Society, Politics, and Economy in Modern Turkey: Sociology of Turkey - Maintained by Tugrul Keskin
We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies. (p. 5)
― Edward W. Said, Culture and Imperialism

Friday, December 27, 2013

Call for panel papers: Post-Islamism in Turkey - Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies, Ankara, Turkey 18-22 August, 2014

Proposed Title: Post-Islamism in Turkey

This Panel will be co-sponsored by

Center for Turkish Studies at Portland State University

Sociology of Islam Journal

Critical Sociology

Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies” (WOCMES), to be held at METU in Ankara, Turkey from 18th to 22nd August, 2014.

Dear all,

World Congress for Middle East Studies is holding a conference in collaboration with The Turkish Social Sciences Association and Middle East Technical University. It will take place on 18-22 August 2014 at Middle East Technical University ( in Ankara.

If you are interested in participating in forming a panel together on Post-Islamism in Turkey, please let us know off the list. The deadline is the January 31st 2014. We welcome submissions related to, but not limited to the following subjects:

-       Islam and Politics in Turkey since 2002
-       Commodification and Privatization of Islam in Turkey
-       Islamic oriented parties/movements and democracy in Turkey
-       Emergence and Development of the Justice and Development Party (JDP) in the context of Post-Islamism
-       JDP and Neo-Liberalism
-       Social, political and economic aspects of the Gulen/Hizmet Movement in the context of Post-Islamism
-       The Gulen Movement and Neoliberalism
-       US hegemony and Post-Islamism

Before you submit your proposal, please read this short (a page long) article (What is Post-islamism?) written by Professor Asef Bayat: 

If you would like to have further discussion, please check Esaf Bayat’s most recent book, Post-Islamism The Changing Faces of Political Islam:;jsessionid=FBD8C8CF2E82435C3036D4A18A489F20?cc=us&lang=en&  

Email us the following information by Monday, January 27:

-Abstract, 300 words
-Title of your paper
-Your short bio, up to 100 words, including your institutional affiliation, email, etc.

Please use the following emails for the submissions and communication:
Isabel David isabela_davidova (at)
Tugrul Keskin tugrulkeskin (at)

Any questions or suggestions are welcome.

Best to all,
Isabel David

Assistant Professor

School of Social and Political Sciences

University of Lisbon

Tugrul Keskin

Assistant Professor of International and Middle Eastern Studies

Affiliated Faculty of Black Studies, Sociology and Center for Turkish Studies

Portland State University

Editor of Sociology of Islam Journal (Brill)
Region Editor of Critical Sociology (Middle East and North Africa)

Thursday, July 18, 2013

From Cynicism to Protest: Reflections on Youth and Politics in Turkey

By Ayça Alemdaroglu

Jadaliyya - July 18, 2013

The recent uprisings in Turkey indicated a transformation of youth cynicism into a widespread protest against the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) government’s conservative and autocratic policies. This transformation demands a new way of thinking about youth and politics in the country. If nothing else, young people can no longer be easily characterized as politically apathetic.
In June 2013, Turkey witnessed young people going out onto the streets to defend trees, solidarity, and freedom against the AKP's profit-driven, socially conservative, autocratic rule. The number of protestors (whose average age is twenty-eight, according to a Konda poll) grew exponentially as they were met with police brutality and the government's marginalizing, polarizing, and terrorizing discourse.
It all began as a peaceful sit-in against the government plan to build a shopping mall in Gezi Park in Istanbul's central Taksim Square. The police attack on protestors turned a small-scale local protest into a city- and country-wide uprising. Plenty of analysis has appeared in domestic and foreign media about the causes, methods, and effects of the events. While government supporters insist on portraying protests as a product of a foreign and domestic conspiracy to weaken Turkey’s successful economy and its increasing role in world politics, many analysts have emphasized the democratic nature of protests. Some have analyzed the role of the autocratic policies of the ruling AKP in pressuring the society to rebel; others examined the novelty, diversity, and humor that protestors displayed.

To read more....

Reframing the agents of resistance at Gezi Park

By Alparslan Nas

Open Democracy - 17 July 2013

As the bearer of an underlying democratization process in Turkey with all its paradoxes, AKP still goes unchallenged insofar as the different groups of opposition who became visible in Gezi Park still cannot put forth convincing arguments to win the “50 per cent”.

The word, “resistance” has not been widely heard in Turkey till recently, and the unfolding of the Gezi Park events. We have been pushed into a universe of discourse which interprets these events as ‘black and white’, especially with reference to the deeds of Erdoğan. Envisaging a third way has never seemed so difficult, especially within the frame of a leftist perspective. Yet certain questions await unanswered; who is really speaking through resistance?

Erdoğan: dictator or saviour?

Leftist politics in Turkey has always been closely aligned with the Kemalist modernization process, since both construed “Islam” as “the uncivilized other”. In the past eleven years of the AKP government, those who have intrinsically close ties with the modernization process have difficulties in comprehending the ways in which Erdoğan’s government has managed to improve the level of social welfare for the silent majorities. As columnist Markar Esayan noted in his essay in Turkish, members of the privileged classes cannot comprehend how people’s lives have changed since the price of a simple medication fell from 100 liras to 10 liras.

To read more....

Chapuling at the Gezi Commune (I)

An Analysis of Factors Behind What Happened in Turkey

Gönül Pultar

This piece of writing started in June in response to the queries of the many friends outside of Turkey who were anxious about my family and myself, and has been altered and restarted many times as events took different turns. We are already in the middle of the month of July, and although incidents do keep flaring up every now and then (sometimes provoked consciously by the government, it is said), life seems to have returned to normal on the whole—except for those who were wounded, those who are still under arrest (with new arrests that keep taking place), and of course for the families of those who lost their lives during what has come to be called the “Gezi (Promenade) Park events” or the “June Resistance,” as well as for those rare members of the mainstream press who preferred to lose their jobs rather than follow directives they disapproved. Although many of us do not believe that the crisis has been resolved, and are still on edge, this may be a good time to review the events—that have also touched me: an international workshop for which I had been preparing for over a year was postponed to an indefinite date by the university where it was to take place..

