Experiences of Disrespect35 and Narratives of Protest

The following example also deals with the self-positioning or social positioning in narratives about football fandom. In this case these narratives focus on the reconstruction of one’s fan biography which the Galatasaray fan Sibel retrospectively links to experiences of disrespect that occurred when she moved from Istanbul to Vienna.

‘[T]he growing negative undertone in public, medial and political discourses on Turkish immigrants’ (Sievers et al. 2014, p. 267) was in some aspects decisively relevant to the everyday lives of Galatasaray and Fenerbahqe fans in Vienna. Discriminating and racist campaigns against migrants in general and Turks in particular (more on this later in this section) launched by the populist right-wing party Freiheitliche Partei Osterreichs (FPO, Freedom Party of Austria) are only one part of the complex ways of discriminating against Turkish migrants and postmigrants in Austria.

These processes of discrimination are also visible in the football context. One example of this degradation is that Turkish football and its fans, although being a visible part of the Viennese public space (fans in jerseys, celebrations of Turkish championships in the city centre et cetera), are frequently ignored in many German speaking media in Austria. Exceptions include a Turkish team playing an Austrian team, high level Champions League matches, or pitch invasions.[1] This means that Turkish football only concerns most of Austrian media when it is linked to teams of the Austrian football league or European championships, or when it has a sensational, often negative connotation.[2] Consequently, the fan loyalty can become a sensitive topic and can receive a political attribution due to possible failures of recognition and disrespect being directly connected to it.

Axel Honneth originally developed the ‘Theory of Recognition’ to explain the emergence and formation of social movements (1990, 1992, 1996). The central terms of his theory are the concepts of recognition (Anerkennung) and disrespect (Missachtung). Honneth explains that individuals and groups depend on experiences of recognition to maintain full integrity. They struggle for recognition appears on three different shifting and intersecting levels:

  • 1. love in primary relationships,
  • 2. rights in legal relations,
  • 3. and solidarity in a community of value.

Individuals and groups attempt to overcome attacks on one or on several of these levels to avoid experiences of disrespect (Missachtungserfahrungen). Experiences of disrespect can threaten a person’s or group’s:

  • 1. physical integrity by abuse and rape,
  • 2. social integrity by denial of rights and exclusion,
  • 3. dignity or ‘honour’ by degradation or insult of a person (Honneth 1996, p. 129).

To maintain the integrity of a person or a group people have to overcome experiences of disrespect. Sibel, the protagonist of this section, experienced disrespect in a non-football context and tried to tackle this experience via the football context. In her example experiences of disrespect did not result in a social movement, like it happened, for example, in the Gezi protests. But in the interview situation fandom respectively becomes a strategy to tackle experiences of disrespect. In the following, narrating about her football biography is less a story about becoming a fan but more about how Sibel uses this narration as a strategy to express conflicts or turning points in her life. Sibel retrospectively links her fan biography to the political environment at the time she was (re)socialised into football and the time that she considered to be most important not only for her fan biography but for her biography in general.

Sibel grew up in Istanbul and came to Vienna in 2005 to study at the Viennese Art Academy. She is a student, 26 years old and part of the Viennese art scene. In the following interview section, we were discussing how she became a regular football enthusiast and particularly why she only later became a Galatasaray fan. Retrospectively, she describes that she started to be interested in football relatively late and that her interest lay predominantly in national football. In the following interview section Sibel describes how, when she first came to Austria, she missed her family and friends and felt alone.

At the same time, political campaigns against Turkey and Turkish migrants became more and more popular and successful in the Austrian public sphere. When Sibel arrived in Vienna in 2005, the election for the municipal council was taking place. The right-wing populist party FPO launched an election campaign that was directed against Turkish migrants in Austria as well as against Turkey becoming a member of the European Union. The slogans included ‘Vienna mustn’t become Istanbul’ [‘Wien darf nicht Istanbul werden] (Sievers et al. 2014, p. 264). In the interview, she told that she felt more than unwelcome and discriminated against and as result acted nationalistically in the football context and beyond. She retrospectively constructs her fandom as a result of xenophobic and discriminating experiences in Austria.

Nina: Okay, and you came here [to Vienna] in 2005 and-

Sibel: Exactly, and I wasn’t such a fan back then (laughs).

Nina: What happened then?

Sibel: Ugh, I think it was 2006 or so there were in Europe these European

Championships, or so, they were in Vienna, weren’t they?

Nina: No, it was 2008.

Sibel: It was already 2008? [... I]t was the first time that I was really

alone. I was suddenly living abroad. Because until then I had always been with my family, many friends, a community I had always known and suddenly: the Art Academy and an apartment to myself. I had friends here too, always. And I always had the feeling that I had to, how can I put it, show Turkey at its best and I always had these questions. And back then Turks were really not popular, you know it was in the newspaper, when there were these election posters against Turkey and that Turks should all leave-

Nina: Where were-?

Sibel: These election posters everywhere.

Nina: Okay in Austria, I see.

Sibel: Yes, yes it was 2006 or so, and these [posters] and I always felt

ashamed that I was a Turk, you know, at the university everything was always okay of course. They of course didn’t act like that. But the other people didn’t know or were mostly afraid or thought it was stupid, people from the Third World (laughs) um, exactly, I was always like, how can I put it, not military but I felt like a soldier for Turkey, you know?

Nina: Okay, yes.

