“Alcohol flows across cultures: Drinking cultures in transnational and comparative perspective”
International Research Symposium, St Anne’s College, Oxford, 29–30 June 2016
"The contested place and symbolisms of beer and beer parks in modern Turkey, from the early republic to the present day"
Dr Kyle T. Evered and Dr Emine Ö. Evered
Department of Geography/History, Michigan State University, USA
Regarded as a key marker of modernization, secularism, and civil liberties, the Turkish population’s acceptance of drinking (or simply of other citizens’ rights to drink) has been a vital indication of the Kemalist tradition since the republic’s establishment. Amid the rise of political Islam—and in line with particular public health agendas, the once-accepted place and practice of drinking has begun to shift from being just culturally and morally discordant (for many citizens) to being politically divisive, as well. As a beverage once promoted by the state (especially for women and youth), beer is today targeted especially for regulation due to the state’s framing of it in association with declarations of problem drinking among the country’s youth. Given a succession of legislative shifts taxing alcohol and restricting its trade, marketing, and consumption, my paper addresses how we see the place of beer, the act of drinking, and sites for consumption (especially beer parks) changing—both physically and symbolically—within Turkey. In pursuing this question, I also engage with (1) how these shifts correspond or contrast with other contestations over the public sphere (e.g., those involving veiling, schooling, privatization, and urban renewal/gentrification, among others) and (2) how these developments are related to the geographies of alcohol redefining citizens’ notions of being Turkish in ways both cultural and political. In addition to conducting archival research and analysis of Turkey’s evolving alcohol legislation, public speeches, and written commentaries, this study also relies upon rigorous surveys and ethnographic (i.e., participant observation) methods in some of the country’s remaining drinking establishments.
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