Methodology Matters

Turkey’s academia has been going through a challenging transformation since the 1980s. The most recent steps towards a radical change at the level of university structures, followed by the total purges in and from the universities attest to the final stage of this transformation. The transformation has been managed in accordance with the requisites of the wider neoliberal socio-economic structuration. The authoritarian element that is endemic in neoliberal policies has assumed an increasingly pivotal place in this transformation-cum-structuration process.

The severe violations of academic freedom in Turkey have consistently increased in the past decade and reached unprecedented levels by the dislocation of increasing number of academics from knowledge production sites since 2016. Coupled with the rising tide of fascistic line in politics this dislocation directly affected the means that academics resort to in analyzing socio-political phenomena.

This group aims at offering a platform to search for the ways, styles, and sites for traversing the academic dislocation in Turkey with resort to the language in, and space of, and the reflections on the possibilities for alternative methodology. In so doing, we opt for carving out a space that accommodates the words, experiences and readings, silenced down in social science researchscapes in the course of the development of fascistic lines in politics.

 

 

Commoners’ Academy

The Commoners’ Academy working group within Research Institute on Turkey is an initiative to critically re-generate and collectively re-interpret the current academic mindsets related to science, art and all walks of life.

Currently supported projects:

Methodology Matters

 

Policing, Urbanization and State Formation in Modern Turkey

 

Policing is a major component of modern urban space formation. As an urbanizing force, policing fabricates a certain social order through spatial strategies of regulation, surveillance, containment and repression. Thus, it is constitutively present in processes of spatial organization of social relations and public sphere. Contemporary developments have overtly revealed this historical role, and made it necessary to take the issue of policing into serious consideration for the politics of urban justice.

With these political and academic concerns, our working group aims to create a network for collective discussion and production on policing in Turkey from a critical perspective by way of bringing the following issues into our agenda:

  • exploring the link between modern state formation and police power in Turkey;

  • contributing to the critical social history of diverse forms of policing in modern Turkey;

  • addressing contemporary issues surrounding policing in Turkey, including but not limited to police violence, criminalization of urban poor and dissent, complex interactions between police power and military power, and other forms of policing such as private security and community policing.

With these aims, our research group will collectively organize and produce

(1) research projects and reports;
(2) workshops;
(3) academic publications;
(4) publicly accessible commentaries;
(5) pool of resources;
(6) alternative syllabi for teaching policing.

Bosphorus


 
 
A seven-act play inspired by the life and writings of Hrant Dink, an Armenian journalist, writer and human rights activist who was assassinated on January 19, 2007 in Turkey. The play tells the story of Nedim, a friend of Hrant’s, following the funeral of the latter in Istanbul. The play presents a phantasmagoric sailing of the two friends in Bosphorus and the conversation of the two old friends—with Nedim being of Turkish background—about their common past. What can be described as Nedim’s daydreaming encompasses a requiem for Hrant while the Armenian genocide and ultra-nationalism in Turkey set the background for the entire text with the introduction of a third character, Yener, whose anti-Armenian stances are politically inscribed into the common sense of the majority.
 

Written by Gorune Aprikian and Eric de Roquefeuil
Directed by Ozgur Cinar
Dramaturg Kumru Bilici
Original music John Sarkissian
 

Premier: January 2018 in Ottawa, ON, Canada

 
 

Aesthetics and Politics

 

Relationship between art and politics is one of RIT‘s research areas both in its theoretical and practical forms. We recognize the political potentials and limits of artistic practices that reflect and intervene in societies. We aim at facilitating artistic work and radical research to explore, criticize and push the boundaries between arts and politics in creative and progressive ways.

With liberatory power of commonizing practices in arts, we aim at providing creative platforms for artists and critics to further their practices free from oppression, censorship, self-censorship and precarization. This group will also build networks in the art communities in the US and other countries to further opportunities for artists working on subjects covering various forms of discrimination, social and economic injustices, human rights issues, immigration and political repression.

Currently supported research:

 Do All Daddies Have Gray Suits? Bosphorus

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about “Solidarity with Purged Academics for Peace in Turkey” Campaign

Q: I am not in the US. Can I still contribute?

