies these binaries of workers versus administration. Neither the workers nor the administration remained the same, and neither were monolithic entities in that sense. The network of actors too expanded and shrank, with different faculty members and students partaking in the struggle, not to mention labour lawyers, organizations, and syndicates that directly and indirectly were part of the network of relations that shaped what was happening in the summer of 2017 and what had happened before. Vibrant Affective Matter: Flashes of Times, Bodies, and Assemblage of Collectives What the happenings or the flashes of revolutionary times of 2017 bring to the fore is this expansive mushroom of relations that was reconfigured in the particularity of space, time, and bodies on the plaza of the university. The routines on the plaza of 2017 were a meshwork of temporalities. The beginning of the strike/​protest contained the reworked script of the protests of 2011 and 2012. But, it also contained their reworking. The independent syndicate that was established on the university premises in 2013 was a dying organization that was emptied of its meaning and efficacy through old tactics of divide and rule. The university syndicate represented an instantiation of the reformed labour unions’ movement that started emerging in May 2011 as one of the key achievements of the revolution. The university

212  Hanan Sabea administration in its performance of equity and democracy set the older workers union against the newly established independent syndicate. They deprived the independent syndicate of resources, controlled workers’ time and access to meetings and meeting times, limited the possibilities of withdrawal of dues, and the registration of new members. They basically followed the old disciplining script of how to render labour organizations inefficacious (Alexander & Bassiouny, 2014; Beinin, 2013; El-​Mahdi, 2011). Members of the independent syndicate dwindled, and many could not withstand the pressure to maintain their allegiance. The connections to larger university concerns formulated by other constituents, like staff, students, and faculty, were rendered frail. Fear and threats, suspicion and doubts were taking more of a shape in the daily interactions on the promises and within the dying syndicate. The relations to the governmental bodies were also suspended, as the Ministry of Labour was shifting its policies vis-​à-​vis the labour question in Egypt. Workers were rendered yet again the threat to the established order and the university workers were no different. Indeed, the times were different. The day the protest was launched was a Sunday when 57 workers reported to work, signed in their attendance sheets, took their tools and work equipment, but did not work! They were there but not there, in the sense that they refrained from the assignment of tasks, which is a daily routine that involves giving workers tasks each day. By the end of the first day, their supervisors were at a loss: What happened and what is happening? Is this a strike? It feels like a strike but does not follow the script of a strike. This is not how things happened before. By the end of the shift (around 4:45 PM) many of the workers did not head to the busses to transport them to the different neighbourhoods in Cairo where they live, nor did they change their uniforms! Some left as usual, but 57 remained! The workers dispersed on campus. But later they emerged on the plaza in front of the administration building. The workers stayed. The security staff and the supervisors did not know what to do! The workers stayed. The security staff watched. At night, the first statement by the 57 was drafted, with their demands and what they wanted. A media committee was formed responsible for drafting daily statements and for sending them to all concerned individuals and allies. At 8 AM the following day, the first statement appeared and was sent to the administration. Workers reported to their jobs. But supervisors did not assign them any tasks. The workers were at work and the supervisors were not giving them work. This was an important shift in tactics, since striking and not reporting to work was illegal and could produce contract termination. The same scenario continued during the day. The workers with their tools, the supervisors watching, the administration scrambling. More workers’ committees were formed: for food, for security, for sleeping arrangements, for communication, and for negotiations with the administration if they happened. Tahrir reappeared in the routines of daily protest. But so did the protests of 2012 and 2013 at the university campus. It was July, the campus lacked students and faculty, except for very few. Food outlets were ordered

