Online Book Launch⎢Police, Provocation, Politics Counterinsurgency in İstanbul

PSA Turkish Politics Specialist Group is inviting you to its virtual book launch event in which Dr Deniz Yonucu will present her new book Police, Provocation, Politics: Counterinsurgency in Istanbul published by Cornell University Press.

The event will take place on Zoom on Monday, 19 September 2022, 18:30 – 19:30 BST

The book will be discussed by Elif Babül, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Mount Holyoke College and Joost Jongerden, Associate Professor of Rural Sociology, Wageningen University.

The presentations will be followed by feedback from discussants and a Q&A session.
Registration for the event can be made on Eventbrite.

About the Book

In Police, Provocation, Politics, Deniz Yonucu presents a counterintuitive analysis of contemporary policing practices, focusing particular attention on the incitement of counterviolence, perpetual conflict, and ethnosectarian discord by the state security apparatus. Situating Turkish policing within a global context and combining archival work and oral history narratives with ethnographic research, Yonucu demonstrates how counterinsurgency strategies from the Cold War and decolonial eras continue to inform contemporary urban policing in Istanbul. Shedding light on counterinsurgency’s affect-and-emotion-generating divisive techniques and urban dimensions, Yonucu shows how counterinsurgent policing strategies work to intervene in the organization of political dissent in a way that both counters existing alignments among dissident populations and prevents emergent ones.

Our PSA 2022 Programme is Out

As PSA’s specialist group for Turkish Politics, we are hosting four panels on Turkish Politics at the 2022 PSA Annual Conference. Please find below the programme of our panels that focus on multiple and timely issues on Turkish politics. The conference is taking place both at the University of York and digitally. There is still time to register and join the discussion even if you are not presenting a paper.

PANEL 1 – State Formation, Identity and Emotions in Turkish Politics

The map of Sèvres Agreement
Source: Foreign Policy

12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 9:30-11:00

Summary of Panel: A specific state identity, drawing on a specific vision of Turkish nationalism, was institutionalised at the foundation of the Turkish state. This process set a path that embedded certain emotions into Turkish politics and ensured that the Turkish state represented itself, and understood itself, in a particular way. This panel examines how the process of state formation led to particular visions of the Turkish state, often relying on a sense of Otherness, and how deeply embedded emotions around Turkish political identity play out in politics today.

Chair: Matthew Whiting

PAPER 1 – State Formation and Civil War on the European Periphery 1917-1923: an essay on Turkish exceptionalism
Bill Kissane
PAPER 2 – Continuity in Change: Anxiety in Turkish Politics Through Sèvres and Lausanne Syndromes
Erman Ermihan and İrem Karamık
PAPER 3 – “Victorious Victims”: The Analysis of the Nationalist Poems Which Are Written by the Ordinary People
Tuğçe Erçetin
PAPER 4 – Ontological Security, Emotions, and the Turkish-Israeli Rapprochement
Özlem Kayhan Pusane and Aslı Ilgıt
PAPER 5 – Political Agency in Agonistic Contexts: Turkey and Politics of Disaster
Senem Yıldırım Özdem

PANEL 2 – The “Local” and the State in Turkey

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12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 13:30-15:00

Summary of Panel: The importance of the “local” is often overlooked given the prominence of the central state to Turkish politics. This panel reasserts the importance of the local level by examining how local dynamics, local identities and local politics have been an important aspect of Turkish politics, both at the foundation of the state and today.

Chair: Matthew Whiting

PAPER 1 – ‘Hybridity by Design’: Between Liberal Norms and Illiberal Peace in Turkey
Esra Dilek
PAPER 2 – Can intervoter contact reduce support for electoral violence? A survey experiment from Turkey
Buğra Güngör
PAPER 3 – State-building and Borderlands: Control of the Turkish State on an Everyday Level
Dilan Okçuoğlu

PANEL 3 – The State and Women’s Rights in Turkey

Photo by Beyza Kaplan

12 APRIL 2022, TUESDAY, 15:30-17:00

Summary of Panel: The AKP has an ambivalent relationship with women’s rights and women’s political participation. After initially supporting women’s rights as part of the EU accession process, more recently the position of women has become increasingly precarious under the AKP. This was further compounded when Turkey withdrew from the ‘Istanbul Convention’ on combatting violence against women and domestic violence. Support from women has been an important component of the AKP’s populist strategy, while the AKP has generally promoted a traditional and conservative view of women’s position within society and encouraged a patriarchal vision of the family. This panel explores the AKP’s policies towards women throughout its time in power, its approach t women’s rights, and its framing of a traditional understanding of family through the state’s institutions.

