CFP AAA 2017: Body Politics, Neoliberalism and Conservatism: Gendered Negotiations with Biomedicine in Turkey

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Call for Abstracts AAA 2017

Session Title: Body Politics, Neoliberalism and Conservatism: Gendered Negotiations with Biomedicine in Turkey

Organizers: Neslihan Sen (University of Illinois-Chicago), Hatice Nilay Erten (Yale University)


Anthropologists have long been concerned with understanding different cultural images of the body and the ways in which unique experiences of disorders change the perception and the experience of the body. Anthropologists have also analyzed the cultural, racial, political and socio-economical conditions framing the diagnoses of bodily “disorders” as well as the subsequent experience of these disorders and the ways in which the very therapeutic and diagnostic process itself sometimes constructs new identities/subjectivities (Lock 1993, Petryna 2002, Rose 2007, Wentzell 2013, Najmabadi 2014, Labuski 2016). The contemporary moment has witnessed a confluence of neoliberal healthcare policies, the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in politics and a renewed biomedical attention to women’s bodies, sexualities, and reproduction in Turkey. Situating sexuality, reproduction, and the body in a broader context and understanding the role of biomedicine in generating new subjectivities in contemporary Turkey is crucial to analyzing and making sense of the social transformations that Turkey has gone through. While this panel focuses on Turkey, the discussions will provide a lens to illuminate the contemporary issues about the state, rising conservatism, bodies, gender and biomedicine. This panel questions how biomedicine generates a set of discourses that help construct and regulate women’s bodies and sexualities. The anthropological tools help us learn how women create spaces for negotiation within such power structures, and how they reject, admit, alter and/or appropriate biomedical interventions in their everyday lives.

We are seeking for papers situated at the nexus between the ‘structures’ of the state, biomedicine, and ideologies of patriarchy, and analyses of ‘subjectivity’ to address the complex, shifting construction of women’s bodies and identities in contemporary Turkey. The paper topics should include but not limited to:

 -the normalization of a male-centric and heteronormative construction of sexuality

-moral regulation of sexuality, pregnancy and non-reproduction

-medicalization and commodification of particularly women’s bodies

-the embedded-ness of the bodily disorders in complex histories, cultures, and polities

-discussions of reproductive labor, desire, choice and decision-making

-embodiment of reproductive technologies

-pronatalism, the state and reproductive governance

If interested, please  send your 250-word abstract to Nilay Erten ( and Neslihan Sen ( by April 7, 2017.

 Works Cited:

Labuski, Christine (2016). It Hurts Down There. Bodily Imaginaries of Female Genital Pain. Albany: State University of New York Press.


Lock, Margaret M. 1993. Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America. berkeley: University of California Press.

Najmabadi, Afsanah (2014). Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran. Durham: Duke University Press.
Petryna, Adriana (2002). Life Exposed: Biological Citizens after Chernobyl. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Rose, Nikolas (2007). Politics of Life Itself: Biomedicine, Power and Subjectivity in the Twenty first Century. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press.

 Wentzell, Emily (2013). Maturing Masculinities: Aging, Chronic Illness, and Viagra in Mexico. Durham and London: Duke University Press. 

Categories: CFP
Keywords: CFP