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Gender Entanglements and Neoliberal Imperatives

Panel I-22, 2023 Annual Meeting

On Thursday, November 2 at 3:00 pm

Panel Description
  • Dr. Dina Najjar -- Presenter
  • Ola Galal -- Presenter
  • Yaprak Damla Yildirim -- Presenter
  • Aymon Kreil -- Chair
  • Yaprak Damla Yildirim
    With its structural adjustments, development projects, and free-market economies, neoliberalism has had detrimental consequences for the so-called third world. The economic violence that the western capitalist class inflicts on third-world economies is paralleled by the increasing violence against women observed within such countries. In this paper, I explore how neoliberalization intensifies violence against women through patrilocal families where the constant devaluation of women’s labor meets the construction of the moral homo economicus. Turning to a non-western moral context, I focus on increasing violence against women in Islamist neoliberalism and take Turkey — a country that has undergone neoliberalization and reported an escalation in gendered violence — as my observation site. Recent incidents of police violence as the state response to the growing public presence of gender-nonconforming communities in Turkey and the grassroots reports of increasing femicide rates in the country indicate that neoliberalization goes hand-in-hand with the burgeoning gendered violence and culminates in masculinist restoration, a phenomenon that Deniz Kandiyoti identifies as a response to the crises of patriarchy. Masculinist restoration serves as not only a tool that attempts to enable (cishet) men to claim authority over women but also a bridge between neoliberalism and patriarchy that utilizes Islamist morals for capitalist ends. Drawing on Verónica Gago’s feminist economics of extraction, I explore the relationship between the devaluation of women’s labor and the disposability of dissident women’s bodies in what Sayak Valencia calls gore capitalism, a specific kind of neoliberalism where capitalism meets an episteme of violence. I argue that women who refuse to be constrained in patrilocal families provoke masculinist restoration reinforced by the violent conditions of gore capitalism. As neoliberalism in Turkey continues to devalue women’s labor, the bodies of women, translated into neoliberal market economics, become less valuable, too.
  • Dr. Dina Najjar
    Morocco’s development strategies are mainly focused on women’s participation in cooperatives as solutions to poverty and gender inequality. However, through detailed analysis of the structure, governance and benefits of 15 wheat cooperatives in Morocco, we find such anti-poverty and efficiency-based approaches alone do little to address women’s subordinate role in the family, society and economy as well as their limited land ownership rates. Further, our findings demonstrate that the impact of COVID- 19 has exacerbated vulnerabilities and gaps in access and incomes resulting in massive losses and disruptions, with most members and especially workers struggling to put food on the table, let alone achieve empowerment, as proposed by Morocco’s emphasis on cooperatives as vehicles to improve women’s lives.
  • Ola Galal
    This paper examines how notions of victimhood, testimony, and evidence that are central to litigation in the formal justice system figure and are taken up in relation to cases of gender violence in Tunisia in the age of social media as part of broader discussions about the pursuit of justice after the end of the dictatorship. It examines the emergences of and debates over tash-hir, a form of public denouncement enacted through the circulation of photos, videos, and written testimonies on the internet and audiovisual media outlets that identify and allege the incrimination of perpetrators in sexual harassment and violence. I argue that tash-hir operates as an alternative mechanism of justice that in its highly mediatized form reshapes and complicates the process of claims-making simultaneously enabling and limiting the ability of victims to obtain redress and reparations. I furthermore argue that the practice needs to be understood in relation to broader debates about Feminist political horizons, impunity for the powerful, and participatory citizenship under Tunisia’s nascent democratic system and to the global repertoire inspired by the #MeToo movement. My analysis is based on an ethnography among members of the Facebook page of and Feminists leading the #EnaZeda (which means “me too” in Tunisian dialect) movement and 18 months of fieldwork in Tunisia that included observations of legal trainings and interviews with activists, lawyers, judges, psychologists, and government officials. This paper aims to contribute more broadly to a discussion of the possibilities and limits of communication technologies and new media in the Middle East and North Africa (Eickelman and Anderson 2003; Hirschkind 2006) in not only reshaping access to justice but reconfiguring the central notions and processes associated with justice (Clarke 2019), such as truth, accountability, and democracy.