Flight as an academic business model? A Debate Stirred Up Turkey Studies

ETexts about German university events are rare in Turkey. One of these exceptions is the debate that the Turkologist David Selim Cyrus and his wife, Ivrim Amir-Cyrus, published in November 2021 on the website of the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking. It was picked up by the central Anadolu news agency, commented on in blogs and newspapers and, depending on the mood of the journalism, was discussed as a description of the situation at the Neoliberal University or Post-Colonial Cord Turkey Studies. In Germany it was remarkably quiet. Here the article, which almost everyone in Turkology knows, became the subject of court cases.

What makes him so attractive? In 25 clearly written pages, including 164 footnotes, the two authors argue that an academic industry has developed around flight and migration that has turned Karuna into a business model. They describe how studies on Turkey have turned into financial and supply interests of unimaginable academic networks and come to the conclusion with a bleak picture of the situation in Turkology, which has lost intellectual content as much as it has sucked in such scientists. .

The allegation is directly aimed at Kader Konuk, a professor of Turkology, and his directive at the Exile Academy. Konuk, who teaches at the University of Duisburg-Essen, launched the refugee project in September 2017 to provide scientific asylum to Turkish “academics for peace” who came under pressure after protesting against President Erdogan’s Kurdish policy. More than fifty scholarship holders and more than five million euros raised, funded by third-party projects run by Duisburg-Essen University, the Forum Transnational Studian Berlin, and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities (KWI). A success story by KWI numbers.

Repression and oppression

For the authors, on the other hand, it is only an ethically disguised third-party funding machine that distributes funds not on the basis of scientific merit and political danger, but according to the proximity of the network. Quader Connor, who was or was a director, a member of the advisory board and a member of the selection committee, came first. Donors, most notably the Volkswagen Foundation, which supported the third-party project with millions of euros, explicitly acknowledge this. Shouldn’t an initiative against dictatorship and the consequences of dictatorship be valued more in terms of office rewards?

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In some places, pamphlets have outgrown the mark. In fact, as the author criticizes, in the first two years the scholarships went almost exclusively to members of Academics for Peace. However, it can be explained realistically. Peace educators were being persecuted by the Turkish government at the time. The repression ended in July 2019 when the Turkish Supreme Court declared it wrong. Dangers were avoided, and scholarships from the academy were extended to other countries.

On the Academy in Exile website, the article has been presented as a politically motivated troll without any argument. Connor claimed that 25 passages would be deleted and a closed-off announcement from David Selim Cyrus, whom he tried to push into a right-wing corner with an NS comparison. According to an Essen Regional Court ruling, Cyrus had to black out seven passages. Most Polymic Tips. However, the court refused to remove. The short article can still be found on the homepage of the Paris Institute for Critical Thinking, hosted by a couple of authors. What is the benefit of criticism?

Break with the best selection

To judge that, we have to go back about three years. The ball began to spin when David Selim Sears applied for an assistant professor in the Duisburg-Essen Turkish Studies in August 2019 and claimed that less qualified candidates had been selected from the Academy in Exile Environment. Cyrus has filed a complaint with the university president. The university closed the recruitment process due to significant errors, but did not want to give further details when asked.

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