What happened and why it happened are the two questions most on the minds of people who are not in Turkey. What happened was recorded live most of the time, and video clips and photographs alongside reports from observers and commentators abound on the internet. (What's more, many people are busy at present collating the footages for mass publication, and there will soon be a whole publishing industry on Gezi.) What led to the events is another matter and that is what I wish to touch upon here (leaving my own reminisces of “chapuling” at the Gezi Commune to a sequel to this text). I must explain that there are a number of factors at play, some of which are unrelated to each other but they have all coalesced to create the “explosion.” I will discuss below the period of time the current regime has been in power; the present state of the economy in Turkey; the existence of the Gülen movement; a distinct function of the Erdoğan regime; new social movements in the world; and the “peace process” Erdoğan has initiated. What I do is reflect public opinion on these; I would like to argue that these are “angles” from which the events have to be viewed.
To read more.....

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Gulenism: The Middle Way or Official Ideology?

By Cihan Tugal

Jadaliyya – June 5, 2013

As a result of excessive repression of the Gezi protests, the legitimacy of the new Turkish regime took a serious blow during June 2013. Coupled with the government’s inability to make progress in its peace negotiations with the Kurds, the repression and its aftermath resulted in a political crisis. Debate now centers on whether this is a crisis of the Prime Minister, of the governing party, or of the whole regime the party established during the last decade (in cooperation with liberal intellectuals and the Gülen community). Some proponents of the new regime, at home and abroad, are looking for a way to fix the damage through sidelining Erdoğan, restoring the prominence of the liberals, and shifting the balance of religious forces in the country.

The proclamations of the globally influential Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, as well as the writings of pro-Gülen intellectuals, seem to present a middle way between the allegedly “marginal” position of the Gezi movement and the authoritarianism of Prime Minister Erdoğan. Can these really constitute a basis for resolving the crisis? An analysis of the pro-Gülen and pro-Erdoğan discourses throughout the protests might provide some clues.

To read more.....

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In Turkey's pious heartland, protests seem world away

By Jonathon Burch

Reuters - June 21, 2013

KONYA, Turkey (Reuters) - "This Nation Is With You" declares a small billboard in the center of this conservative central Turkish city, the words emblazoned on an image of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and a sea of his flag-waving supporters.
Cosmopolitan Istanbul or the avenues of the capital Ankara, rattled by weeks of anti-government protest, seem a world away from Konya, an industrial city in Turkey's pious Anatolian heartland, where support for the premier appears resolute.
The wave of riots has highlighted an underlying tension in Turkish society between a modern, secular middle-class, many living in Istanbul or on the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, and a more conservative, religious population that forms the bedrock of support for Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party.
Konya, a city of 1.1 million with a dynamic economy steeped in Islamic tradition, epitomizes Erdogan's reformist vision.
Few restaurants serve alcohol, the Islamic headscarf is more in evidence than in the main cities, and tourists are drawn to the tomb of Rumi, a 13th century Sufi mystic, rather than to any wild nightlife.

To read more.....

Turkey is Occupy not Spring

By Alexander Key

Arcade - 06.23.2013

The #Taksim protests in #Turkey should IMHO be read as part of #Occupy, not as analogous to the #Arab_Spring. The same is true of the protests in Brazil: Occupy not Spring. Discourses that link Istanbul to the Arab Spring are not good for any of the parties involved, and that includes "us" (or at least "me", an Englishman in Northern California).
What is being protested in Turkey is democratic deficit, the overreach of elected politicians, attacks on the freedom of expression, police and state brutality, the injustice at the heart of the form of capitalism being practiced, and a lack of due process. These are failures of the state to do what it promises. A similar set of accusations might be made by the protestors in Brazil. This is criticism analagous to the Occupy movement; analagous and equally justified. 

What happened in the Arab world in 2011 (and is still happening today) is qualitatively and quantitatively of a different order. People who lived in failed and failing states that had denied them any freedom to control their own destinies for generations decided, one after another (both one state after another and one person after another) that the end had come, and had to come. Muhammad Bouazizi burnt himself to death, hundreds of thousands risked their lives (and thousands died), and the institution of the Arab President for Life (who manipulates both the neo-liberal means of production and his international relations with the goal of passing on the regime to his son) came to an end in Tunisia and Egypt.

The problem with conflating the Arab Spring and the protests in Turkey and Brazil is that it conflates revolution with protest. This is not to disparage protest (without the Chartists where would I be?), nor to defend the justice of the systems protested (Old Sarum anyone?) but rather to draw attention to the fact that calling the protests in Turkey and Brazil revolutions elides the existence of functional democracies in those two countries. It also conveniently lumps Turkey and Brazil into a non-white, non-Western, non-democratic world where revolutions might needed to get where France (1789) and America (1783) are today. Calling Turkey and Brazil part of Occupy forces a more uncomfortable comparison between the state of their democracies (and the health of their capitalisms) and the state of ours.

To read more......

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Obsessed with Turkish Models in Egypt

By Hesham Sallam

Jadaliyya - Jun 30 2013

Shortly after the outbreak of Turkey’s Gezi Park protests, Egyptian public forums were flooded with a variety of expressions that drew parallels between the respective situations in each of the two countries. The trend reinforced international media’s initial characterization of protests in Turkey as the manifestation of a region-wide backlash against ruling Islamist parties. Scholars and researchers immediately responded with meticulous explanations for why Turkey is not Egypt, highlighting the stark differences between the two contexts, and offering nuanced arguments for why popular mobilization in Turkey is neither an extension of the so-called “Arab Spring” nor a prelude to a second round of uprisings in the region.

