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  • Author: Erdem Dikici
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Recently, there has been a growing body of literature on the multifaceted relationship between religion, politics and security in both national and global contexts, with a special emphasis on church-state relations and/or secularism. Various aspects and influences of religion on a variety of thematic issues occupy columns, journals and books. However, one might argue that the same does not apply for the study of religious freedom. The violation of religious freedom is a phenomenon that has been observed not only under authoritarian regimes or Third World countries, but also in democratic and so-called civilized nations. Authoritarian regimes, restrictive state policies, intolerant and hostile societies as well as security-oriented (inter)national political legitimations have tried to control, restrict or suppress the rights of religious groups and minorities and religion per se in the public sphere. In The Future of Religious Freedom, the different reasons for controlling religion through restrictive laws and policies are elaborated from a variety of perspectives.
  • Topic: Security, Politics, Law
  • Author: Anita Sengupta
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The relationship between Islam and foreign policy has become the subject of a number of volumes in recent years as scholars seek to understand the role that political Islam plays in determining foreign policy. This is more often than not accompanied by the assumption that Islam is fundamentally incompatible with modernity. Turkey, with its complex history of modernity and the transition from its Ottoman past, remains an interesting case for the study of the causal relationship between the construction of a modern nation state, secular identity and nationalized foreign policy. The rediscovery of Turkey's regional interests and affinities from the 'Balkans to Western China' – areas that had been largely absent from Turkish foreign policy debates since the foundation of the Republic – have emphasized the significance of the state's internal evolution in determining its external policy. In her book, Turkey Facing East: Islam, Modernity and Foreign Policy, Ayla Gol critically analyzes Turkey's engagement with modernity in the course of its transformation from the Ottoman structure into a modern nation state in order to understand Turkey's foreign policy towards its eastern neighbours between 1918 and 1921. This is a clear and important departure from studies that tend to examine this transition period in terms of Turkey's engagement with the West.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Balkans, South Caucasus
  • Author: Candice Moore
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The use of the concept of agency in relation to Africa's foreign relations has, up to now, been very limited. This has often related to the actions of individual pivotal states, such as South Africa or Libya. Indeed, there has not yet been an in depth examination of African agency in international relations, making this volume a welcome addition. Admittedly, this is an enormous subject, one that has grown in significance and relevance given the deepened involvement of actors such as China on the continent since the end of the last century. Questions started to be asked about how African states could structure their engagement with an actor so obviously superior in economic and political power. However, this is not the first time that African agency has been addressed, as these questions were previously inspired by the post-colonial experience and the analysis of enduring Great Power involvement in African affairs, during and after the Cold War.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Libya
  • Author: Edibe Sozen, M. Hakan Yavuz
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to examine the social and political causes of the Gezi protests, and their long- and short-term impact on Turkey's domestic landscape. As part of our endeavor to enrich the conversation over the protests, this paper puts in context both the meaning and media coverage of the Gezi protests. This in turn will explain how on the one hand a protest over a particular environmental dispute escalated into vulgar anti- Erdoğan slogans and wild Tahrir comparisons, but on the other hand faded away without leaving a mark on Turkey's national political map. Following our analysis of the Gezi Park phenomenon, we will offer our view of its implications.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Umut Azak
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Beyond Turkey's Borders: Long-distance Kemalism, State Politics and the Turkish Diaspora Beyond Turkey's Borders is based on Banu Şenay's PhD dissertation, which is an ethnographic study of Kemalism among migrant Turks in Australia. Şenay conducted her fieldwork in Sydney in 2007 and 2008 among Turkish migrants who have settled there since the late 1960s. She draws her material largely from formal and informal interviews with first- and second-generation migrants, as well as Turkish and Australian state officials. She also performs content analysis of relevant community papers' archives and contemporary visual and textual materials, such as political speeches, cartoons, internet blogs, etc., produced, shared or followed by the migrant actors of “trans-Kemalism.”
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Australia
  • Author: Annika Rabo
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East. The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria Ethnic and religious minorities – and concomitant majorities – do not just exist sui generis. They have to be constructed or invented. It is not self-evident who is included in which category and who is excluded. It is only once these categories are accepted and used by people that they appear as natural and even eternal. This basic argument in White's book is not new or startling for readers familiar with today's mainstream research on ethnicity and social classifications. None the less, it is an argument well worth reiterating, not least because of its contemporary relevance for politics in the post-Ottoman empire in general and in Syria in particular. White does this by investigating the actual emergence of concepts such a 'minorities' and 'majority' during the French mandate in Syria.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Sinisa Malesevic
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Nationalism and National Identities There is a strong tendency among public commentators and many scholars to view nationalism as a phenomenon of yesteryears. Hence the 19th and beginning of 20th centuries are usually identified as the heyday of nationalist movements, whereas much of the 20th and the beginning of this century are analysed through the prism of apparently more universalist ideologies: liberalism, socialism, conservatism, religious fundamentalism, anarchism, fascism or racism. The past two decades are in particular viewed as being characterised by the strong forms of universalist creeds: the world-wide proliferation of the neo-liberal doctrines and practices; the ever increasing globalisation of the economy, politics and culture; the intensive expansion of cosmopolitanism, individualism and transnational identities; and conspicuous religious revivals. However, despite all these major organisational and ideological transformations that have taken place nationalism did not vanish. On the contrary, nationalist doctrines and practices have demonstrated resilience and ability to adapt to different political and economic conditions and to co-exist with very different belief systems. Hence, nationalist discourses were crucial for the justification of the communist rule in Romania of the 20th century and in Stroessner's right wing dictatorship in Paraguay just as they were in the democratic USA and France. This has not changed dramatically in this century as the strong nationalist sentiments underpin such diverse political orders as Islamist Iran, communist North Korea, and liberal Denmark. Nationalism remains a potent source of popular legitimacy.
