Turkey Book Talk # 176 Galip Dalay, associate fellow at Chatham House and non-resident senior fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, on his recent paper “Turkey’s Middle East Reset: A Precursor for Reescalation?

The article looks in depth at Turkey’s bid to mend fences with previously bitter rivals including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel, toning down its revisionist zeal in order to return to something like the pre-Arab Spring status quo. Dalay looks at the push and pull factors behind this initiative, the challenges it faces, and some of the possible exceptions.

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Check out and sign up to the excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter.

Turkey Book Talk 175Jan-Markus Vomel, doctoral student at the University of Konstanz, on his article “Pathos and Discipline: Islamist Masculinity in Turkey, 1950-2000”, published in the journal Zeithistorische Forschungen (Studies in Contemporary History).

The article examines how political Islam in Turkey weaponised ideas of virility, manliness and strength to mobilise against what it saw as the emasculating forces of secularism and Westernisation.

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Check out Jan’s previous appearance on the podcast from November 2020.

Become a member on Patreon to support Turkey Book Talk. Members get a 35% discount on all Turkey/Ottoman History books published by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, transcripts of every interview, transcripts of the whole archive, links to related content upon publication of each episode, and over 200 book reviews covering Turkish and international fiction, history and politics.

Check out and sign up to the excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter.

Turkey Book Talk episode 165Birol Başkan, non-resident scholar at The Middle East Institute, on “The Nation or the Ummah: Islamism and Turkish Foreign Policy” (SUNY Press), co-written with Ömer Taşpınar. 

The book examines Turkey’s foreign policy during the Arab Spring era, when Ankara threw its weight behind protest movements seeking to overthrow established regimes around the Middle East. This period was distinct from the early years of Erdogan’s government, as well as more recent times when Turkey has sought to patch things up with regional adversaries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Download the episode or listen below:

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

Follow us on Instagram

Follow on Facebook or Twitter

Become a member on Patreon to support Turkey Book Talk. Members get a 35% discount on all Turkey/Ottoman History books published by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, transcripts of every interview, transcripts of the whole archive, links to related content upon publication of each episode, and over 200 book reviews covering Turkish and international fiction, history and politics.

Check out and sign up to the excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter.

Turkey Book Talk episode #153 – Federico Donelli, postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Genoa, on “Turkey in Africa: Turkey’s Strategic Involvement in Sub-Saharan Africa” (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury).

The book examines Ankara’s bid to boost its diplomatic, cultural, economic and defence influence in Africa, the effects this has had on the ground, and what to expect in the coming years.

Download the episode or listen below:

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

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Become a member on Patreon to support Turkey Book Talk. Members get a 30% discount on all Turkey/Ottoman History books published by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury (including this one), transcripts of every interview, transcripts of the whole archive, and over 200 reviews covering Turkish and international fiction, history and politics.

Check out and sign up to Diego Cupolo’s excellent Turkey Recap weekly newsletter.

Turkey Book Talk episode #136 – Taner Doğan on “Communication Strategies in Turkey: Erdogan, the AKP and Political Messaging” (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury).

The book is based on over 100 interviews with AKP supporters, activists, officials, strategists and pundits, as well as attending events and closely examining Erdoğan’s messaging as his rhetoric shifted from emphasising Ankara’s EU membership goal towards hard-edged nationalism.

Download the episode or listen below:

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

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

Support Turkey Book Talk by becoming a member. Members get extras including exclusive access to a 30% discount on all Turkey/Ottoman history books published by IB Tauris/Bloomsbury, 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 #105  –  Bilge Yabancı, Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Graz’s Centre of Southeast European Studies, on her paper “Work for the Nation, Obey the State, Praise the Ummah: Turkey’s Government-oriented Youth Organizations in Cultivating a New Nation”, published in the journal Ethnopolitics.

Based on original fieldwork conducted over almost two years, the article explores the often umbilical relationship between the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and over a dozen youth organisations that share its goal of shepherding Turkey down a religious, nationalist, conservative course.

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Here’s a link to the paper itself.

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This is the last episode of 2019. The next episode will be published in THREE weeks, on the first Tuesday of 2020. Thank you for listening throughout this year!

Here’s the link to sign up to Raziye Akkoç and Diego Cupolo’s Turkey Recap weekly newsletter, mentioned at the end of the episode.

Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get loads of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 400 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. A great Christmas present!

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

Turkey Book Talk episode #101  –  Soner Çağaptay, director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, on how Turkey’s military incursion into northeast Syria fits into President Erdoğan’s broader policies in the Middle East.

Çağaptay is the author of three books since 2014 on Turkey’s domestic and foreign policy, most recently “Erdogan’s Empire: Turkey and the Politics of the Middle East” (IB Tauris/Bloomsbury).

Download the episode or listen below.

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

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Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get a load of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 400 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 #97  –  Emre Erşen, associate professor of political science and international relations at Marmara University, discusses the past, present and future of Ankara’s relations with Russia and China.

Erşen is co-editor, along with Seçkim Köstem, of “Turkey’s Pivot to Eurasia: Geopolitics and Foreign Policy in a Changing World Order” (Routledge).

Download the episode or listen below

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Follow Turkey Book Talk on Facebook or Twitter

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Also check out episode #83 – Selim Koru on Turkey, Russia and the power of political resentment 

Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get a load of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 400 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 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.

Turkey Book Talk episode #96  –  Hannah Lucinda Smith on her new book “Erdoğan Rising: The Battle for the Soul of Turkey” (William Collins).

Smith has been Turkey correspondent for The Times of London since 2013 and her book is a richly reported part-biography of President Erdoğan, part-journalistic account of contemporary Turkish history.

Download the episode or listen below.

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

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Become a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get a load of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 400 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 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.

Turkey Book Talk episode #90 – Toygar Sinan Baykan, assistant professor at Kırklareli University, on “The Justice and Development Party in Turkey: Populism, Personalism, Organization” (Cambridge University Press).

The book is based on in-depth interviews with over 50 members at various levels of Turkey’s ruling party, giving an intimate glimpse of the AKP’s internal dynamics and how it benefits from various socio-cultural divides.

Download the episode or listen below.

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

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the-justice-and-development-party-in-turkey

Join as a member to support Turkey Book Talk and get a load of extras: A 35% discount on any of over 400 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 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.

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.

The Sultan and the Sultan

November 8, 2017

I’ve written a long-ish article for History Today on historical revisionism in Turkey around the figure of hard-line late Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II – who many are keen to imagine as a precursor of President Erdoğan.

Abdülhamid has long been venerated as ‘Ulu Hakan’ (the Supreme Sultan) by conservative ideologues within Turkey, but the reverence has reached fever pitch under Erdoğan. An idealised memory of Abdülhamid, which casts him as the last proudly Islamic Ottoman leader standing up to the West, has become part of the government’s narrative of civilisational ‘restoration’, in which Turkey is once again a great power that shapes history. Abdülhamid is often glorified as a symbolic precursor of Erdoğan – proof that historic forces are at play today. …

When he first became sultan in 1876, Abdülhamid appeared to be an enlightened reformer. He supported the Ottoman constitution, giving the empire its first experience of constitutional democracy. The next year he opened the first session of an elected Ottoman parliament … But the experience of ruling a vast, decaying empire hardened him into an absolutist, and he became convinced that he needed to rule with a stronger hand to protect it from further dismemberment. …

The parallels with Turkey’s current president are obvious. Erdoğan was once lauded in the West as a moderate Muslim reformer, raising the country’s democratic standards and advancing its economy. But his international reputation has since deteriorated badly. Authoritarianism, rent-seeking and demagoguery mark his era. The state administration is subject to the whims of capricious one-man rule. A cult of personality is in full swing, with Erdoğan embodying the frustrations, hopes and grievances of Turkey’s conservative masses, bound by a powerful sense of shared identity. …

Erdoğan’s supporters see the decline in his reputation abroad as part of a dark international plot to halt this forward march. Conspiratorial thinking runs rampant. Orhan Osmanoğlu, a fourth-generation descendent of Abdülhamid, claims that Turkey is today witnessing a ‘repetition of history’: ‘Meddling foreigners now call our president a dictator, just as they used to call Abdülhamid the “Red Sultan.”’ Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman compared last year’s coup attempt to the dethroning of Abdülhamid in 1909: ‘They wanted to do the same as they did when they overthrew Abdülhamid, but this time they couldn’t succeed.’

I’ve been meaning to write this article for ages so do go and read the whole thing (there are also some nice visuals).

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