Chair: Yaprak Gürsoy

PAPER 1 – “Strengthening the Family” through Education in Turkey
Ayça Günaydın Kaymakçıoğlu
PAPER 2 – From Liberalism to Conservatism: Turkey’s Women Policies after 2011
Çağlar Ezikoğlu
PAPER 3 – The Puzzle of International Norm Transfer: Exploration of Women’s Rights in Turkey
Sebahat Derin Atışkan
PAPER 4 – “Uncooperation” for Women’s Rights: Turkey’s Withdrawal from Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention
Tuğba Bayar
PAPER 5 – How AKP Meets with Women: Politics of Party’s Women’s Branch
Nur Sinem Kourou

PANEL 4 – Democracy, Autocratization and Party Politics in Turkey


13 APRIL 2022, WEDNESDAY, 9:30-11:00

Summary of Panel: Turkey is a vital case for understanding the recent trend of autocratization and populism observable in some hybrid regimes. Over its 20 years in power, the AKP has become increasingly centred around its leader, Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan. Yet the longer the AKP and Erdoğan remain in power, the more it raises under-examined questions around how the party maintains its support and how manages challenges from opposition groups that threaten its dominance. This panel examines the populist strategies of the AKP, ongoing autocratization in Turkey, and government-opposition dynamics in this political landscape.

Chair: Yaprak Gürsoy

PAPER 1 – Politicization of Corruption in Turkey: Populists and their Rivals
Seda Demiralp
PAPER 2 – The news media as a conduit and target of “disinformation” in Turkey
Natalie Martin
PAPER 3 – What is in a Bridge? Developmentalist Economic Imaginaries and Partisanship Under Competitive Authoritarianism
Aykut Öztürk
PAPER 4 – Oppositional Unity in Competitive Authoritarian Regimes: A Comparison of Turkey and Hungary
Pelin Ayan Musil

#PSA22: Call for Papers for Panels on All Aspects of Turkish Politics

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The PSA’s Annual Conference 2022 will be held in partnership with University of York and Sage Publishing.

The conference theme this year, under the title “Politics from the Margins” is inviting a reflection on shifting centres of power in the global, regional, national and  subnational political order.

Once again, this year the Turkish Politics Specialist Group will be organising four panels for the conference. Whilst the theme for the conference is ‘Politics from the Margins’, we are happy to receive quality abstracts on any aspect of Turkish politics, broadly defined.

The conference plans to combine both in-person presentations and digital presentations. Therefore, we welcome papers and panels which will be presented digitally as well as those which will be presented in-person (please state which format you would prefer in your abstract).

Full conference details are available at:

And Conference website is: 

If you would like to be considered for inclusion in one of these panels, please email us a 200-word abstract by the 4th of October 2021 to the email addresses

Should you have any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Yaprak Gursoy and Matthew Whiting

Yaprak Gürsoy on Turkey’s Covid19 Response

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Yaprak Gürsoy has written a timely article to the PSA Blog on Turkey’s Covid19 response.

In her article she investigates Turkey’s record in fighting against COVID-19 and traces the political developments since the beginning of the outbreak.

We are republishing her article in our blog.

1_CEgybfUijfp-f_nt2YiTYQ.jpgYaprak Gürsoy



It is undeniable that we are undergoing unprecedented global change with the COVID-19 pandemic and these will have unpredictable political consequences for years to come. What will the winds of change bring to Turkey and to its personalistic regime?

There are two ways to answer this question. One way is to look at Turkey’s record in fighting against COVID-19 and the other is tracing political developments since the beginning of the outbreak. In both counts, Turkey appears to be quite stable. But looks can be deceiving. High tides under water have been kept at bay so far, however, 18 years of rule by the AKP has cultivated its simmering opposition that will only grow in time.

Measures against COVID-19

Turkey has had a total of just over 186,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of 22nd June, making it the 11th most affected country in the world. Despite the high number of confirmed cases, its death rate remains significantly lower than other European countries, including countries like France and Belgium that appear to have fewer cases. Comparing the absolute number of confirmed cases across different countries is fraught with difficulties and all caveats around these figures need be kept in mind. Still# the relative success of Turkey begs clarification.

There is no simple explanation for lower death rates. There are still many unknowns about the nature of the virus that might explain Turkey’s statistics from a medical perspective. Certainly, Turkey’s demographics are in its favour – only eight percent of its population is over the age of 65 and most do not stay in care homes. Compare this to the EU average of 20% elderly population, or even higher in badly affected Italy, or consider the fact that in April alone official COVID-19 deaths in care homes in the UK were nearly twice as much as overall deaths in Turkey.

What of more short-term factors that were within the control of political leaders, notably when and to what extent to go into lockdown? Turkey’s approach to lockdown lies somewhere in the middle of a ‘restrictive-liberal’ continuum. It shut down schools and imposed a full curfew on the elderly and on children. It has also introduced a full lockdown on weekends and holidays. But if you were a Turkish citizen between the age of 20 and 65 or if you were working, it has been more or less business as usual, at least during the weekdays. Given this mixed approach that prioritised the economy, it is probably unlikely that curfew measures were what made the difference in death rates in Turkey.