Flashes of Revolutionary Times  213 not to offer food to workers. Other workers not on strike would bring in dry supplies, which were stored in one of the classrooms facing the plaza. Days passed by, each day following the same routine: reporting to work, no work assignment, having the cleaning tools, using the cleaning tools to clean the spaces where they stayed. Communications being drafted at night and published in the morning. Blankets spread on the ground and tea and coffee rounds made. With every day that passed till the Thursday, July 27, affirmed a presence on the space. Memories were exchanged, chanting of Tahrir songs and university protest songs broke the long hours of waiting. The strategy of the administration was to use time as an instrument of governance. Subordinate through waiting. No responses, no attacks, no nothing. Maybe nothing would produce nothing and the strike would simply disappear. But for the 57, what seemed like nothing was indeed intensive affects growing: anger, frustration, loss, and a sensibility of how the Egypt of 2017 had emerged on the premises of the university. The despair and exhaustion of the securitized life, where nothing was possible anymore, started to emerge. But waiting is not novel, that was also the 2011 strategy. So maybe the traces of 2011 were still in the air. Maybe the high gates of this private university would block the police state from seeping into the space that had always performed its difference to the larger context. But did not Mubarak likewise govern by time, making the famous statement about letting protestors play and waste in Tahrir? Is this what the administration is doing? The 11th day brought an answer, an unexpected, but possible-​to-​ imagine answer. Thursday, July 27, happened, not according to anyone’s plan, but the affective dynamics of moving bodies unfolded on the terrain of a present in the making. Indeed, we know nothing about a body until we know what it can do, in other words, what its affects are, how they can or cannot enter into composition with other affects, and with the affects of another body … to destroy that body or to be destroyed by it, … to exchange actions and passions with it or to join with in composing a more powerful body. (Bennett, 2010: xii–​xiii) Collectives: Concluding Thoughts on the Concept of We as Collective Over 11 days, the bodies of workers—​as diverse as they were/​are—​along with those of some students and staff showed clearly what a body can do, how bodies live different temporalities at the same time, and what bodies remember. The intensity of the final two days of bodies in motion not only signalled the making and unmaking of a collective, but also what the collective connotes, how the collective is reassembled, and when it reaches its limits. The sit-​in of the summer of 2017 brings to the fore a question that is unavoidable: Who is the collective and is the collective a stable that transcends the times, the spaces, the interests, positions, and histories of those who are hailed under its

214  Hanan Sabea fold? I posit that it is not: Collectives are assembled and disjoined, they become a collective at particular junctures when a collective body is constituted by the affective arrangements of its bodies and their histories (Sabea, 2014). The moment the workers’ silhouette moved from the end of the line during the last moments of the sit-​in signalled a collective that was being recomposed, the collective that had different fears and calculations of risk and hope. The students who were watching, the labour lawyers who joined us that day, and myself had intense emotions and desires that were crashed by the moving body into the office of the security. The moving body also gestured that we cannot potentiate our hopes on the lives and risks of others. The collective that was constituted in the last few hours of the strike and its aftermath was signalling certain possible ends but also beginnings. The workers who signed created different networks for work after being terminated at the university. Science and business professors who were always aloof in the face of the workers’ plight came out to share names and contacts for other work possibilities. For the first time, a small group of faculty members were able to raise LE257, 000 in the span of three weeks what we called at the time “a Workers Fund”, which was distributed among workers who were laid off. A statement in solidarity with the workers titled Shame on the University was signed by 615 faculty members, students, staff, administrators, and university senators, and articles/​statements about and demands for apology for the way the sit-​in was handled continued coming for the duration of the fall semester 2017. None of these actions could be foreseen and none of the collectives that formed at the various moments had monolithic ideas and desires about what had happened or could happen. But affective dynamics and arrangements made it possible to continuously constitute a collective with a commitment to a dream, a path, and a possibility yet to come. Notes 1 Office staff always remained at an arm’s length from the protests by other workers at the university. Questions of class, social capital, and fears about security in an office rendered the alliances between office staff and workers a difficult task to accomplish, except in a few cases and most evidently emerging in the last strike of 2017. 2 “Oh night! Extend for a few more hours so we can maintain the company of the loved ones” is a line from a popular song that is performed when one is enjoying a night and hoping that it will never end.