A: Yes! You can contribute from any country where PayPal is a valid mode of payment.

 

Q: The donation page asks for your address, and I’ve never been asked for that when donating on Facebook. Does anyone know if there’s a way to donate without having to provide an address?

A: The explanation goes as “This fundraiser is run by a non-profit organization and thus requires you fill out the following fields for tax purposes.” your name and the amount can be anonymous if you click the relevant buttons on the donation page and will not be disclosed publicly.

 

Q: You pledge to support 35 purged academics for 6 months. There are, however, some 300+ Academics for Peace, who were forced out of the academia. Which criteria will you use to select the 35 academics?

A: The aim of this emergency fund is to raise an amount that is equivalent of 6 month-long minimum wage for 35 academics. The distribution of this fund will be left to local unions and associations which are already assisting the purged academics in a transparent manner. Local institutions distributes funds to as many scholars as possible based on their internal assessment of need. If we are able to raise our targeted amount, we hope to continue this campaign in waves to reach a larger number of purged academics of peace.

 

Q: Who is organizing this campaign?

A: The organizers of this campaign are Research Institute on Turkey, Bostonbul, GIT North America and concerned academics in the US and Canada.

 

  • Research Institute on Turkey is an independent grassroots research cooperative based in New York City.  We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers, artists, writers, architects, scientists and activists who develop in-situ embodied knowledge through in-depth, focused research and policy analysis, creative public engagement, collective learning activities, solidarity campaigns and network collaborations. Our goal is to contribute to a pluralistic, egalitarian, and democratic Turkey with an emphasis on social and economic justice, gender equality, sexual rights, cultural and political recognition and ecologic sustainability from a critical historical perspective.

RIT is an independent non-profit organization registered in New York State.

          www.riturkey.org

 

  • Bostonbul is a non-profit organization that promotes education and increase public awareness on the status of human rights and social justice issues in Turkey. Bostonbul promotes education through organizing lectures, slide shows, movie screenings, panels, forums, etc. in schools, libraries, and other public venues in Boston as well as by utilizing social media channels and the Organization’s website to provide facts, statistics, and other related data. Bostonbul, Inc.’s events are open to public, regardless of nationality, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or any other status or identity.http://www.bostonbul.org

     

  • GIT North America:  Inspired by the call of academics in France who have constituted Groupe International de Travail, GIT, academics from Turkey in US have decided to form the North American node of a transnational working group in 2011 that aims to raise awareness and offer documentation on “Academic Liberty and Freedom of Research in Turkey, GIT-NA. GIT-NA’s mission is to support initiatives in pursuit of academic liberty and freedom of research in Turkey.http://gitamerica.blogspot.com/

 

  • Concerned academics in the US and Canada

 

Q: Why only to the “Academics for Peace”?

A:The crowdsourcing campaign is organized in solidarity with the Academics for Peace, the recipients of the 2016 Middle Eastern Studies Association Academic Freedom Prize and the 2016 Aachen Peace Prize.  Their collective struggle to preserve human rights (widely ranging from the very basic right to live to the right of representation, from the right to education to academic freedom) and professional dignity is “representative of the broader struggle of those academics worldwide who strive to promote peace, justice and academic freedom through their research, writing and advocacy. This campaign has a particular goal of helping professors and researchers that have been targeted solely because they have exercised their right to free speech by signing a petition. Most of these academics, who are invaluable to training future generations and advancing sciences, do not have other means of income while they continue legal proceedings to regain their positions at their universities.

 

Q: How can I get in touch with the organizers if I have any questions?

A: Send an email to solidarity.afp.turkey@gmail.com. The organizers will get back to you as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions – Academics for Peace

by Simten Coşar

 

1. What is Academics for Peace?

Academics for Peace is a group of academics, mainly concerned with the escalation of the conflict between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the PKK in Eastern Turkey, and in the scale of violence against civilian population in the region that has always been part of the same conflict. The group was formed by the pro-peace academics in 2012.

