Turkish Studies

2017 Conference: Law and Politics in Turkey

Law & Politics in Turkey
Reform, Authority and Emergency

Buffett Institute for Global Studies
Northwestern University

October 26-28, 2017

Turkey witnessed fundamental legal changes in the last two decades. Few aspects of the law were left untouched by reform packages enacted in the name of IMF conditionality, EU harmonization, or democratization. In addition to the changing laws and regulations, a series of institutional changes aimed to achieve a more efficient, transparent, democratic and accessible judicial system. All the reform waves, however, have ended in a spiral of authoritarianism, and eventually a dragging state of emergency.

How did Turkey get here? Answering this question requires scholars to (re)conceptualize the relationship between law and politics at this historic juncture. This conference undertakes this challenging task and intends to trace the twisted path from reform to emergency. 

Program Schedule:

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26

9:30–10:00 | Welcome

Bruce Carruthers, Director, Buffett Institute for Global Studies

Ayça Alemdaroğlu, Associate Director, Keyman Modern Turkish Studies Program

Sinan Erensü, Keyman Postdoctoral Fellow


10:00–10:45 | From Reform to Emergency: The Use and Abuse of Constitutionalism in Turkey’s Political Trajectory

Aslı Bali (UCLA)


10:45–11:00 | Coffee break


11:00-12:45
PANEL I: Authoritarianism, Past and Present

Chair: Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University
Simon P. Watmough (EUI) and Ahmet Erdi Öztürk (Strasbourg)
The Dialectic of Failed Democratization and the State of Exception: Turkey’s Current Authoritarian Turn in Comparative–Historical Perspective

İpek Çınar (University of Chicago)
Turkey’s Constitutional Process to the Authoritarian Reversal

Bilge Yabancı (Stockholm)
Building Authoritarianism from Below: Strategic Repression and Co-optation of Civil Society in Turkey

Güldeniz Kıbrıs (Leiden)
Turkey’s Authoritarian Journey through Turkish Penal Code: 1945-1960s Istanbul


12:45–1:45 | Lunch break (lunch served)


1:45–3:30
PANEL II: Reform and Emergency

Chair: İpek Yosmaoğlu (Northwestern University)

Başak Taraktaş (Northwestern University)
Understanding Reforms and Constitutional Changes: An Historical Perspective

Mert Arslanalp (Boğaziçi) and T.Deniz Erkmen (Özyegin)
Mobile Emergency Rule: Protest, Law, and Authoritarian Consolidation in Contemporary Turkey

Yeşim Arat (Boğaziçi)
Liberal Means for Conservative Ends: The Gender Perspective on the AKP’s Authoritarian Trajectory from Reform to Emergency Rule

Elif Babül (Mount Holyoke College)
Managing Reform through Emergency: Politics of Hospitality in Turkey


3:30–3:40 | Coffee break


3:40–5:10
PANEL III: Legal Ambiguity, Political Control and Contention in Urban Turkey

Chair: Ayça Alemdaroğlu (Northwestern University)

Deniz Yonucu (Leibniz- ZMO & Freie University)
Law, Fate and Ambiguity: Looking at Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law from the Urban Margins

Özgün Rüya Oral (METU)
Urban Transformation Story in GOP: Community Consciousness against the Legal Ambiguity

Alp Kanzık (Boğaziçi)
Law, Uncertainties and Urban Policy: The Curious Case of Istanbul’s Urban Rail Transit


5:15–6:00 | Rethinking the Possibility of Justice Through Art

Hakan Topal (SUNY-Purchase)



FRIDAY, OCTOBER 27


8:15 | Breakfast


8:30–10:15
PANEL IV: Impunity

Chair: John David Marquez (Northwestern University)

Onur Bakıner (Seattle University)
Sources of Impunity in Turkey

Özgür Sevgi Göral (Hakikat, Adalet, Hafıza Merkezi)
Failed Reconciliation, Impossible Justice: The Case of Temizöz and Others

Hayal Akarsu (University of Arizona)
Policing the Police: Law, Reform and Questions of Impunity in Turkey

Jessica Mecellem (University of the South, Sewanee)
Domestic Human Rights Trials as Venues of Narrative Contestation: Enforced Disappearances of the 1990s


