Turkey Book Talk episode #115  –  Michael Wuthrich, assistant professor of political science at the University of Kansas, on “The Pushback Against Populism: Running on ‘Radical Love’ in Turkey”, co-authored with Melvyn Ingleby and published in the April 2020 edition of the Journal of Democracy.

The article examines the main opposition Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) successful local election campaigns in major Turkish cities in 2019, when it applied sophisticated methods crafted by strategist Ateş İlyas Başsoy to counter the government’s populism.

Download the episode or listen below.

Here’s a link to the article.

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Check out Raziye Akkoç and Diego Cupolo’s excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter

Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get loads of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 100 books in IB Tauris/Bloomsbury’s excellent Turkey/Ottoman history category, English and Turkish transcripts of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire archive of episodes, and an archive of 231 reviews written by myself covering Turkish and international fiction, history, journalism and politics.

Turkey Book Talk episode #109  –  Ayşe Zarakol, reader in international relations at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge, on “After Defeat: How the East Learned to Live with the West” (Cambridge University Press).

The book was published in English in 2011, and its second Turkish edition has just come out. It examines how a sense of “stigma” has dogged the way modern Turkey engages with the Western-led international order, as well as comparable cases of Japan and Russia.

Download the episode or listen below.

Listen to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Acast / Spotify / RSS

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Check out the excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter

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Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get loads of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 100 books in IB Tauris/Bloomsbury’s excellent Turkey/Ottoman history category, English and Turkish transcripts of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire archive of episodes, and an archive of 231 reviews written by myself covering Turkish and international fiction, history, journalism and politics.

Sign up as a member to support Turkey Book Talk via Patreon.

Turkey Book Talk episode #98  –  Nur Deriş on the extraordinary life of journalist Sabiha Sertel (1895-1968).

Deriş is co-editor of “The Struggle for Modern Turkey: Justice, Activism and a Revolutionary Female Journalist” (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury).

The volume is the first ever appearance in English of Sertel’s autobiography “Roman Gibi” (Like a Novel), a fascinating window into an era covering the war of independence and Turkey’s entire single-party period until 1950.

Download the episode or listen below:

Subscribe to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Acast / RSS

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This book is one of over 400 books in IB Tauris/Bloomsbury’s Turkey/Ottoman history category, which you can get a 35% discount on if you sign up to become a Turkey Book Talk member. Members also get English and Turkish transcripts of every interview upon publication, transcripts of the entire archive of 90+ episodes, and an archive of 231 reviews written by myself covering Turkish and international fiction, history, journalism and politics.

Sign up as a member to support Turkey Book Talk via Patreon.

In this new Turkey Book Talk episode Southern Illinois University associate professor of history Hale Yılmaz speaks about her book “Becoming Turkish: Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923-1945” (Syracuse University Press).

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Background reading:

  1. Alexandros Lamprou discusses his book on the People’s Houses: “Nation-Building in Modern Turkey: The People’s Houses, the State and the Citizen”.
  2. A visit to Mahmut Makal on the 60th anniversary of his autobiographical book “Bizim Köy” (Our Village), describing the tough life of a village teacher in early republican Turkey.

If you enjoy or benefit from the podcast and want to support it, click here to make a small or large donation to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon.

Many thanks to my current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Celia Jocelyn Kerslake and Aaron Ataman.

New Turkey Book Talk episode with Michael Wuthrich, chatting about “National Elections in Turkey: People, Politics and the Party System” (Syracuse University Press).

This really is an excellent book that overhauls much conventional wisdom about Turkish politics shared by right and left.

Unlike the deceptively boring title of the book, this episode’s title is stupidly ambitious. But we do cover a lot of ground. I’m really pleased with it – hope you enjoy/learn from it.

Download the episode or listen below.

Subscribe to Turkey Book Talk :  iTunes / PodBean / Stitcher / Facebook / RSS

Here’s my review of the book in HDN.

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If you like this podcast and want to support independent podcasting, you can make a small or large monetary donation to Turkey Book Talk via Patreon.

Many thanks to current supporters Özlem Beyarslan, Steve Bryant, Andrew Cruickshank and Aaron Ataman.

Swimming against all economic logic, another new national newspaper appeared on Turkey’s newsstands last month. Karşı means “against” or “anti” in Turkish, and this new daily has a slogan declaring it “Against lies, the newspaper of the truth,” apparently channelling the spirit of Çarşı, (the Beşiktaş football club supporters group whose motto is “against everything”). Karşı has quite a varied team of people working on it, but in many ways it embodies Turkey’s chronic “opposition problem.” The fragmented opponents of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) comprise leftists, liberals, Kemalists, nationalists, communists, environmentalists, anti-capitalist Muslims, and now Gülenists. But together these forces not only fail to make up a majority of the Turkish electorate, they are also handicapped by their diversity; the opposition is so disparate that it can agree on little other than that the AKP is a disaster.

The anti-government Gezi Park protests that raged throughout last summer made this point particularly clearly. The protests were full of energy and ideas, but it was the kind of energy that can’t be channelled through traditional political channels. The variety that made the Gezi movement so strong and impressive is exactly what prevents it from being an effective opposition force in more formal terms. What’s more, all Turkish opposition has to contend with a highly cohesive and disciplined incumbent government, confident in the loyalty of its core conservative constituency and backed by a well-oiled media and electoral machine.

 

Karşı's first front page, reporting PM Erdoğan's call to hapless Habertürk  boss Fatih Saraç to cut a live broadcast in which Islamic theologian Yaşar Nuri Öztürk criticised the government.

Karşı’s first front page on Feb. 9. The headline reports PM Erdoğan’s order to hapless Habertürk controller Fatih Saraç, demanding that he cut a live broadcast in which Islamic theologian Yaşar Nuri Öztürk criticised the government.

 

In a recent Reuters piece about the durability of the AKP’s appeal, Hakan Altinay of the Brookings Institution is quoted as saying that there is “no political force to pick up the ingredients and cook a better meal, the opposition has no sense of direction.” Indeed, it is commonly assumed that the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) is too clumsy and loaded with its own historical baggage to be effective. There’s some truth in this, but it’s hard to see how anyone could channel the disaffection of Turkey’s hugely varied opposition into a single coherent political party, while at the same time outlining a vision that can defeat the AKP at the ballot box. Similarly, Piotr Zalewski wrote last week that the CHP would “have to deliver more than just finger pointing for Turkish voters to entrust it with running the country.” That’s also true, but the party is paralysed by the fact that finger pointing is pretty much the only thing that unites those ranged against the government. A more constructive platform might target wavering AKP voters (however few they are), but that would likely risk losing the CHP’s own wavering voters. It’s an almost impossible balancing act. Of course, none of this is particularly new, but it has become particularly obvious in the lead up to the March 30 local elections.

The new newspaper Karşı – with its diverse but incoherent range of ideas about what is to be done – perhaps embodies the Gezi conundrum. As its editor-in-chief Eren Erdem has said: “The Gezi spirit excites us, and we are talking the same language as the people on the streets during the Gezi resistance. From our writers to our editors, from our printers to our correspondents, we all imagine a free world.” Of course, Karşı is a newspaper, not a political party, but its example does indicate the challenge facing any formal opposition hoping to capitalize on the AKP’s current problems.

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