In Search of Free Spaces to Breathe: Turkey's United June Movement, Social Uprising, and Spatial Maintainability

Çömlekçi M. F., Güney S.

Antipode, vol.55, no.6, pp.1641-1661, 2023 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 55 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/anti.12936
  • Journal Name: Antipode
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, IBZ Online, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, American History and Life, Geobase, Historical Abstracts, PAIS International, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.1641-1661
  • Keywords: free spaces, United June Movement, social movements, ethnography, social change
  • Galatasaray University Affiliated: Yes


This study examines the socio-spatial practices of the United June Movement (UJM), a grassroots movement that drew inspiration from the neighbourhood forums of the Gezi Park protests. We argue that the counter-sites of politicisation and symbolic places engraved on the social movements’ memory formed the socio-spatial base of solidarity networks and the long-term political organising of UJM. Secondly, we suggest that in an authoritarian context, activist organisations nourishing from full-scale protests such as UJM need to form, reshape, and sustain free spaces where they feel protected. For testing these arguments, we designed fieldwork around UJM with an ethnographic approach. We concluded that the desire for social change has the potential of generating alternative visions in a spatiotemporal context, but in the medium term, it can turn into a feeling of self-enclosure or being besieged. Even so, such attempts leave a perpetual legacy, tagged to certain spaces and geographies.