Sibel: I never had that in my life and for the first three years or so [in

Austria] I was a fan of the Turkish national team and I was really hard-core. Everybody asked me why I wasn’t wearing a headscarf, you know, all these cliched questions and it was like: okay, then I would rather be like that. I have never been nationalistic but I was at my limits, you know, it was embarrassing (both laugh). Well, when I look back now, because I had to defend myself all the time and everything became, not suddenly, everything became personal.[3]

Sibel considers herself a modern, cosmopolitan young woman and being asked all these prejudicial questions especially about Turkish women, for example regarding wearing a headscarf, for her equalled a personal offence. Her case reminds strongly of the one of Gezer (Spiegel Online [Gezer, 0.] 2013) that was discussed in the introduction to this book. Sibel describes that she more or less felt obliged to defend Turkey and considered herself a ‘soldier’ for Turkey. The logical consequence, in her retrospective view, then was to support the Turkish national team. Applying Honneth’s concept to Sibel’s case, she experienced disrespect because her ‘traits and abilities’ were discriminated against. Sticking to Honneth’s terminology, by degrading and insulting where she comes from her ‘dignity and her self-esteem’ were threatened. This includes personal offences to her self-perception of a modern cosmopolitan woman.

More importantly, Sibel felt directly addressed by the campaigns of right-wing political parties and directly offended by questions like the ones concerning headscarves. This is because somewhat she felt as a part of this constructed community that people ascribed to her. She felt ‘shame’ and ‘anger’ at being considered a part of, for example, the generalised prejudicial picture of ‘those conservative Turks in Vienna’. This can be explained by Michael Herzfeld’s concept of ‘cultural intimacy’ (1997).

For Herzfeld it is particularly the feeling of ‘embarrassment’ that shows the belonging to a collective identity. It is

the recognition of those aspects of a cultural identity that are considered a source of external embarrassment but that nevertheless provide insiders with their assurance of common sociality. (Herzfeld 1997, p. 3)

The embarrassment that Sibel experienced ethnicises her and consequently she feels even more a part of a constructed Turkish community.

Embarrassment, rueful self-recognition: these are the key markers of what cultural intimacy is all about. They are not solely personal feelings, but describe the collective representation of intimacy. (Herzfeld 1997, p. 6)

Getting back to Honneth, the feeling of shame and embarrassment were triggered by the experiences of disrespect towards the collective identity to which Sibel felt that she belonged to. In order to overcome these experiences of disrespect she narrates that she used football to express an even stronger affiliation to the country and nationalised community that was degraded. By emphasising her belonging to the Turkish ‘community of value’ she sought to overcome the experiences of disrespect on the same level. At that moment, she could not gain additional recognition from other levels such as primary relations or legal relations to overcome the experiences of disrespect. Only via self-Turkifying and self-nationalising practices did she see a possibility of subversion against discriminating experiences. In the sense of: Now more than ever!

But there are two levels of embarrassment in this interview. The other level of embarrassment is the one that she experiences today for her behaviour in the past. From today’s perspective Sibel cannot identify with her actions back then anymore. Especially after the Gezi protests sparked off, Sibel became highly critical about the Turkish government and helped to organise solidarity events in Vienna.[4] Her feelings of belonging towards a Turkish community do not necessarily exclude being critical about a government. But in her leftist critique she also includes a rejection of Turkish nationalism. As a result, she describes the experiences of disrespect in Austria as a trigger for her strong support of the Turkish national team. In this way she constructs her role in this process on the one hand as rather passive but at the same time as a subversive action of protest. She only later started to support Galatasaray:

Nina: Galatasaray or the national team?

Sibel: Only the national team, I rarely watched Galatasaray matches,

even though my friends always invited me, but always the national games, and I was fierce [heftig], you know. And for example, since I am a Galatasaray fan I am not that nationalistic anymore,

I never watch- well I was anti Turkey sometimes then. It is such a strange-...[5]

From today’s perspective her nationalistic self in the past contradicts with her leftist, cosmopolitan self in the present. Referring to Werner Fuchs- Heinritzs discussion on the (re)constructive notion of biographical narratives in qualitative interviews, Ove Sutter emphasises that the past is narrated as directly related to the current problems and the general living situation of a person (2013, pp. 110-11). This means that, to keep her selfimage as an anti-nationalist cosmopolitan person alive, she needs to reconstruct her past decisions so that inconsistencies from a present perspective become a logical consequence, in this case, of experiences of disrespect (cf. Sandvoss 2005; Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann 2004b, p. 87). Similar to Selin’s case, this is a strategy of ‘social positioning’ (Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann 2004b, pp. 59-60) as part of an exchange between the interviewer and the interviewee in this specific context of the interview situation.

  • [1] There are exceptions such as the Austrian football magazine Ballesterer that reports regularly onTurkish football from various angles (cf. Ballesterer [N. Selmer] 2013; ballesterer.at [K. Federmair]2013a) or heute.at which has the online section ‘Leserreporter’ (reader reporter) where fans havereported about celebrations of Galatasaray or Fenerbah^e winning the championship that werecelebrated in public places in Vienna (cf. Heute.at [Geyik, E. L.] 2013; Heute.at [Vfb, O.] 2014).
  • [2] For example the pitch invasion of Be§ikta§ fans in 2013: (Krone.at 2013) or the discussion ofUEFA punishing Fenerbah^e because its fans used pyrotechnics in the stadium in 2013 (derStan-dard.at 2013).
  • [3] Interview Sibel, 26 years old, female, Galatasaray fan, 3 December 2012, hipster cafe, Vienna,late afternoon/evening.
  • [4] Fieldnote from 31 May and 1 June 2013, solidarity events for the Gezi protests, Vienna, withstudent group from Istanbul, afternoon/evening.
  • [5] Interview Sibel, 26 years old, female, Galatasaray fan, 3 December 2012, hipster cafe, Vienna,late afternoon/evening.
 
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