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Turkey Book Talk #61 – DIANA DARKE on “THE MERCHANT OF SYRIA: A HISTORY OF SURVIVAL” (Hurst), which tells the story of Abu Chaker, a textile merchant from Homs who lived from 1921 to 2013.

The book traces Abu Chaker’s life in parallel with the story of the modern history of Syria, examining the social, cultural and political context that shaped him. It also touches on the emergence of the ongoing war, which Darke herself witnessed as she was living in a historical courtyard house in Damascus’ old town until a few years ago.

Download the episode or listen below.

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Here is Diana’s article on Afrin for the BBC that we mention in the conversation.

Merchant of Syria

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.

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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.

 

Turkey Book Talk episode #58 – Mehmet Kentel on the life and work of Yusuf Franko, an obscure Ottoman bureaucrat who lived a remarkable double life as a caricaturist depicting Istanbul’s cosmopolitan late 19th century high society.

Kentel is a PhD Candidate in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Washington, and was adviser to the exhibition “The Characters of Yusuf Franko: An Ottoman Bureaucrat’s Caricatures” at the Koç University Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations.

Download the episode or listen below.

Here’s the great website where you can view all of Yusuf Franko’s remarkable pictures and read the essays in “Youssouf Bey: The Charged Portraits of Fin-de-Siecle Pera,” the catalogue accompanying the exhibition.

And here’s my review of that book in Hurriyet Daily News.

Youssouf

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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.

[Read this introduction on Medium]

Hello Turkey Book Talk listeners. Let me start by thanking you for continuing to divert your attention to the podcast — most importantly to our guests and their work.

This week I published our 57th episode – many more than I expected when I started the podcast over two years ago based on my HDN book reviews. I think we have made big strides: From sound quality to editing, from questioning to general presentation. I hope you find that the listening experience has improved.

I want to keep making the podcast better, so I’m pleased to unveil a new membership system for Turkey Book Talk listeners.

The original podcast will still be free to listen for everyone. But I’ve decided to adapt our Patreon account for a special membership scheme.

What does that mean?

Basically from now on you will be able to both support the podcast and get access to more content and benefits as a paying member. Membership perks include:

Full transcripts – in both English and Turkish – of every future interview published on Turkey Book Talk in PDF form, when the episode is published.

Full transcripts of the entire Turkey Book Talk archive (in English) – over 50 conversations so far. Many of these interviews were previously published at Hurriyet Daily News but from now on membership will be the only way to access them. The archive also includes a number of interviews not previously published on the podcast.

Access to an exclusive 30% discount on Turkey/Ottoman History books published by the great IB Tauris. They have a fantastic archive of titles and over 200 books from their Turkey/Ottoman History series are available at cut price through a special discount code exclusive to Turkey Book Talk members. We have featured a number of IB Tauris authors on the podcast, so becoming a member is a great way to get more acquainted with their work.

Signing up as a member will help further develop the podcast going forward, giving you a warm fuzzy feeling. If we get memberships up to a certain level I’ll be able to start publishing episodes weekly (up from the current one episode every two weeks), providing a bigger platform for even more authors, academics, researchers and journalists to get the word out about their work.

In order to access these benefits and to support Turkey Book Talk going forward, all you have to do is pledge a minimum of $3 per episode via Turkey Book Talk’s official Patreon account. Here’s a link to it.

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That Patreon account was previously used as a general “donation” page. The new membership scheme simply adapts it. Already existing donors contributing at least $3 per episode have automatically become members. At present I publish new episodes biweekly, so the monthly membership price is no more than $6. If ultimately I become able to publish a new episode every week then that maximum will go up to $12 monthly. It’s basically less than the price of a cup of coffee per episode.

If you’re feeling particularly generous and want to pledge more, of course everything helps and you are more than welcome. However much you pledge, membership is entirely at your own discretion. Members are only charged when a new episode is published so there is no prior commitment or strings attached: All members are free to sign off whenever they want.

Please do also share the podcast – and news of the membership system – with friends, colleagues and basically anyone you think may be interested. Word of mouth is crucial for initiatives like Turkey Book Talk. The aim is to turn it into a self-sustainable, reliable and wide-reaching source. We also want to develop the website and listener network and potentially branch out further into Turkish-language content in the medium to long-term.

It’s no secret that the country is currently going through a difficult period of wrenching changes – often depressing, sometimes surprising. At such a confusing time when news sources are proliferating but ever more difficult to rely on, many Turkey professionals and interested amateurs say they are hungry for dependable, informed and independent insights from voices on the ground.

Turkey Book Talk will not be able to exist without listeners, contributors and paying members. I hope you can join us, helping to strengthen the platform for our guests at a time when their work is more important than ever.

Many thanks

William Armstrong

Sign up via Patreon

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Turkey Book Talk episode #57 – Karabekir Akkoyunlu, research associate at the University of Graz, on “Exit from Democracy: Illiberal Governance in Turkey and Beyond” (Routledge), a collection of 10 essays he co-edited with Professor Kerem Öktem.

Listen out for details of our brand new Turkey Book Talk membership system – giving members a range of exciting extra perks.

Download the episode or listen below:

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Please spread the word about Turkey Book Talk and the new membership scheme.

First Turkey Book Talk episode of 2018 – Arbil-based journalist CATHY OTTEN discusses “WITH ASH ON THEIR FACES: YEZIDI WOMEN AND THE ISLAMIC STATE” (OR Books), a deeply reported account of the suffering of the Yezidi religious minority over the border in Iraq.

Download the episode or listen below.

Here’s my review of the book at HDN.

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yezidi women

Recent reporting by Cathy Otten

 

* SUPPORT! *

Remember you can support the podcast, if you enjoy or benefit from it, by making a pledge to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon. Many thanks to current supporters Michelle Zimmer, Steve Bryant, Jan-Markus Vömel, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake, Aaron Ataman, Max Hoffman, Andrew MacDowall, Paul Levin, Ayla Jean Yackley and Tan Tunalı.

Unfortunately topical episode of Turkey Book Talk this week – Palestinian author and lawyer RAJA SHEHADEH on his book A RIFT IN TIME: TRAVELS WITH MY OTTOMAN UNCLE (OR/Basic Books), retracing the journey of his great uncle Najib Nassar, who was on the run from the Ottoman authorities for three years in Greater Syria from 1915.

Download the episode or listen below.

Here’s my review of the book at HDN.

The Nation has also just published a beautifully written long-ish profile of Raja Shehadeh that is well worth reading.

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Rift

* SPECIAL OFFER *

You can support Turkey Book Talk by taking advantage of a 33% discount plus free delivery (cheaper than Amazon) on five different titles, courtesy of Hurst Publishers:

  • ‘Jihad and Death: The Global Appeal of Islamic State’ by Olivier Roy
  • ‘The Circassian: A Life of Eşref Bey, Late Ottoman Insurgent and Special Agent’ by Benjamin Fortna
  • ‘The New Turkey and its Discontents’ by Simon Waldman and Emre Çalışkan
  • ‘The Poisoned Well: Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East’ by Roger Hardy
  • ‘Out of Nowhere: The Syrian Kurds in Peace and War’ by Michael Gunter

Follow this link to get that discount from Hurst Publishers.

Another way to support the podcast, if you enjoy or benefit from it: Make a pledge to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon. Many thanks to current supporters Michelle Zimmer, Steve Bryant, Jan-Markus Vömel, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake, Aaron Ataman, Max Hoffman, Andrew MacDowall, Paul Levin, Ayla Jean Yackley and Tan Tunalı.

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