City life, premarital sexuality and the politics of chastity: an ethnographic approach to sexual moralities and social reproduction in the context of Istanbul
Author(s)Scalco, Patricia Daniel
Contributor(s)OBEID, MICHELLE M
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AbstractThis thesis consists of an anthropological investigation of discourses and practices associated with premarital sexuality in the context of contemporary urban Turkey. Grounded in thirteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul, this thesis draws on the experiences of local women – and to some extent, local men – threading on their concerns and experiences about virginity and premarital sex while exploring the relationship between sexual moralities and the city, controversies on the theme of abortion, the relationship between contraceptive choices and sexual moralities, the normativity of marriage and the respective construction of the marriageable subject, and the centrality of perceptions about the hymen in articulating processes of social reproduction. Through an exploration of these realms of experience, the thesis argues that an ethnographic approach to sexual moralities in the context of Turkey benefits from an historical approach to the events of the foundation of the republic. I suggest that the rhetoric of territorial loss, territorial partition and defence of actual and symbolic frontiers is a crucial part of processes of socialisation of new generations into contemporary identities, and is relived in people’s perceptions of the rupture of the hymen. Thus, the hymenocentric approach to virginity in Turkey conflates history and a politics of belonging in terms of a mereographic nexus of part/ whole, manifested in dilemmas of belonging as ‘part of’ (family, neighbourhood, city, and nation) or as ‘apart from’ (family, neighbourhood, city, and nation). This, I suggest, allows younger generations into an embodied mimetic experience of the initial dramas posed at the foundation of the republic.
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TypeDoctoral level ETD - final