Issue 4

Red Thread emerged at a point in time when hopes of converging and thinking about geographies that had not, could not have been related to each other for a long time due to the borders drawn by nationalism and the cold war paradigm were high. An optimism and zest that the web of interactions established in the 90s could be taken further and deepened, made permanent somehow gave rise to the project in 2009 as a discussion platform coordinated from Istanbul, but always conceived to be able to move to nearby geographies. The publishing rhythm that we wanted at the beginning, a rhythm we thought we could accomplish, was not so realistic, we realized quite quickly. The limited time afforded by our various professional engagements, the shifts in personal lives, the difficulties in creating a calendar that works for everybody, producing the financial circumstances that would make publishing possible, brought us to accept publishing only once a year.

 

To be honest, we did our homework. We selected the topics that we would focus on: the analysis of the current educational system, models of alternative, experimental education, the development of feminism outside of the West, the today and yesterday of the Non-Aligned Movement etc. However, at one point, the whirlpool of history started to churn faster than the spool of our red thread and we stopped for a bit to contemplate on whether the issues we were preparing had any resonance. We filed away the folders we were working on and started working on an issue that would be able to respond to the excitement and the energy of the resistance movements ranging from Egypt to Brazil to Turkey to Armenia since 2011, which would focus on the shared denominators of these movements. We were pushed back by the incessant political ruptures, traumas.

 

For quite a long time, we focused on the notion of dispossession, suggested by a member of our editorial board, Meltem Ahýska. It was right around when Judith Butler and Athena Athanassiou had jointly published Dispossession: The Performative in the Political (2013) and we were excited by the possibility of expanding the notion to include the body, identity, rights, and freedom within the framework of the dispossession of property and entitlements; the content helped explain what we were witnessing and the issue you are reading is made up of responses to this expanded framework. Of course, what we couldn't foresee or even imagine at the time was that the cultural, intellectual field in which different social expressions of dispossession were discussed would itself be blockaded. In truth, we hadn't thought that the humorous word play that our publication's title included would be taken seriously and that the red thread would be encoded as a "red threat." Today, the freedom of one of the founders of our publication, Osman Kavala, is held hostage. The "local and national" nature of this crass action makes possible the discussion of a "war of culture", expressed by the highest authority of that mindset, discussing the use of war methods to establish a cultural hegemony. (It is with bitter irony to note that the concept is not so local and national: Bismarck is the founder of the notion of Kulturkampf) This unilaterally launched war is one that we are starting to encounter across the world, making more acute the need to share the experiences of those in the fields of culture, art, and activism and to develop solidarity networks. This is a topic to study for future issues.

 

One of the most enlightening arguments of the text by Butler and Athanassiou is that the experience of dispossession or the moment of the realization of its being experienced is also the initiation of political subjectivity. A consequence of the emergence of political subjectivity is contact with those at a disadvantage, the dislocated, the moments of activating networks of solidarity, is pointed to, we believe, with a few texts that we have added to the main body.

 

When the Red Thread was founded, the focus was conceived to be more on the geographies of Southern-Western Europe, Southern Caucasia, the Middle-East, Northern Africa. We have stayed true to this circle drawn with the center point of the Eastern Mediterranean basin. We featured non-Western geographies as much as we could. The traumatic developments of the last few years and the consequent demographic movements keep us from clearly distinguishing between the geography we focused on and Europe. In this issue, we trace the official responses of European countries against the migration wave as well as the rise of the populist right. We feature texts on the historical infrastructure and today of the events and the exhibition, which foreground "disintegration" provocatively in the face of the "integration" narrative that has taken over all of the political scale. We hope that you can find striking examples that minor positions against the majoritarian positions can relate to.

 

While preparing an issue on dispossession, one from among us being taken into arrest, has left behind different emotional traces: being wounded, the pain of not being able to change, rage, additional motivation to finish what we do. For how long we can sustain this energy? Could we continue this magazine into the future? We'll push, we don't really know what else to do. Until soon and here is to hoping it will not be too long of a break.