Erik-Jan Zürcher and Ozan Ozavci consider the two faces of Turkish historiography, as well as the tendency of Turkey’s political culture to relapse into authoritarianism after each liberal democratic opening.

Erik is Professor Emeritus in Turkish Studies at Leiden University.

The Pembe Konak (Pink Mansion) in Istanbul was once the headquarters of the Committee of Union and Progress, which, Zürcher notes, was “unloved under the Kemalists and unloved by the Islamists”. Back in the 1990s Zürcher went up to the third floor of the Istanbul Erkek Lisesi (the former Public Debt Administration) on the other side of the road to take a picture of the mansion. The building stood in the backyard of Cumhuriyet newspaper back then and had been used as a coal and paper warehouse. Even though it was in terrible condition, it was still standing. Today a car park stands on the site; a symbol, perhaps, of the state of political culture in Turkey.

In the second part of this podcast (recorded on 3 February 2022) Ozavci asks Zürcher his thoughts about the state of the art in late Ottoman/Turkish historiography and why Turkey tends to drift into authoritarianism after each liberal democratic opening. Zürcher relates this authoritarian streak to the two cultures, Kemalist secularism and Islamo-fascism, that between them have monopolized Turkish politics. The question remains, is there a way out of this, and might the 2023 elections provide it?

Episode 12 – Part II: The Monopoly of Two Cultures

FEATURE IMAGE: The Pink Mansion in Istanbul before its demolition. Source: Courtesy of Erik-Jan Zürcher

Podcasts are published by TLP for the purpose of encouraging informed debate on the legacies of the events surrounding the Lausanne Conference. The views expressed by participants do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of TLP, its partners, convenors or members.

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