Dr. Maria Ruxandra Stoicescu – independent consultant and researcher based in Geneva, Switzerland. Graduated from the Graduate Institute of International Studies and Development. PhD thesis: “Liminality in International Relations. A discursive analysis of three cases: Romania,Turkey, Ukraine”. Radio Segment on World Radio Switzerland, International Relations Uncovered.
CHANGINGTURKEY: Could you tell us a bit about your recent/forthcoming publications dealing with Turkey? We would be particularly happy to hear about your new article ‘Representing Liminality: Images, Metaphors and Subject Positions’.
DR. STOICESCU: One forthcoming publication is based on my PhD thesis, which was a comparative three case studies approach to the question of liminality in international relations. One of the cases examined was Turkey, for which I analysed political elite discourse and its illustration of Turkey’s liminal position with respect to Europe and the EU. I looked at what images, metaphors and subject positions developed according to the different stages of negotiations with the EU from 1989 to 2006. I concluded that until 2006 there was a predominance of the metaphor and image of the “bridge” of civilisations; perhaps more interestingly, I identified the different discursive strategies that were used to weave together identity issues, geopolitical questions and security policies with respect to the liminal position. Turkey operated mainly by reacting negatively or rejecting identity cues coming from its European partners, attitude which informed the construction of its discourse on the liminal. Another interesting feature of this case was the play of subject positions, of the “us/them” “we/they” dichotomies that changed quite dramatically over 16 years. After 2006 Turkey has developed a different position, which emphasises more its centrality to a number of issues, rather than its liminal quality. The article mentioned deals with the elements outlined above.
CHANGINGTURKEY: What are the potential limitations of the existing analyses on Turkish politics and society, in your opinion? Could you suggest any gaps in the literature or any potential pitfalls?
DR. STOICESCU: Perhaps the biggest limitation is the adoption of a European or Western perspective – even by Turkish scholars – on analyses of Turkey. The scientific criteria elaborated in the West are extremely useful for producing reliable research, but Turkish “matter”, as in cultural and political elements, are needed so that researchers can come up with new categories of analysis, and possibly new ways of performing it. Many of the best Turkish scholars have been educated and trained in top Western universities, which helps inscribe Turkish research at the highest levels, but I think it would be a plus to bring a more anthropological view or approach of Turkey in IR studies of it.
CHANGINGTURKEY: What is the best manuscript you’ve read on Turkish politics and society so far? Could you suggest our readers any Turkey-focused research you’ve found valuable?
DR. STOICESCU: As far as I am concerned, the best manuscripts that I found were the writings of Elif Safak, which are literary productions, because they brought a different view of Turkey, away from standardised analyses. And for some valuable Turkey related research:
European Stability Initiative, 2005, ‘Islamic Calvinists. Change and Conservatism in Central Anatolia’. Available at www.esiweb.org/pdf/esi_document_id_69.pdf. Accessed June 2008.
Rumelili, B. (2003), ‘Liminality and Perpetuation of Conflicts: Turkish-Greek Relations in the context of community building by the EU’, European Journal of International Relations, 9 (2)
Peter Mandaville, Global Political Islam
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