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Flashes of Revolutionary Times  215 Alexander, A. & Bassiouny, M. (2014). Bread, Freedom, Social Justice. Workers and the Egyptian Revolution. London: Zed Books. Ayata, B. & Harders, C. (2018). Midan Moments: Conceptualizing Space, Affect and Political Participation on Occupied Squares. In J. Slaby, B. Rottger-​Kossler (Eds.). Affect in Relation: Families, Relations, Technologies (pp. 115–​ 133). New York: Routledge. Beinin, J. (2013). Workers, Trade Unions and Egypt’s Political Future. Middle East Research and Information Project. Retrieved from https://​merip.org/​2013/​08/​egypt​ ian-​work​ers-​after-​june-​30/​ Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter. A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press Books. Bergson, H. (1991). Matter and Memory. New York: Zone Books. Berlant, L. (2017). Affective Assemblages: Entanglements and Ruptures—​ An Interview with Lauren Berlant. Atlantis, 38 (4), 12–​17. Butler, J. (2011). Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street. Transversal, The European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, 9. http://​eipcp.net/​tran​sver​sal/​ 1011/​but​ler/​en El-​Mahdi, R. (2011). Labour Protests in Egypt: Causes and Meanings. Review of African Political Economy, 38 (129), 387–​402. Lapoujade, D. (2018). Powers of Time. Versions of Bergson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Lutz, C. (1986). Emotion, Thought, and Estrangement: Emotion as a Cultural Category. Cultural Anthropology, 1(3), 287–​309. Massumi, B. (2015). The Politics of Affect. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Matta, N. (2022). Middle-​Class Employees in the Egyptian Uprising of 2011. Critical Historical Studies, 9(1), 103–​131. Sabea, H. (2013). A ‘Time out of Time’: Tahrir, The Political and the Imaginary in the Content of the January 25th Revolution in Egypt. Cultural Anthropology, 1. Hot Spots, Fieldsights, May 9. https://​cula​nth.org/​fiel​dsig​hts/​a-​time-​out-​of-​time-​ tah​rir-​the-​politi​cal-​and-​the-​imagin​ary-​in-​the-​cont​ext-​of-​the-​janu​ary-​25th-​rev​olut​ ion-​in-​egypt Sabea, H. (2014). ‘I Dreamed of Being a People’: Egypt’s Revolution, the People and Critical Imagination. In P. Webner, M. Webb and K. Spellman-​Poots (Eds.), The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and beyond (pp. 67–​92). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Said, A. (2014). The Tahrir Effect. History Space and Protest in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Michigan]. University of Michigan Library. Stoler, A. (2009). Along the Archival Grain. Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Williams, R. (1977). Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Index

Note: Endnotes are indicated by the page number followed by “n” and the note number e.g., 12n2 refers to note 2 on page 12. Page numbers in italic refers to Tables. Abu-​Lughod, Lila 7 ACT UP movement (United States) 20; background to 33–​34; emotional motivations 35–​36 affect and race, racism 42–​43 affect studies 34–​35, 36–​38, 41–​42; eurocentrism of 2; race and racism themes in 43 affectability of bodies 38–​40, 202–​03 affective alliances 80–​82, 83–​85 affective archive 8, 23, 25–​26, 28, 71, 143, 189 ‘affective arrangements’ 21, 23–​24, 62 affective atmosphere 7, 23, 96, 97, 148 affective citizenship 26, 43 affective memory 9–​10, 167, 182–​83, 188–​90, 192 affective ontology 38, 41, 58–​60, 61 affective relationality 22, 92, 111–​12 affective solidarity 109–​11 Armenian cemetery192; Armenian Genocide 24, 48 Ahıska, Meltem 9–​10, 195 Ahmed, Sara 23, 42, 80, 157; Living a Feminist Life 142–​43 AIDS activism 34–​35; see also ACT UP movement (United States) American University (Cairo, Egypt) 204–​05; 2010 protests 203; 2017 plaza occupation, cause and development of 204–​06, 211–​13; affectability of bodies 211, 213; affective dynamics of 210–​11, 213; development of protests 203; pre-​Revolutionary protests 202–​03;

