Orientalism, colonial criticism and Ahmed Rıza: revisiting La Faillite Morale de la Politique Occidentale en Orient
By focusing mainly on his book, La Faillite Morale de la Politique Occidentale en Orient (1922), the aim of this paper is to read Ahmed Rıza’s position as a critique of colonialism and to re-evaluate his ideas within the postcolonial context. In order to do so, first, different answers to the question of how to relate late Ottoman Empire with the analyses of postcolonial studies are discussed. Following the discussion on “borrowed colonialism” approach, it is argued that focusing on the Ottoman intellectuals criticizing Western colonialism and prejudices about other geographies is an alternative approach to bring the case of the late Ottoman Empire to the context of postcoloniality. The article does not appropriate intellectual history as a privileged level of analysis; rather the late Ottoman Empire is considered as a state subjugated by the complex network of informal colonialism.The article goes on to emphasize the similarities of Ahmed Rıza’s arguments with other postcolonial criticisms. It is argued that, as an intellectual who had to reconcile his universalist position (positivism) with the realities of his locality, Ahmed Rıza based his criticism of colonialism on morality, and in doing so, he presented an earlier example of a common position adopted by postcolonial intellectuals. In his aforementioned work, Ahmed Rıza included not only a criticism of colonialism as such, but also a criticism of ideas and prejudices constructed within the colonial context. In this sense, it is suggested that Ahmed Rıza offered an early version of the postcolonial argument by maintaining that colonialist practices could not have functioned without a specific set of ideas behind them. In this paper, it is also discussed how Ahmed Rıza, being a positivist, initiated discussions with regard to defending Islam as a civilization against various types of Orientalist prejudices. The article is concluded by highlighting the risk of nativism in Ahmed Rıza’s critical framework and a critical analysis of his nativist arguments is incorporated into the general discussion.
The intellectual and the daimon: Reflections on Şerif Mardin and H. Ünal Nalbantoğlu
The article weighs the explanatory potential of arguments of two Turkish social scientists, Şerif Mardin and H. Ünal Nalbantoğlu, with regard to the meaning they accorded to the daemonic in understanding the arid one-sidedness of Turkish intellectuals. While the daemonic stood as the wholesome human character which includes exuberance and even impetuosity for Mardin, Nalbantoğlu understood it as the internal instigator of a sober yet passionate persistence after one’s cause without losing touch with reality, workmanship as well as thinking about being in the world. Hannah Arendt’s distinction between “the what” and “the who” illuminated the path of interpretation followed in the article, where Mardin’s interest was likened to an effort to understand what an intellectual would look like whereas Nalbantoğlu’s represented a concern to make sense of who the intellectual is in the world we live in. As their expositions are interpreted and expanded respectively, it became clear that neither Mardin nor Nalbantoğlu paid due attention to an understudied contention of Mardin himself in that Islamic mysticism (or tasavvuf) has room for the prospering of the daemonic. An inquiry into Islamic mysticism revealed that there are indeed cultural openings for the rise of the daemonic, and this is an important line of inquiry. However, those openings are neither common nor opportune enough to become a staple of the Turkish intellectual, who is yet to become a thinking being without sacrificing any part of a multi-sided character and workmanship. Consequently, the arguments of both Mardin and Nalbantoğlu are very significant, however, their explanations do not always seem adequate and beg further exposition.
Beyond the concept of Aura
HASAN ÜNAL NALBANTOĞLU
Confining itself essentially to the determinations of the concept of Aura in Walter Benjamin’s own writings, his correspondence with Theodor W. Adorno, and to a limited extent to Adorno’s own writings where the concept is taken up, present article attempts to provide an account of the ‘things’ beyond Aura yet pointed at by the latter’s demise under modern technology, a now-amorphous reality. These are, namely, the ‘modern’ phenomena of “Das Erlebnis (discrete, even momentous, experiences) / mémoire volontaire (will-powered short-term memory)” in opposition to the ‘tradition-heritage’ bound couplet, “Die Erfahrung (distilled life-experience, often unconsciously operating in a person) / mémoire involontaire (long-term memory). The concept of Aura also has a bearing with respect to the phenomenon of ‘art.’ This means: while, on the one hand, the existence of Aura in a work of art points to its ‘authenticity,’ necessary ‘distanciation’ of the work of art from the gaze of the possessive ‘subject, ’and hence the resulting radical ‘unconsumability,’ perhaps even under modern technological conditions, on the other hand, the ‘loss of Aura’ due to extreme reproducibility often ends up with its semblance, even its fake, namely ‘halo’ (Aureole) of short-term validity, catering to the manipulated demand of consumers on the markets of commodified culture.
