Medical Humanitarianism Under Atmospheric Violence: Health Professionals in the 2013 Gezi Protests in Turkey

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7 Scopus citations

Abstract

During the 2013 Gezi protests in Turkey, volunteering health professionals provided on-site medical assistance to protesters faced with police violence characterized by the extensive use of riot control agents. This led to a government crackdown on the medical community and the criminalization of “unauthorized”; first aid amidst international criticisms over violations of medical neutrality. Drawing from ethnographic observations, in-depth interviews with health care professionals, and archival research, this article ethnographically analyzes the polarized encounter between the Turkish government and medical professionals aligned with social protest. I demonstrate how the context of “atmospheric violence”;—the extensive use of riot control agents like tear gas—brings about new politico-ethical spaces and dilemmas for healthcare professionals. I then analyze how Turkish health professionals framed their provision of health services to protestors in the language of medical humanitarianism, and how the state dismissed their claims to humanitarian neutrality by criminalizing emergency care. Exploring the vexed role that health workers and medical organizations played in the Gezi protests and the consequent political contestations over doctors’ ethical, professional, and political responsibilities, this article examines challenges to medical humanitarianism and neutrality at times of social protest in and beyond the Middle East.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-222
Number of pages25
JournalCulture, Medicine and Psychiatry
Volume40
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Keywords

  • Medical humanitarianism
  • Medical neutrality
  • Riot control agents
  • State violence
  • Turkey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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