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Turkey Book Talk episode #71 – Halil Karaveli, Senior Fellow at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, on his stimulating new book “Why Turkey is Authoritarian: From Atatürk to Erdoğan” (Pluto Press).

Against popular ideas that the division between secularism and Islam is the fundamental driver of Turkey’s modern history, Karaveli takes an uncompromisingly class-based perspective. He argues that the urge to protect dominant bourgeois class interests lies behind authoritarianism in its civilian and military guises.

Download the episode or listen below.

Read Halil’s most recent article at CACI’s Turkey Analyst: ‘Can Turkey Change?’

Why Turkey is Authoritarina

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Turkey Book Talk episode #68 – Michael Provence of UC San Diego on “The Last Ottoman Generation and the Making of the Modern Middle East” (Cambridge University Press).

Over the past four years the centenary of the First World War has prompted a new focus on the conflict’s historical importance. In Europe the war ushered in the modern age and precipitated the downfall of old regimes, but it perhaps had an even more cataclysmic impact in the Middle East, precipitating a crumbling of the regional order that caused chaos and destruction.

“The Last Ottoman Generation” looks at continuities rather than ruptures, focusing on various individuals who came of age in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, socialized into ways of thinking and operating in a vanished network of Ottoman institutions.

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The Last Ottoman Gen

Here’s my review of the book from a few weeks ago.

Support Turkey Book Talk by becoming a member. Membership gives you full transcripts in English and Turkish of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (over 60 conversations so far), and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

Turkey Book Talk episode #66 – Cengiz Erişen of Istanbul’s Yeditepe University on “Political Behavior and the Emotional Citizen: Participation and Reaction in Turkey” (Palgrave Macmillan), focusing on the months between the June 2015 and November 2015 elections.

Our conversation also takes in the current campaign for the snap presidential and parliamentary elections, the surprisingly energetic performance of main opposition candidate Muharrem İnce, and the critical importance of the Kurdish issue.

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Emotion

Here’s my review of the book from a couple of weeks ago.

Support Turkey Book Talk by becoming a member. Membership gives you full transcripts in English and Turkish of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (over 60 conversations so far), and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

I’ve written an article for World Politics Review ahead of Turkey’s presidential and parliamentary snap elections on June 23.

In it I try to take a longer view, suggesting that while President Erdoğan’s political grip continues to tighten, long-term social tides in the country are not necessarily moving in the religiously conservative direction many assume.

“Erdoğan towers over all areas of life in the country. State institutions have gradually been subordinated to his will since he first came to office in 2003 … He is almost constantly on television, often delivering three pugnacious speeches in one day, broadcast live on every news channel. Under the state of emergency he has been able to govern through decrees granted the full force of the law. His supporters refer to him as ‘reis,’ or chief.

“The government’s attempts to mold Turkish society have in recent years shaped education, family and cultural policy. Money has poured into the Directorate of Religious Affairs, which now has an annual budget of over 4 billion liras, dwarfing most other ministries. Erdogan has famously declared his aim to ‘raise pious generations.’ In right-wing populist fashion, he frames this as a return to a more authentic and harmonious Turkish order, denouncing liberal and secular currents as alien and unwelcome impositions.

“But despite the AK Party being at the apogee of its power, longer-term trends suggest that things may not be so simple. While the government’s religious-nationalist program, combining modern Islamic conservatism with a populist streak heavy on Ottoman nostalgia, appears firmly in place today, there are growing signs that social tides in Turkey are not necessarily moving in the conservative direction that many assume. The vaunted social revolution ushered in by the current government is not as deep as many observers inside and outside the country commonly assume.”

Click here to read the whole thing. If the link doesn’t bring up the whole article it means you’ll need need to sign up to WPR to read it. But if you write your email address in the box at the bottom right corner of the page you should be given access to read.

Turkey Book Talk episode #62 – ASLI AYDINTAŞBAŞ, journalist and fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, on the ECFR’s recent report: “The Discreet Charm of Hypocrisy: An EU-Turkey Power Audit”

Based on interviews with top officials on all sides, the report examines bitter current ties between Brussels and Ankara. It recommends finding a new model for the relationship beyond the hypocritical and stalled accession process.

Read the report in full.

Download the episode or listen below.

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Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get extra things! Members get full transcripts (in English and Turkish) of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (in English) and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

Turkey Book Talk #60 – MAX HOFFMAN of the Center for American Progress on the major recent study “IS TURKEY EXPERIENCING A NEW NATIONALISM?” based on focus groups and polling with the Metropoll research company.

The report finds that Turkey remains a deeply nationalist, conservative country, where the national mood is prickly, defensive and conspiratorial. But it also contains some perhaps surprising details about attitudes to President Erdoğan, levels of religiosity in young people, and the political opinions of Turkish women.

The study can be read/downloaded here. Further analysis of the results can be read here.

Download the episode or listen below.

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Turkish Riviera

As mentioned in the podcast, here’s the episode we published with Max last year on his previous long report about civil society under siege in Turkey:

Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get extra content. Members get full transcripts (in English and Turkish) of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (in English) and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

Turkey Book Talk episode #59 – Ceren Baysan of University of California, Berkeley on her paper “Can More Information Lead to More Voter Polarization? Experimental Evidence from Turkey.” The study was based on voter surveys in the months before the April 2017 referendum on granting President Erdoğan more powers and also measured Turkish parties’ own polling operations.

Baysan measured Turkish voters’ opinions about various issues as well as the major parties’ own polling operations: How much they know about voters’ preferences and how they adapt their work in light of that information.

The report is full of interesting insights about the state of Turkish parties and the deep polarization that is only getting worse in the country.

Download the episode or listen below

Here’s a link to download/read the report itself.

The Kayhan Delibaş book mentioned in the episode is called “The Rise of Political Islam in Turkey: Urban Poverty, Grassroots Activism and Islamic Fundamentalism.” Here’s an interview with Delibaş on his research.

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Supporters of the ruling AK Party listen to Turkish PM Davutoglu during an election rally for Turkey's June 7 parliamentary election, in Konya

Consider supporting Turkey Book Talk and get extra content by becoming a member. Members get full transcripts (in English and Turkish) of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (in English) and access to an exclusive 30% discount on over 200 Turkey/Ottoman History titles published by IB Tauris.

 

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