Great anachronism: The role of the architectural analysis in the relationship between urban transformation and migration
This article will discuss the historical trends in the scholarship about the urban transformation in Turkish cities in the second half of the 20th century. Inasmuch as the urban transformation has been to a great extent accounted for by the domestic migration, the squatter settlement-apartment building dichotomy has been a major theme in the architecture and social science literature. As the squatters were widely represented as ‘the rural’ and ‘the traditional’, apartment buildings were seen as ‘the urban’ and ‘the modern’. Accordingly, the expectation was that the gradual move of the squatter dwellers to modern apartment buildings would be corresponded with their adaptation to the urban context through their eventual ‘modernization’. However, thanks to their patronage card, the squatter dwellers swiftly converted their rural-looking squatters into modern-looking apartment buildings, while they developed an alternative urban community and culture. This was, for many, an ‘untimely’ transformation; an anachronism: ‘villagers’ moved to the modern dwellings without becoming modern. This paper criticizes this approach. On the one hand, squatters provided cheap access to housing and helped the rural-to-urban migrants to develop social attributes widely associated with modernization. On the other hand, apartment buildings in the worker neighborhoods emerged simultaneously with the rising poverty. Thus, though the migrant families started to live in ‘modern’ dwellings, they could not afford to pursue a ‘modern life style’: nuclear families were replaced with the re-emerging extended families, apartments began to be used for economic activities, and primary social relations prevailed over the secondary relations. The existing data provides some insights about the physical characteristics and the use of space in the apartment buildings erected by the former squatter dwellers. The last section gives an overview of the role of multi-storey buildings in the urban transformation in the contexts of the USSR and the USA in the 20th century in order to assign the analysis a comparative dimension. The argument of this paper is that the squatter settlements contributed to the modernization of the migrants, while the apartment buildings de-modernize its dwellers in the context of Turkish cities. This is the great anachronism of the Turkish urbanization.
How to define torture? – On disproportionate use of force by police in Turkey
It has been reported that classic torture methods are in decline in Turkey. Brutal use of force by security forces, on the other hand, is still one of the main human rights concerns in the country. Statistics show that very few policemen are prosecuted for using disproportionate use of force, whereas thousands of civilian resisting police are convicted for acting in this way. This article argues that this malfunction partly stems from the misleading definition of torture and its difference from other maltreatment types. It is maintained in this article that the gravity of the pain and suffering loses its importance in the definition of torture. Purpose of the perpetrator, namely to carry out the conduct to achieve a State-related target, and powerlessness of the victim are widely recognised as the decisive factors of the crime. Bearing in mind these changes in the definition of torture, this article examines whether use of force by policemen outside detention centres can be classified as torture under Turkish law. The article concludes that use of force especially to disperse political demonstrations has the potential to meet torture criteria. Therefore, it is contended that the prosecution of these acts pursuant torture provision of the Criminal Code could be an effective tool to fight against impunity policy.
Rite of passage as a communal classroom: The pedagogical recycling of Newroz and Nevruz celebrations in Turkey
This paper investigates the transformation of the traditional New Year celebration in Turkey. It focuses on the ideological ways in which Kurdish political opposition and the Turkish State have appropriated the Newroz-Nevruz tradition in their political history. I believe reflecting on the modification of this specific tradition within the larger context of the history of Turkey offers us an opportunity to observe a unique intersection of culture and politics. In the case of Newroz-Nevruz, the Turkish State first ignored this tradition and did not give any role to Newroz-Nevruz in its highly politicized repertoire of celebrations. However,subsequently the popularity and the wide acceptance of Newroz-Nevruz among the Kurds in Turkey motivated the Turkish State to appropriate this already invented tradition.This work also examines the nature of these contested festivals and their pedagogical utilizations. It explores the development and function of contrasting pedagogical activities through this tradition and draw out their comparative implications for the Kurdish issue and its resolution in Turkey. The paper begins with the conceptual framework underpinning this research. Subsequently, it outlines the cultural policies of the Turkish Republic and analyzes their impact on the Republic’s nation building efforts. The work displays how the Kurdish political medium facilitates Newroz as a framework that permits a redefinition and promotion of ethnic identity, creating a reliable channel for communication and alternative civic education. It also demonstrates the Turkish state’s operation of tradition reclamation through Nevruz. The paper concludes by suggesting that even though the competition between the Kurdish Newroz and the Turkish Nevruz is widely seen as a source of political instability, the common characteristics of these two contested versions highlight their potential for conflict resolution.
