Şener Aktürk, “Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey”

Posted on September 11th, 2013 by Med Studies Staff in Events

October 29, 2013, 5:30 pm, Tresidder Memorial Union, East Oak Lounge (459 Lagunita Drive, map)

Annual Koç Lecture Series:

Şener Aktürk (Koç University), “Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey”

Germany’s ethnic citizenship law, the Soviet Union’s inscription of ethnic origins in personal identification documents, and Turkey’s prohibition on the public use of minority languages underpinned the 20th century definition of nationhood in these countries. Despite many challenges from political and social actors, these policies did not change until the turn of the 21st century, when Russia removed ethnicity from the internal passport, Germany opened the citizenship route to many immigrants, and Turkish state television began to broadcast in minority languages such as Arabic, Bosnian, Circassian, Kurdish and Zaza. How did such tremendous changes occur? In addressing this question, this lecture will identify and define ideal-types of monoethnic, multiethnic, and antiethnic regimes. This new conceptualization will connect the study of nation-building to studies of ethnic diversity and citizenship, and also provide a coherent typology of state policies on ethnicity that accommodates the full range of variation across cases. Employing this new typology and a close study of primary documents and numerous interviews, I will argue that the coincidence of three key factors – counterelites, new discourses, and hegemonic majorities – explains successful change in state policies toward ethnicity.

Sener Akturk is Assistant Professor of International Relations at Koç University (Istanbul, Turkey). He received his B.A. and M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests include comparative politics, ethnicity, nationalism, post-Communist Russia and Eurasia, and qualitative research methods. His book, Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey (Cambridge University Press, 2012), received the 2013 Joseph Rothschild Prize awarded by the Association for the Study of Nationalities and the Columbia University’s Harriman Institute to the best book in the field of ethnicity and nationalism. Among his other publications are “Passport Identification and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Russia” (Post-Soviet Affairs, 2010), “Incompatible Visions of Supra-nationalism: National Identity in Turkey and the European Union” (European Journal of Sociology, 2007), “Persistence of the Islamic Millet as an Ottoman Legacy: Mono-Religious and Anti-Ethnic Definition of Turkish Nationhood” (Middle Eastern Studies, 2009), “September 11, 1683: Myth of a Christian Europe and the Massacre in Norway” (Insight Turkey, 2012), “The Turkish Minority in German Politics: Trends, Diversification of Representation, and Policy Implications for Turkey” (Insight Turkey, 2010), and “Between Aristotle and the Welfare State: The Establishment, Enforcement, and Transformation of the Moral Economy in Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation” (Theoria, 2006).

This event is organized as part of the Annual Koç Lecture Series, a three-year project organized under the framework of the Mediterranean Studies Forum’s Turkish Studies Initiative and in collaboration with Stanford Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, and the Sohaib & Sara Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies.

Event open to the public.

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