Missing from this debate, however, is the context in which various political actors in Egypt have long competed to appropriate and mold Turkey’s democratic experience (or what has been dubbed the “Turkish model”) in a broader struggle to define the acceptable parameters of the emergent political system in Egypt. It does not take much to reach the conclusion that Turkey and Egypt represent vastly distinct political arenas, and that public debates in Egypt about the “Turkish model” have done great injustice to the nuances of Turkey’s dynamic experience with democratic institutions over the past three decades. Yet, however simplified, portrayals of the so-called Turkish model in Egyptian public discourse—before and after the outset of the Gezi Park protests—reveal a great deal about the character of longstanding struggles for revolutionary change in the Egypt.

In many ways, what the “Turkish model” constitutes exactly has been an important arena of political contestation in Egypt over the past two years—one that elucidates ongoing conflicts between various revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces in the country. More specifically, over the course of the past two years, different wielders of power in Egypt have selectively used Turkey’s experience with democratic institutions to justify and advance a variety of counter-revolutionary initiatives. It is for this reason that many activists, political leaders, and commentators were quick to draw (or in some cases dismiss) parallels between Turkey’s protests and the confrontations between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and its challengers. More broadly, a reading of the political battles and compromises that the “Turkish model” has embodied over the past two years in Egypt underscores some of the enduring challenges that partisans of the January 25 Revolution face today in light of the 30 June protests and calls for President Mohamed Morsi’s resignation.

To read more.......

The Future of the Revolt and the Fate of Turkey’s Strong Man

by Sungur Savran

New Left Project – June 27, 2013

The evacuation of Gezi Park by the police on the night of 15 June through the ample use of tear gas, and for the first time chemically enhanced water cannon, has not extinguished the fire of rebellion in Turkey.

True, the insurgency that followed the evacuation, which involved night-long marches and the occupation of squares in the different neighbourhoods of Istanbul and cities all around the country, was short-lived.  But from the continuing energy of the masses burst forth new forms of action such as the ‘standing man’ and ‘standing woman’, in which individuals stand silently for hours at a venue where they are not otherwise permitted to demonstrate.  This form of action certainly isolates individuals from each other, is not amenable to voicing grievances explicitly, and hence is an inferior modality of protest.  But in this specific context, where it was almost impossible to stage actions on Taksim Square it heralded the return of the masses to the hotly contested space and raised the morale of the movement after the setback caused by the evacuation (followed, incidentally, by the evacuation of occupied squares in other cities).

Much more significant though has been the convening of what has been variously called ‘forums’ or ‘popular assemblies’ every night in parks all around Istanbul.  This is a direct application of the slogan, ‘Everywhere’s Taksim, everywhere resistance!’ – a central battle-cry of the rebellion from its inception now put into practice!  These forums serve for thoroughly democratic debates lasting into the small hours of the morning, debates through which the mass movement is trying to reorient itself and set a course of action for the future.

To read more....

Facts about Gezi Park

By Jane Louise Kandur

Dear Friend

This is an open letter to those of you who criticize the situation in Turkey from the safe bastions of your ivory towers. Coming from four generations of liberal academics, I have read, heard and seen what you are doing before. And I know that no good can come from it.

You call for moderation. You accuse the government of taking a dictator-like stance, of being destructive rather than constructive. You shake your heads in worry over the polarization in Turkey. You claim that the people do not want to be led in this way.

I say to you: enough. What you are doing is no different than what the weak opposition in Turkey is doing. In fact, you are backing up their pathetic efforts to try to bring the government down. You are adding fuel to their fire of lies, propaganda and perversion of the truth.

Turkey is in a serious situation right now. Polarization is a real problem. But it is not something that has been created by the people who are in office at the present time. It is has existed in Turkey for many years.

Mild words, a temperate stance, an understanding nature WILL NOT solve the problem. There needs to be closure, apologies and forgiveness on both sides. The government cannot offer a moderate stance in the name of the people, for the very good reason that the people do not want this.

There is the claim that the government is whipping up frenzied support by using a diatribe that borders on fascism and which is no different from that of any dictator. You bring forth the bogey-men of Hitler and Stalin to support this accusation. What you have overlooked is that during the first week of the unrest hundreds of thousands, millions of people waited at home in silence, waiting to hear their Prime Minister speak. Waiting patiently instead of pouring into the streets to take back their cities. They wanted to avoid outright civil war. They stayed home and prayed. They stayed home and cried. They stayed home and wrung their hands in anguish. They waited for a message from their Prime Minister. And the message from the airport was “Go home. You are in safe hands. I have your interests at heart.” Relieved, assuaged, they went home. But they are still angry. They are bitter. They are furious. Erdogan speaks for them. This is what you are missing; his hubris, his high-handed manner is the echo of their voices. He speaks for them.

There, from you ivory tower, you cannot or will not see the masses. You cannot see what the majority of the people want. The people of Anatolia, as well as a majority of people in the major cities are proud and satisfied with their Prime Minister.

A democracy has to take in to account minority - even marginal – voices; a democracy has to observe the rights of all. However, the minority voice here offers no platform. It makes no concrete demands other than “Tayyip Resign” or “Don’t mess with our lifestyle.” Look at Brazil. The people there are demanding 1) better education, 2) better health services 3) better public transport and 4) the elimination of corruption. There are no such equivalent demands here – in fact, there cannot be, as these are all matters that the government is successfully dealing with.