Security sector and the construction of (in)security: Understanding a social paranoia
EVREN BALTA PAKER
This article critically assesses the relationship among security threats, security measures, and security sector. It argues that security became the organizing principle of the social and political life both at the global and domestic level, cross-cutting the private and public spheres. The article shows that the relationship between security consciousness and security threats, both at the global and domestic level, are not direct. It argues that our contemporary obsession with security should be explained by focusing on the re-organization of the security sector, rather than focusing on the presence or absence of security threats. The re-organisation of the security sector is analyzed as a two dimensional phenomena; first a large-scale privatization of supposedly state supplied security services to private companies and second the emergence of new security spheres and commodities. The reorganisation of the external military apparatus (private armies), internal policing (private security companies), and criminal justice system (private prisons) are then analysed as the instances in which the emerging relationship between security threats, security measures, and security sector is crystallized.
Society under siege: Private security, urban life and governmentality
Past thirty years’ internal (partially forced) migration from eastern Turkey, rising socio-economic inequalities and uneven urbanization have brought the issue of public security up on the agenda, resulting in a generalised agreement within society on the (media-led) idea that security should be provided in a more effective manner. As in many services hitherto provided by the state, ‘privatisation’ has also in this case appeared as a quick solution for this search for effectiveness, giving rise to a service sector, the size of which has reached $300 million in less than a decade, and where more than 300.000 people are employed in approximately 1500 companies. This article describes how the sector has been shaped, and proposes to critically asses what it has implied in terms of various issues. Research shows that the growth of private security is not accompanied by a decrease in crime rates, and that it does not help the state decrease security costs. Although its contribution to employment opportunities seems prominent, job security is very low and working conditions in the sector are anything but soft. The privatisation of security does bring little then, when compared to its promises. On the other hand, its influence on the re-organization of urban spaces and the reproduction of social segregation is not negligible. It urges people to actively reorganize their environment through police activity, effectively turning almost everyone into potential criminals, and reproducing social divisions between the ones who hold enough economic capital to buy private security, and others whose security has to be entrusted to the Police Department. Finally it is misleading to deduce that the privatisation of security implies a retreat by the State, neither from its monopoly over the right to use force, nor its role of governing society. Research proves that both formal and informal relationships with public law enforcement agencies keep the private security sector under the shadow of State power, and the individualisation of ‘risk management’ is rather a sign that a different and intricate network of central political apparatus and (supposedly) private experts continue to govern our lives, under the veil of a marketing language emphasizing private enterprise and consumer choice.The proposed article draws upon a fieldwork conducted between 1 January 2007 and 31 October 2008. As part of the fieldwork, interviews were carried out with professionals of the private security industry in Istanbul (company owners, directors, counsellors, security guards, trainers), and individual and institutional buyers of security services; and related legislation and media coverage were analysed.
Immigrant policy, membership rights and political participation of immigrants in Sweden: Legal/institutional frame and some outcomes
This article deals with the development of immigrant policy and forms of political participation of immigrants in Sweden. In the mid-1970s, Sweden officially declared itself a multicultural society and was added to the list of those countries which facilitate immigrant groups to preserve and express their cultural heritage. As one of the traditional and strongly corporatist countries of Europe, Sweden attempted to incorporate immigrant groups in a similar way as it formerly did other collective or corporate groups in society. Although immigration policy has been revised several times in time and more individual oriented approach adopted, Sweden has continued to be considered as one of the countries with relatively generous immigration policy. However, in contrast to extensive formal rights granted to immigrants, the inequality between immigrants and the native Swedes has been maintained and indeed increased over time, inter alia, as to political participation and political influence exerted through channels such as trade unions and interest organizations. Drawing on the academic literature on these issues, this article reviews the gap between formal membership rights of immigrants and their actual situation in the political and organizational life of the country without ignoring the possible reasons that might explain the existence of such a gap.