Speaking of Invasion: Narratives over Arabs in Eksi Sozluk, a Virtual Community in Turkey

Author(s) Zeynep Oguz
Contact Zeynep Oguz, Sabanci University, Atakoy 9. Kisim A 16/B D:77 Istanbul, Turkey. E-mail: zeynepoguz@sabanciuniv.edu
Issue CyberOrient, Vol. 5, Iss. 2, 2011, pp. 24-49
Published November 10, 2011
Type Article
Abstract Since the day it was founded, Eksi Sozluk (sour dictionary) has been one of the most popular virtual communities in Turkey, fostering cultural and political discussions and acting as a public sphere. This paper examines contested narratives of hostility and hospitality over Arabs in Eksi Sozluk in order to trace the making of subjectivities in Turkey. I illustrate the ways Arab tourists are orientalized through the narratives of Eksi Sozluk authors who mark Arabs as dirty, disgusting, uncivilized, and backward. Next, I show contrary narratives that claim to welcome and embrace Arab tourists in Istanbul. I argue that a supposedly welcoming discourse towards Arabs also functions under the same ontological presuppositions of Orientalist fantasy. Finally, based on the conceptual framework of “Occidentalist fantasy,” I argue that the othering of Arabs in contemporary Turkey functions to create the illusion of a unified, sovereign subjectivity under the imagined Western gaze.
Keywords identity, cultural studies, public sphere, websites, Turkey