Turkey

Intellectual Traditions and the Academy in Turkey — An Interview with Evren Altınkaş

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.

Designing Nationhood in Turkey’s Universities

Begüm Adalet 06.2.2021

Begüm Adalet reviews Burak Erdim’s “Landed Internationals: Planning Cultures, the Academy, and the Making of the Modern Middle East.” As in past decades, universities in Turkey are venues of contestation between authority and resistance, with the government imposing its singular vision of a “pious, homegrown, national youth” on a diverse student body. Erdim’s book is the story of one such institution, the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, which was an iconic site of leftist student mobilization and anti-US protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Humanism in Ruins – An Interview with Aslı Iğsız

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.

Church, Mosque, Museum? Reflections on Monuments in Turkey and Spain

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.

Boğaziçi Resists Authoritarian Control of the Academy in Turkey

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu as the new rector of Boğaziçi University on January 1, 2021 provoked outrage among students and faculty in Turkey. Alemdaroğlu and Babül explain the anger behind the continuing protests and how Boğaziçi’s struggle fits into a long history of government control over higher education as well as the ruling party’s desire to attain cultural hegemony by cultivating what Erdoğan calls pious, homegrown and national youth.

Syrian Refugees Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain

Registered Syrian refugees in Turkey are allowed to access free state health care. But the language barrier, registration difficulties and prejudice led to the emergence of informal clinics run by refugee doctors. Although the government has opened Migrant Health Centers to ease access and replace informal clinics, unregistered refugees continue to face challenges. Nihal Kayali interviewed doctors, patients and clinic staff to find out how Syrians strategically navigate Turkey’s shifting health care terrain. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

Syrian Refugees Navigate Turkey’s Shifting Health Care Terrain

Nihal Kayali 11.24.2020

Registered Syrian refugees in Turkey are allowed to access free state health care. But the language barrier, registration difficulties and prejudice led to the emergence of informal clinics run by refugee doctors. Although the government has opened Migrant Health Centers to ease access and replace informal clinics, unregistered refugees continue to face challenges. Nihal Kayali interviewed doctors, patients and clinic staff to find out how Syrians strategically navigate Turkey’s shifting health care terrain. Forthcoming in MER issue 297 “Health and the Body Politic.”

“Turkey Wants to be Part of the Nuclear Club” An Interview with Can Candan

Kenan Behzat Sharpe spoke with Candan about his latest film project Nuclear alla Turca, a documentary on the history of atomic energy in Turkey, a country on the verge of building its very first nuclear plant despite a growing anti-nuclear movement.

The Lost Wetlands of Turkey

Every year around World Wetlands Day on February 2, Turkish news outlets report that the country has lost between 1.3 and 2 million hectares of wetlands since the mid-twentieth century. Since the founding of the Turkish Republic in 1923, over 1.3 million hectares of wetlands have been drained and transformed into fields, factories or urban neighborhoods, flooded in large dam reservoirs and irremediably damaged by various infrastructural developments.

The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil

The discovery of oil in Turkey’s southeast encouraged state elites to imagine that development would lead to the assimilation of Kurds into Turkish culture and language. Instead, oil infrastructures and the resulting social changes had very different consequences. Zeynep Oguz explains the historical dynamics of the quest for oil and how it nurtured Kurdish dissent and critique of the state.

The Unintended Consequences of Turkey’s Quest for Oil

Zeynep Oguz 10.13.2020

The discovery of oil in Turkey’s southeast encouraged state elites to imagine that development would lead to the assimilation of Kurds into Turkish culture and language. Instead, oil infrastructures and the resulting social changes had very different consequences. Zeynep Oguz explains the historical dynamics of the quest for oil and how it nurtured Kurdish dissent and critique of the state. Forthcoming in MER issue 296 “Nature and Politics.”

Rebranding the Turkish State in the Time of COVID-19

As Turkish scholars residing in the United States when the pandemic began to curtail normal life, Ergin Bulut and Başak Can signed on to take the Turkish government’s evacuation flight home. This experience and their time spent in government-managed quarantine yielded interesting insights into the state’s intense efforts to rebrand itself as caring and effective, particularly after consolidating power during the 2018 switch from a parliamentary to presidential system.

The Kurdish Movement’s Disparate Goals and the Collapse of the Peace Process with Turkey

The Kurdish movement in Turkey has three stated objectives: to achieve a resolution of the Kurdish issue, to democratize Turkey and to establish a decentralized political system formulated as Democratic Confederalism by Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the...

Where Will You Find That Many Women?

Aysel Tuğluk is a Kurdish politician, a founding member and the first co-chair of the Democratic Society Party (DTP) in Turkey. She was elected as a member of parliament in 2007 and banned from politics for five years when the Constitutional Court outlawed the DTP in...

The Kurdish Movement’s Relationship with the Palestinian Struggle

The Palestinian and Kurdish struggles for self-determination share several common features. Both are stateless movements fighting against colonial, apartheid regimes in the Middle East and both have tortured histories of oppression and resistance. Despite the...

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

Tracing the Conceptual Genealogy of Kurdistan as International Colony

İsmail Beşikci is the first social scientist in modern Turkey to analyze the oppression of Kurds, distributed across four nation states, through the concept of the “international colony.” In recent years, Beşikci has been celebrated among his peers and a younger...

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is in Middle East Report, issue 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Armenian Genocide in Kurdish Collective Memory

Adnan Çelik 08.4.2020

Kurdish acknowledgement of participation in the Armenian genocide of 1915 along with Kurdish municipal efforts to atone have grown tremendously in the past 20 years. Adnan Çelik draws on his fieldwork and personal experience to explain how Kurdish memory work—drawing on knowledge transmitted for more than a century through Kurdish language, communal memories and traces left in the landscape—is making space for all oppressed groups in Turkey to seek justice. Forthcoming in MER 295, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

The Elusive Quest for a Kurdish State

Kurdish communities in the Middle East have been struggling for independence, autonomy and civil rights since at least the 1880s. While Kurdish movements across the region have suffered from fragmentation, the more formidable obstacle to fulfilling Kurdish aspirations are regional and global geopolitics. Djene Rhys Bajalan explains the many challenges, both historically and in the present day. This article is from the forthcoming issue of Middle East Report, “Kurdistan, One and Many.”

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