resistance against 204–​05, 211–​12; strike by campus workers, and treatment of 10, 206–​10; Tahrir Square occupation, and impact on 205, university workers’ protest movements 202–​03, 211–​13 Aretxaga, Begoña 123 Ayata, Bilgin, 12n2, 42–​43, 45–​46, 48–​49, 55, 56, 97, 190 Badiou, Alan 184 baltagiyya, behaviour and treatment of 68, 73n9, 73n11, 99, 132–​34, 136; criminalization of protest 7, 10; crowd behaviour and dangerous masses 18–​19; police station attacks, and accusations of 128, 132, 133, 136 belonging 19, 58, 83, 85–​86, 92, 144, 147, 153, 157 Berlant, Lauren 37, 182, 189, 195–​96 Book of Sleep, The (El Wardany, Haytham) 176 Bouazizi, Muhammad 124, 125 Bulaq Abu al-​Ila popular quarter, and clashes in 130–​31, 134 Brazil: 2013 protests in 184; Gezi Park Taksim Square occupation, and revolutionary resonance 185–​86; protest slogans, and use of 187–​88 ‘breaking of fear’ 9, 27, 69 Butler, Judith 155 Caferağa Neighborhood Solidarity 149, 159n10

Index  217 çapulcu, and use of term 7, 97, 98, 99–​100; Collaborative Research Centre Affective Societies (Berlin, Germany) /​CRC X, 3, 43, 71, 112 collective mobilization: affective state of participants 152–​53; emotional turn 152, 159n11; public square occupations, and resistance movements 190; and revolutionary resonance 183–​85; sustainability of 186–​87; tensions and conflict 153–​54; togetherness and collective opposition 143–​44, 148–​51, 157, 188, 213–​14

89–​90; occupation sustainability and organization of daily life 89; spatial boundary changes, and resistance diffusion 88–​89; tensions and conflict 86–​87 Eskişehir No Platform 146–​47, 151–​52 emotional habitus concept 40 emotional liberation 20, 22, 66

Dean, Jodi 82 Demirtaş, Selahattin 11, 100–​01, 197n7 desire: for collective action 81, 83, 143–​44, 149, 151–​52; freedom and alternative lifestyles 84–​86, 155, 157; togetherness 90 Dhawan, Nikita 86 diversity 92; 93n5; of protester profiles 80, 87; and unity 143

Gezi Park Taksim Square occupation (Istanbul, Turkey) 1, 2, 21; affective intensities generated by 143; and alternative forms of living 82–​83, 191; Armenian cemetery, and actions relating to 192; Çarşı, role in and treatment of 189, 196n1; cause of mobilization 4, 190–​91; collective resistance and affective alliances 80–​82, 83–​85; court cases and participator punishments 196n1; development of, and Western reaction to 4; evacuation of 93n4; festival atmosphere of 103–​05; Gezi ‘martyrs’ 94n7; ‘Gravity in the East’ slogan 187; ideological difference and co-​presence 84–​85, 106–​07; inclusion, and exclusivity 87; May Day commemorations at 94n8; national and international impact of 9–​10, 91–​92; occupation experiences, and reports of 79–​80, 84–​86, 106–​07; participation motivations 79–​80, 96–​97; police violence, and reactions to 82–​83, 184; political landscape, and transformation aims 98–​99; post-​uprising period 144–​45; Turkish presidential system and No Campaign, impact of 8, 10–​11, 150–​51; and revolutionary resonance 184–​86; shared aims and political differences 98–​99, 191; spatial boundary changes, and resistance diffusion 88–​89; sustainability of resistance 186–​87 Gould, Deborah 5, 6, 20–​21; affect studies, and development of 34–​35, 36–​38; affective ontology 57–​58; affective state of participants, study

