This essay explores the embodied forms of power and struggle that are manifest in the Boğaziçi University protests against the authoritarian offensive of the Turkish government. By focusing on the student and faculty protests, especially, the daily gowned performances, it suggests that Boğaziçi protests could be seen as part of the making of a counter or dissident body politic, which seeks to rethink and revitalize, at this conjuncture of neoliberal authoritarianism, the university as a critical social institution and as an arena of democratic struggle interconnected to other social struggles for equality and liberty in Turkey and beyond. Drawing on the collective history of struggles and different forms and scales of action, this making of the dissident body politic weaves together embodied public performances; mediatized communicative labor, including online forums, commissions, media commentaries, and productions; and formal institutional resistance and legal action. Altogether, Boğaziçi protests highlight, or, better, flesh out, the importance of university autonomy and democracy, reposing the question, What is a university? at this critical moment when public life and institutions have been violently targeted by the apparatuses of the state and capital.
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Saygun Gökarıksel; University Embodied: The Struggle for Autonomy and Democracy. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2022; 121 (1): 188–198. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-9561643
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