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  • Author: Yaprak Gursoy
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: TURKEY'S EUROPEAN FUTURE tackles the question of how the United States (US) has influenced relations between the European Union (EU) and Turkey, and especially the decisions of the EU on Turkey. Except for a few notable scholarly articles, US-EU-Turkey relations have not been investigated in depth. In this well-written and well-organized book, Tocci addresses this gap in the literature by thoroughly examining in what ways, mechanisms, and in which direction the United States has had an impact on the decisions of the EU regarding Turkey. The book focuses mostly on the 1990s and 2000s, however the main findings provide considerable insight for the earlier periods, as well as for the future.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: America, Turkey
  • Author: Ali Murat Yel
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: THE NAQSHBANDIYYA is perhaps one of the widest-spread Islamic religious brotherhoods due to its active involvement in political affairs. Its 'strength' comes from the fact it could trace the sheiks of the order as far back as to the Prophet of Islam through his companion Abu Bakr. The silsila (the chain of transmission) of the order also contains some very important figures in Islamic history, like Salman al-Farisi and Bayazid al-Bistami. Despite the importance of the order and its worldwide expansion, the published works on the subject could fill only a small shelf. The order also has a great number of followers in Turkey, including some prominent political figures. Since Shah Bahauddin Naqshband, the founder of the order, the succeeding sheiks of the Naqshbandiyya tarikat (religious order) have currently been handed to Sheikh Nazim al-Kibrisi al-Haqqani, a Turkish Cypriot. The Sheikh has been given the task of expanding the order to the West, and as a result of arduous efforts he has been able to establish some centers in various European and American cities, with the biggest one being in London. Author Tayfun Atay studied this center for his Ph.D. thesis submitted to London University.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: Britain, America, Europe, Turkey, London
  • Author: Karen Leonard
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Finding Mecca in America: How Islam is Becoming an American Religion Near the end of this interesting book, the author characterizes his final chapter as “a series of interpretive judgments about the venture of Islam in its American habitat (p.205),” and I find this true of the book as a whole. It began as a doctoral dissertation, and Bilici defines himself a cultural sociologist who takes an agonistic (combative, contesting) approach, an approach that “pays attention to the margins more than the mainstreams, to lived experience more than to floating abstractions (p.21).” Yet, lengthy discussions of philosophy and social theory punctuate the chapters, enabling readers to debate the stated balance. Bilici also characterizes his work as ethnography, and while he draws on his work in Detroit, Michigan, as part of a team project and his internship with the Council of American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, in Washington, DC, the ethnographic material is limited, providing illustrations for various points Bilici wants to make rather than systematic evidence for them. He argues that his topics have escaped attention (or been taken for granted) or are postdiasporic, meaning they have not yet fully appeared above the horizon (p.19), such as Abrahamic discourse and Muslim comedy. He writes that “what should be prized is not the sea of data but the wisdom of elucidation (p.23),” and this personal interpretation is certainly worth reading.