 

2. What is the Peace Declaration?

The Peace Declaration was a statement by the Academics for Peace against the escalation of violence against the Kurdish civilians in the Eastern part of Turkey, due to the rising tension in the conflict between the TAF and the PKK from July 2015 onwards. The Academics for Peace targeted to raise public awareness by directly calling on the Turkish government to take initiative to end the violence. The Declaration, entitled “We Will Not Be A Party To This Crime” (Bu Suça Ortak Olmayacağız) was opened for signature among the academics at national and international levels, and received widespread support at both levels. It was signed by 1128 academics worldwide.

 

3. What is the significance of January 11, 2016 as a date?

The Peace Declaration was shared with the general public through a press conference on January 11, 2016. From this date on rights violations against signatories have begun.

The rights violations against “Academics for Peace” employed in private and public universities are listed below

https://barisicinakademisyenler.com/node/314

4. So, were the signatories limited to the original group of the Academics for Peace?

Certainly not! The original group of the Academics for Peace was composed of about 200 academics in Turkey. As of January 11, 2016, 1128 academics signed the Peace Declaration. From then on the rapid and persistent governmental measures taken against the signatories blurred the boundaries of the group. But in the general and widest sense all the signatories are now referred to as the Academics for Peace or as the academics asking for peace in the country.

 

5. Was there any withdrawal from the Peace Declaration?

Of course there were withdrawals due to the immediate and ever-increasing violation of rights of the academics after the Peace Declaration went public. Some signatories could not stand the rapid and rather harsh pressures by their universities; some could not stand the threats to their lives both on the campuses and in any sphere of their everyday life.

 

6. So what is the exact up-to-date number of the signatory academics?

Despite the withdrawals of signatures and never-ending and ever-increasing pressures, harassment, assaults on the signatory academics the number of the academics who signed the Peace Declaration increased to 2212 by the end of January 2016.

 

7. So, is there an organization, which might be said to represent the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration?

No, there is no organization, which might be said to represent the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration.

 

8. Are the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration support any terrorist organizations?

No, the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration do not support any terrorist organization.

 

9. So, are the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration pushed to deal with and encounter the violation of academic rights and freedom on an individual basis?

No, the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration do not have to encounter and endure the violation of academic rights and freedom on an individual basis. They are supported by the Education Union Workers (EĞİTİM-SEN), as well as some other academic and/or research organizations at national and international levels.

The supports at the national level are for the time being extended mainly in legal and financial terms—certainly insufficient, considering the persistent dismissals, suspensions and bans from public duty.

The supports at the international level are basically through Scholars At Risk (SAR) and Scholar Rescue Fund (SRF), as well as through individual efforts of universities abroad for temporary research and teaching positions. Moreover, many international academic and human rights organizations, including but not limited to the Middle East Studies Association, European Association for Middle East Studies, International Association for Media and Communication Research, International Association for Feminist Economics, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, European Trade Union Committee for Education have expressed their support to the Academics for Peace through press releases. More information about international support can be found here: http://internationalsolidarity4academic.tumblr.com/

 

10. Are the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration PKK sympathizers?

No, the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration cannot be categorized as PKK sympathizers.

 

11. Are the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration sympathizers/followers and/or members of the (Fethullah) Gülen movement?

No, the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration are not sympathizers/followers and/or members of the (Fethullah) Gülen movement.

 

12.Is there any political stance that might define the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration?

The only common political stance that the academics, who signed the Peace Declaration share is that they opt for peace in Turkey. Otherwise, they differ in terms of their political stance extending from leftists, to feminists, and to liberal-democrats. But the leftists and feminists make up the majority of the signatory academics.

 

13. What can be done?

A lot can be done.

Some possible forms of support are listed by Chad Kautzer HERE:

Investigate whether your institution can temporarily host or hire an academic currently at risk in Turkey. Some institutions do this directly and some work with third-party organizations, such as Scholars at Risk. Your institution can also become a member of the Scholars at Risk Network, supporting their work through annual membership dues.

