CEST Symposium 2023: Paris, November 17-18

State, Party, and Society in Turkey and Beyond

Deadline: 15 June 2023

The Centre for International Studies at Sciences Po, together with the Consortium of European Symposia on Turkey (CEST), is delighted to invite paper submissions for a Symposium to be held on November 17-18th, 2023 at Sciences Po in Paris, France.

The topic “State, Party, Society” hints at a debate on Turkey in the last years, both in the media and academia, around the question of how to qualify the place and role of the hegemonic party in the political field. Has Turkey under the AKP/Justice and Development Party rule become a “state party” or perhaps a “party state”? To what extent do these qualifications make sense, what do they uncover and enlighten - and possibly make invisible? This questioning has also fueled debate about the single party period that Turkey went through between 1923 and 1946 and that recent historical works have questioned anew. Parallels have even been drawn between Turkey’s single party period and today’s situation. Disentangling the relations and functioning of state and party seems particularly relevant in this respect, as well as thinking about possible historical continuities and discontinuities.

This questioning requires disentangling “state” and “party” by looking at their internal organization, conflicts, and workings, and the impact of these on their relationship. As far as the “state” is concerned, several works have shown that it may be more relevant to speak about public institutions in plural in order to avoid any reification of the “state”. Regarding the party, the alliance between the AKP and the Turkish nationalist MHP since the mid-2010s appears as an important parameter. What has this alliance produced in terms of relations between party/parties and state institutions? A further question is to what extent power concentration in the AKP has come along with, or given impetus to, concentration of power in public institutions. Finally, how have the reconfigurations between party and public institutions, and especially the concentration of power, impacted state capacity over time? The aftermath of the recent earthquake casts doubt on the common idea that concentration of power leads to more efficacy.

Complicating the picture is the question of what anchors public institutions and the hegemonic party and its allies in society. Relocating both party and institutions in their social environment complicates what would seem to be a face-off between state and party by introducing other social actors and social dynamics. To what extent and how do these social anchors fuel, hinder or refract relations between state and party? Social anchoring may include organized society (NGOs, labor unions, religious communities and brotherhoods, professional chambers, business, media, activists, vigilantes, etc.), but also broader social groups. What roles are played by the social anchoring of institutions and parties in exercising, consolidating or contesting power and government, and what forms does that take? To what extent do these anchors take various shapes and have divergent implications in diverse social fields? To what extent can we speak about a “hegemonic bloc” that extends throughout state, party, and society – and throughout various social fields?

A comparative perspective is particularly relevant, bringing in cases where these questions have been much worked on (USSR, Russia, the People's Republic of China). Another important comparative angle might be how Turkey’s diasporas abroad reconfigure the triangle between party, state and society in different locations.

We welcome applications from all fields related to the study of society and politics, with a particular interest in comparative work. We would also like to stress our interest in historical studies and a critical debate on the conclusions that can be drawn from those historical cases for our understanding of the relations between state party, and society today. Our emphasis is on Turkey and its region, but we welcome comparative or conceptual work from other world regions, as long as it promises valuable insights for our regional angle.

Applicants are invited to submit to: cestsymposium@gmail.com

  • an abstract of max. 300 words,
  • a CV of max. 300 words,
  • a full CV with publications, if applicable.

The submission deadline is 15 June 2023. Please note that incomplete applications will not be considered.


     Convenor: Elise Massicard

     Who can apply? Advanced PhD students and post-doctoral scholars (within six years of graduation) from Turkey and Europe

     Submission deadline: 15 June 2023

     Submission requirements: 300 word abstract, 300 word CV, publication list.

     Submission mailbox: CESTSymposium@gmail.com

     Expenses: Accommodation for two nights and travel expenses will be reimbursed.

                       Travel expenses will be reimbursed according to the country of your institution, i.e. for Europe up to 350 Euro.

     Submission of papers: Draft papers must be submitted by October 15.

     Publication: A publication of the best papers is planned.

     Successful applicants will be informed mid-July 2023.

     Please consult Dr. Elise Massicard for further information: elise.massicard@sciencespo.fr

This Symposium is convened as part of the Consortium for European Symposia on Turkey (CEST) which is funded by Stiftung Mercator. CEST is committed to the study of modern Turkey by bringing together the expertise of leading European research institutions: SciencesPo Paris, Stockholm University, University of Vienna,Universita Ca’Foscari, Duisburg/Essen Universität, L’Orientale Napoli.