Call for Book Chapters: Mapping the Alternative Media in Turkey

ImageThe alternative media works as a source of memory and an archive helping to understand the historical and current structure of alternative politics in Turkey. IT also gives voice to alternative ideologies and politics and makes their political activities visible. In addition, the alternative media, which mainly represents the “otherised”, oppressed and marginalised groups, forms the vanguard of struggle against the hegemony and barbarism of the oppressive, globalized neo-liberal society.

Alternative media, as an umbrella term, applies to those media organs which are typically bottom up organisations. In principle, their organizational structures and decision making processes are democratic, participatory, polyphonic and dialogic. Their opposition to the mainstream media finds its roots, in its form and content, in social and political struggles and is based in radical ideologies such as anarchism, radical democracy and Marxism. The existence of alternative media indicates the struggle to construct a truly democratic and free sphere of communication from a number of broad perspectives, varying from the idea of simply being independent from either the state or capital, to being completely opposed to them. In this context, it is also possible to claim that every organ of the alternative media, as a centre of subaltern resistance, is part of a greater alternative communication network.

This so-called alternative network (or networks) is/are the voice of different political or social groups, communities, minorities or even individuals at the grassroots level. Thus, they open the way for these groups to actively participate in political and social life, as either real “agents” or as “spectacles” in the field of symbolic struggle. Therefore, individuals or groups can find opportunities to get involved in both real and symbolic struggles for hegemony, not only as consumers, but also as producers; as active agents.

Therefore, alternative media institutions either on the micro- or macro-scale cannot be considered as combatants solely at  the informational level. In addition to their struggle to gather, record and spread news and ideas concerning local, national and transnational problems, they also provide a response to the establishment through real political actions. It is not unusual to see their active participation in protests, or even note that they hold the leadership positions in the organisation of some of these dissident political actions. Therefore, their active struggle with the hegemonic powers can also be considered as an effort to create alternative political forms. More commonly however, alternative media operate as the symbolic production centre of alternative politics and as an incubation ground for the intellectual and ideological constructs of social movements.

Alternative media, along with other dissident institutions, are seen as paving the way for a brighter and more just future by being the voice of the voiceless and contributing to the imagining of a different world. Threatening so-called representative democracy by supporting participatory social, cultural and political activities is also deemed useful to this end. By engaging in such activities, they may be able to cause the transformation of political culture in general. More importantly, however, the ways in which subordinate constituents of the society interpret politics and their own means of participation could change in a positive manner. Moreover, such efforts may also lead to the construction of efficient counter-public spheres alongside the more common examples of alternative spaces.

Diverse anti-systemic, reformist and revolutionary ideological orientations, varied political discourses and different modes of action constituting the alternative media landscape mostly open up an opportunity for the “oppressed” to actively participate in these alternative political spaces that are, to a certain extent, diverse, colourful, vivid and, most importantly, innately dialogic.

In this context, we argue that the “duty” of academia should be to understand these alternatives without stigmatizing them as the source of conflicts within the prevailing social system. After all, we as editors, would like to study these initiatives since the imagining of an alternative world may only be possible by embracing the oppressed and their voice, even though the world around us is not particularly welcoming.

Abstracts of papers are sought on topics such as:

·         Radical media (Struggling within legal parameters to push the limits of the existing system

·         Radical- militant media (affiliated with revolutionary organizations)

·         Identity and rights-based media (Human rights, labour and trade-union rights, gender, environment, ethnicity, struggles based on faith or denomination

·         Transnational and diaspora-based alternative media

·         Independent, objective, opposition media

·         Dissident voices, “cracks” in the mainstream media

However, it should be noted that the categories above do not refer to independent categories with clear differences. It is possible to say that; most examples of the alternative media operating in Turkey can be included under more than one of the rubrics mentioned above. Nevertheless, the alternative media organs in Turkey, despite a degree of permeability in the boundaries that separate them, may be seen as belonging more to one or another of the above-mentioned classifications, therefore, these categories will constitute the book’s chapters.

Abstracts of a maximum of 250 words in Turkish and English outlining the topic, theoretical and methodological approach as well as the research question, should be submitted to either Barış Çoban (bcoban@dogus.edu.tr) or Bora Ataman (bataman@dogus.edu.tr) until  December 1 2012.

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