Hande Eslen-Ziya, PhD.

Research Fellow, University of Brighton
Re-claiming our Space: Feminist Activism and the Use of Social Media During Gezi Park Protests

The Gezi Park demonstrations, like the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements, represent the changing nature of contemporary social movements where social media acts as a resource for self-expression. During the occupation of the park (27th of May and the 30th June 2013) social media was used not just as a tool to disseminate information (Walgrave et al 2011) but also as a mechanism allowing people to engage in a non-physical space. Women were among the ones that used this space to re-claim their rights.  They criticized, lobbied, and tweeted to change the masculine protest language, and questioned the patriarchal state regime and the totalitarian leadership style of President Erdoğan. They did this both in online and offline medium; via nonviolent protests, press releases, and forming online networking channels to communicate their messages. In this presentation by talking about women’s protests and how it became a reaction to Erdoğan and the AKP government, its repressive authoritarian social policies such as banning abortion and limiting women’s sexual and reproductive rights, I will discuss how feminist groups re-claimed their space sboth inside and outside the park. 
Dr. Hande Eslen-Ziya holds a PhD in Sociology from Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland. In 2015, she was awarded Associate Professorship in Sociology by the Turkish Higher Education Council. 
Dr. Eslen-Ziya is currently a research fellow of the University of Brighton, School of Applied Social Sciences. She is working on a project titled; “The Aesthetics of Protest: Visual Culture and Communication in Turkey” funded by the AHRC, where they examine why protestors deploy particular aesthetics, using the example of the Gezi Park protests in Turkey in 2013. More specifically the project investigates how protestors use aesthetics in order to communicate their message and articulate demands in a significant instance of public uprising and how this is recognised and given meaning by the public, politicians and other protestors. Before, she was a research fellow at the School of Applied Human Sciences, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu Natal, Durban South Africa.

Her most recent publications are: "Politics and Gender Identity in Turkey: Centralised Islam for Socio-Economic Control" published by Rutledge Press; "Erkekliğin Türkiye Halleri" published by Istanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları; “The Evolution of the Pro-birth Regime in Turkey: Discursive Governance of Population Politics” published in Social Politics International Studies in Gender, State & Society; “Being a gay man in Turkey: Internalised sexual prejudice as a function of prevalent hegemonic masculinity perceptions” published in Culture, Health and Psychology; “New waves for old rights? Women’s mobilization and bodily rights in Turkey and Norway” published in European Journal of Women’s Studies.