James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He is also co-director of the Institute of Fan Culture of the University of Wuerzburg in Ge‎rmany. An award-winning, veteran journalist, James has covered ethnic and religious conflict in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Financial Times and The Christian Science Monitor. James is a columnist and the author of the widely acclaimed and quoted blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. He sits on the international editorial board of The Middle East Studies Online Journal.

CHANGING TURKEY: Could you tell us about your new book The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer and your research in general?                                           

JAMES M. DORSEY: The book fills a gap in research in both Middle East studies and the study of the nexus of sports, politics and Dorsey_Turbulent_World_CMYK_websociety. In Middle East studies sports has been virtually ignored despite the fact that soccer in particular has played a key role in the development of the region since it was introduced by the Brits in the late 19th / early 20th century. Similarly, the social science study of sports has focused on all parts of the world except the Middle East and North Africa. Soccer to me offers a unique prism on the national, ethnic, religious, political and cultural fault lines in the Middle East and North Africa as well as its historic and current struggles. Given that soccer is one of the world’s most prevalent expressions of popular culture, it also is a way of attracting a readership that normally would not be interested in deeper analysis of the region.

CHANGING TURKEY: Thank you very much for attending the third Changing Turkey workshop and presenting your comparison of Turkish and Egyptian militant soccer fans’ place in anti-government protests. Could you provide our readers a summary of your comparison?

JAMES M. DORSEY: Turkish soccer fans were politicized and became militant at a time of repressive military-backed rule in which stadia were the only venue where people could rally and express their identity, pent-up frustration and anger. It was only 25 years later that Egyptian soccer fans went through a similar process. In that quarter of a century, Turkey returned to pluralistic, democratic rule albeit with a powerful military on the background that was only subjected to civilian rule in the late 20th and early 21st century. While Egypt three years after its popular revolt reverted to a security force-dominated autocracy, in Turkey mass anti-government protests prompted by plans to raze Gezi Park on Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square sparked a period of political crisis and increased authoritarianism and government control. The ultras’ battle in Egypt for freedom in the stadia, their prominent role in the toppling of Hosni Mubarak and their opposition to the military rulers and the elected and then toppled Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi, made them political by definition. The same is true for Carsi and other Turkish support groups, foremost among which those associated with storied Istanbul club Fenerbahce who stand for greater political freedoms, opposed the hard-handed police and demanded an end to the corruption of the sport. Despite the communalities, there are also obvious differences. Post-Morsi Egypt has come full cycle. Repression with little more than a democratic facade could again put soccer fans alongside shady militant Islamists groups in the forefront and turn stadia into political battlefields against military control whether overt or behind-the scenes. Brutal and unaccountable security forces and autocratic government masked by hollowed out democratic institutions could also again unite fans in their confrontation with the regime. That too is not impossible in Turkey as Erdogan maintains a politicized judiciary and police force, fends off the worst corruption scandal in recent political history, battles a well-entrenched rival who heads the world’s largest Islamist network, and limits freedom of expression and access to information.

CHANGING TURKEY: Do you have similar research projects to be completed in the near future? Is there anything else you would like to add?

JAMES M. DORSEY: I am about to publish a monograph on Qatar-Saudi relations as well as one on Arab militaries, both of which are also chapters in a second forthcoming book on the Middle East and North Africa that is not soccer-related. My third book is again about soccer but more theoretical in that looks at things like the relationship between a stadium environment as well as the nature of football and protest, the impact of law enforcement on soccer fans in various stages of politicization and soccer’s role in nationalism.

University of Perugia, Department of Political Science and University for Foreigners of Perugia, Department of Human and Social Studies, 11 – 13 September 2014

Section. 14: Focus on Turkey

Panel. 14.5: Democracy, Public Spaces and “Open Society”: Gezi Park Protests and the birth of the “Gezi movement” 

On 28th May 2013, a small group of Turkish environmentalists organised a peaceful protest, in Taksim Square,  Istanbul, against a775952949 redevelopment plan for Gezi Park. The brutality of the police force’s attempt to repress this protest  launched a civic movement that spread throughout the main cities of Turkey and persists to this day. With the passage  of time, the movement has defined its own vocabulary, symbols and characteristics. The square is now the “real” place  in which to manifest the need for pluralism and freedom, and social networks are now the “virtual” places for protest and dissent. Thus, the battle for public space increasingly resembles a clash between control and freedom, between standardisation and diversity, and between authoritarianism and plurality.

