The AK Party and Biopolitics: How a Transformation in Governmentality Affects Population Politics in Turkey

In: Iran and the Caucasus
Hakan Ovunc Ongur TOBB University of Economics and Technology, Ankara

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The political rise of the AK Party in Turkey since 2002 has been associated with a social transformation within the country. This article argues that the dynamics of this transformation is rooted in the simultaneously neoliberal and conservative character of the establishing governmentality. Foucauldian analysis of the AK Party’s practice of biopolitics suggests that the (historically very rare) development of harmony between the ruling governmentality and the majority of society during the AK Party era has facilitated the spread of a new regime of truth regarding the relationship between political power and the human body in Turkey. Examination of textual evidence demonstrates that, in place of Turkey’s previous discourses on eugenics or anatomo-politics of the body, the AK Party’s version of biopower manifests itself directly through population politics by concentrating on birth rates, abortion, universal healthcare, illnesses, and tobacco and alcohol consumption.

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