In Queer in Translation: Sexual Politics under Neoliberal Islam (Duke UP, 2021), Evren Savcı analyzes the travel and translation of Western LGBT political terminology to Turkey in order to illuminate how sexual politics have unfolded under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's AKP government. Under the AKP's neoliberal Islamic regime, Savcı shows, there has been a stark shift from a politics of multicultural inclusion to one of securitized authoritarianism. Drawing from ethnographic work with queer activist groups to understand how discourses of sexuality travel and are taken up in political discourse, Savcı traces the intersection of queerness, Islam, and neoliberal governance within new and complex regimes of morality. Savcı turns to translation as a queer methodology to think Islam and neoliberalism together and to evade the limiting binaries of traditional/modern, authentic/colonial, global/local, and East/West—thereby opening up ways of understanding the social movements and political discourse that coalesce around sexual liberation in ways that do justice to the complexities both of what circulates under the signifier Islam and of sexual political movements in Muslim-majority countries.
This interview is part of an NBN special series on “Mobilities and Methods.”
Evren Savcı is Assistant Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University.
Alize Arıcan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on urban renewal, futurity, care, and migration in Istanbul, Turkey. Her work has been featured in Current Anthropology, City & Society, Radical Housing Journal, and entanglements: experiments in multimodal ethnography.