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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for Five (5) Years

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Millie Thayer

Second Advisor

Joya Misra

Third Advisor

Barbara Cruikshank

Subject Categories

Other Sociology | Politics and Social Change | Sociology of Culture


This dissertation examines revolutionary activism and its changing modalities in an urban migrant district of Istanbul, Turkey. Based on an ethnographic study conducted in Gazi neighborhood, it analyzes the processes by which radical political forms continue to shape the lives of marginalized communities. Taking a spatial and people-centered approach as its entry point, the study analyzes political dissent and social movements, urban space, urban margins, violence, and illegality. The analysis situates the overlapping and diverging social and political universes that revolutionary activists and migrant populations imagine and create in concentrated and material forms. The primary purpose of this investigation is to bring the informal, less visible, spontaneous, and violent content of politics into the fore in its connection to the formal and strategic political orientations in a setting where they amalgamate to build a radical political community. In analyzing the connections between revolutionary politics and the radical political community prevalent in Gazi, the dissertation offers three lines of investigation: 1) an exploration of the global, regional and national lineages of revolutionary activist repertoires that have dominated Gazi’s history and present; 2) an examination of the urban marginalized areas where revolutionary activism cohabits with other forms of social and political movements; 3) an analysis of the past and present narratives and struggles of the revolutionary activists and their impacts on the lived spaces. By analyzing these different realms, it exposes the ongoing, less visible, informal, and ritualized practices in forging bonds of solidarity and imagining an alternative social order among broader communities. The resulting analysis suggests that the idea of revolutionary struggle has become a key organizing principle in both activists’ and non-activists' understanding of the world and social relations. The historical, spatial, and people-centered approach undertaken further reveals that historical legacies created by the past revolutionaries permeate the present with legitimacy, and establish a legitimate ground for what would otherwise be considered disruptive and “outdated” political repertoires. Consequently, the dissertation intends to show that studying social movements in spaces of oppression and marginalization opens up critical spaces to imagine contemporary and future forms of dissident politics and collective action.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License