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, August 29, 2014

Turkey, Davutoglu and the Idea of Pan-Islamism

Behlül Ozkan

Survival: Global Politics and Strategy August–September 2014
Over the past decade, Turkey’s foreign policy has been synonymous with Ahmet Davutoglu and his doctrine of ‘stratejik derinlik’ (strategic depth). In 2010–11 he was on Foreign Policy’s list of the ‘Top 100 Global Thinkers’. Yet, despite this popular interest in Davutoglu, there are few academic studies of his foreign policy. He devised Turkey’s current, pan-Islamist approach in his work as an academic during 1986–2002, detailing his vision in hundreds of articles published in that period. Davutoglu consistently argued that the end of the Cold War provided Turkey with a historic opportunity to become a global power, as long as it followed an expansionist foreign policy based on Islamist ideology. According to Davutoglu, Turkey was to dominate its hinterland – the Middle East, the Balkans and the Caucasus – and thereby create a new Lebensraum (he uses the Turkish words ‘hayat alani’, which is a direct translation of the German Lebensraum, or ‘living space’). He began to turn his pan-Islamist vision into reality after 2002, following his appointment as foreign-policy adviser to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), a position he held until he was made foreign minister in 2009.
Turkish foreign policy has had a troubled relationship with Islamist politics since 1970, the year in which Necmettin Erbakan established the Milli Nizam Partisi (National Order Party), the first Islamist party in the history of modern Turkey. At the time, Erbakan criticised other mainstream parties for striving to be part of the ‘Western club’, and opposed close links with Europe, instead idealising his country as a part of a future ‘Islamic Common Market’. Islamist intellectual Necip Fazil Kisakürek similarly imagined Turkey as the leader of an awakening Islamic world. Sezai Karakoç, an influential poet and thinker, claimed that the political borders of existing nation-states caused the partitioning of the ummah (Islamic community); in his view, a ‘Great Islamic Federation’ ought to be established in place of ‘artificial’ nation-states. These claims remained rhetorical, however, and were not taken seriously by Turkish elites, as Islamist politicians and intellectuals did not provide a feasible strategy for realising their ambitions. Erbakan’s Refah Partisi (Welfare Party) led Turkey’s 1995 elections (with 21% of the vote) by promising a ‘just order’ as a way out of the country’s political and economic crisis, but failed to deliver an equally appealing foreign-policy vision. Indeed, appointed in 1996 as the first Islamist prime minister of Turkey, Erbakan was unable to make significant changes to the country’s pro-Western foreign policy. Not only were the Islamist elites unskilled in diplomacy and unable to offer a credible alternative to Western orientation, they also had to contend with the long-standing domination of foreign policy by the country’s army and bureaucracy.


Turkey’s Imperial Fantasy


The New York Times - AUG. 28, 2014

In the late 1990s, as Turkey was reeling from various political and economic crises, there was a nationwide debate over European Union membership and whether Turkish accession to the union would solve the country’s problems.
Back then, I was a graduate student in International Relations at Marmara University. Among the professors in my department, there was only one who opposed Turkey’s integration with the West. He was a distinguished scholar of Islamic and Western political philosophy, and a genial figure who enjoyed spending hours conversing with his students. In his lectures, this professor argued that Turkey would soon emerge as the leader of the Islamic world by taking advantage of its proud heritage and geographical potential.
Now, 14 years later, that professor, Ahmet Davutoglu, has been named Turkey’s new prime minister.
Mr. Davutoglu’s classroom pronouncements often sounded more like fairy tales than political analysis. He cited the historical precedents of Britain, which created a global empire in the aftermath of its 17th-century civil war, and Germany, a fragmented nation which became a global power following its 19th-century unification. Mr. Davutoglu was confident that his vision could transform what was then an inflation-battered nation, nearly torn apart by a war with Kurdish separatists, into a global power.


A Content Analysis of the AKP's “Honorable” Foreign Policy Discourse: The Nexus of Domestic–International Politics

Ugur Cevdet Panayircia and Emre Iseri

Turkish Studies Volume 15, Issue 1, 2014  

This article examines political leaders' framing strategies during times of public diplomacy crisis. By focusing on the nexus of domestic–international politics, it argues that during public diplomacy crises, policy-makers would like to utilize their speech acts on foreign policy issues to manage expectations of domestic public opinion. This paper's main contention is to demonstrate that the head of AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi) government, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has instrumentalized his foreign policy speeches with the label of “honorable” to legitimize AKP's practices at the domestic level.


