February 20, 2013
Assist. Prof. Murat Yeşiltaş
LOCATING TURKEY: GEOPOLITICAL MENTALITY AND THE MILITARY IN TURKEY
This dissertation is an attempt to develop a critical intellectual practice against the historical centrality of geopolitical reasonings, which are part of nationalism, militarism, exceptionalism and military-centered strong state mentality in Turkey. By problematizing the concept of “geo-power” rooted in critical geopolitics in general and the “Kemalist geopolitical mentality” in particular, the dissertation concerns with the formal geopolitical discourse of Turkish Armed Forces in its historical process. Based on the conceptual and epistemological framework of critical geopolitics, the dissertation treats geopolitics not as a neutral consideration of pregiven “geographical” facts, but as a deeply ideological and politicized form of analysis.
Eschewing the traditional question of how geography does or can influence politics, the dissertation investigates how geographical/geopolitical claims and assumptions of the Turkish Armed Forces legitimizes the role of the military as an agent in the normal political structure and how it constructs Turkey’s identity in (inter)national level with reference to the Kemalist ideology. The dissertation examines this problematization in three empirically oriented chapters. Firstly, it problematizes the conceptual maps of geopolitics by focusing particularly on the relationship between geography and geopolitics within the framework of the discourse (as power/knowledge relations) of the Turkish military. Secondly, it examines Turkey’s international position by exposing the relationship between Kemalism and geopolitics in terms of exceptionalism and militarism as parts of the nation-state mentality. Thirdly, it shows how the existing geopolitical discourse is established within the school and ideology of national education of Turkey.