Turkey

A Deadly Trade—Refugee Labor in Turkey and Europe’s Plastic Waste

Adnan Khan 06.5.2024

China’s ban on plastic waste imports and EU efforts to curb migration have converged in Turkey, enabling a dangerous industry.

Calling Erdogan’s Bluff on Palestine

Israel’s war in Gaza has animated Turkey’s longstanding political rivalries.

Orhan Veli’s Poetry and the Struggle to Preserve Istanbul’s Green Spaces

Niels Lee 11.1.2023

On the Republic’s one hundred year anniversary, how does the poet’s work speak to the Istanbul’s urban transformation?

The Kurdish Women’s Movement and Turkey’s Transnational ‘Feminicide’

On January 9, 2023, thousands of demonstrators from across Europe gathered in Paris to participate in marches organized by Kurdish groups. Demonstrators were mourning a triple killing of Kurdish activists that occurred in Paris just two weeks before the march. The day...

Transnational Repression Against Exiled Women Activists

In Spring 2011, as the uprising against Bashar Al-Assad erupted in Syria, Sana, the daughter of Syrian exiles living in Canada, began engaging in online activism. Her support for the revolution rapidly gained traction among fellow Syrians and a widening global...

The Kurdish Women’s Movement and Turkey’s Transnational ‘Feminicide’

On the Turkish state’s targeting of dissidents abroad.

The Jazira’s Long Shadow over Turkey and Syria

In September of 2019, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for the United Nations to establish a security zone in northern Syria east of the Euphrates. If the line extended south to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, he suggested, some 3 million Syrian refugees could be...

Turkish Opposition Parties Grapple with the Kurdish Question

Özlem Kayhan Pusane argues that the Kurdish question in general, and the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in particular, will occupy a critical place on the Turkish political agenda in the run up to the summer 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections. After the leader of Turkey’s main opposition party publicly validated the beleaguered and oppressed HDP as a legitimate political actor, other opposition parties signaled their willingness to grant the HDP a more central role in Turkish politics. While the broader political atmosphere in the country is conducive to such a change, considering that all sides need Kurdish votes for victory in 2023, there are major challenges ahead.

The Shifting Politics of Debt in Turkey

State-sponsored credit campaigns are not a new strategy for Turkish governments but the low-interest consumer loans that were extended to almost 7 million people in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic surpassed all earlier financial inclusion programs. Inviting masses into the financial sector amid stagnating or declining real wages and expecting people to reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs or small-scale investors were the main pillars of the project. It did not, however, solve the problems faced by low-income groups, women and minorities. Ali Rıza Güngen examines the state’s shifting approach to debt and the consequences for borrowers.

The Shifting Politics of Debt in Turkey

State-sponsored credit campaigns are not a new strategy for Turkish governments but the low-interest consumer loans that were extended to almost 7 million people in the first months of the Covid-19 pandemic surpassed all earlier financial inclusion programs. Inviting masses into the financial sector amid stagnating or declining real wages and expecting people to reinvent themselves as entrepreneurs or small-scale investors were the main pillars of the project. It did not, however, solve the problems faced by low-income groups, women and minorities. Ali Rıza Güngen examines the state’s shifting approach to debt and the consequences for borrowers.

Multiculturalism, Democracy and Turkification in Netflix’s The Club

James Ryan 05.24.2022

The Club (Kulüp), produced by Netflix, is set in the mid-1950s among the cast, crew and management of a trendy nightclub in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. In addition to the use of Ladino, the language of Turkey’s Jewish population, the show uniquely represents Istanbul’s minority populations, their contributions to cultural life and their experiences of persecution. James Ryan elucidates these unusual characteristics that distinguish the show from a typical Turkish soap opera and provides fascinating context to its real-life historical elements.

Wildfires Ignite Political Debate in Turkey

Ekin Kurtiç 02.22.2022

Although wildfires in Turkey’s Mediterranean forests are not unusual, the ferocity of last summer’s fires sparked new political debates around the issues of government forest management and post-fire restoration. Turkish forestry experts and the public are now questioning conventional solutions promoted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), such as planting trees, that promise a quick and convenient recovery—and green the state’s image.

Manufacturing the AKP in Turkey

Utku Balaban 01.25.2022

The AKP’s decades-long electoral success in Turkey has been made possible by their strategic alliance with the country’s small industrialists. Utku Balaban analyzes the connection between Islamism and industrialization since the rise of these urban manufacturers in the 1980s and explains the nuances of the Islamists’ reliance on their support in working-class communities.

Rethinking Whiteness in Turkey Through the AKP’s Foreign Policy in Africa South of the Sahara

There is a new investment in whiteness in contemporary Turkey, and it is not by those who have traditionally been identified as “White Turks,” but by their long-standing critics, the so-called Black Turks.

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.”

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