Trees and umbrellas: a parallel reading of the Istanbul Gezi Park Movement and the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement
ABSTRACT This paper makes a parallel reading of two recent urban protest movements: the 2013 Istanbul Gezi Park Movement (GPM) and the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella Movement (UM). As regional centers at both ends of Asia, Istanbul and Hong Kong might at fırst sight appear to be incongruent cities for comparison. Istanbul’s recent past has been defined by contrasting opinions about the city’s post-imperial identity, while Hong Kong’s recent past has been shaped by competing visions around the city’s post-colonial status. Directing attention to the striking parallels between the GPM and UM in terms of the nature of the events themselves, the profile of the participants and opponents, the government response that they received, and the cultural sensitivities concerning the questions of belonging and identity that they rekindled, the paper argues that comparative studies of the new urban protest movements would provide significant insights for discerning the dynamics of emerging illiberal democracies across the world.
KEYWORDS: Gezi Park, Umbrella Movement, Occupy Movements, belonging, illiberal democracy, authoritarianism, conservatism, Islamism, Hong Kong, Istanbul
Asuman Suner is former Professor of Sociology and Cultural Studies at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in Istanbul Technical University. She currently teaches at Sabancı University in Istanbul. Previously, she taught at the Department of Comparative Literature in the University of Hong Kong. Her publications include the book entitled New Turkish Cinema: Belonging, Identity and Memory (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009). She is also the co-editor of the Fall 2011 Special Issue for New Perspectives on Turkey entitled Turkishness and its Discontents. Her articles appeared in edited volumes and journals such as Social Identities, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, New Perspectives on Turkey, Screen, and Cinema Journal.