This is where you too are in error. You make no concrete suggestions as how to improve things except for a pathetic plea for “moderation”. You make no positive contributions to the situation, merely criticizing, not showing a way forward.

If you are concerned about the problem in Turkey, do something about it. Get involved in politics, run for office and help make the necessary changes. Failing that, set up think tanks to advise the government how to successfully navigate these troubled waters. Rather than criticizing the tone of the speeches, write articles that include concrete suggestions as to what needs to be done. Climb down from your ivory towers and mix with the people. Do not suggest that a democracy has to trample the rights of the majority to satisfy a minority. And do not dare to suggest that the majority in Turkey consists of people with insufficient education to realize that the government is wrong. Do not have the hubris to assume that as you have an advanced education, that as you have lived in the West, you know better than they what they want. Please remember modern history, in which we have learned that minority-led intellectually-based revolutions never solve the problems of the people.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Trouble in Paradise Slavoj Žižek on the protests in Turkey and Greece

London Review of Books - June 28, 2013

In his early writings, Marx described the German situation as one in which the only answer to particular problems was the universal solution:  global revolution. This is a succinct expression of the difference between a reformist and a revolutionary period: in a reformist period, global revolution remains a dream which, if it does anything, merely lends weight to attempts to change things locally; in a revolutionary period, it becomes clear that nothing will improve without radical global change. In this purely formal sense, 1990 was a revolutionary year: it was plain that partial reforms of the Communist states would not do the job and that a total break was needed to resolve even such everyday problems as making sure there was enough for people to eat.

Where do we stand today with respect to this difference? Are the problems and protests of the last few years signs of an approaching global crisis, or are they just minor obstacles that can be dealt with by means of local interventions? The most remarkable thing about the eruptions is that they are taking place not only, or even primarily, at the weak points in the system, but in places which were until now perceived as success stories. We know why people are protesting in Greece or Spain; but why is there trouble in such prosperous or fast-developing countries as Turkey, Sweden or Brazil? With hindsight, we might see the Khomeini revolution of 1979 as the original ‘trouble in paradise’, given that it happened in a country that was on the fast-track of pro-Western modernisation, and the West’s staunchest ally in the region. Maybe there is something wrong with our notion of paradise.

Before the current wave of protests, Turkey was hot: the very model of a state able to combine a thriving liberal economy with moderate Islamism, fit for Europe, a welcome contrast to the more ‘European’ Greece, caught in an ideological quagmire and bent on economic self-destruction. True, there were ominous signs here and there (Turkey’s denial of the Armenian holocaust; the arrests of journalists; the unresolved status of the Kurds; calls for a greater Turkey which would resuscitate the tradition of the Ottoman Empire; the occasional imposition of religious laws), but these were dismissed as small stains that should not be allowed to taint the overall picture.

To read more.....

Friday, June 28, 2013

“Our Sisters in Headscarves” In Turkey, both sides want to claim religious women as their own.

By Jenna Krajeski

Slate - Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Sunday, June 16, with Istanbul’s Taksim Square in a fog of tear gas five miles away, thousands of supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gathered on seaside fair grounds to hear their embattled prime minister speak. For nearly three weeks protesters had filled Taksim and the adjacent Gezi Park, chanting "Tayyip, resign." Now police had cleared the square, and it was Erdoğan’s turn to show that not all Turkish citizens wanted him gone.

"Gezi Park and Taksim Square have been returned to the people," Erdoğan shouted, pacing across a large stage. He condemned foreign media, called the protesters terrorists, and reminded the crowd of what he and his party, the AKP, had done for them over the past decade. He addressed his female supporters, many of whom are religiously conservative and cover their heads, warning that the occupiers of Gezi Park were threatening "our sisters in headscarves." This was not a perfunctory aside. For years Turkey had a long-standing partial ban on the headscarf, but under Erdoğan things have changed: Women can now attend university in headscarves, and they are more visible in the workplace and in the streets. The prime minister knows that his religious supporters fear a new regime would reinstate the ban. And so he gives that shoutout to his base, and each headscarf in the crowd is a potent symbol of his bond with them.
To read more....

Erdogan against a European Turkey?

By Jean-Paul Marthoz

Open Democracy - 26 June 2013

Why did Erdogan miss his historic opportunity? Inadvertently? Due to exasperation? Or because, more consequentially, he does not identify with those 'European values' that would force him to respect a country that cannot be reduced to its Sunni, Turkish, conservative majority?

Last Saturday. Soft sunlight stroking Istanbul. Smiling cheekily, the simit vendor had returned to his usual spot a few steps away from my hotel to sell his sesame-sprinkled bread rings. In Istiklal avenue, the huge pedestrian boulevard in the 'European quarter', the shopkeepers rolled up the iron shutters as if the day were promising to be beautiful and munificent. A fresh scent of coffee filled the air in the lanes that hurdle down towards the Pera Palace hotel and the Galata bridge.

On the eve, in a bar in the 'bobo quarter' - the bohemian-bourgeois quarter of Cihangir - a Turkish friend confided his optimism to me. "By welcoming delegates of the occupiers of Gezi park, the Prime Minister has made a gesture", he said. "Who knows, after all, Recep Tayyip Erdogan may be capable of paying attention to voices other than those of his courtiers."

To read more....

Witch Hunt Burning Turkish Bonds as Erdogan Lashes at Koc

By Benjamin Harvey

Bloomberg News - Jun 27, 2013

Investors are driving up bond yields of Turkish companies as concern mounts that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will take action against some for their alleged complicity in the unrest that spread this month in the nation.
The yield on dollar debt due April 2020 by Koc Holding AS (KCHOL), a group of companies with annual sales equivalent to about 6 percent of Turkey’s economic output, rose 210 basis points since protests ignited on May 31 to 6.27 percent today. That compares with a 100 basis-point increase to 5.04 percent for similar-maturity debt by higher-rated Vale SA of Brazil, a country that has also been roiled by anti-government protests. Koc traded at a premium of six basis points at the end of May.

