"You Will Be Defeated by a Tripod and a Camera:" Sedat Peker and the anti-Hero Narrative in Contemporary Politics

Ates Altinordu, Sabanci University

In May 2021, a series of YouTube videos posted by Sedat Peker, an organized crime boss with links to political figures, shook Turkey’s political scene. Videos released by Peker in the ensuing months revealed inside information implicating senior government officials in major corruption scamdals and crimes. Peker quickly gained popularity and became for the opposition a symbol of the impending fall of Erdogan’s authoritarian regime. Based on a systematic analysis of his videos and the public responses they engendered, this article argues that the political efficacy of Peker's campaign depended as much on the cultural references and stylistic elements of his performances—his skillful self-fashioning as an anti-hero in particular—as on the grave nature of his allegations about public officials. Drawing on social performance theory and narrative genre analysis, I critique cultural sociologists’ exclusive focus on romance—a genre that relies on heroic protagonists—as the narrative form that affords social and political change. The article shows how the anti-hero narrative—a genre ubiquitous in contemporary popular culture—is put to use in political performances.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 205. Performance and Emotions in Contemporary Turkish Politics