The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

The New Sultan: Erdogan and the Crisis of Modern Turkey

Thursday, 18 January 2018 - 5:00pm
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Venue: 
Seminar Room, European Studies Centre, 70 Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HR
Speaker(s): 
Soner Cagaptay (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
Chair: 
Ceren Lord (School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies)
Convenor: 
Ezgi Basaran (St Antony’s College, Oxford)
Discussant: 
Gareth Winrow (Independent Analyst on Turkey)
Series: 
SEESOX

Seminar Series: Key issues and developments in South East Europe

Our Hilary 2018 SEESOX seminar series on South East Europe looks at regional developments from a thematic, interdisciplinary and cross-country perspectives and touches upon issues which are at the forefront of the region’s current affairs. We look at South East Europe from international politics, political economy, and/or societal perspectives, by engaging with a selection of topics ranging from the challenges to democracy and free speech, to geopolitics, energy, migration and European integration.

Co-Convenors: Othon Anastasakis, David Madden, Jonathan Scheele (St Antony’s College)


In a world of rising tensions between Russia and the United States, the Middle East and Europe, Sunnis and Shiites, Islamism and liberalism, Turkey is at the epicentre. And at the heart of Turkey is its right-wing populist president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Since 2002, Erdoğan has consolidated his hold on domestic politics while using military and diplomatic means to solidify Turkey as a regional power. His crackdown has been brutal and consistent – thousands of journalists arrested, academics officially banned from leaving the country, university deans fired and many of the highest-ranking military officers arrested. In some senses, the nefarious and failed 2016 coup has given Erdoğan the licence to make good on his repeated promise to bring order and stability under a ‘strongman’. Here, leading Turkish expert Soner Cagaptay will look at Erdoğan’s roots in Turkish history, what he believes in and how he has cemented his rule, as well as what this means for the world. The book will also unpick the ‘threats’ Erdogan has worked to combat – from the liberal Turks to the Gulen movement, from coup plotters to Kurdish nationalists – all of which have culminated in the crisis of modern Turkey.

Soner Cagaptay is the Beyer Family fellow and director of the Turkish Research Program at The Washington Institute. A historian by training, Dr. Cagaptay has written extensively on U.S.-Turkey relations, Turkish domestic politics, and Turkish nationalism. A frequent contributor to scholarly journals as well as top-tier media such as the New York Times and Washington Post, he is much sought after for his political commentary He has been a regular columnist for CNN.com and Hürriyet Daily News, Turkey’s oldest and most influential English-language paper, and he appears regularly on American and international television news programs.   

Ceren Lord completed her PhD in May 2015 at the London School of Economics, Government Department, focusing on the role of the state and the ulema, in the rise of political Islam in Turkey. She holds a master’s degree from Oxford University (St Antony’s College) in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. Alongside her academic career, Ceren previously worked in finance as an economist focusing on Turkey, the Middle East and Eurozone. She is a regular contributor to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Associate Editor at the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and the lead editor for the British Institute at Ankara Contemporary Turkey series published in collaboration with I.B. Tauris. Her research interests include religio-political movements; secularism and state-religion relations; he role of the ulema and changing nature of Islamic authority; comparative democratisation and the dynamics of authoritarian persistence; sectarianism and ethno-religious mobilisation in Turkey and the Middle East. Ceren’s current research on Alevis in Turkey is funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.