Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Tracey Heatherington

Committee Members

Erica Bornstein, Caroline Seymour-Jorn


Affect, Gender, Nationalism, Postcolonialism, Subjectivity, Turkey


This research articulates kına gecesi (henna night) as a critical site for the production and reproduction of gendered politics in Turkey. Kına gecesi, as a women’s pre-wedding ritual, is situated at the margins of civil wedding ceremonies, and thereby intersects with wedding’s politicization in pronatalist discourses. Tropes of fertility in this ritual in concert with its proximity to marriage show it to be salient to biological, cultural, and national reproduction. I argue that women’s discourses on kına gecesi engender frangemented imaginations of the nation-state. This notion of fragmentation follows Dipesh Chakrabarty’s understanding of “provincializing” which advocates direct translation of experience rather than filtering it through abstract universals. Discourses on kına gecesi can thereby be understood to respond to and engage with different imaginations of the nation-state, and thus fragment it. Importantly, these narratives rely on affective attributions to kına gecesi, which underlie affective relationships with nation-state and place. During the period of research increasingly characterized by political unrest, political anxieties about the future of the nation permeated narratives of kına gecesi. In this way, fragmented imaginations of the nation-state as expressed in these narratives demonstrate different anxieties in different places. Kına gecesi was then not only a ritual event, but also a medium through which to articulate affective relationships with the nation-state.