What is the most authentic meaning of the Turkish protest movement? Should it be considered the expression of a modern, complex and dynamic civil society, one that was born specifically in the AKP decade and that has now grown beyond its rulers? The demand for pluralism, the collective ownership of public space, the free expression of citizenship, the freedom of the press and of public opinion, the desire for an “open society” – are these the deepest and most urgent challenges for Turkish civil society? Has the movement jeopardised the credibility of the AKP decade as exemplifying the co-existence of Islam, secularism and democracy, or does it rather constitute an opportunity to relaunch democratic and pluralistic growth? Finally, does the Europeanization of Turkey, controversial and fitful as it is, contribute to the formation of a new Turkish civil society?

These are the central questions proposed by the panel, whose intention is to encourage interdisciplinary contributions, that primarily develop a multidimensional understanding of the Turkish protest movement within the context of the complex balance between democracy, Islam and secularism.

Abstracts (in English or Italian) should be submitted to Dr. Carola Cerami (carola.cerami@unipv.it) and Federico Donelli (federico@donelli.it) by May 8th 2014.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words and should be accompanied by a short biographical note.


Venue: Oxford Brookes University Gipsy Lane John Henry Brookes Building 406
Date: 15 April 2014

Workshop programme

10.45 -11.00: Welcome by Changing Turkey
11.00-12.00: Keynote speeches:

-Prof.Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway):’Ideoscapes, multiperspectivalism, and the need to rethink ideology’

-Prof. Barrie Axford (Oxford Brookes University):’Mere connection? The transformative impact of new media on insurrectionary and usual politics’

12.00-12.15: Coffee Break

12.15- 13.45 Panel I— ‘Comparative perspectives on public protests’
Chair: Prof. Barrie Axford

Dr. Gülçin Erdi Lelandais (CNRS and Université de Tours): ‘Reclaiming a New Democratic Ethos in the City via #Occupy Movements: Thinking on Gezi Park Protests in Turkey and Indignados in Spain’

Harriet Fildes (University of Edinburgh): ‘Reconceptualizing State-Society Relations in Turkey: a Culture of Contestation from Gezi and Beyond’

James M. Dorsey (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies):‘Convergence and divergence: Turkish and Egyptian fans fight political battles’ -via Skype

13.45-14.00 Coffee Break

14.00- 15.30: Panel II— ‘Exploring the case of Gezi Park protests in Turkey’          Chair: Prof. Chris Rumford

Dr. Özge Dilaver Kalkan (University of Surrey & British Institute at Ankara):‘What does it mean to be chapulling? A Snapshot of June Events in Turkey’

Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin (SOAS & Yeditepe University):‘Gezi Park and Competing Populisms in Turkey: The People of the Government versus the People of the Protest’

Dr. Kemal Çiftçi (Ufuk University):‘Understanding Turkey through “Gezi Park”: Revolt of a “Multitude” Against the Islamist Government’

15.30-15.45: Coffee Break

15.45-17.45: Panel III—‘From Protest to Conflict’
Chair: Dr. Şakir Dinçşahin

Dr. Shaimaa Magued (Cairo University): ‘The New Tahrir Square: From “Protesting” towards the “Occupation” of Public Sphere in Egypt’ –via Skype

Mona Das (Satyawati College -Day): ‘Common Man’s upsurge against a common nuisance: The curious case of anti-corruption movement in India’

Alia Bukhari (Royal Holloway):‘The FATA paradox of political independence with economic dependence’

Sinem Arslan (University of Essex):‘Social construction of ethnic identities and emergence of Violence: Insights from Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast’

GetAttachment copy kücükCo-organized by Changing Turkey research team, Dr. Baris Gulmez (Royal Holloway) and Dr. Didem Buhari-Gulmez (Oxford Brookes University). We are grateful to Prof. Barrie Axford and the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University for hosting and co-funding this event. We thank Prof. Chris Rumford (Royal Holloway) for his inspiring support to Changing Turkey events.

Open and free to all. Refreshments provided. To register, please send your name and affiliation to ChangingTurkey@gmail.com

Essay Competition (1)-page-001Essay Competition (1)-page-002Submit your essays to  Dr Didem Buhari-Gulmez at mbuhari-gulmez@brookes.ac.uk by 15th June 2014.

CGTP feb 13led by Prof. Chris Rumford at Royal Holloway University of London  supports the essay competition ‘Can Social Sciences Save Lives?’

Date: 28 March 2014                    Venue: Hacettepe University, Sıhhiye campus.

Sponsors: COMPAS Turkish Migration Studies Group at Oxford and Hacettepe University Migration and Politics Research Centre


Draft programme:

The migration transition of Turkey– from an emigration to an immigration country: New realities, new policy challenges


If you would like to attend this workshop, please register with franck.duvell@compas.ox.ac.uk, cc-ing ardaakcicek@yahoo.com.