To read more.....

Erdoğan Is Gone, Way Gone

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addresses his supporters and lawmakers at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey

By Michael Werz

Center for American Progress | June 27, 2013

Three weeks ago, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was set to enter the history books as Turkey’s most successful politician since the Republic’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. But bad mismanagement of a fortnight of urban protest has irreparably damaged Prime Minister Erdoğan’s political legacy and his party.
What began as a modest demonstration of concerned environmentalists in Istanbul’s city center has evolved into a much broader protest, reflecting accumulated anger over increasingly restrictive government policies and disproportionate police action, which has resulted in four deaths and 7,500 injuries. One of the United States’s closest allies has just failed a major leadership test.
The prime minister and his allies made three political mistakes. First, Prime Minister Erdoğan refused to accept that protest as a legitimate and necessary part of an open society, instead missing out on an opportunity to deepen Turkey’s democratic exchange. Second, the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, underestimated concerns of the middle class about restrictions on freedom of expression, new alcohol regulations, the prime minister’s increasingly despotic leadership style, and the outsize role of the state in average Turks’ lives. Third, the prime minister’s aggressive rhetoric was laden with thinly veiled conspiracy theories and threats. He repeatedly distinguished between the “real Turkey,” consisting of his supporters and the “extremists” that he and his cabinet characterized as terrorists. All of this served to deepen existing divisions within Turkish society.

To

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Turkish Spring with a Leftist Bent

Qantara -  12.06.2013

What began as a protest against plans to build a kitschy shopping centre on the site of a small park in the heart of Istanbul has escalated into a conflict of values. By Ian Buruma
One interpretation of the anti-government demonstrations now roiling Turkish cities is that they are a massive protest against political Islam. What began as a rally against official plans to raze a small park in the centre of Istanbul to make way for a kitschy shopping centre quickly evolved into a conflict of values.
On the surface, the fight appears to represent two different visions of modern Turkey, secular versus religious, democratic versus authoritarian. Comparisons have been made with Occupy Wall Street. Some observers even speak of a "Turkish Spring".
Clearly, many Turkish citizens, especially in the big cities, are sick of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's increasingly authoritarian style, his steely grip on the press, his taste for grandiose new mosques, the restrictions on alcohol, the arrests of political dissidents and now the violent response to the demonstrations. People fear that Sharia law will replace secular legislation, and that Islamism will spoil the fruits of Kemal Atatürk's drive to modernise post-Ottoman Turkey.

To read more....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Are The Protests In Turkey Really About A Park?

By Elif Safak

National Public Radio - June 15, 2013

Weekend Edition Saturday Host Scott Simon talks to award winning Turkish novelist Elif Shafak about the nature and deeper causes of the protests in Turkey, which erupted two weeks ago.

To listen this interview: 

Development Won’t Ensure Democracy in Turkey


The New York Times - June 5, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — FOR the past few years, there has been a general optimism about Turkish democracy in Western capitals, especially in Washington, thanks to the economic strides made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P.

These optimists, and even those who admit that Turkish democracy has its shortcomings, tend to subscribe to the political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset’s famous modernization theory — the idea that greater democratization follows automatically as a country becomes more prosperous. Turkey has been growing rapidly and steadily over the last 11 years, the theory goes, so perhaps all we need is patience. By this logic, Mr. Erdogan’s own economic success will inexorably bring an end to his authoritarian style of government. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taksim Square is not Tahrir Square

 By Ali Murat Yel and Alparslan Nas

The main actors in Turkey's ongoing protests are motivated by reactionary ideology, not environmental concerns.

Al Jazeera - 12 Jun 2013 

The unrest in Istanbul's Taksim Square and Gezi Park has been underway for almost two weeks now. Initially an environmentalist protest against the Istanbul municipality’s Taksim Project, which would have removed some trees from the corner of Gezi Park, the reaction has spread to various other cities around the country and turned into organised unrest against the AK Party's government, which has been in power since 2002.

A decisive factor in the spreading unrest was the police’s excessive use of pepper spray and tear gas to evacuate the Gezi Park protesters on May 31, behaviour that government officials have acknowledged and harshly criticised.

The Taksim Project was announced by the AK Party during the 2011 elections. In addition to expanding pedestrian roads and re-building an old military barracks, the project would also, contrary to popular belief, not decrease but increase the amount of green area in Taksim. Automobile traffic would be diverted underground and the entire Taksim Square, one of the largest squares in Istanbul, would be reserved for pedestrians only. 

To read more.....

The Gezi Occupation: for a democracy of public spaces

By Nilufer Gole

Open Democracy - 11 June 2013

This piece was originally published in French in Le Monde on June 6,2013

“Respect” has become a new slogan tagged on walls all over the cities, and expressing the need for a return to civility and call for politeness in Turkish public life. Gezi occupation reveals to us all, how “public square” becomes literally vital for our democracies.

Over the past week, protest movements have spread across Turkey’s largest cities, and appear to become widespread urban uprisings. Despite often violent police intervention, people have not hesitated to take to the streets and block avenues, neighbourhoods, and their cities’ central spaces. Others participate from their balconies, with whole families chiming in to the protesters’ chorus, banging on pots and pans. They have found pacifist means of protest that require no arms or political slogans to express their discontent and frustrations with the Erdogan regime.

This urban movement, started by young people, supported by the middle classes and featuring a strong female presence, has not weakened in the face of impressive displays of force by riot police who use tear gas without hesitation. Clouds of gas cover the sky in town centres, making breathing difficult; but these clouds, symbols of pollution and the abuse of power, have only bolstered the anger of ordinary citizens.

