Turkish Political Culture and Its Ottoman Antecedents

Vortrag von Prof. em. Dr. Ahmet Evin (Istanbul) im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe „10 Jahre TürkeiEuropaZentrum Hamburg“

Termin: 07.11.2018, 18.00 Uhr c.t.
Ort: Hörsaal 221
(AAI, Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, Ost)

Despite the high level of interest in modern Turkish politics, there have been very few studies of Turkey’s political culture. On this topic the contributions of only a handful of colleagues, notably those of Ilter Turan and Ersin Kalaycioglu, stand out.  The study of political culture was overshadowed by the overriding interest among political scientists in the Turkish state, its institutions, and the political system in line with the discipline’s focus on Turkey’s modernization.  In this context, students of Turkish politics owed a great deal to historians and sociologists in interpreting the transition from late Ottoman reformism to the establishment of the republic. Examinations of Turkey’s political culture have drawn special attention, among others, to two characteristics which I intend to address in my discussion of the topic. One is the Ottoman antecedents of Turkish political culture going back further than the nineteenth century when the Turkish homo politicus can be said to have arisen. More specifically, the question I shall attempt to address is whether there are indigenous characteristics of the Ottoman political community that have contributed to the shaping of modern Turkey’s political culture.

The second is the cultural cleavage that has been taken by social scientists as a key to understand some of the essential characteristics of Turkish politics (such as the recurring systemic failures due to fragmentation and polarization) ever since Şerif Mardin introduced the Shilsean concept of the “Center and Periphery”  into the field of Turkish studies. Today, the “Center and Periphery” theory seems to have lost its relevance not only for the study of Turkish society and politics but globally as well. There are facile explanations why that theory is no longer relevant in today’s relativist post-modern and even “post-truth” environment and why, for example, the locus of the center can no longer be defined clearly even in politically and economically developed societies. By the same token, can it be argued that the current ambiguity about the center and periphery, and how they might relate to one another, may well hold some clues with respect to the changes in political culture?

Referent: Ahmet O. Evin, founding dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and Professor Emeritus at Sabanci University, serves as Senior Scholar and Board Member of Istanbul Policy Center. He is a Jean Monnet Professor ad personam of European Policy Studies and has been Anna Lindh-La Caixa Chair for Euro-Mediterranean Studies at Sabanci University.

He received his B.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Columbia University. He has been a senior fellow of the Transatlantic Academy (Washington, DC) and an Alexander Onassis Senior Fellow at Eliamep, Athens.

He has previously taught at Harvard, NYU, University of Pennsylvania (where he was director of the Middle East Center), the University of Hamburg and Bilkent University (where he headed the Political Science department).  

He has served as Director of Education of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture(Paris and Geneva), and Advisory Board member of the Aga Khan University,Faculty of Arts and Sciences – East Africa. He is also serving on the advisoryboard of the Institute of Advanced Studies – Köszeg, where he is also a seniorresearch fellow. His corporate management experience includes Philip MorrisInternational.
 
He has authored or edited over 12 volumes on politics, culture, and development,and currently serves on the editorial boards of five international journals.

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