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Yıl 2010 , Cilt 2 , Sayı 2

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The militarization of henna

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Yazar kurumları :
Ankara Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesi1
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Political science scholar Cynthia Enloe defines militarization as “a step by step process by which a person or a thing gradually comes to be controlled by the military or comes to depend for its well being on militaristic ideas.”1 She gives the example of a militarized tomato soup in which the pastas were cut in the shape of Star War satellites and emphasizes that in every stage of the production and consumption of this tomato soup many people were militarized. But how would a can of soup be militarized and more importantly, what does the promotion of weapon shaped noodles in a soup say about militarization? Enloe emphasizes that the use of weapons in the soup by the dieticians and designers of the soup primarily targets women consumers and entertainment of children while eating their lunch. In this example, the employees of the food company are militarized as they perceive nothing problematic with promoting militarized products; women and children are militarized as they become fascinated by the idea of weapons in the shape of noodles in a meal. In that sense, militarization is not only about joining the army but it is always an ongoing process which is based on consenting mechanisms and these mechanisms vary according to gender.2 There is a plethora of research in how women are victimized through murder, rape and torture during times of militarization3 and how women are integrated into the processes of militarization as supporters.4 My short reading of a newspaper5 in this article explores how women are integrated into the processes of militarization through the practice of henna applied on the body of the conscripts in Turkey. To this extent, I will first provide a brief summary of the article and then, move onto my analysis of it. The newspaper article I am choosing concentrates on the ceremonies of henna, while sending the new conscripts off to military service.6 The article begins by drawing attention to the efforts of conscripted families in raising their children by numerous sacrifices and the hardship in sending off a son even against the operations of the Turkish army in the Eastern and Southeastern territories of Turkey against the Kurdish insurgency, known as Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK- Partiya Karkerê Kurdistan). Despite the dilemmatic drama of conscription at a time of militarization, the rest of the article focuses on the ceremony for the conscripts, which involves putting henna, that is prepared by the mothers and dancing just before a last farewell. The ceremonies in question took place in Bitlis Teacher`s House (Bitlis Öğretmenevi) where government officials, such as the mukhtar of the village were present. The below quotation from the mukhtar`s speech composes the problem of my article, pertaining to the integration of women into the processes of militarization as follows:

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