The public sphere has been suffocating for some time in Turkey. Restrictions on freedom of expression and the crackdown on the opposition, particularly journalists who have lost their jobs and the mass media which has changed its editorial line, have put a muzzle on public discourse. The most recent protests in Taksim, which were not covered by the major television stations, are ample proof of this.

To read more....

Rethinking secularism, World affairs: An excursion through the partitions of Taksim Square

By Jeremy F. Walton

The Immanent Frame - June 10, 2013

Taksim Meydanı. Partition Square. Although it has taken on potent new resonances in recent days, the name of Istanbul’s throbbing central plaza commemorates a now-forgotten history, the function of the site during the Ottoman period as a point of “partition” and distribution of water lines from the north of the city to other districts. Already long the favored site of demonstrations in Istanbul, Taksim is now the scene of the largest anti-government protests in Turkish Republican history. And the name of the square speaks volumes—what better word than “partition” to describe the increasingly politicized cleavages that have defined Turkish public life over the past decade, finally achieving international reverberation with the current protests? A host of trenchant, difficult questions, both analytical and political, accompany and orient the ongoing demonstrations in Taksim and elsewhere throughout the country. How rigid and inexorable are the partitions that demonstrators and government spokespeople alike identify as the cause of this outpouring of populist indignation? Above all, what should we make of the near-inescapable insistence that one particular partition, an irreconcilable antimony between secularism and Islam, is the tectonic arrangement responsible for the upswell of political tremors in Turkey?

To read more........

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What is Happening in Turkey: New Episodes of Contention

By Mustafa Gurbuz

Mobilizing Ideas
June 11, 2013

After two weeks of contentious politics, streets have started to return to normal in Turkey. Although the activists did not leave Gezi Park yet, current political atmosphere has already changed: massive confrontational rallies now harbor traditional battle-grounds instead of the sentiments that gave rise to the Occupy Gezi. The Occupy Gezi was an expression of a mass frustration by a wide-range coalition against aggressive neo-liberal regime that has been symbolized in urban renewal projects and PM Erdogan’s iron fist. The current organized rallies in the last two days, however, push people to be polarized as pro-AKP or anti-AKP. This is the new phase in contentious episodes, and arguably, a detrimental blow to the spirit of the Occupy Gezi.

Western media was too hasty in describing the protests as a “secular awakening” and a crisis of democracy in Turkey. Although late episodes of contention makes the traditional battlegrounds solidified, the initial spirit of the Occupy Gezi was unprecedented. Perhaps for the first time in modern Turkey, we have witnessed a type of New Social movement protests, typically occurring in post-industrial societies. No, it’s not Marx that grasps the spirit of the Occupy Gezi, it’s Melucci. Key words to understand these protests are dignity, self-realization, respect, resistance, and identity politics. All these demands find their symbolism in youth culture, according to Melucci. In fact, Occupy Gezi was largely organized by college students, who were considered to be apolitical (and who remember only Erdogan as their leader). The spokesperson of CARSI, a famous soccer-fan group that leads the mass protests, expressed the aforementioned feelings of youth resistance: “Life means resisting to power-holders!” (“Yasamak Muktedire Karsi Direnmektir!”) (See a recent scholarly article on Carsi) As social movement scholars well know, “relative deprivation” is a key process not only for mass uprisings after economic downturns but also mobilization of educated middle-class youngsters in post-industrial cities (For a shrewd analysis, see Cagaptay’s OP-ED in NY Times).

To read more.......

‘Not a Crime nor a Sin’: Organised Political Activism as the Way Forward in Turkey

By Volkan Yılmaz


Gezi Park, located in one of the busiest city centres of Istanbul, has become home to hundreds of thousands of protestors for almost two weeks. Resilience of protestors in Gezi Park coupled with increasing police violence against protestors and the Prime Minister Erdoğan’s humiliation of the protestors sparked an unprecedented series of protests both in other parts of Istanbul and in more than 70 provinces of Turkey. The scope and continuity of protests and the number of people involved in these protests have been never before seen in the history of Turkey.

Steady economic growth throughout the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) period did not go hand in hand with the enhancement of citizens’ quality of life and the realisation of basic human rights including right to fair trial and freedom of expression especially after the second victory of the AKP in general elections.

In the aftermath of the AKP’s third victory in general election of 2011, Prime Minister Erdoğan’s mandate over the party and the AKP’s mandate over the political system of Turkey have been consolidated. More importantly, in Gramsci’s term, it becomes much clearer that the ‘historic bloc’ of conservative neoliberals has been strongly established.

In this context, the AKP initiated the preparations for the first civilian constitution of Turkey with the promise of opening up the constitution writing process to all other political parties in the Parliament and civil society institutions. However, this promise has been largely unfulfilled. Conservative neoliberal historic bloc did not allow different sections of the opposition to influence the process in any way. In contrast, the AKP tried to impose changing the country’s political system from a parliamentary system to a presidential one as its initial condition upon all other parties in the Parliament.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Islam, Republic, Neoliberalism, Istanbul Design Biennial, 2012

From Burak Arikan's Website:

Showing a new work at the Istanbul Design Biennial. Islam, Republic, Neoliberalism comprises of three network maps where mosques, republican monuments/ museums and shopping centers dispersed throughout Istanbul connect to each other within their areas of influence. These maps present a comparative display of network patterns that are formed through associations linking those architectural structures that represent the three dominant ideologies –Islam, Republic, Neoliberalism– in Turkey.

Scroll down for the catalogue text.

Network of Mosques connected through overlapping call to prayer sounds of 3000+ mosques in Istanbul (image below is an excerpt, click on the image to enlarge).

