Sacrificial Limbs of Sovereignty: Disabled Veterans, Masculinity, and Nationalist Politics in Turkey


Over the last decade, disabled veterans of the Turkish Army who were injured while fighting against the Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan (PKK; Kurdistan Workers’ Party) have become national icons and leading ultranationalist actors. While being valorized as sacrificial heroes in nationalist discourse, they have also confronted socioeconomic marginalization, corporeal otherness, and emasculation anxieties. Against this backdrop, disabled veterans’ organizations have become the locus of an ultranationalist campaign against dissident intellectuals. Building on two years of ethnographic research with disabled veterans in Turkey, this article analyzes these processes through the analytical lens of the body. Locating the disabled veteran body at the intersection of state welfare practices, nationalist discourses on heroism and sacrifice, and cultural norms of masculinity and disability, I illustrate how disabled veterans’ gendered and classed experiences of disability are hardened into a political identity. Consequently, I show how violence generates new modalities of masculinity and political agency through its corporeal effects.

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