Lisel Hintz:  The empire’s opposition strikes back: popular culture as creative resistance tool under Turkey’s AKP

In the early morning of September 6, 2019, two rap videos expressing frustrations with Turkey’s socio-political condition coincidentally dropped together and quickly went viral. Although one was more overtly political, both videos crystalized the rage, grief, and hopelessness many had been feeling under the 17-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP). The dual release catalyzed a groundswell of online mobilization at a particularly tumultuous moment – one at which mass protest in the form of organized street demonstrations was effectively off the table.

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As this article argues, however, pushback against the AKP was alive and well in alternative spaces. From rap collaborations challenging corruption and rising rates of femicide to social media users repurposing familiar memes of TV shows with witty political critique, pop culture-themed acts of resistance signalled to others in Turkey’s fractious opposition that they were not alone.


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This articles addresses an interdisciplinary body of literature that examines the AKP’s deployment of entertainment media to extend its soft power abroad and cultivate a conservative society at home, but turns it around to explore how various opposition actors strike back by taking pop culture into their own hands as a tool of expression, mobilization, and subversion.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.