Egypt: 1952 Revolution 177–​78; Ahly Ultras, and Port Said massacre 136–​37; Battle of the Camel 133–​34; Bread Revolt (1977) 178; British colonial rule 177; El Kedeseen bombing 60–​61; Fatmid Cairo, battle of (2011) 129–​30; football ultra groups, and behaviour of 8, 135–​37; military regime, post-​revolution 165, 170, 171–​73, 179; monarchy, and end of 177–​78; soldier rebellion (1986) 128; State Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) 134; Supply Ministry and Supply Police 124 El Sadat, Anwar 178 El Wardany, Haytham 176 el-​Sisi, Abdelfattah, President 27; election of 178; regime of 179 encounters 153, 155; affective and emotional 82, 96–​98, 101; and the police 122–​25, 126–​27, 131, 135; with ‘others’ 89, 105–​06, 108 Erdoğan, Recep Tayyip (President) 99–​100, 105; executive presidency 146; Gezi protestors, and view of 193; Kurdish movement, and references to terrorism 105; security state Eskişehir encampment (Anatolia, Turkey) 81; Kurdish movement, and impact of

fear, breaking of, broken fear 9, 27, 69 firat, bahar 7, 48 Flam, Helena 20, 22, 64, 66 Foucault, Michel 122, 123, 127

218 Index of 152–​53; emotional habitus concept 40; Moving Politics 33, 34 Grossberg, Lawrence 81, 82, 85 hamalāt (police monitoring and surveillance campaigns) 123–​24, 127 Harders, Cilja 6, 23, 56, 80, 97, 98, 144, 171, 190, 202, 203 Hemmings, Clare 22, 57, 64, 65, 70, 105, 109–​10 HDP, and parliamentary presence 99, 145, 154 hope 3, 4, 10, 22, 27, 56, 61; for change 83, 85, 90, 91, 98–​99, 104–​05, 144, 147–​49, 155 Islamist groups in Egypt, behaviour of and opposition to 122, 127, 178; Ismail, Salwa 7–​8, 26, 68 Kavala, Osman 11 Kadıköy No-​Assembly 142, 148–​49, 158n5 Kurdish movement; 4, 7, 48–​49, 109–​12, 145, 187; Gezi Park occupation, and role in 89–​90; 97, 100–​03; HDP, and parliamentary presence 99, 145, 154; as national security threat 100; Newroz celebrations 103–​04; PKK, and peace negotiations 4, 48, 100, 104, 105. 113n11; liminality 62, 86 LGBTQI+​ 152, 154; and activism 79–​80, 101, 146, 152, 154–​55; marginalization of individuals 85; violence against 73n9 Lorde, Audre 92 Maltepe Forum 146–​47 Mosireen collective 175, and 858 archive 175, 176; Mubarak, Hosni, President 178; 18 Days of protest 61–​62, 65–​66; regime of 132; resignation of 4, 47, 134, 169, 178 Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, revolutionary and post-​revolutionary role of 165, 169–​70, 171 Nasser, Gamal Abdel, General 178 National Democratic Party headquarters, and burning of 173–​75, 174 neighbourhood assemblies 145, 146, 149, 154–​55, 158n5, 159n10; and networks 26, 92, 131

