21 October 2014 at 12:15
Students of liberal democracy have long pointed to its many paradoxes. Individual rights are a necessary if not sufficient condition of liberal democracies. Yet they remain in tension with the dictates of electoral majorities in liberal democracies. In this presentation, I shall focus, in the Turkish context, on the inherent tension between liberalism that priorities individual rights and democracy that is based on popular sovereignty. The Justice and Development Party came to power in 2002 with 34% of the vote and a promise of democracy. The party raised its electoral support to 47% in the 2007 and to almost 50% in the 2011 elections. I will first summarize how JDP contributed to the democratization process in the country and then examine and analyze its illiberal turn since 2007. As JDP’s popular support increased, its democratic practices waned. The party restricted civil liberties, controlled the media and undermined separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary. I shall argue that the legitimacy popular support gives to executive office can be instrumental in undermining an effective democracy.
03 November 2014 at 16:15
Christoph K. Neumann (Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany) will talk about the ways in which Mevlevi intellectual networks contributed to the integration of the early modern Ottoman Empire. The Mevleviye, a Sufi order with a tradition going back to the thirteenth-century mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi, was an intellectual and spiritual centre of attraction to (mostly, male) members of the Muslim Ottoman elite; even some Ottoman rulers were affiliated with it. Moreover, the field of activity the Mevleviye covered was more or less congruent with the Ottoman Empire; while it was well represented in all big and quite a number of smaller urban centres of the Ottoman realm it did not reach out to Central Asia or the Indo-Iranian world. Thus, the Mevlevis constituted a network of actors that was ingrained in the structure of the Ottoman polity. In recent years, a lively debate on the character of the Ottoman Empire has been going on among historians of the early modern era (the discussion continues also with regard to the time of reforms and modernity, but is of secondary importance for this presentation). The question of how the Ottomans managed to administer territories of a remarkable geographical, linguistic, religious, ethnic and socio-political diversity has been in the foreground of this discussion. A collective biography of Mevlevi poets, the Tezkire-i Șuara-yı Mevleviye by Esrar Dede, compiled at the end of the eighteenth century in the Mevlevi convent of Galata just outside the Ottoman capital, allows to look into some of the details that made this network function as a bearer of elite “Ottomanness” and as an integrating force in different settings. Looking at the “careers” of 18th century Mevlevi poets, at the character of their work and the network of convents helps to understand, how this dervish order was one important of quite a number of structures that produced a cultural, social and even political sphere that helped to hold up the imperial framework.