The Great Academic Purge in Turkey
The Turkish government continues to rule by decree in the aftermath of the declaration of a state of emergency (Olağanüstü Hal) following the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Through a series of decrees with the power of law (Kanun Hükmünde Kararname), the government has expelled more than 100,000 civil servants – army and police personnel, judges and prosecutors, and teachers and academicians. Over 4,800 academicians, from research assistants to full professors, have been severed from their jobs. Around 390 of the fired academicians were among the 2,238 signatories of the peace petition of January 2016. People expelled through government decrees cannot appeal the decision as long as the state of emergency continues. Their passports have been suspended, and they are de facto blacklisted for any type of formal employment in Turkey. In effect, they have been condemned to an “academic death.”
The authors of three research articles in the last two issues of New Perspectives on Turkey have lost their jobs during this great academic purge. Gülay Kılıçaslan and Burcu Toğral Koca, whose essays appeared in the Special Issue on “Precarious Lives and Syrian Refugees” (issue no. 54), were expelled from their positions at Yıldız Technical University and Eskişehir Osmangazi University, respectively.
We featured a special dossier on “exceptional rule” in our issue no. 55. Noémi Lévy-Aksu, whose article on the idare-i örfiyye (state of siege) during the first constitutional period in late nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire sheds light on the lineages of exceptional rule in Turkey, lost her job at Boğaziçi University. In her case, because she is not a Turkish national, the Higher Education Board simply revoked her contract.
When one browses back issues of New Perspectives on Turkey, one can identify two more authors – both peace petition signatories – Yüksel Taşkın of Marmara University and Bediz Yılmaz of Mersin University, who were also severed from their jobs. If we were also to take a glance at book review authors and referees, the list would certainly grow longer. Then, there are more than a dozen peace petition signatories, either New Perspectives on Turkey authors or Editorial Board members – as well as the rest of academia – who have been condemned to witness the waning of the Turkish university.
Despite all odds, New Perspectives on Turkey continues to publish issues of high academic caliber. The upcoming issue no. 56 covers a range of subject matters, periods, and methodological approaches, including a study of literary milieux, the reception of a television series, the Turkish film industry, and problems of power and legitimacy in the Ottoman Empire’s Arab lands. In this issue, we also feature a roundtable devoted to a discussion that, despite its global importance, is newly emerging in Turkey; namely, climate change policy. We hope that you continue to follow the research produced by scholars under a heightened state of uncertainty and insecurity during these trying political times.
— New Perspectives on Turkey