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New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love and Piety Among Turkish Youth

September 25, 2015 from 12:30pm-2:00pm EST
McGhee Library (ICC 301), Intercultural Center, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Speaker: Dr. Gul Ozyegin, College of William and Mary


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New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love and Piety Among Turkish Youth provides a unique investigation of self-making among upwardly-mobile young adults in Turkey through the critical lenses of love and sexuality. Based on 87 in-depth interviews with a diverse group of young Turks in Istanbul who represent the most salient differences based on class origin, religious devotion, and sexual orientation, it links individual biographies with the "biography" of a nation, elaborating their interconnections in the creation of new selves in a country that has existed uneasily between West and East, modern and traditional, secular and Islamic. For these young people, sexuality, gender expression, and intimate relationships in particular serve as key sites for reproducing and challenging patriarchy and paternalism. As New desires, New Selves evocatively shows, the quest for sexual freedom and escape from patriarchal constructions of selfless femininity and protective masculinity promise both personal transformations and profound sexual quilt and anxiety. In this talk I will suggest a rethinking of the place of patriarchy in gender theory from the perspective of young heterosexual men who are the subjects of, and mediums for, (re)producing patriarchy but who have unpatriarchal desires and struggle to make themselves into men who are explicitly anti-patriarchal. Their narrated experiences of sex, love, and romance constitute a rich site for furthering the theorization of the masculinity-patriarchy nexus.

Dr. Gul Ozyegin is Associate Professor of Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the College of William and Mary. She is the author of Untidy Gender (2001, Temple University Press), and New Desires, New Selves: Sex, Love, and Piety among Turkish Youth (2015, NYU). She is also editor of Gender and Sexuality in Muslim Cultures (2015, Ashgate Press). Her work also appeared in edited volumes and journals. Her current research is on intersections of gender, generation, and (un)belonging among different generations of Turks in Germany. She is a recipient of the 2011 Plumeri Award for Faculty excellence and received a fellowship from the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) during 2006-07 academic year.