Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David A. Gerstner

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies | History | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Politics and Social Change | Television


Film, Cinema, LGBTI+, Turkey, Queer, Neoliberalism


In my thesis, I examine the intersections between liberalism, neoliberal globalism, and LGBTI+ visibility and identity politics, through films that present “openly” non-normative sexualities through cis/transgender male, female, or non-binary characters in the new cinema of Turkey. First, I survey existing scholarship on how liberal capitalism impacts the formation of LGBTI+ subjectivities and identity politics. Furthermore, I trace how non-normative sexualities, practices, and discourses evolved along with socioeconomic and political shifts in the Turkish Republic following the Ottoman Empire. Accordingly, I review Turkey’s adoption of neoliberal ideologies in the 1980s and how these ideologies engage with its local, heterogenous gender and sexuality discourses, performances, and representations in films. I argue that along with neoliberal ideologies there is a reemergence and increase in the visibility of LGBTI+ identities in the public and media spheres. Secondly, I scrutinize the ways in which films imagine their non-heterosexual characters, remark on identity politics, and contribute to or disavow hetero- and homonormative discourses in the Turkish national context. To that end, I do textual and formal analysis of five films, Dönersen Islık Çal (1992), Gece, Melek ve Bizim Çocuklar (1994), Il Bagno Turco – Hamam (1997), Anlat Istanbul (2005) and Tamam Mıyız? (2013), written and directed by well-known directors of Turkish origin. Consequently, I compare them with respect to their release dates, which reflect the political temperaments of their times in relation to the LGBTI+ politics. Finally, I argue that, despite the increase in the visibility of LGBTI+ identities in the Turkish media landscape, the recent filmic representations of LGBTI+ narratives are imbued with acceptance and respectability politics aligning themselves with the ideals of global neoliberalism, whereas the earlier films challenge the persistent stereotypes, gender norms, and the status quo.