Derya Bayır. Minorities and Nationalism in Turkish Law. Farnham Surrey: Ashgate. 2013, x + 302pp., £ 67.5,  978-1-4094-2007-1.

Minorities and Nationalism in Turkish Law by Derya Bayır provides a nuanced and critical analysis of minority rights and nationalism in Turkey. It argues that the existing legal system in Turkey has failed to manage diversity due to the foundational philosophy of the country (i.e., Turkish nationalism) as nationalist political discourse has dominated the law in regard to the management of diversity. Protection as well as full recognition of minorities in Turkey carries historical anxieties and legacies. In this regard, the book demonstrates the importance of transition from the imperial-state structure of the Ottoman era to the nation-state structure of the Republican era, while emphasizing the changing perceptions of diversity amongst the ruling elites and the emerging consensus about the incompatibility of nation-state with the the notion of minority in Turkey. Most importantly, the book suggests that it is necessary to explore diversity management in Turkey within a historical context in order to uncover significant continuities in state policies towards minorities since the late Ottoman era.

The book is divided into six chapters under two main sections: historical legal developments in Turkey’s minority policies, and legal Adsızand conceptual problems of the current Turkish law in regard to minority issues. To analyze diversity and its management in Turkey, the author structures the book around such foundational concepts as nation, nationalism, minority, citizenship, culture, pluralism. Having analyzed these concepts in the introductory chapter, the author also clarifies the arguments of the book and frames the analysis.

Chapter one explores the system of diversity management in the Ottoman era by focusing on the status of minorities and the legal changes on minority rights from the 18th century to the beginning of the 19th century. Acknowledging the pluralist nature of the Ottoman empire, the chapter problematizes the dominant perspective in the literature, which links the failure of the diversity management system in the Ottoman era to the challenge posed by nationalist secessionist movements. Alternatively, it suggests taking into consideration the changing mindset of the Ottoman leaders about statehood (i.e., from an empire to a modern nation statehood).

Chapter two focuses on the Independence War between 1919 and 1923. It explores how the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious population inherited from the Ottoman Empire was transformed during the Independence War into Turkish nation-state. The period is critically important due to the emergence of the 1923 Lausanne Treaty on minorities, which determines the status of minorities in Turkey. While focusing on the emergence of Turkish nation-state, the chapter argues that there was an organic connection and continuity between the Ottoman Committee of Union and Progress (Ittihat ve Terakki Cemiyeti – ITC) and Kemalist Turkey in general, as regards the management of ethno-cultural-religious diversity in particular.

Chapter three focuses on ‘the nation-state period’ between 1923 and the 1960s. It argues that similar to the previous ITC regime of the Ottoman era, the new elites of the Turkish nation-state considered diversity as a source of serious tensions and tended to understand diversity as separatism. Considering the pluralist nature of the society as incompatible with the notion of nation-state, Turkish ruling elites thus resorted to policies of Turkification in different realms, including Turkification in culture and language; Turkification of the economy; and Turkification by forced assimilation.

Chapter four examines how the ‘nation’ and ‘citizen’ are defined within the Turkish legislation, and critically analyzes to what extent the Turkish legal framework is inclusive or exclusive of minority rights. In this regard, the chapter reviews a wide range of Turkish legislation, including the current Constitution of the Turkish Republic. Most importantly, the chapter suggests that in contrast to the successive Turkish Constitutions proposing a neutral civic Turkish state equating nationality with citizenship, the current legal and political discourse associates nation and citizenship with the Turkish ethnie, without referring to diversity in the country.

Chapter five and six examine the accommodation of minorities within the Turkish legal system by analyzing the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court (AYM) as the Highest Court of the Land and other Turkish Higher Courts dealing with various issues including equality and anti-discrimination. The role of the AYM is defined as ‘guardianship’ of the Turkish constitution in general and of the principle of the state’s integrity, in particular. Chapter five studies AYM’s case law and the AYM interpretations of the key notions such as ‘nation’, ‘Turkish nation’, and ‘minority’ through various cases, including political party closure cases and the Kurdish question. Chapter six investigates the provisions on equality, non-discrimination and the prohibition of racism in Turkish legislation examining the conceptually innovative nature of these provisions within the Turkish legal discourse and their potential as protective measures for minorities.

