By D. Kuzmanovic

Drawing on information from ethnographic fieldwork between civic activists and opting for a number of family and overseas socio-political contexts, Refractions of Civil Society in Turkey explores varied perceptions of civil society in Turkey and pursues the overall query of why civil society holds such energy to maneuver those that evoke it.

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This experience induces a sense of agency in the form of a sense of possessing the capacity for self-realization. 2 Mapping Samimi Civil Society Among the first things I did after I arrived in Ankara to do fieldwork on civil society was to ask my contacts which organizations and activists they would talk to. I presented them with a list, and asked them to evaluate it. Two of the interlocutors who helped me out were Orhan and Bilge. Orhan first classified the organizations according to agenda to see if key activities were missing.

Those constituting a threat are primarily referred to as reactionary forces (irtica), or ˙ alternatively, as conservatives (muhafazakârlar). Irtica in Turkey today first 2 and foremost denotes pro-Islamism. The main targets of those who see themselves as fighting reactionary forces are the religious-conservative ruling party, the AKP, and its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyıp Erdo˘gan, who has a history of political activism in the pro-Islamic parties of the 1990s. The AKP came to power in 2002 and has consolidated its mandate by winning the subsequent general and local elections as well as a vote on constitutional changes.

But the struggle also involves a number MAPPING SAMIMI CIVIL SOCIETY 37 of pro-Islamic CSOs and religious foundations—human rights—oriented organizations such as Mazlum-Der (Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for the Oppressed People) and Özgür-Der (Association for Freedom of Thought and Rights to Education) to Gülen-related organizations such as Gazeteciler ve Yazarlar Vakfı (Journalists and Writers’ Foundation, GYV). In the eyes of those opposing the AKP all such organizations are seen as accomplices.

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