Turkey: towards homegrown theorizing and building a disciplinary community
The International Relations (IR) discipline has existed in Turkey for well over half a century, yet in many ways it is still struggling to come together as a coordinated disciplinary community. Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic that emerges when trying to understand the discipline’s development and current state is the complex and uncomfortable relationship it holds with the world of IR theory and theorizing. Over the past 15 to 20 years in particular, “theorizing” and the professional identities associated with how – and whether – one does it have resulted in a divide in the local disciplinary community between “theorists” (a title claimed by most) and “others” (a title generally bestowed by “theorists” on the rest). This divide splits along academic generations, educational backgrounds, professional interests, and socio-economic classes, and is inextricably intertwined with a desperate competition for disciplinary power. Ironically, given the pivotal role that theory has come to play within the local discipline, it is in the realm of theory in particular that Turkish IR has achieved the least. In this chapter we look at this inconsistency in Turkish IR by focusing on the issue of IR theory – when and how it was introduced to the local disciplinary community, the factors surrounding its emergence as a privileged and therefore often claimed disciplinary activity, and the forms of scholarly activity that fall under the title of “theorizing.” We end by considering the prospects for change in these established patterns and the implications these might have on broader core-periphery relations within the discipline.