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Islamist Columnists Discussing ‘Women in the Public Sphere’: A Discourse Analysis of the Turkish Press

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Beginning with the so-called ‘turban issue’ in universities in the 1980s, public discussion about women in the public sphere in Turkey has arisen due to the veiled women’s demand for a presence in public life. Since the banning of the veil in public life, Islamist columnists have been in a struggle against Kemalists to make the veil public, though there are different views on the limits of veiled women’s visibility in public life. By analyzing the content of hundreds of columns in five pro-Islamist newspapers, each representing a different faction among Islamists since 1997, this article reveals both the Islamist discourse vis-à-vis the Kemalist discourse on the public sphere and the conflicting gendered discourses among Islamists. This article suggests that there is an ongoing hegemony struggle among Islamist columnists about the presence of veiled women in the public sphere, contrary to their common position in the hegemony struggle against Kemalists.

Affiliations: 1: a) Doğuş University, Istanbul, Turkey, Email: beybink@hotmail.com ; 2: b) Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey, Email: kubilay@media.ankara.edu.tr ; 3: c) Selçuk University, Konya, Turkey, Email: nalan.ova@gmail.com

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