Alex Lubin interviews Ussama Makdisi about his work on sectarianism and coexistence in the Middle East, the subject of his most recent book. Makdisi also addresses the role of race and colonialism and explains the importance of seeing these ideological formations in historical and geopolitical context. Forthcoming in the next issue of Middle East Report, “Race—Legacies and Challenges.”
MERIP editors interview Evren Altınkaş, a Turkish scholar who was pushed out of his academic position by his university’s administration as a consequence of participating in the Gezi Park protests of 2013. Altınkaş discusses his work on the intellectual tradition in Turkey, the role of the ruling AKP party in society and the challenges he and other academics face.
Aslı Iğsız discusses her book Humanism in Ruins, which examines the long-lasting impacts of the 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange Agreement. Challenging the common portrayal of the population exchange agreement as a success story, she unveils how the discourses of liberal humanism and coexistence went hand in hand with a biopolitics of segregation. Her research also offers fresh insights into today’s discriminatory policies both on the national and international level.
On July 24, 2020 the Turkish government opened Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to prayer for the first time in 86 years, reverting the building’s status from museum back to mosque. Blessing and Yaycıoğlu explain the politics behind this decision and explore the ramifications for Hagia Sophia and other monuments with similarly rich and multilayered histories.
Timur Kuran, The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton, 2011).
Readers looking at the title of Timur Kuran’s new book might be forgiven for thinking it had come from some pre-Orientalism time warp where it was still possible to make essentialist generalizations about Islamic law and Middle Eastern backwardness. And they would be mostly correct.
Huri Islamoglu-Inan, ed., The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, and Paris: Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, 1987).
Şevket Pamuk, The Ottoman Empire and European Capitalism, 1820-1913: Trade, Investment and Production (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987).
These books, one a collection of 17 articles and the other a monograph, offer a significant new interpretation of Middle Eastern history and, more broadly, contribute to the discussion of the origins of capitalism in the Third World.
To The Editors:
Thanks for your outstanding and timely issue, “State Terror in Turkey,” (MERIP Reports, #121, February 1984). We would like to clarify a few issues about Armenians that were raised in the article, “The Kurds in Turkey.” Martin van Bruinessen states there that “fears that the Armenians would prove to be a fifth column in an armed conflict with Russia led to their deportation and the massacre of hundreds of thousands of them.” Such a viewpoint is a tragic distortion of historical reality and closely resembles the official line of successive Turkish regimes to justify the pre-meditated genocide and mass expulsion of the Armenian people from their native homeland in eastern Anatolia.