Rather than lockdown, it would seem that Turkey’s success might be more to do with its healthcare system that was relatively well-placed to deal with the crisis. The number of Intensive Care Unit beds in Turkey is four times more than Italy and nearly eight times more than the UK. This is, in part, down to the policies of the government in the past years. Some of these earlier policies, such as building city hospitals, have been controversial because they rest on neoliberal principles and reflect the extent of crony capitalism in Turkey. But in the combat against coronavirus, they have provided the capacity to admit suspected patients immediately, even before test results, and start aggressive treatment, even with the controversial drug of hydroxychloroquine. Also contact-tracing was introduced very quickly that tests patients within a day and notifies and monitors those with whom suspected cases have been in touch.

No matter where the real reason for Turkey’s low death rates lies, the government has been able to capitalise on the pandemic, increase its prestige abroad through supplying medical aid and tout the comparatively low death rates as a success. Although this trend can be reversed with the easing of lockdown measures and a new spike in cases, Ankara has managed to hold firm against the winds of change thanks to its seeming success in containing the virus so far.

Recent Political Developments

One of the major political consequences of the outbreak globally has been the way personal liberties had to be curtailed. The pandemic has led to illiberal policies everywhere with more than 80 countries declaring a state of emergency. Leaders are taking the opportunity to grab more power even in well-established democracies and it is unclear whether and when liberties will be returned to people.

Turkey has not been an exception to this global drift. Some of the political decisions that were made during the pandemic reflect earlier trends, mixed with new opportunities. For instance, around 90,000 convicts were granted an amnesty to prevent the spread of the virus in jails but political prisoners were exempted from the pardon.  Opposition local governments in Istanbul and Ankara were forbidden from accepting donations from citizens to raise funds and distribute supplies to those who were in need. Five elected heads of local districts from the main Kurdish political party (HDP) were removed from office and the impunity of lawmakers were lifted paving the way for the prosecution of HDP MPs.

Centralising power by the ruling AKP and efforts to side-line political opposition are not new in Turkey. Although they might have been accelerated with the outbreak, they have also produced renewed opposition and initiatives, bringing in the potential of change amid seeming stability. For instance, there has been a cabinet crisis over the way curfew was initially introduced, which points at possible future fissures within the AKP government.  There also seems to be an increase in the popularity of recently founded AKP-splinter partiesA recent poll also revealed that public trust toward Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca and Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş surpassed that of President Erdoğan.  Finally, the HDP started a new campaign and has held rallies, despite government-imposed restrictions and COVID-19 related constraints.

Turkey has had a mixed record during the pandemic. If the death rates continue as they are, it is a positive case that needs to be acknowledged. However, this accomplishment should not distract from the general political trends of the recent years. For now, the pandemic seems to have brought more political stability than prospects for change. It is difficult to predict what will happen in a couple of years but, as in the anti-racism protests elsewhere, in Turkey too, the pandemic has brought its own dynamics of unforeseen transformation.



Cancelation of the State of Democracy in Southern Europe Conference Due to Covid-19 Outbreak

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Given the continued Covid-19 outbreak, regretfully, we have decided to cancel the State of Democracy in Southern Europe conference, which was going to be held in June at Aston University.

The PSA has announced today that all face to face events until the end of the academic year should be cancelled and that the feasibility of Autumn and Winter events should be reconsidered in the summer.

Under these circumstances and given the continued Covid-19 outbreak, regretfully, we have decided to cancel the State of Democracy in Southern Europe conference, which was going to be held in June at Aston University.

We will reconsider holding the conference sometime in the future when it is safe to do so, but we realise that this may be as late as the end of 2021.

We hope that this decision will not have a major impact on your academic plans.

Thank you very much once again for submitting your abstract and your interest in the conference.

About PSA Turkish Politics Specialist Group

The Turkish Politics Specialist Group brings together scholars, researchers and academics interested in studying or hearing about Turkish politics.

The group holds workshops, seminars, panels and networking opportunities, both as PSA Annual Conference and through other events throughout the year. Although only recently established, the Turkish Politics Specialist Group builds on the already existing network of experts within the PSA and includes researchers at all stages of their career whose interests cover the historical and contemporary politics of Turkey, broadly defined. We are committed to engaging with cutting-edge empirical and theoretical research that enlightens our understanding of Turkey.  

Key areas of interest include, but are not limited to, democratisation and autocratisation, electoral politics, institutional change, the media, civil society, security and conflict, and foreign policy.  It is also one of the missions of the group to place Turkey in comparative perspective both within its neighbourhood and beyond. Through our events and up-to-date blog posts, we will facilitate and expand opportunities for network building and collaborative research. 

You can find our group on the “Specialist Groups” section of the Political Studies Association website. You can also learn about the types of membership that are available, along with the other rights and subscriptions that comes with becoming a member.

To join the group please Access here, follow us on twitter , or email us for further information.