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{Declaration of Sentiments/Gün for ISEA2011, Istanbul}

Declaration of Sentiments/Gün

Edited and organized by Arzu Ozkal and Claudia Pederson
Contributions by Asli Akıncı Alper, Berna Ekal, Basak Senova, Burçak Bingöl, Chantal Zakari, Güneli Gün, Iz Öztat, Nazenin Tokusoglu, Nazmiye Halvasi, Nilbar Guures, Meltem Isık, Övül Durmusoglu, Özlem Özkal

Info on the project here:

Declaration of Sentiments/Gün book was presented in conjunction with the following ISEA events:

September 13-15, 2011

at Gallery 5533, Istanbul


September 16: Gün meeting including collaborators and ISEA guests.


September 17, 2011
Short: Circuit - Cross Border Communications in New Media Between US and Turkey
chaired by Patrick Lichty
with Ali Miharbi, Eden Ünlüata, Claudia Pederson, Burak Arikan, Iz Öztat, Chantal Zakari
Sabancı Center, Levent campus, Room 3

September 18, 2011
1:00 - 2:30 pm
Mind The Gap panel discussion with
Kerry Doyle, Karin Hansson, Chantal Zakari, Claudia Costa Pederson, Arzu Ozkal, The WRMC Collaborative
moderated by Alexia Mellor
Sabancı University, Levent campus, Room 4

The project is a collaboration between 16 Turkish women (I'm the exception) working in the fields of journalism, political activism, music, visual arts, performance, literature, and electronic media. Collaborators are based in the United States, Europe, and Turkey. In concept and form Gün is a network. Gün is a Turkish word meaning day and referencing women-only groups, part of social relations in Turkey and today among the diasporas. The gün takes many forms, usually consisting of a group of women friends taking turns hosting these gatherings in their homes, which take place weekly or monthly and serve as a time/space devoted to plesurable exchanges between women, involving food, conversation, games, crafts, gossip, and sometimes money. In short, güns are forms of networks specific to gendered spaces within Turkish culture. The project began a year ago in response to this year's ISEA's location in Istanbul and theme of “networking.” The concept places a focus on the etymology of the concept of network as materials and systems fashioned “in the manner of a net,” thus emphacizing interrelations and connections. In practice, the work involves online exchanges between participants, with each woman contributing work related to the gün as a social/cultural form-- a handle for research into the ideas, conditions, and aspirations framing the positions of women in Turkey and Turkish women living and working abroad. Some of the participants involved met in Istanbul to discuss the book and its next phase. Some of the women attending ISEA from Australia, Britain, and Canada came to the event to share their work with women in their own practice. As it now stands, the work included in the gün reflects the specificity of its network form as a site of individual/social formation historically evolving with notions of femininity and feminism specific to Turkish women. Many of the contributions speak of the hybridity and contrasting nature of these notions in today's Turkish culture as both sources of ambivalence and pride, as well as reflect on notions of feminism specific to countries where many of the women participants reside. For instance, the book begins with a visit to the Women's Rights National Park at Seneca Falls near the Wesleyan chapel where the declaration of women's rights was discussed and formally adopted in 1848. The site of the museum in upstate New York is part of the former Iroquois territory that included what is today upstate and central New York. Needless to say, this event is internationally known and cherished among feminists the world over. We note the museum's ommition of the influence of the Iroquois nation on women's rights. Feminists involved in the drafting of the Declaration of Sentiments were aware of the social, cultural, and political standing of Iroquois women, which they cited as a model for their vision of an egalitarian society. Iroquois women had the right to elect the chief and to speak on political matters, including war, enjoyed religious rights, the right over property, the right to divorce, as well as the right to her children, who traced their lineage through the mother. Feminists discussed the equal standing of women within the Iroquois six nations in magazines and newspapers, regularly citing the superiority of “savage law” over English law adopted by the former colonized North Americans, which denied women all rights and consequently brought on regressive impact on Iroquois women. The disappearance of any mention of this in feminist histories is attributed to the movement's conservative turn calculated as a means to attain the right to vote. In the book, parallels are drawn with the development of Turkish feminism emerging in the modern era with the rise of the republic and state feminism.

The project is in process, with a planned bilingual book, which will be expanded to address issues and questions raised at the meeting in Istanbul. We will be uploading part of the existing documentation to the project's website shortly, and keep you posted.

A side note on ISEA and the Gün: Because the women involved in the project are familiar with the 'guarded' spaces of Turkish universities, we decided beforehand to meet outside of ISEA, as not all the women would be able to attend because they wouldn't be registered for the conference. Because of this ISEA ommited any reference to the Gün Workshop in its catalogue, without any consultation. In addition, we requested and were promised a table at the conference to display and distribute the book to ISEA participants, which failed to materialize. Most of all, we regret not being able to engage students .




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