Call it a Revolution: Paradox, Politics and Security in the Urban Frontier An intergenerational narrative on the young female comrade’s resistance, political action and civil death in South Africa and Turkey
Fundamentally, this thesis is about multiple crises of state, and the revolutionary efforts to transcend them and face the paradox of politics. That is, the paradox of creating new political beginnings out of and upon a ‘politics out of history’ (Brown, 2001). To address these themes, I focus on securitisation, a technology and biopolitics of the state aimed at predicting and controlling its population, as a driving theme to explore the underlying logic of the modern nation-state, as it emerges out of empire. Here, I examine and explore the intersection of the state’s desire to securitise and maintain liberal freedoms, as a promise of the modern nation-state, and the radical drive of its citizens to build a space for the realm of politics and the realisation of more radical freedoms (Arendt, 2013). Taking this intersection as a starting point, I delve into fundamental contradictions of the modern nation-state, by focusing on what I aim to depict as its ‘undesirable’ citizen. That is, the gendered, racialised and classed political being. Further, I focus on young people to emphasise the contradictions between natal political aspirations (ibid) and the state’s virtue politics (Honig, 2016) that seek to produce order and predictability. Therefore, this study, takes as its core emprirical question: how does securitisation shape the political expression of young female comrades across time and space?
This project, takes an intergenerational and transnational frame as its starting point to first, further explore ‘politics out of history’ (Brown, 2001) and political paradox, and second, to capture the ‘connected sociologies’ (Bhambra, 2016) that bridge together divergent yet uncannily familiar experiences of empire, nation-building, and securitisation. To build this story, I have chosen two ‘global cities - Cape Town and Istanbul - as a representation of the ‘urban frontier’ space (Sassen, 2000; 2013), with different histories of empire and state-making, yet shared legacies of western intervention, neoliberalism, histories of securitisation, and demographic pressures that place young people in precarious social and economic conditions. Taken together, an intergenerational and transnational study on the securitisation of the young female comrade in Cape Town and Istanbul yields a temporalised analysis on the violence of the nation-state, the competing logics of action and underlying political philosophies of both the state and the comrade as they each respectively seek to pursue their own meaning of moral and political greatness, and the role of history and memory in shaping political struggle. Drawing upon 9 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I therefore, provide a historicised portrait of young female lives in conflict, as they inhabit and struggle against ‘death worlds’ (Mbembé, 2003) and competing definitions of freedom in their search for the realm of the political.