Struggle for a Livable Life. Everyday Resistance among the Kurdish Population in Turkey.

  • Ulrike Flader

Student thesis: Phd


Drawing on a Foucauldian understanding of power and resistance, this thesis explores different practices of everyday resistance, which the Kurdish population has developed against the policies of assimilation of the Turkish state. It grasps assimilation policies as a shifting network of laws, administrative regulations and practices, scientific and non-scientific discourses which aims at defining the normal citizen and thereby producing a national subject. Consequently, this thesis grasps everyday practices of resistance against assimilation as ways of challenging these forms of governing how people identify, lead their lives, and perceive themselves: as counter-conduct. Drawing on multi-site ethnographic fieldwork conducted in four cities in Turkey, two in the Kurdish region and two in the West of Turkey, this thesis uses interview material, observations and photographs to examine how everyday resistance shifts, dodges, undermines and subverts the specific techniques of assimilation. Instead of focusing on the actors and their intentions, the object of this research are the practices in themselves, which do not necessarily form a coherent unity, but are traversed by the effects of the techniques of power. These practices derive from within the relations of power and work on specific techniques of assimilation. Engaging with authors such as James C. Scott, Judith Butler, Michel De Certeau, Michael Taussig, and Tim Cresswell this thesis offers a reading of everyday resistance which does not reduce it to an alternative to organized politics in the absence of open contestation. Instead, this thesis draws out the different ways in which everyday resistance and organized forms of politics intersect and foster each other. Similarly, this thesis illustrates how everyday resistance complicates the distinctions between covert and overt, intentional and unintentional, public and private. It demonstrates how achieving visibility has to be reinterpreted in the context of everyday resistance, not as a way of claiming recognition, but rather in terms of subverting conduct. Instead of making demands for a change in governmental politics, these practices of everyday resistance aim at achieving de facto interventions into the effects of power. In their different ways, they destabilize the norms, discourses and practices which produce the normal citizen. They shift the practices of self-conduct and thereby subvert subjectivity in practice. In this sense, this thesis suggests understanding forms of everyday resistance as struggles for a "livable life". Focussing on these mundane, non-heroic micro-practices of resistance, this thesis contributes both to the literature on social movements and the Kurdish Movement.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorNick Crossley (Supervisor) & Nicholas Thoburn (Supervisor)


  • Assimilation
  • Everyday Resistance
  • Social Movement
  • Kurds
  • Turkey
  • Subjectivation
  • Foucault

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