Neoliberal governmentality and the (de)politicisation of LGBT rights: The case of the European Union in Turkey

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Abstract

The European Union (EU) praises itself for being a promotor of LGBT rights in the world. It supports LGBT organisations abroad with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Yet, the EIDHR has come under scrutiny by scholars arguing that it is based on neoliberal rationalities and depoliticizes civil society. The literature analyses the EU's documents but does not study funding in practice. Moreover, it has a narrow understanding of politicisation failing to include insights from feminist and queer literature. To problematize the EU's policy, we need to analyse it in the sites it intervenes in. It is unclear whether and how the EIDHR depoliticises LGBT organisations and issues. Studying the case of Turkey, I argue that the EU's support of LGBT organisations had ambiguous effects which are not necessarily the ones intended by the EU nor the ones expected by the governmentality literature. The EU's funding depoliticised the organisations in the sense that they looked less political and more transparent. Yet, this helped making LGBT rights' claims more legitimate within Turkey's political struggles. At the same time, EU funding created conflicts within the LGBT movement about the question of western external funding and neoliberal co-optation.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1-16
JournalPolitics
VolumeOnline first
StatePublished - 2018

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politicization
governmentality
Turkey
funding
human rights
EU
democracy
EU policy
rationality
civil society
literature

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title = "Neoliberal governmentality and the (de)politicisation of LGBT rights: The case of the European Union in Turkey",
abstract = "The European Union (EU) praises itself for being a promotor of LGBT rights in the world. It supports LGBT organisations abroad with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Yet, the EIDHR has come under scrutiny by scholars arguing that it is based on neoliberal rationalities and depoliticizes civil society. The literature analyses the EU's documents but does not study funding in practice. Moreover, it has a narrow understanding of politicisation failing to include insights from feminist and queer literature. To problematize the EU's policy, we need to analyse it in the sites it intervenes in. It is unclear whether and how the EIDHR depoliticises LGBT organisations and issues. Studying the case of Turkey, I argue that the EU's support of LGBT organisations had ambiguous effects which are not necessarily the ones intended by the EU nor the ones expected by the governmentality literature. The EU's funding depoliticised the organisations in the sense that they looked less political and more transparent. Yet, this helped making LGBT rights' claims more legitimate within Turkey's political struggles. At the same time, EU funding created conflicts within the LGBT movement about the question of western external funding and neoliberal co-optation.",
author = "H.L.M. Muehlenhoff",
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volume = "Online first",
pages = "1--16",
journal = "Politics",
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Neoliberal governmentality and the (de)politicisation of LGBT rights: The case of the European Union in Turkey. / Muehlenhoff, H.L.M.

In: Politics, Vol. Online first , 2018, p. 1-16.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AB - The European Union (EU) praises itself for being a promotor of LGBT rights in the world. It supports LGBT organisations abroad with the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Yet, the EIDHR has come under scrutiny by scholars arguing that it is based on neoliberal rationalities and depoliticizes civil society. The literature analyses the EU's documents but does not study funding in practice. Moreover, it has a narrow understanding of politicisation failing to include insights from feminist and queer literature. To problematize the EU's policy, we need to analyse it in the sites it intervenes in. It is unclear whether and how the EIDHR depoliticises LGBT organisations and issues. Studying the case of Turkey, I argue that the EU's support of LGBT organisations had ambiguous effects which are not necessarily the ones intended by the EU nor the ones expected by the governmentality literature. The EU's funding depoliticised the organisations in the sense that they looked less political and more transparent. Yet, this helped making LGBT rights' claims more legitimate within Turkey's political struggles. At the same time, EU funding created conflicts within the LGBT movement about the question of western external funding and neoliberal co-optation.

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