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Citizenship Lectures Winter 2018/19: Democracy and Citizenship at Risk

This winter term’s lecture series is hosted jointly by the Centre for Citizenship and Off-University ( and deals with current transformations in Turkey and their consequences for the rights of citizens, especially the regime’s attacks upon academic freedom and the impact this has upon the situation and lives of scholars.

The lecture series provides a space to hear scholars from Turkey who got dismissed from their university positions due to signing a peace petition calling to end state violence in and against Kurdish regions in January 2016. As four scholars in the lecture series have since not been allowed to leave Turkey, the courses are organized in an online space, thereby fostering transnational and transcultural communication between participants in Potsdam and online-lecturers in Turkey as well as including online-participants from all around the world. The lecture series is livestreamed on

October 25, 2018, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 25 (3.06.S25)

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mackert and Dr. Zafer Yilmaz:

Democracy and Citizenship at Risk: Introduction

This introductory lecture offers a conceptual understanding of the institutions democracy and citizenship and their inter-relatedness. The dynamic tensions between rights and duties, status and practice, inclusion and exclusion will be addressed in order to present a theoretical framework that helps to analyse transformations of the relationship of states and citizens on different scales and levels.

November 8, 2018, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 25 (3.06.S25)

Dr. İsmet Akça:

The Search for Restructuring the State and Political Regime in Turkey

This lecture focuses how the state and political regime have been in a process of restructuring by the AKP and his leader Erdoğan under the crises of hegemony and state in the last years in Turkey. Even though the AKP’s neoliberal populism was authoritarian since the beginning, in the last years, there has been a qualitative shift in the authoritarian character of the Turkish state and political regime whereby a super-presidential regime and a state form personalized in the person of Erdoğan has been manufactured. This lecture analyzes the different sub-periods and different strategies of this transformation in which de facto and de jure states of emergency have been critical especially after 2015.

November 22, 2018, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 25 (3.06.S25)

Dr. Ali Riza Güngen and Assoc. Prof. Ümit Akcay:

Turkey’s Financial Transformation: A Political Economic Analysis of Recent Developments

The capital accumulation regime in Turkey, which benefited from capital inflows in 2002-07 and 2010-13 came to a definite end in 2018. AKP was successful in managing the ensuing social tensions by resorting to increasingly authoritarian techniques. The currency crisis of 2018 now set the country as a stage for further socioeconomic turbulences. This seminar will elaborate the political economic transformation of Turkey in the last two decades, Turkey’s financial deepening and the social and political ramifications of the transformation. The intertwining of the AKP authoritarianism with financial transformation and the international context of the AKP rule will be elucidated.

December 6, 2018, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 22 (3.06.S22)

Dr. Cavidan Soykan:

Cosmopolitanisation through Human Rights: How far? The Case of Turkish Immigration Policy 

Cosmopolitanism both as a broad sociological argument, which has implications for how we conceive the law in our contemporary societies and as an advocate of the idea of human rights for global justice, can provide us with the necessary tools to think about immigration law, migrants’ rights and immigration control (Morris 2013). A key figure in this scholarship is Ulrich Beck claims that we now live in a world that has become interdependent on a global scale where the boundaries between citizens and non-citizens, internal and external, national and international, local and global are disintegrated (Beck 2006). He distinguishes between the normative ideal cosmopolitanism and really existing cosmopolitanisation, which is a side effect of unconscious decisions and unintended actions. cosmopolitanisation is a ‘forced’ cosmopolitanism which challenges and changes the experiential spaces of the nation-state from within against their will (Beck 2006: 101). Beck also sees the political union of Europe, the EU experiment itself, as a type of cosmopolitanisation. (Beck 2006).

Immigration as a policy area lies at the crossroads of the debates on globalisation, state sovereignty and the impact of international norms on the nation-states. It has been argued that it is not possible to prevent the effects of immigration on the nation-state, although the modern state system itself is the cause of international migration (Zolberg 1981). The transformation of the state and the supra-national institutions also matter for immigration because the transfer of certain aspects of the state’s sovereign power to non- state actors affects the nation-state’s capacity to control its borders. This is called the ‘thesis of declining sovereignty’ by some authors (Sassen 1996; Soysal 1994). These authors argued that immigration and asylum policies are increasingly being influenced by the international human rights regime. They also claimed that the universal personhood created by the appeal to the human rights regime indicates the devaluation of citizenship as a condition to access to rights (Sassen 1996; Soysal 1994; Jacobsen 1997).

