The Erdoğan Regime and Its Discontents: The Collapse of Thrasymachusian Ethics and the Rise of OccupyGezi Spirit

Seda Ünsar from the Dept. of Political Science at Doğuş University, Istanbul holds a guest lecture for the ENCODE research network on Tuesday, April 16, 13:15 to 14:45 at room C-1006 (SVHUM).

In the Western image, Turkish society was stuck between two numbers that more or less remained constant: 52% vs 48%. In media, for the past twenty-two years, AKP was presented as an all-powerful political party of Turkey while Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as an all-poweful leader since his so-called victorious rise as the charismatic Mayor of Istanbul thirty years ago. The numbers almost like a mythological curse were once again consolidated in May 2023 elections until the historic, landslide defeat came through for RTE and AKP in only one year.

While OccupyGezi in 2013 turned into mass, democratic, anti-government demonstrations that spread all over the country and lasted for months (even years), it failed to bring about a change of government and hence, to prevent the government’s path of regime change. The social conflict continued deepening schisms that RTE created in political, economic, ideological and ethical aspects of social life and identity despite the fact that Gezi was live proof that the civil society that the secular republic aimed to form was widespread and strong. However, as it was the basis of hope for change, the stability of electoral politics became the depression of the inability to bring about that change.

So, as Bernard Lewis once famously asked, “What went wrong?”. Or rather “What was wrong in that image in the first place?” I would like to address these two questions.


About the speaker:

Seda Ünsar received her MA from Claremont Graduate University and her PhD from University of Southern California. Her interests are the political economy of Ottoman institutional modernization; history of political thought (Western and Islamic); (the political economy of) secularism and neoliberalism.

She is interested in literature and has authored “Düşüş: siyaset ve felsefe odasında aşk hikayeleri” (The Fall: love stories in the room of politics and philosophy), İnkılap Kitabevi, December 2021, first ed., and the second ed. in November 2022. She also writes (not on a daily basis though) for the newspapers Cumhuriyet and Birgün.

Seda Ünsar's lecture is an initiative of the ENCODE research network at HSL-faculty, UiT, and is funded through the Erasmus+ exchange agreement.

When: 16.04.24 at 13.15–14.45
Where: C-1006
Location / Campus: Tromsø
Target group: Employees, Students, Guests
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