Concluding Remarks on Ethnicising Practices and Its Intersection with Gender and Class

Narratives and practices of Galatasaray and Fenerbahqe fans in Vienna were often strongly ethnicised. This chapter used the intersectional approach to make clear that particularly discourses about gender and about class do intersect with these ethnicising practices. The main concern of this chapter was to reveal how these ethnicising practices (re)produce gender hierarchies and class distinctions. All the more, these narratives generate and maintain boundaries of a constructed (Turkish) us and (non-Turkish) them.

The approach of intersectionality turned out to be particularly helpful to understand practices of doing gender and doing class by Galatasaray and Fenerbahqe fans in Vienna. Both constructions are not stand-alone social phenomena but strongly intersect particularly with the construction of ethnicity. In fact class and gender are part of ethnicising practices and the other way around. Central to all the gender constructions in the exemplary cases was that they were always binary and thus did not question the gender dichotomy. Often they worked in pairs: There is the image of the ‘Turkish macho man’ and the image of the ‘oppressed Turkish woman’. Both are ethnicised.

The analysis followed the concept of controlling images (Collins 2000 [1990]) which underlined the impact of discursive, often intersecting, constructions of dominant-hegemonic stereotypes on the everyday lives of Fenerbahqe and Galatasaray fans in Vienna. The two main controlling images relevant to the narratives and the analysis of this chapter in particular are:

  • (a) the ‘Turkish male macho fan’ and its spatial equivalent ‘the Turkish coffee house’,
  • (b) the ‘civilised woman’.

In the case of the protagonists of the trip to Salzburg in the Fenerbahqe fan bus, except for one person, people in our group were eager to distance themselves from the controlling image of the ‘Turkish male macho fan’ or in this particular case from the ‘Turkish macho man’. But it became also clear that this controlling image also offers possibilities of identification. To some extent this image had different meanings and different connotations for all five of us on the bus. In some areas, however, all of us agreed on the same attributions of the ‘Turkish macho man’: referring to the discussion about how manly or not manly baking can be, for all of us it was without question that the ‘Turkish male macho fan’ or the ‘Turkish macho man’ would never bake but would condemn men who do so instead. During the Salzburg trip it became clear that these different interpretations and performances of masculinities are to a certain extent flexible and therefore in need of constant negotiation like all constructions of social attributions in subjectification processes. In this case, relating to the controlling image of the ‘Turkish male macho football fan’ was particularly relevant, also because I was with them on the bus - a constant reminder of dominant-hegemonic stereotypes about Turkish men.

The Salzburg trip was also an insightful example of how ethnicising practices and perceived differences can be humorously subverted. When we started ironising common ethnicised stereotypes it became clear that everybody was aware of the dominant cliches and prejudices about Turks, Germans, and Austrians and also that everybody was somehow aware of its constructed notion. We subverted these images humorously but we also reinforced them. Community building was the goal of the humorous endeavour. Despite of all our perceived differences this is how we found common ground.

Central to the construction of gender duality in the interview sections in this chapter was the emotional practice of swearing. It became clear that emotional practices can be extremely gendered and that even the discourses about them create not only social boundaries but do have a concrete impact on gender hierarchies in football places. They co-determine for whom certain football places are considered to be open and for whom they are closed. Although swearing is considered inappropriate for everybody (gentlemen do not swear!), if somebody does swear, it is only men and particularly the ‘Turkish macho man’ or ‘Turkish male macho fan’. The ‘civilised woman’ is discursively constructed not only as someone who does not want to swear but even more as someone who simply cannot swear. When I questioned these swearing policies all interview partners reacted in the same way. They made clear that I simply could not understand because I am not a part of ‘Turkish culture’. Because of this ethni- cised othering practice no further explanation was needed. Particularly in these interview sections, the mutual misunderstanding between my interview partners and me revealed that an anthropological analysis can always only be a ‘positioned truth’ (Abu-Lughod 1991).

Merve’s case was particularly insightful in terms of the two aforementioned controlling images because their discursive power became visible. The analysis of her narratives and practices resulted in the opposition of saying vs. doing. Merve narratively reproduced and even reinforced the controlling images of the ‘Turkish male macho fan’ and the ‘civilised woman’ without really questioning them. When she talked about men in Turkish coffee houses, she painted a horrifying picture about Turkish men. She ethnicised men but she did not ethnicise women, because all women have to ‘fear’ the ‘Turkish male macho fan’ or simply the ‘Turkish macho man’. However, in her fan practices she subverted the very rules and boundaries that she co-constructed herself. In her everyday life the chance of subversion of discursively constructed gender roles is possible.

Discourses about the ‘civilised women’ are not only present in Turkish football stadia and Viennese pubs but in European football in general. Almut Sulzle underlines that in stadia or football fan cultures, women can participate in fan practices only up to a certain point and this point can only be crossed by men. In her study, this applies especially to acts of violence from which women are excluded (Sulzle 2011, p. 350) - regardless of whether they would want to be violent or not. In the underlying case, this exclusion applies to swearing. Both men and women argued that women neither want to swear themselves nor do they want to listen to swearing. The fact that women do swear anyway in Istanbul as well as in Vienna has not (yet) changed the hegemonic discourse about gender- related appropriate behaviour.

Ayla and Merve can be considered as ‘stakeholders for women’s rights’ in the way that they recruit new female fans and fight for their right to be independent fans within a male-dominated fan community. Emre is also a ‘stakeholder for women’s rights’ in the way that he explicitly opens his bar for women. To a certain extent, all of them reproduce gender stereotypes via the swearing policies, thereby producing a self-image of a ‘gentleman’ and the ‘civilised woman’. Mehmet and Sedat construct themselves as gentlemen. They reproduce gender hierarchies by constructing the male gender as the stronger one and the female gender as always in need for male protection.

Interestingly, Ayla also perceives football and football places as strongly gendered entities. She, however, referred to transnational discourses about women and football rather than to ‘justify’ gender inequality via ethnicis- ing practices. In her case, it is not because ‘us Turks are like this and that’ but predominantly she talked about ‘us Fenerbahqe fans’ and ‘us women’ in her narrations about her football fandom. This became very obvious when she talked about (Turkish) men-only coffee houses. In the end, she criticised them strongly but did not explicitly construct them as ‘Turkish’ but criticised the football fanaticism in these places.

The student fans from Istanbul, on the other hand, are more concerned about class distinctions and their self-image. Men and women alike go to mixed places only, places that people of both genders frequent. Nonetheless, they are not happy with the bars that Vienna offers. Most of the time they consider Turkish pubs to be too old-fashioned, which they express and negotiate via the symbol of the ‘white table cloth’. Issues like gender inequality are also present in this group. However, the other- ing practices especially towards the ‘other’ Turkish migrants in Vienna is the most dominant concern in their narratives. Subcultural affiliations and class distinctions (including religion!) which are important for the othering practices of this group intersect with ethnicised attributions to a constructed Turkish community in an Austrian society from which it is crucially important to distance oneself.

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