Overall, this book provides an insightful, comprehensive and nuanced analysis of minorities and nationalism in Turkey. Its comprehensive content and richness of sources significantly inform the readers on minorities, minority rights, nationalism and most importantly the legal framework on minority rights in Turkey. Considering the limited scope and extent of the literature on minorities and minority rights in Turkey, the book fills an important gap. Yet, focusing only on the legal aspects of the issue limits the potential of an even more comprehensive analysis, which may have equally emphasized the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the question of minority. In sum, the book is highly recommended to students interested in minority issues, minority rights, and nationalism in Turkey and its Ottoman predecessor.

Excerpt from Bahar Rumelili and Fuat Keyman (2013) ‘Enacting European Citizenship beyond the EU: Turkish citizens and their European political practices’. In: Enacting European Citizenship edited by Engin Işın and Michael Saward, Cambridge University Press, p. 66-83.


A Turkish conscientious objector, Osman Murat Ulke, after spending a total of 701 days in military prison on charge of ‘coolin9781107033962g down the citizens’ enthusiasm for military service’, made an application to the ECtHR [European Court of Human Rights] on the grounds that Turkey was in breach of Articles 3 and 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) (AIHM’nin Vicdani retci Ulke Karari’ 2006, see Rumelili et al. 2011b: 52-54). In his speech at the court hearings, Ulke stated that the recent developments within Europe have shown that conscientious objection was a fundamental human right, which could not be denied to any human being, irrespective of their country of citizenship (Rumelili et al. 2011b: 52-54). In its 2006 decision, the ECtHR found Turkey to be in breach of Article 3, which states that ‘no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment’ and ordered the state to pay a fine of  € 11,000, but did not make a reference to Article 9 on freedom of thought, conscience and religion (Rumelili et al. 2011b: 52-54). Ulke and other conscientious objectors in Turkey subsequently criticised the Court for approaching the issue of conscientious objection as merely one of the many rights-oriented relations between an individual and the state, whereas it entails a political and ethical stance against the militaristic structure on which all nation-states are built.

The ECtHR is a critical site of European citizenship for those who lack the legal status of EU citizenship. Besides Ulke, the conscientious objector referred to previously, Turkish citizens have used this site in growing numbers since Turkey’s acceptance of the right of individual pettition in 1987. As of January 2009, a ttotal of 27,169 complaints have been lodged against Turkey, and the majority off the Court’s judgements (1,676 out of 1,939) have found a violation (ECtHR 2009: 5 and 78). The high number of cases won by Kurdish citizens of Turkey in the 1990s on the atrocities committed by Turkish security forces, the dissolution of Kurdish political parties and the prosecution of individuals who advocate a democratic solution to the Kurdish problem (Kurban et al. 2008: 4), have encouraged other citizen groups in Turkey to take their cases to the ECtHR. Non-Muslim citizens have taken and won cases on violations of their property rights, and women have taken cases on gender-based violence and the educational rights of women wearing headscarves. Consequently, petitioning the ECtHR has become a very widespread form of European citizenship practice in Turkey. Kurdish human rights lawyers estimate that up to 30 per cent of the Kurdish citizens resident in South Eastern Turkey have been affected by the cases and decisions of th ECtHR in one way or another (Tanrikulu, comment 2010). As a prominent Kurdish woman activist remarked: ‘The “European Court” is known to even the illiterate people’ (Akkoc, comment 2010).

…Turkish citizens exhibit an awareness that European-level political practices constitute them as European subjects. For example, at a legal training workshop in 2004, a prominent Kurdish politician and lawyer, Tarık Ekinci, proclaimed that by demanding the necessary level of democracy, Kurdish citizens can truly become modern European subjects even if ‘the Turkish state fails to become a member of the EU’ (‘Asli Unsur, Kurucu Halk, Azınlık Hakkı’, 2004). Thus, the pursuit of rights in and through European institutions is perceived as a process that transforms the individual citizen into a European subject despite the status of the nation-state of whicch he or she is a citizen. Similarly, Cigdem Aydin, the director of KADER, a Turkish women’s organisation that advocates the participation of women in decision-making bodies, claims that ‘the women of Turkey have entered the EU’, by becoming members of the European Women’s Lobby, a European umbrella organisation on women’s rights (comment, 2010).

As partakers in the European adventure, Turkish citizens are developing news ways of becoming European citizens, not through formal admission but through practice. This chapter, which is the only one in this volume focusing on actors who are neither citizens nor residents of EU member states, sought to outline the many ways in which Turkish citizens are practising, and in doing so re-constituting, European citizenship. EU citizenship, which was instituted to instil in a bounded community of Europeans a shared sense of belonging and purpose, is ironically being claimed and enacted by those who were constituted to be its outsiders. This, more than anything, indicates that despite the many historical and current attempts at closure, ‘Europe’ is bound to remain an open adventure.




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