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Centre for Gender Studies

Ozlem Caliskan Ozen


Ozlem Ozen Caliskan
Ozlem Caliskan Ozen
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Thesis title:
Challanges and Resistances Against Militarism: Women in Turkey
Internal Supervisors


I completed my MA degree in Gender, Globalisation and Development at City University London. I wrote my MA thesis on nationalism and gender-based violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Yugoslav Wars. The study mainly tried to clarify the link between gendered roles in nationalism and violence against women during the wars. I completed my BA in 2005 at University of Istanbul, Faculty of Political Sciences. I had an active student life and was very interested in democratisation process in Turkey, ideologies, women’s rights, human’s rights clashes, Balkan societies and conflict resolutions, peace studies and war, social change during the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and the early decades of Turkish republic at that time.

In addition to my academic studies, I have been involved in many voluntary and art work with children and women. I played professionally in theatres for 5 years in Istanbul and worked for a women’s organisation that is providing solidarity for Kurdish and Turkish women in London for 2 years. I am anti-imperialist feminist pacifist. I am crazy about photography, films, world music and dance. And, I believe that I was a gypsy in my previous life.

PhD Research

My project aims to introduce anti-militarist feminist resistances in the context of Turkey. I am focusing on gendered roles of militarized Turkish nationalism and women’s challenges in this framework. As positionalities and locations play important roles in the ways we understand war, peace and militarism, an insightful and analytical account of women’s local anti-militarist mobilising is the key element to understand women’s continuing role in shaping politics within the global structure. Therefore, this research in the context of Turkey is significant so as to analyse culturalisation of militarism, differing motivations and methods of women to resist politically and feminist movements in nationalist countries. This study will fill into the larger body of work on international politics, contributing to activism and scholarship on women’s political struggles world-wide. Empirically, the first question will be women’s personal and political motivations for anti-militarist and feminist organising. I aim to explore what brought feminist anti-militarists in Turkey together despite their diverse ethnic, religious, sexual and social backgrounds. In terms of their personal and political life stories, how do these women perceive nationalism and militarism? Secondly, I will analyse the structure of organisations. In order to figure out the particularities of their structures in comparison to other social and political organisations, I aim to decipher how anti-militarist feminists organise, how they manage the process of decision-making, and how they speak out and campaign. I will also seek to discover what kind of resistance tools they are using, whether they are establishing relations with any local, national and international political bodies (such as LGBTT movement, other anti-war activists, conscientious objectors, etc.), and which political and feminist strands they are supporting. Theoretically, I will raise the question of nationalism in this study. Are women’s anti-war movements also anti-nationalist? What are feminists’ feeling about their national identity and belonging? How do different nationalisms interact in Turkey? And, how do different forms of nationalism interact with anti-militarist feminists? To what extent is anti-militarist feminism really disengaged from nationalist discourses and militarised values?

I have chosen to apply Case Study Approach in my research. In this study, I will be working with two organisations. I will use multiple sources of evidence to carry out the case studies. Sources will be collected through participant observation, informal interviews, and group discussions adhering strictly to the life story approach. I will conduct archival research in the organisations to document their previous ongoing activities.

Empirically, the research will contribute to existing debates on just-war/just-militarism, violent and non-violent political actions, and the reasons for women’s engagement with anti-war movements. Theoretically, the proposed research will allow us to see how official and non-official forms of nationalism interact with feminism, and how this interaction has significant effects on political and civil organisations. I anticipate that my dissertation will shed light on people’s engagement with militarism, with regards to ethnicity, national belonging, gender, class and the challenges to Turkish militarism of a particular form of feminist organising in Turkey.