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Photo: “Istanbul” by Pedro Szekely licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Dogan, Sevgi, and Selenica Ervjola. “Authoritarianism and Academic Freedom in Neoliberal Turkey.” Globalisation, Societies and Education, March 14, 2021.


This article examines the relationship between academic freedom and authoritarianism in Turkey. While not a new problem in the Turkish context, academic freedom has come particularly under attack following the attempted military coup on 15 July 2016, as well as with the Turkish intervention in the Syrian conflict. This paper is focused on scholars and academics currently working in Turkish universities. The paper explores the following questions: (1) how do these scholars define academic freedom in Turkey; (2) what is the relationship between universities and the Turkish society; (3) what are the changes that higher education is facing following the 2016 coup d’etat, in particular, in terms of pressures and barriers to academic production; (4) how do attacks affect scholars’ possibilities to create, lecture, and resist government’s policies? Drawing on Gramsci’s theory of intellectuals and his notion of hegemony, as well as Foucault’s theory of power and/as knowledge, we explore the relationship between authority and knowledge. We argue that the government’s aggressive politics against Turkish scholars is a result of the failure to consolidate its power and hegemony through knowledge, and to establish an intellectual base in a Gramscian fashion.

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.