This article examines the AKP’s youth politics in the aftermath of the 2013 Gezi Protests. It focuses on a seemingly mundane cultural practice of essay writing and student essay competitions to investigate the party’s message and methods in addressing young people. In particular, it examines the politics of history and emotional politics in the party's effort to construct and administer youth publics. The article argues that the AKP’s power is embedded in and reproduced by the articulation of political differences and mobilization of emotions, which play a significant role in the party’s broader bid to reorganize society, redefine collective identity, and control dissent.
Twenty-first century Turkey has been shaped by two conflicting trends: all-encompassing reform in almost all aspects of law that were transformative if not altogether progressive, and an increasing erosion of the rule of law, which finally culminated in a nation-wide emergency regime and the April 2017 constitutional referendum. The pressing question for many is why the promising reform era was abandoned for crude repression? In this essay, we answer this question by challenging its very foundation and pointing instead to an alternative line of inquiry concerning Turkish politics and society, one that focuses precisely on the interplay between reform and repression. The constitutional referendum of April 2017 compels observers and scholars of Turkey to reevaluate the interplay between reform and repression. Rather than reading contemporary Turkey as a case of relapse from reform into repression, as many commentators do, we suggest approaching reform and repression as concomitant and complementary modes of government.