This article rethinks Gezi Protests as a sui generis women’s movement which continues to this day, albeit in a form of unorganized flow. To make this point, the article focuses on the Gezi and Post-Gezi lifeworld experiences of women knowledge workers who participated in the Protests. It is argued that the worker-citizen experiences of these women have provided them with a specific epistemic advantage, which has turned in an emancipatory standpoint during the Gezi and has been reproduced since then – despite significant setbacks. Although still lacking a corresponding feminist counter-hegemonic project, the emancipatory standpoint of the women-in-movement of Gezi Protests is not only negative and adaptive but also formative. It immanently stands for the rationalization of all forms of governance. In that regard, it represents a wish for a new public power rather than a demand for entitlement and recognition by an already existing state.
Most universities champion “community engagement” and “inclusion” as core values of their institutions. But what does it mean to meaningfully engage with communities, or to foster more inclusive learning environments? I address this question by reviewing my experiences co-teaching with communities and detailing the challenges I have encountered – building relationships, managing time constraints, and negotiating participants’ divergent expectations. I develop the concept of grassroots pedagogy, which argues that teaching grounded in radical honesty and social justice upends traditional notions of expertise, strengthens higher education’s commitment to service, and promotes a culture of democracy. Highlighting the voices of people who have historically been excluded from higher education may create more engaged and inclusive institutions, in turn helping universities live up to the values they profess.
This is a reflection on teaching an undergraduate seminar about social movements and revolutions in the modern Middle East in a Western university and the challenges and questions that arose throughout the semester. My empathetic and hardworking students at the University of Pennsylvania, many of whom had personal ties to the Middle East, passionately debated about theory and history and engaged profoundly with modern case studies of contentious politics in the region. Their arguments and attitudes were colored by their own activism and their sometimes romanticized views of social movements and social change. The course focused on concepts, but emotions ran high, as we read meso- and micro-level accounts about the experiences of people on the ground, especially during the Arab Spring. These accounts made us question the lifespan of a movement and whether the terms we debated throughout the semester made any difference in the long run.