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Turkey's Necropolitical LaboratoryDemocracy, Violence and Resistance$
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Banu Bargu

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474450263

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474450263.001.0001

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The Necropolitics of Documents and the Slow Death of Prisoners in Turkey

The Necropolitics of Documents and the Slow Death of Prisoners in Turkey

(p.97) Five The Necropolitics of Documents and the Slow Death of Prisoners in Turkey
Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory

Başak Can

Edinburgh University Press

The government used medico-legal documentation of prisoners’ health condition to solve the biopolitical crisis in penal institutions immediately after the end of death fast (2000-2007) and released hundreds of hunger strikers, who suffered from incurable conditions. That the state turned a political crisis into a medical one using the illness clause had unprecedented consequences for how claims are made in the political sphere. Human rights activists, Kurdish and leftist politicians are now using the plight of ill prisoners to make political arguments in the public sphere. The health conditions of political prisoners, specifically the use of the illness clause has thus emerged as one of the most contentious fields in the encounters between the state and its opponents. This chapter examines how temporality works as an instrument of necropolitics through the slow production and circulation of the medico-legal bureaucratic documents that are produced through encounters with multiple state officials. I argue, first, that medico-legal processes surrounding the detainees are mediated through the discretionary sovereign acts of multiple state officials, including but not limited to physicians, and second, that legal medicine as a technology of state violence is central to understanding the intertwined histories of sovereignty and biopolitics in Turkey.

Keywords:   Slow violence, forensic medicine, medico-legal documents, prisoner health, hunger strike, medical humanitarianism, human rights, necropolitical technologies

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