Occupy Wall Street protests (United States) 46 Özkaya, Derya 6–​7, 8, 24, 44, 45, 49, 96–​97, 99; ‘politics of postponement’ 82, 90, 99, 144, 151 Palmer, Tyrone 2, 42 participation 26–​27; affective state of participants 152–​53; collective behaviour, and predictability of emotional motivations 24; motivations and political outlook 26; neighbourhood networks 26; public square occupations, and reactions to 21–​22; visible and non-​visible signs of resistance 26 police, and anti-​police sentiment 121–​22, 124–​27, 131, 135–​36, 138n1; Police Day 121, 131; police informants 133; population categories, and targeted police treatment of 132 political imagination 92, 99, 156 protest mobilizations: affective atmosphere and transformative events 23; affective dynamics of 3, 5–​7, 17–​18, 21, 45–​46, 69–​70; affective traces of events, and emotional responses 59–​60; bodily experiences relating to 21–​22, 45; class barriers, and challenges to 64–​65; collaborations and compositions 49–​51; collective behaviour, and predictability of 41; development of 19; feeling and knowing differently 105–​07; gender barriers, and challenges to 63–​64; ideological difference and co-​presence 7, 90–​91; inclusion, and exclusivity 87; long-​ term impact of 25, 58–​59; mobilizing emotions 24, 35–​36; occupation sustainability and organization of daily life 89; participation motivators and political outlook 26; polarization, and state-​controlled narratives 27, 47–​48; political practices and transformations 18, 23–​24; public square occupations, and participant reactions 21–​22; romanticization of 45, 47; scholarly discussion on 2–​3, 42–​43; shared experiences, and impact of 107–​09; unity and conflict in protest spaces 24, 27, 86–​87

Index  219 post-​revolution period, affective memory of events and participator experiences 9, 58–​59, 167; politics of postponement 82, 90, 99, 144, 151 Potuoğlu-​Cook, Öykü 86, 90 Rabaa Massacre (2013) 48, 171, 172 Republican People’s Party, CHP 105, 114n13, 146, 153–​54, 156 Roboski Massacre 103, 113n8; Sabea, Hanan 10, 21, 24, 25, 60, 62, 187 Said, Khaled 121 Schielke, Samuli 8, 27, 64, 66, 69 social movement studies 17; emotional dynamics of 19–​20; protest participation, and analysis of 19 state of emergency 135, 144, 151, 158n4; end of 140n13 ‘structure of feeling’ concept 36–​37 Tahrir Square occupation (Cairo, Egypt) 1, 2, 21, 168; affective atmosphere of 55; affective dynamics of 69–​70; background of and pre-​cursors to 60–​61; ‘breaking of fear’ 69; cause of mobilization 8; danger and fear of mortal harm 67; detention centre and police station attacks 128–​29; development of, and Western reaction to 3–​4; documentation and archiving of events 175, 177; football ultra groups, and role in 8, 135–​37; memorial site at 174–​75; Mohamed Mahmoud Street uprising (November 2011) 171, 172; newspaper reporting of 168–​69; occupation experiences, and reports of 61–​67, 68, 72n6; official memory of 172; participation, and triggers for 63–​66; ‘the people want to bring down the regime’ 167–​68, 168; polarization, and

state-​controlled narratives 47–​48, 70–​71; political transformation and post-​protest analysis 56–​57; popular quarters, and mobilizations in 128, 130–​31; romanticization of experiences at 47; second occupation of (March 2011) 170–​71, 170; souvenir trading 169, 169; and symbolism of site 173; university protests,’ and role of 202–​03; violence and police brutality 8, 66–​69, 73n11, 128–​30 transformative effect of affects 107–​11; Tunisia 3 Türk, Ahmet 113n7 Turkey: AKP, and governance of 4, 96, 98–​99, 104, 112n6, 143, 145, 191; authoritarian rule and policies in 145–​46, 156; contemporaneity, and discourse of progress 192–​93; constitutional referendum (2017) 146; electoral threshold in 112n2; Islamic State, and attacks carried out by 145; military coup attempt (2016) 145–​46; political opposition, and alliances formed within 155–​56; presidential system and No Campaign 8, 10–​11, 143–​44, 146–​50, 154–​55; public memory, and amnesia of the past 193–​96; togetherness and collective opposition 143–​44, 148–​51, 157 Validebağ Defense 148, 158n7; Velho, Otávio 184 Weheliye, Alexander 42 Williams, Raymond 36–​37 Yıldırım, Medeni 187 Yoğurtçu Women’s Forum 148, 158n6 Yoğurtçu Park Forum 148, 158n6, 159n10