In this lecture, we will look at the political transformation of Turkey that went through for the EU candidacy process in the area of immigration and asylum together with the latest developments with regard to the criminalization of migrants and humanitarian work(ers) due to the rise of far-right and/or authoritarian regimes in some Eastern European countries. Contrary to Beck’s and the other authors’ arguments, when we analyse immigration as a challenge to sovereignty and to citizenship, we will see that today we are far away from a transition to a cosmopolitan order where human rights would be the basis of legitimation of the international community.

January 10, 2019, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 25 (3.06.S25)

Dr. Funda Karapehlivan:

The Right to Education and Social Citizenship in the Age of Authoritarian Neoliberal Capitalism

This lecture, after giving an overview of the changes in social citizenship and the enjoyment of the right to education during the age of neoliberal capitalism that started in the 1970s, will focus on the impacts of authoritarian turn in neoliberal capitalism in the last decade on the social and economic rights in general and the right to education in particular. We are going to look at how neoliberal educational policies influenced the enjoyment of the right to education especially by increasing inequalities in educational access and achievement and we will discuss the implications of these policies on social citizenship.

January 24, 2019, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 24 (3.06.S24)

Dr. Hakan Mertcan:

Laicism and Religion

In this seminar, briefly, we will discuss the meaning of laicism and the characteristics of the laic state. And then we will examine the implementation of the Kemalist laicism and development of laicism in Turkey.

Laicism and secularism were the main principles of constitution in early republic in Turkey, however, application of these principles to public sphere were far from being sufficient. During one-party rule (1923-1950), the practices were mostly directed at religious suppression. These practices changed with multi-party regime during 1950s but the instrumentalization of religion as a political tool was accelerated and especially the aftermath 1970s and 1980s, significant deviations occurred in the concept of lacism. The direction of new path was towards Turkish-Islamic Synthesis.

Based on this historical heritage, in the last decade, the Justice and Development Party has highly damaged principles of laicism and has paved the way for Islamist fundamentalism. Political Islam has been dominating social, political and economic aspects of the society and a religious regime has been applied with a combination of authoritarianism. In this period, the large secular social classes and the religious minorities have been victims of the rise of political Islam and deterioration of laicism. The aim of this seminar is to discuss the roots of the laicism and political Islam in Turkey with concrete historical examples. A historical framework will be employed to explain current developments in Turkey from a critical point of view.

February 7, 2019, 4pm | Campus Griebnitzsee | House 6, Room 25 (3.06.S25)

Prof. Betül Yarar:

Neoliberal-Neoconservative Body Politics: The Case of AKP and Its Gendered Politics in Turkey

As we all know, discourses and technologies of governing women’s bodies and sexualities appeare as the main tool to consolidate neoliberal and neoconservative regimes in the World. Here in this paper, I would particularly focus on the case of Justice and Development Party (AKP) that has been the ruling party of the government in Turkey, and disentangle its gender politics. We know that the AKP’s politics are geared towards ensuring pervasive control of women’s bodies and sexualities. But beyond such generalising analysis, in this lecture it is aimed to understand the complexity of this neoliberal gender regime and analyse it by placing its politics in time. In other words, there is a need to avoid understanding neoliberalism as a regime which is very homogenous in respect to its gender codes and regulations. Instead, it relies on the complex articulation of different narrative lines or discourses which allow the emergence of different modes of subjectivities. It requires a continuous political struggle which consist of some changes in its political strategies. It is only through this way one can point at the ways in which the discursive utilization of women’s bodies and sexualities has appeared as the main tool to consolidate the conservative gender regime. This complex nature of neoliberal and neoconservative regimes are also related to the ways in which they have adopted feminist concepts of the second wave movement. This interaction between neoliberalism-neoconservatism and feminism is what has been missed by many feminist groups and organizations in Turkey. For this reason their counter discourses need to be reviewed with the lenses of new post-feminism times.