Network of Republic Monuments connected through physical proximity of the republic monuments/museums in Istanbul (image below is an excerpt, click on the image to enlarge).

Network of Shopping Malls connected through overlapping range of reach of the shopping malls in Istanbul (image below is an excerpt, click on the image to enlarge).

Islam, Republic, Neoliberalism

Zeynep Gökay Üstün

Mosques, the monuments and museums of the republic, and shopping malls… These constructions are physical spaces that surround us through the axis of contemporary Turkey and the city; that signal us where we are, where we were born, what to value and believe in, what to appreciate and who we are as agents; that constantly invite us to articulate with and experience them.
Even if we do not engage in every urban space in the city, we encounter invitations that we cannot dismiss. As the republican monuments that rise in every square and the museums of the republic that frequently come in our way remind us the concept of nation and keep a certain rhetoric alive, monumental shopping malls invite us to become relentless consumers. And we encounter the mosques, perhaps most frequently. With their highly familiar forms and by triggering our audial and visual senses, they somewhat remind us how strong and deeply rooted they are. Beyond their functional and physical value and as symbols of the ideologies that they sustain, these constructions remind us their existence and power within our urban life in various ways and remain eternal and fresh in our daily lives.
Despite the fact that their reflections in urban architecture are relatively humble and low-paced, changing equations are echoing in the city as a consequence of the nature of ideologies. Even though physical spaces do not flex and bend easily, different meanings are being attributed to the same constructions, selective perceptions of the agents are changing, or certain constructions can simply be abandoned. Simultaneously, new symbolic spaces are being constructed and they rise as the definitions of new entities of meaning.
Given this context, Islam Republic Neoliberalism targets three fundamental ideologies that are most resilient and powerful in contemporary Turkey. The demonstration of physical relationships that these physical constructions establish with each other, via a network diagram, reveals a more powerful line of argument than simply designing a geographical map. Going beyond their quantity and the frequency of their salutations to the agents of the city, it renders the spatial power and network pattern of these ideologies susceptible to analysis.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Participating in the Study Abroad to Turkey Course:June 17-July 7, 2013

Dear all,

Also, we will have a study abroad course to Turkey (Sociology of Turkey: Turkish Society, Politics and Economy), June 17-July 6, 2013. if you are in Istanbul during these days, you are very welcome to be a part of this course as a guest lecturer. Our class will take place at Institute of Middle East, Marmara University-Sultanahmet Istanbul: 

If you are interested in participating as a guest lecturer , please contact me off the list at tugrulkeskin(at) or my cell: 533-607-8465    

Best to all,

Tugrul Keskin

Assistant Professor of International and Middle Eastern Studies
Affiliated Faculty of Black Studies
Sociology and Center for Turkish Studies
Middle East Studies Coordinator (INTL)
Portland State University
Editor of Sociology of Islam Journal (Brill) 
International Studies and Global Sociology

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Recommended Articles on Turkish Protest

Rethinking secularism, World affairs: An excursion through the partitions of Taksim Square
By Jeremy F. Walton
The Immanent Frame - June 10, 2013

Trials and Tribulations of Turkish News Media
By Bilge Yesil
Jadaliyya - June 9, 2013

Let Us Dot the ‘i’ and Cross the ‘t’: Insurgence and the End of ‘Tough Love’ Politics in Turkey
By Emrah Goker
Jadaliyya - June 8, 2013

The new young
The Economist - Jun 8th 2013 | ISTANBUL

The View from Istiklal
By Carole Woodall
Jadaliyya - June 8, 2013

Contours of a New Republic and Signals from the Past: How to Understand Taksim Square
By Kerem Oktem
Jadaliyya - June 7, 2013

Hallucination of a Revolution in Turkey: Tahrir or Taksim?
By İsmail Numan Telci
World Bulletin - June 7, 2013

Erdogan Can Win By Engaging Turkey’s Park Protesters
By Hugh Pope
Bloomberg News - Jun 7, 2013

Understanding the Structural Causes of Turkish Protests
By Saban Kardas 
German Marshall Fund of the United States - June 06, 2013 

Erdogan in Trouble His Biggest Challenge Is President Abdullah Gul, Not Liberals
By Halil Karaveli
Foreign Policy - June 6, 2013
Sultan Erdogan Knows Best
Rudaw - June 5, 2013

Development Won’t Ensure Democracy in Turkey
The New York Times - June 5, 2013

The Flip-side of the Anti-Capitalist Coin Istanbul Uprising
Counterpunch - June 05, 2013

Confronting an Elected Dictator: Popular Mobilization in Turkey
By Yunus Sözen
International Viewpoint - Wednesday 5 June 2013 

Turkey’s Secular Awakening
Foreign Policy | JUNE 5, 2013

Turkey Protests: Rival Football Fans Join Forces
Sky News - June 5, 2013 

Why Turkey is Up in Arms
By  Erdağ Göknar
Islami Commentary - June 4, 2013

Turkish Delight: A Sour Democracy
By Abdennour Toumi.
Nour News - Jun 4th, 2013

On the 'Turkish Model': Neoliberal Democracy with Teargas
Evren Savci
Jadaliyya - June 4, 2013

The Turkish autumn
The Voice of Russia - June 4, 2013

The sugarcoated Gezi Park “Revolution”
By Seleme Baştürk / İstanbul
World Bulletin - June 4, 2013

Modern Turkey demands a modern democracy
By Philip Stephens
Gulfnews June 4, 2013

Occupy Gezi: The Limits of Turkey’s Neoliberal Success
By Cihan Tugal
Jadaliyya – June 4, 2013 

Why Turks are so angry
By Jenny White
CNN – June 4, 2013

Anger over Turkey’s ‘Islamization’ at the heart of protest
The Voice of Russia – June 4, 2013