  • Topic: Islam
  • Political Geography: America, Washington
  • Author: Nurullah Ardiç
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Secularism and Religion-Making Recent scholarship in the sociology of religion has produced fresh perspectives on the understanding of religion and its inter-relationships with society. Largely influenced by post-structuralist social theory, these new perspectives call for a re-evaluation of existing theoretical and methodological approaches as well as empirical analyses, as reflected in the oft-used terms to describe their projects, including “rethinking,” “imagining” religion and its “invention” and “manufacturing” a là “invention of tradition”. The term “religion-making” is one such concept that questions the traditional ways of studying religion (and its constitutive other, secularism). It refers to the reification by political and intellectual actors (with different motivations) of a religion (its beliefs and practices/rituals) based on certain taken-for-granted (binary) concepts, such as the religious/secular divide, within the discursive field of world religions. The collection of articles edited by Markus Dressler and Arvind-Pal Mandair brings together eleven theoretically-informed and empirically-focused studies on religion-making in different socio-historical contexts. It fits nicely, and contributes to, the above-mentioned recent trends in the sociology of religion and secularism. A strong trend within this scholarship is a critique of the “secular critique” of the Enlightenment-inspired secularization theory, which also implies a critical re-evaluation of the (secularist) notion of a clear-cut distinction between the religious and the secular. This is also a common theme among the articles brought together in this edited volume: each study questions from a post-structuralist angle (but focusing on a different aspect of) the assumption of the 'boundedness' of “religion” and “secularism” and their opposition to one another. The theoretical aim of the volume, according to the editors, is to problematize this dichotomous assumption and demonstrate instead the codependency of “secular” and “religious” discourses. Its empirical aim is to “examine the consequences of the colonial and postcolonial adoption of Western-style objectifications of religion and … the secular, by non-Western elites” (p. 3), but it also contains cases of Western actors. Moreover, the editors' lengthy Introduction contains a useful discussion on the philosophical foundations (from Kant to Heidegger, from Hume to Hegel) and current manifestations (in Taylor, Habermas etc.) of the epistemological hegemony of the religious/secular dichotomy and of the “universalization” of the concept of religion out of Western Christianity. The analyses contained in the volume address the processes of religion-making at three different levels. First, “religion-making from above” refers to the discursive strategy of reifying religion(s) from powerful positions rendering them an instrument of governmentality. This is often undertaken by nation-states in their efforts to reframe existing religious traditions in a docile manner. As the editors note, this strategy is also applied by individual political actors, intellectuals and NGOs, as exemplified by the famous American think-tank RAND Corporation's call for “rebuilding Islam” in a manner that would not constitute a threat to American interests worldwide. The same advice was reiterated in 2004 by Daniel Pipes, a member of the Zionist lobby in the US who was close to the Bush administration, who argued that the ultimate goal of “the war on terror” was “religion-building,” implying the neocon elites' desire to “civilize Islam” (p. 22). These examples show not only the fact that the notion of religion-making from above is extremely relevant to current global geo-politics but also a paradigmatic symptom of the secular-liberal hegemony over religion in Western imagination: all religious traditions are encouraged and/or forced to “fit in” the existing socio-political structures in the form of “protestantization” –i.e. becoming an a-political, “modernized”/secularized and docile religion with no agenda for change in the status quo. Therefore, this hegemonic secular discourse does not so much aim to cleanse the public sphere and politics from religion as to make the latter fit in with the existing system and, if possible, function as a source of legitimization for hegemonic powers.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Mahmood Monshipouri, Erich Wieger
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The civil war in Syria continues to devastate social and political structures, precipitating floods of refugees and surging populations of internally displaced people. Syria has degenerated into sectarian- and ethnic-based warring mini-states vying for power as their country faces utter social disorder. It mass-produces a growing cadre of battle hardened foreign and domestic jihadists affiliated with the various al-Qaeda brands. The war weariness of America and the unmanageable chaos in Syria combine to create shifts in regional politics. This article seeks to put into perspective the crucial role that regional mediation can play in nudging along practical solutions. Without regional commitment and coordination among key Middle Eastern powers, namely Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, international diplomatic efforts to restore order and stability in Syria are not likely to succeed.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: America, Iran, Syria
  • Author: Joerg Baudner
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: This article aims to explain the evolution of Turkish foreign policy through the search for a foreign policy role concept. It will argue that the AK Party government has already adopted two different foreign policy role concepts. Thus, the changes in Turkish foreign policy can best be characterized as the adoption of a foreign policy role with many traits of civilian power (2002-2005), subsequent limited change (2005-2010) and the adoption of a regional power role (from 2010 on).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Cold War, Government
  • Political Geography: America, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Andrew A. Szarejko
  • Publication Date: 10-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Insight Turkey
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Some 15 to 20 years from today, it will be illuminating to examine how academic and policy circles read the period from early 2013 to late 2014 in Turkey. There are many competing narratives about the future of the country. One pessimistic reading that is currently popular with many American observers of Turkey goes as follows: the so-called "Turkish model" was all the rage just a couple years ago. Turkey was prospering and democratizing under the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which was hailed for its successful fusion of Islamic values and democratic governance.
  • Topic: Development, Governance
  • Political Geography: America, Turkey, Middle East, Arabia