Figuring a Queer Aesthetics and Politics of Urban Dissent in Istanbul

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This dissertation is a theoretical and art/archival practice-based exploration of aesthetic-affective resistance to neoliberal recuperation of urban space that not only constitutes a physical manifestation of capitalist accumulation by dispossession, but also serves to aesthetically valorize affluent middle-class normativity. Through archival research, I discuss the rise of aesthetic-political dissidence against the rent-seeking displacement of the minoritized in Istanbul, and follow its trajectory from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. Using visual analyses, I theorize the aesthetic strategies of cultural-political dis-identification from the presiding logics and affectations of neoliberalism. These aesthetic strategies include satire, valorization of the obsolete, discarded, devalued and superfluous, and the fragmental provocation of memory to keep the lived history of Istanbul active against neoliberal erasure without monumentalizing a particular historical narrative. The art practice component of this dissertation provides self-reflection on my art works that draws upon aesthetic-political developments in Istanbul. In my discussion, I also put my art practice in conversation with queer temporality, utopian realism, and a queer-feminist ethic-erotic that orient us to social practices of production, reproduction, and subjectivization based on relational principles driven from sensuous reciprocity that go beyond the familial and the naturalized, and that the dominant political-economic order renders unfeasible.





Goknur, Sinan Cem (2020). Figuring a Queer Aesthetics and Politics of Urban Dissent in Istanbul. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


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