10:15–10:30 Coffee Break


10:30–12:15
PANEL V: Politics of Courts/Courtrooms

Chair: Levent Köker (Northwestern University)

Serra Hakyemez (Brandeis)
Defense Found Irrelevant: The Politics of Legal Procedures in Anti-Terror Courts

İdil Elveriş (Bilgi)
Seven Years of Reform, Capture and Control: The Council of Judges and Prosecutors in Turkey

Melike Arslan (Northwestern University)
The Politics of Postponing Bankruptcy and Saving Small Businesses in Turkey

Yalçın Özkan (UMass)
Righting a Wrongful Death on the Job: The Politics of Fatal Work Accident Lawsuits in Turkey


12:15–1:30 | Lunch break


1:30–3:00
PANEL VI: Legality/Extralegality

Chair: Jackie Stevens (Northwestern University)

Erol Sağlam (U. London-Birbeck)
How do Men Embody the State? Conspiracies, Hunts for Terrorists, and Extralegality in Contemporary Turkey

Fırat Bozcalı (Stanford)
The Unresolved: Killings, Criminal Investigation and the State Illegibility across Turkish-Iranian Border

Senem Aslan (Bates College)
A Merciful State? Political Amnesties in Early Republican Turkey


3:00–3:15 | Coffee break


3:15–4:00 | Illiberal Populism and the Drift to Authoritarian Rule
Larry Diamond (Stanford)

4:00–4:15 | Coffee break


4:15–5:45
PANEL VII: Turkey’s authoritarianism in a comparative perspective

Chair: Sultan Tepe (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Z. Umut Türem-Saygun Gökarıksel (Boğaziçi)
Formations of Law and Authoritarian Populism in the Peripheries of Europe

Berk Esen (Bilkent)
Conservative Populists in Europe’s Periphery: Erdoğan’s Turkey and Orban’s Hungary

Didem Türkoğlu-Charles Kurzman (UNC)
Unkept Promises: Election Manifestos and Institutional Transformation


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 28


8:15 | Breakfast served


8:30–10:15
PANEL VIII: Media, Politics, and Law

Chair: Leyla Neyzi (Northwestern University)

Murat Akser (Ulster)
Understanding Media and Politics in Turkey: A Historiography of Fear and Opposition

Nazlı Özkan (Northwestern University)
Mediating Legislative Governance: Televisual Activism of the Alevi Minority in Turkey

Ali Sonay (Cambridge)
Liberalizing and Non-Regulating the Radio Sector in Turkey

Nazlı Bulay Dogan (University of Pennsylvania)
The Authoritarianism Trend Within the Field of Information and Communication Technology in Turkey: The Blurring of the Boundary Between Legal and Extralegal in Hacktivism Cases


10:15–10:30 | Coffee break


10:30–12:00
PANEL IX: Gender, Violence, Law

Chair: Emrah Yıldız (Northwestern University)

Nazife Koşukoğlu (Boğaziçi)
Rule of Law and Masculine Prerogatives: Honor Killings as Normalized Exceptions in the Legislative and Judicial Fields of the State in Turkey

Esen Ezgi Taşçıoğlu (U. Birmingham)
States of Exception: Legal Governance of Trans Women in Urban Turkey

Aslı Zengin (Harvard)
Queer Calculations of Justice: Hate Crimes, the Criminal Law and Transgender Lives in Turkey


12:15–1:30 | Lunch break (lunch served)


1:30–3:00
PANEL X: Environmental Politics and Dispossession

Chair: Sinan Erensü (Northwestern University)

Erdem Evren (Toronto)
(Il)legalities of Dispossession: From Political Society to Entrepreneurial Society?

Ayşen Eren (Boğaziçi)
An Instrument of Political Power: The Environmental Impact Assessment Regulation in Hydroelectricity Development in Turkey

Yaşar Adanalı (TU Berlin)
Strategic Litigation for the Making of Neighborhood Politics in Turkey vis-a-vis “the Disaster Law”


2:00–3:15 | Coffee break


3-15–4:30 | Closing Session, Levent Köker (Northwestern)