Becoming a Man, Becoming a Citizen

  • Ayse Gül Altinay


Toward the end of 1999, at a dinner gathering with friends, someone told me a story: A friend of his—who happened to have an anthropology undergraduate degree—had done his military service in Western Turkey, in what he called “a bizarre unit where there were a lot of lunatics.” On one of his first days in the barracks, this young man’s commander gathered all the soldiers and asked the ones with university degrees what they had majored in. Upon hearing that this man had an anthropology degree, he said: “It would have been better if you were a psychologist or a sociologist, but anthropology will do.” For the rest of his days in the barracks, this young anthropology graduate was ordered to operate his own office for consultations with soldiers who had psychological problems. His orders were to make sure that no one hurt themselves (e.g., by cutting their arms with razors) or committed suicide. Suicide was the commander’s major concern. He was waiting for a promotion and did not want anyone to kill themselves under his command. That is why he had decided to seek the “professional” help of this anthropologist.


Military Service Military Training Hegemonic Masculinity Military Assistance Compulsory Military Service 
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© Ayse Gül Altinay 2004

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  • Ayse Gül Altinay

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