The university and authoritarian resilience in Turkey



Ayça Alemdaroğlu, Associate Director of the Program on Turkey and Research Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University

Date and Time

March 4, 2021 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM


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About the Event:  Increasing access to higher education is often seen as a threat to authoritarian regimes. Accordingly, authoritarian rulers would limit access to avoid the spread of anti-regime sentiments. Turkey suggests an interesting case. The consolidation of single party-rule overlapped with an impressive expansion of higher education, by 170 percent, from 76 in 2002 to 206 in 2020. This paper examines these two trends in connection with each other by focusing on universities' role as infrastructural mechanisms for both democratic culture and state coercion.  


Ayca AlemdarogluAbout the Speaker:  Ayça Alemdaroğlu is the Associate Director of the Program on Turkey and Research Scholar at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. She is a political sociologist, focusing on social and political inequality and change in Turkey and the Middle East.

Ayça’s recent work examines youth politics, and authoritarianism. In “Governing youth in times of dissent: Essay competitions, politics of history and affective pedagogies” (forthcoming in Turkish Studies), she  examines the politics of history and emotional tactics the Justice and Development Party (AKP) uses in its effort to control, administer and recruit youth. In this work, she argues that the resilience of the AKP regime lies not only in the benefits the party has provided to previously disadvantaged groups and its coercive methods towards dissent, but also lies in the party’s articulation of political differences and its mobilization of emotions through intermediary channels between the party and the people. In “The AKP’s Problem with Youth”, Ayça examines the significance of youth for the AKP and the politics of its tremendous expansion of religious education in Turkey. In “Dialectics of Reform and Repression: Unpacking Turkey’s Authoritarian ‘Turn’”, she analyzes the dynamics and dialectics of reform and repression in the last two decades. Instead of reading contemporary Turkey as a case of relapse from reform into repression, as many commentators do, the article shows that reform and repression have been concomitant and complementary modes of the AKP governments.

She received her BSc. degree in political science and sociology from the Middle East Technical University, her MA in political science from Bilkent University, and her PhD in sociology from University of Cambridge.