Review any academic or financial relations between your institution and academic institutions in Turkey. These might include joint research projects, grants, or faculty and student exchanges. Such relations can be used as leverage to pressure institutions in Turkey to respect academic freedom.

Use the resources of your institution and the public platforms available to you to disseminate knowledge about the plight of academics in Turkey. This could involve, for example, organizing talks, exhibitions, and press conferences, or producing films and publications.

Organize and participate in political actions and lobbying campaigns directed at Turkish officials and/or officials in your own government. This might be a protest at the Turkish Embassy, making phone calls, or something more creative. Academics for Peace, for example, has a campaign  to send letters to university rectors in Turkey, asking them to reinstate academics fired for political reasons. It is particularly important to lobby officials in the United States and European Union member states, given their deep ties to the Turkish government.

Connect with others (both individuals and organizations) who care about this issue, so you can stay informed and motivated. Scholars at Risk, Amnesty International, and the Middle East Studies Association, to name just a few, have email alerts. Like Facebook pages that disseminate news about academics in Turkey and information about actions to support them, such as those of Research Institute on Turkey (RIT) and International Solidarity with Academics in Turkey (ISAT). ISAT also has an email list you can subscribe to by emailing academicsus@gmail.com.

Ask your college, university, professional organization, or union to publish a statement supporting academics in Turkey and send it to officials in Turkey and in your own government.

Here is a letter from the Middle East Studies Association that was endorsed by over 40 professional organizations. You can also create petitions and open letters for others to sign, as with this open letter to U.S. officials and this international petition addressed to Turkish officials.

Sign the petitions and open letters. Although this is the easiest action to take, it is still important. These petitions and letters can: (a) communicate the depth and breadth of support to media outlets and government officials, (b) encourage academics in Turkey, and (c) serve as organizing tools to build political networks that facilitate future actions.

 

But new proposals are more than welcome!

 

An incomplete list of media coverage regarding Academics for Peace

The Guardian, Times Higher Education, Science, Nature, New York Times, Deutsche Welle

 

Do All Daddies Have Gray Suits?

 

 

In this shadow play, Do All Daddies Have Gray Suits?, the artist deconstructs the official narrative as well as her family history about her father’s assassination and its aftermath during the brutal junta of 1980 in Turkey. This timeless story depicts both the psychological and physical cruelty and the violence that nationalism and militarism triggered.

By generating a fairytale, the artist targets an ethical question of how we remember a traumatic past and how we move beyond that. She employs a personal story to target two forms of silence; one that defines her personal life growing up with an incomplete memory of her father and one that defines a collective silence, which shaped the society after the 1980 Coup. She takes an artistic approach to reconstruct her story as an adult to confront the official narratives and transform the theoretical discussion of trauma and postmemory into an intergenerational act of confronting our past. It is both the confusion of living through a painful historical trauma and the desire to decipher a palimpsest of silence that evaded the story.

Following in the footsteps of Karagiozis and Hadjiavatis (Turkish and Greek/ Anatolian shadow-puppet theatre) she creates a new narrative that combines multimedia/video projection with puppeteers, cutouts, and live shadow casters. Unlike Karagiozis and Hadjiavatis that utilize humor as a method to unravel the hypocrisy of the society, the artist uses the power of imaginative characters like wind daddies, memory trees, and underground creatures etc. to entertain and communicate her criticism of the society. Using darkness as a metaphor for hidden stories, the shadow play is a perfect medium to express these untold tragedies to the public audiences throughout the world. Once completed, Do All Daddies Have Gray Suits? will be a powerful work of mobilizing memory through critical aesthetics that defines the artist’s portfolio.

The live presentation will consist of 3 acts totaling 70 minutes and will be shown in 2018 (first in USA and then in Europe). The performance is written and conceived by the multi-media artist, directed by Stuart Fishelson in collaboration with award winning shadow master Larry Reed and ShadowLight Productions. The original sound is composed and designed by Erdem Helvacioglu.

 

Video and Photograpy by Johanna Case-Hofmeister

Please see below a trailer of the play:

DE-FIRE: Debt and Financialization Research Network Turkey

Coming soon

Data Commons

Coming soon!