The truth behind the "Turkish model"

Ayse Bugra

Open Democracy - 25 August 2014

With former Prime Minister Erdoğan now firmly installed as President and promising a new Turkey, it is time to take a fresh look at the direction in which the country's political economy is headed. For over a decade, international media and many academic researchers have presented the “Turkish model” under the “moderately Islamic” Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a success story of economic development and political democracy in a Muslim country - made all the more attractive in an international environment dominated by the fear of radical Islam.
Since 2013, especially after the massive nationwide protests in the summer of that year, this enthusiasm has left its place to more critical appraisals. The media coverage of the country is now dominated by statements of concern about the state of the economy  -  and the increasingly authoritarian character of the regime. The praise, where it still persists, now has a different character. The Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban, for example, recently pointed to Turkey (along with Singapore, China, India and Russia) to argue that non-Western countries which are not liberal democracies and “in some cases probably not even democracies” can be highly successful in the global race. However, Orban’s favourable assessment of Turkey’s performance as a global actor was preceded by several alarming accounts of the economy’s weaknesses, such as a huge current account deficit and the very high ratio of short term debt to the GNP.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Sociology of Islam Social Gathering (August 20th) at the Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies” (WOCMES), METU, Ankara, Turkey

Dear all,

Some of you will be attending the Fourth World Congress for Middle East Studies” (WOCMES), METU, in Ankara, Turkey August 18-22, 2014. Please be advised that we, the Sociology of Islam Journal and mailing list will host a social gathering on Wednesday, AUGUST 20, 2014, in Ankara, Turkey. You are all invited to attend this social gathering. Please do not hesitate to bring your friends and colleagues.

Wednesday, AUGUST 20, 2014
7:30 PM – 10:00 PM

Swiss Hotel
The Ambassador Cafe
Yildizevler Mahallesi, Jose Marti Caddesi No: 2 ▪ Ankara 06550 ▪ Turkey

Please do not forget to attend our panels :

If you have any questions, you can contact me directly by email or phone: 0533-607-8465

We hope to see you in Ankara at the conference.

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)
Region Editor of Critical Sociology (Middle East and North Africa)
Book Review Editor of Societies Without Borders

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Long Winter: Turkish Politics After the Corruption Scandal

Mustafa Gurbuz

Rethink Institute, Washington DC
May 2014

On December 17, 2013, a major corruption investigation launched by Istanbul district prosecutors hit the news. The police raided the houses of fifty suspects who had been followed for more than a year, including the sons of three Turkish government cabinet ministers.
Mustafa Gurbuz argues that this event and its aftermath, coupled with a tense election campaign, ushered in a new era of politics in Turkey replete with unprecedented developments. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reframed the corruption scandal as a global plot to overthrow his government, orchestrated by “external” and “internal” enemies. The government tried to stop the corruption investigation and related leaks by resorting to controversial measures that subdued the judiciary, controlled the media, expanded the powers of the intelligence agency, limited internet access, banned social media, and suppressed opposition.
Despite the AKP’s comfortable win in local elections on March 30, 2014, Erdoğan maintained his confrontational style and went on to further controversial measures. This suggests that the political deterioration Turkey experienced after December 17 was not just election fever, but rather a more comprehensive transformation that will, apparently, mark Turkish politics for some time to come.

Download the report.......

Monday, August 4, 2014

Turkish people are naively proud of themselves, survey shows

Barçın Yinanç

Hurriyet Daily News - Monday,August 4 2014

The findings of a new survey suggest Turks are pround of their country’s achievements but don’t know exactly why. The survey conducted by two professors also shows that despite the country’s elite’s global aspirations, ordinary citizens have remained parochial. ‘Global identity is something strange to the Turkish mind,’ says Ali Çarkoğlu

Turks are proud of their country’s accomplishments even though there is no empirical evidence to justify this feeling, according to the findings of a new survey.  “Turks are proud but they don’t know why,” said Professor Ali Çarkoğlu of Koç University, who conducted the survey together with Professor Ersin Kalaycıoğlu of Sabancı University.

The findings of the survey, “Nationalism in Turkey and the World,” which was conducted as part of the International Social Survey Program, revealed that religion is the primary factor shaping Turks’ national identity.

The survey suggests Turks are rather self-centered and there is a lack of feeling of international solidarity. This seems contradictory when we look at the reaction in the public about the Gaza bombardment.
The ruling party elites have increasingly become globalized. In every part of the world, the AKP [Justice and Development Party] leadership promised and delivered on being active. However, when it come to the masses, first of all, foreign relations are extremely complicated; people find it extremely difficult to comprehend what is happening in the outside world unless the leader simplifies those relationships.

In addition, this is a country that is increasingly becoming more open to the outside world, but we are not yet like the Swedes or the Germans. Many Turks do not have any direct link with the outside world. A typical Turkish family citizen would not have had gone outside the country. The Turkish public at large is very parochial – parochial in a sense that life revolves around the family and the neighborhood, and that’s basically it. Beyond that first circle, there is not much going on in the Turkish public psyche; as such, politicians also use this in an almost official line of argument that “The Turk has no friend but the Turk.”


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Turks Divided on Erdogan and the Country’s Direction

About Half Support Gezi Park Protests

PEW Research - July 30, 2014

As Turkey prepares to vote for its first ever directly elected president, a new Pew Research Center survey finds the Turkish public is divided over the main contender for the office, current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Erdogan and his party, the moderately Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), have dominated Turkish politics for the last decade, overseeing considerable economic growth and an expanding role for Turkey in regional and world affairs. And most observers expect Erdogan to win the August 10 election.
But on a number of issues, Turks are almost evenly split between those who are happy with Erdogan’s leadership and the state of the nation, and those who believe the former Istanbul mayor is leading the country down the wrong path. Overall, 44% are satisfied with the country’s direction, while 51% are dissatisfied. Half say the economy is doing well, while 46% think it is in bad shape. Forty-eight percent say Erdogan is having a good influence on the country; the same percentage believes he is having a negative impact.