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Bureaucratic Intimacies: Translating Human Rights in Turkey

Elif Babul

May 2, 2018

On April 30, 2018 the Middle East Center hosted Elif Babül, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College, who spoke about her research on human rights training sessions in Turkey.  Human rights are politically fraught in Turkey. Nevertheless, Turkey’s human rights record remains a key indicator of its governmental legitimacy. Bureaucratic Intimacies shows how government workers encounter human rights rhetoric through training programs and articulates the perils and promises of these encounters for the subjects and objects of Turkish governance. Elif Babül argues that the accession process does not always advance human rights. Training programs strip human rights of their radical valences, disassociating them from their political meanings within grassroots movements. Translation of human rights into a tool of good governance leads to competing understandings of what human rights should do.

Elif Babül is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College. She earned her Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2012. She studied International Relations at Ankara University Faculty of Political Science and received her M.A. in Sociology at Boğaziçi University. She is a political and legal anthropologist who works on national and transnational mechanisms of governance, everyday forms of state power and political authority, citizenship and national belonging, and the politics of gender in Turkey and the Middle East.

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