As the upsurge of the populist extreme right shakes the democracies of the world, Turkey and its ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) becomes source of interest as one of the earlier examples of the global authoritarian turn. What to make of the fall of the much-celebrated Turkish Model and its replacement with an authoritarian populism thus becomes a burning question. More often than not, however, Turkey’s authoritarian turn is explained merely on culturalist grounds; either through the democratic deficit embedded in its political cadres, or the popular desire for a strongman. Alternatively, this paper looks for an answer to this question by examining the environmental (justice) disputes across the Turkish Black Sea Coast over the last decade. Building upon ethnographic research on energy-related land-use conflicts, the paper connects the dots on a trajectory leading from a regime of urgency established around an infrastructure economy to a continuous emergency rule.
Sinan Erensü is a Keyman Postdoctoral Fellow at the Buffett Institute for Global Studies, Northwestern University. He earned his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Minnesota in 2016. His research and teaching interests include political ecology and political economy; urban and rural studies; and energy, infrastructures, and the politics of dispossession. Titled Fragile Energy: Power, Nature and Politics of Infrastructure in the “New Turkey”, his dissertation research explores the political work energy infrastructures do in 21st-century Turkey.
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