All the Prime Minister's Yes-Men
Henri J. Barkey | June 4, 2013

Norman Stone: Protests show the frailty of Turkey’s ‘progress’
Standard – June 4, 2013

Turkey’s Protests Send a Strong Message, But Will Not Bring Democracy
By Dani Rodrik
June 04, 2013

Erdoğan Over the Edge
By Claire Berlinski
Cith Journal  - June 3, 2013

Gezi: the park that shook up Turkey
By Gulay Turkmen-Dervisoglu
Open Democracy - 3 June 2013

The economics of the “Turkish Spring”
by David P. Goldman
PJ Media - June 3rd, 2013
Turkey's Summer of Discontent
By Bessma Momani
Brookings Opinion | June 3, 2013

The view from Taksim Square: why is Turkey now in turmoil?
By Elif Shafak
The Guardian - Monday June 3, 2013

Report from Turkey: A Taste of Tahrir at Taksim
By Sungur Savran
En Passant - June 2, 2013

Resentment against Erdogan explodes
by A.Z.
The Economist - Jun 2nd 2013 | ISTANBUL

Why the Gezi Park Protests Do Not Herald a Turkish Spring (Yet)
By Zihni Özdil
Muftah - Jun 01, 2013

The Right to the City Movement and the Turkish Summer
by Jay Cassano
Jadalliye  - June 1, 2013 

Occupy Gezi: Police Against Protesters in Istanbul
By Elif Batuman
The New Yorker - June 1, 2013

TENCERE TAVA HAVASI (Sound of Pots and Pans) / Kardeş Türküler

Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul

Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 - Taken by Tugrul

Penguins Not Protests on Turkish TV Fuel Anger

By Benjamin Harvey, Selcan Hacaoglu & Taylan Bilgic
Bloomberg News - Jun 6, 2013

As clouds of tear gas engulfed central Istanbul and anti-government demonstrators fought with police, billionaire Aydin Dogan’s news channel aired a documentary about penguins.

The scheduling made him and other media bosses targets of demonstrators who have turned the occupation of an Istanbul park into a challenge to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a police crackdown began on May 31. They say the coverage, or lack of it, of the biggest nationwide protests in years reflects a media industry driven by the desire to stay on good terms with Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

“The judiciary, the police and the media are all on the side of the AKP,” Seda Terkoglu, a 19-year-old high school student, said during a rally in Istanbul on June 2. “The mainstream media is only promoting the AKP.”

The protests, initially over the redevelopment of Taksim Square in Istanbul, spread to more than 60 cities. Demonstrators called for Erdogan, Turkey’s most popular politician in decades and a three-time election winner, to step down. They included the erosion of press freedom among their grievances, as well as what they called the government’s authoritarian approach and Islamis.

To read more....

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Protesters are young, libertarian and furious at Turkish PM, says survey ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

Hurriyet Daily News
June 5, 2013

A majority of the Taksim Gezi Park protesters do not feel close to any political party and have said the prime minister’s authoritarian attitude caused the ongoing protests across the country, according to a recent online survey conducted among the protesters.

Seventy percent of the protesters said they did not feel close to any political party, while only 15.3 percent said they felt close to a political party, according to a recent online survey conducted by Esra Ercan Bilgiç and Zehra Kafkaslı, two academics from Istanbul Bilgi University between June 3 and 4.

Only 7 percent of the respondents said the political party they were a member of influenced them in joining the protests. However, the prime minister’s authoritarian attitude was influential for 92.4 percent of respondents attending the protests, while 91.3 of respondents said the police’s disproportionate use of force was influential. A large majority of respondents, 91.1 percent, said the violation of democratic rights influenced them to attend the protests. The silence of media on the demonstration influenced 84.2 percent of the respondents to attend the protests. More than half of the respondents, 56.2 percent, said the cutting of trees in Taksim Gezi Park was influential in their participation in the demonstrations.

What do Turkish protesters want?

A majority of the protesters demanded respect of liberties and an end to police violence while rejecting a military coup against the government.

The rate of those who demanded “an end to police violence” was 96.7 percent, while 96.1 percent demanded “respect of liberties from now on.” Only 37 percent demanded a new political party be established. A total of 79.5 percent of respondents said they did not want a military coup to intervene in Parliament, while 6.6 percent of respondents demanded a military coup.

Who are Taksim Gezi protesters?

A majority of the protesters defined themselves as libertarian and did not vote for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), according to the survey. A majority of the protesters who completed the survey, 81.2 percent, defined themselves as “libertarian.” A total of 64.5 percent of the respondents defined themselves as “secular.” Those who did not define themselves as “conservative” totaled 75 percent, while those who did not “vote for the AKP” made 92.1 percent. More than half of the respondents denied being apolitical. Out of 3,000 respondents, 75.8 percent said they had joined the recent protests in Turkey by going out to the streets.

Many people made noise from their balconies by hitting pots or turning off and on their lights in the evenings to support the protests across the country, which started in Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square to stop a shopping mall project that was to replace Gezi Park there.

Among the respondents, 63.6 percent were between the ages of 19 and 30.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously said the Gezi Park project triggered the protests but later the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and some extremists intervened on the ground to motivate the demonstrations.

Clowns and jugglers visit Gezi Park, Taksim, June 5, 2013

Gezi Park Philharmonic

Gezi Park Philharmonic 
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 Taken by Dogu
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 Taken by Dogu
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 Taken by Dogu
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 Taken by Dogu
Taksim, Istanbul - June 5, 2013 Taken by Dogu

Images From Turkish Protest

The Protesters today, Taksim Istanbul...June 4, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Turkish Protest - Pictures from the Field - 2

Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul
Taksim, Istanbul - June 3 and 4, 2013
- Taken by Tugrul