  • Topic: Nationalism, Politics
  • Political Geography: North Korea, Romania
  • Author: Nurullah Ardiç
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Secularism and Religion-Making Recent scholarship in the sociology of religion has produced fresh perspectives on the understanding of religion and its inter-relationships with society. Largely influenced by post-structuralist social theory, these new perspectives call for a re-evaluation of existing theoretical and methodological approaches as well as empirical analyses, as reflected in the oft-used terms to describe their projects, including “rethinking,” “imagining” religion and its “invention” and “manufacturing” a là “invention of tradition”. The term “religion-making” is one such concept that questions the traditional ways of studying religion (and its constitutive other, secularism). It refers to the reification by political and intellectual actors (with different motivations) of a religion (its beliefs and practices/rituals) based on certain taken-for-granted (binary) concepts, such as the religious/secular divide, within the discursive field of world religions. The collection of articles edited by Markus Dressler and Arvind-Pal Mandair brings together eleven theoretically-informed and empirically-focused studies on religion-making in different socio-historical contexts. It fits nicely, and contributes to, the above-mentioned recent trends in the sociology of religion and secularism. A strong trend within this scholarship is a critique of the “secular critique” of the Enlightenment-inspired secularization theory, which also implies a critical re-evaluation of the (secularist) notion of a clear-cut distinction between the religious and the secular. This is also a common theme among the articles brought together in this edited volume: each study questions from a post-structuralist angle (but focusing on a different aspect of) the assumption of the 'boundedness' of “religion” and “secularism” and their opposition to one another. The theoretical aim of the volume, according to the editors, is to problematize this dichotomous assumption and demonstrate instead the codependency of “secular” and “religious” discourses. Its empirical aim is to “examine the consequences of the colonial and postcolonial adoption of Western-style objectifications of religion and … the secular, by non-Western elites” (p. 3), but it also contains cases of Western actors. Moreover, the editors' lengthy Introduction contains a useful discussion on the philosophical foundations (from Kant to Heidegger, from Hume to Hegel) and current manifestations (in Taylor, Habermas etc.) of the epistemological hegemony of the religious/secular dichotomy and of the “universalization” of the concept of religion out of Western Christianity. The analyses contained in the volume address the processes of religion-making at three different levels. First, “religion-making from above” refers to the discursive strategy of reifying religion(s) from powerful positions rendering them an instrument of governmentality. This is often undertaken by nation-states in their efforts to reframe existing religious traditions in a docile manner. As the editors note, this strategy is also applied by individual political actors, intellectuals and NGOs, as exemplified by the famous American think-tank RAND Corporation's call for “rebuilding Islam” in a manner that would not constitute a threat to American interests worldwide. The same advice was reiterated in 2004 by Daniel Pipes, a member of the Zionist lobby in the US who was close to the Bush administration, who argued that the ultimate goal of “the war on terror” was “religion-building,” implying the neocon elites' desire to “civilize Islam” (p. 22). These examples show not only the fact that the notion of religion-making from above is extremely relevant to current global geo-politics but also a paradigmatic symptom of the secular-liberal hegemony over religion in Western imagination: all religious traditions are encouraged and/or forced to “fit in” the existing socio-political structures in the form of “protestantization” –i.e. becoming an a-political, “modernized”/secularized and docile religion with no agenda for change in the status quo. Therefore, this hegemonic secular discourse does not so much aim to cleanse the public sphere and politics from religion as to make the latter fit in with the existing system and, if possible, function as a source of legitimization for hegemonic powers.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Hatem Ete
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The context of and the meaning conferred upon the local elections led it to be fought in a referandum-like atmosphere. Prior to the March 30 local elections, various scenarios put forward both for the governing AK Party and the opposition parties, which largely remained unfulfilled on the elections day. As the local elections is over, a sound analysis of the election's context, results, and possible implications is warranted. Despite the rapid and dramatic transformation that Turkey has undergone over the last decade, particularly since 2007, no such dramatic shift in the voters' behaviors has occurred. This article argues that this is because of the dominance of the identity-politics, over all other issues, that shaped the content and context of the elections. It further claims insofar as this dominance continues to prevail over other concerns in the elections, no major change should be expected in the voters' inclinations and behaviors.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Michael McGaha
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: In this book, Erdağ Göknar, the award-winning translator of Orhan Pamuk's novel, My Name Is Red, has set himself the task of explaining why Pamuk's novels have received comparatively little critical attention both in his native Turkey and elsewhere. According to Göknar, most of the educated reading public in Turkey disdains Pamuk because they believe he has betrayed Kemalism (the combination of French-style secularism and nationalism that has become a sort of state “religion” in the Turkish Republic) in order to curry favor with foreign readers. This is the “blasphemy” to which the book's title refers. At the same time, foreign readers have generally misunderstood Pamuk's work because they are unfamiliar with Turkish literary and the political context from which it emerged. Göknar's burden is therefore the dual one of clarifying Pamuk's real political views for Turkish readers and educating foreign readers about his indebtedness to earlier Turkish writers.
  • Topic: Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey