siyaset bilimi ve uluslararası ilişkiler bölümünden genç ve başarılı bir yardımcı doçent. kendisiyle yapılan bir röportajı aşağıda bulabilirsiniz;
interview with dr. şakir dinçşahin on the jewish minority in turkey during the second world war
october 26, 2011 by changing turkey
şakir dinçşahin is an assistant professor in the department of political science and international relations at yeditepe university (istanbul, turkey), where he is teaching turkish politics, political thought, and research methodology. he recently concluded his doctoral dissertation on turkish political thought under the supervision of professor feroz ahmad. he holds a master’s degree in international economics from yeditepe university and a bachelor’s degree in political science from boğaziçi university. his works on nationalism, populism and intellectual history of turkey were published in nations and nationalism, government and opposition (forthcoming), communication studies and bilgi ve bellek. [e-mail: email@example.com]
changing turkey: could you inform our audience about your research interests and recent projects on turkey; “towards an encompassing perspective on nationalisms: the case of jews in turkey during second world war, 1939-1945,” in particular? what sort of research data was employed in the article and what type of the gap does your article aim to fill in the literature?
dr. dinçşahin: it may seem strange for a secular-muslim scholar from turkey to develop an interest in the jewish minority. but i was born and raised in a city that once had a significant jewish population. from my childhood i recall my father and mother telling me stories about their jewish neighbors and friends, but this community had all somehow disappeared. this is indeed why i decided to work on jews of turkey when i was introduced to nationalism studies in prof. pınar akçalı’s graduate course in middle east technical university in ankara. i particularly focused on jews of turkey during the period of the second world war, which was a turning point for my parents’ jewish compatriots.
after i closely examined the war years, i saw that turkey had adopted several controversial policies against the jews. in this paper i analyzed four such policies: migration of jewish refugees to and through turkey, conscription, the wealth tax, and language reform. with the considerable aid of rifat n. bali’s previous research on the jews of turkey, i collected the relevant data from journals and newspapers of the period, plus memoirs, diaries and government documents.
the next stage in the writing process was finding the appropriate framework of interpretation of the historical narratives. i decided to make use of lenses crafted by three different and competing schools of nationalism—primordialism, instrumentalism, and constructivism—with the anticipation that by doing so, the reader would be afforded a greater and more complete understanding of the historical events. at this stage, my colleague dr. stephen r. goodwin came to my assistance, who introduced ethno-symbolism instead of primordialism, and also drew a historiographic framework from the works of john lewis gaddis.
finally, our work was accepted for publication in nations and nationalism and has just come out in the latest issue of the journal. it is our hope that the article fills a gap in the literature in the english language by shedding more light on the nation building project of the republic of turkey. i think it helps to reveal the actors, power structures, motives, fears and anxieties of a government wanting, on the one hand, to remain true to the modernising vision of kemal atatürk, and, on the other, to avoid the incumbent hazards of finishing the second world war aligned with the losing team, as was the case after the first world war. this article demonstrates that the turkish government was successful in the latter initiative, i.e.maintaining the power and integrity of the state while winning a place with the victors at the formation of the un. but the government achieved this success only by severely compromising the intentions of the republic’s founder, who imagined the new turkish nation as a community of various ethnic groups that necessarily included both muslims and non-muslims.
changing turkey: 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. dinçşahin: turkish political science seems to be focusing mostly on issues like nato, strategic defence studies, energy issues, european union, turkish-american relations, and recently the middle east. despite the popularity of international issues, other research fields are quite unpopular in turkish studies. for example, political and intellectual biographies are still missing in the literature to a large extent. it is difficult to find biographies even of the most significant figures of turkish political life. besides that, several periods of turkish politics need to be re-examined by a new generation of scholars who will bring fresh perspectives because they are unencumbered by the ideological burden of the past. this is indeed where i would like my contribution to be.
changing turkey: could you suggest to our audience any recent academic publications that you have been following about turkish politics and society?
dr. dinçşahin: for those who are interested in reading more on the subject, i would suggest bensiyon pinto’s memoirs anlatmasam olmazdı: geniş toplumda yahudi olmak (istanbul: doğan, 2008); arnold reismann’s modernisation: refugees from nazism and ataturk’s vision (washington dc: new academia publishing, 2006), and rıfat n. bali’s the varlık vergisi affair (istanbul: isis, 2005).
the literature in english on current affairs of turkey is expanding, as well. in fact, i have recently reviewed for political studies review birol yeşilada and barry rubin’s edited volume titled islamization of turkey under the akp rule (abingdon: routledge, 2010). this book includes a variety of fascinating papers shedding light on the history, ideology, domestic and foreign policy of the akp, makes a quality, non-ideological contribution to the literature.
changing turkey: is there anything you would like to add?
dr. dinçşahin: scholars can still contribute significant research on turkey’s disputed role during the period of the second world war. i have already agreed with my colleague dr. goodwin to write another paper focusing on crimean turks, who, with the encouragement of the turkish government, collaborated with the nazis against the soviets. we are planning to conduct our research in the republican archives in ankara, the british archives in london and the nazi archives in berlin. this will probably require more than a year to come to a conclusion, but we hope that our work will shed some light on this lesser known part of history.