“ALTERNATIVE APPROACHES TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: TURKEY AND BEYOND” (Nov. 24-25, 2011)
MURCIR hosted an international conference on “Alternative Approaches to International Relations: Turkey and Beyond” at Marmara University Rectorate Conference Hall in Sultanahmet, Istanbul on November 24-25, 2011. The two-day conference was attended by 16 panelists and over 100 distinguished guests. MURCIR conference brought together scholars who implement various non-state centric perspectives in their analysis of foreign policy and international relations. The conference was organized around four themes –transnational actors, new security issues, Turkish foreign policy and non-traditional diplomacy.
The conference was inaugurated by Prof. Hamza Kandur, the Vice-Rector of Marmara University, who emphasized Turkey’s central position in global politics and the Ottoman Empire’s multi-cultural legacy in promoting peace. The opening speech delivered by the Director of MURCIR, Prof. Günay Göksu Özdoğan gave a brief outline of MURCIR’s past activities and research agenda, while introducing the audience to the conference themes.
One of the highlights of the conference was the keynote address delivered by Prof Ken Booth- Director of David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies at the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. Prof. Booth’s opening remarks pointed out to the challenges of employing “alternative approaches” in international relations. Booth criticized the current state of critical/alternative scholarship for its emphasis on less imminent problems at the expense of more important regional and global security threats. While Booth questioned the very meaning of the term “alternative”, he proposed a return to the study of core security issues –which still remain within the parameters of realist scholarship.
The first session, “Transnational Social Actors and Processes” chaired by Prof. Talip Küçükcan focused on the impact of transnational actors, organizations, networks and practices that currently challenge the traditional role of the nation-state. The panel was composed of three presentations: Dr. Suna Gülfer Ihlamur-Öner’s “Transnationalizing the Social Research Agenda: The Case of Migration”, Assist. Prof Ahmet Tolga Türker’s “Understanding Transnational Islamist Terrorism: The Role and Impact of Informal Networks and Alliances” and Dr. Mohd Afandi Salleh’s “Religious Beliefs and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East: A Study on the role of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI)”. The panel was concluded by Prof. Ayhan Kaya’s discussion of the recent literature on “transnational space”, which emphasized the common themes in all presentations.
The second session, “New Themes and Perspectives in Security” chaired by Assist. Prof. İbrahim Mazlum focused on the broadened security agenda, including discursive aspects of security, securitization literature, and cyber-security. The panel brought together papers from different theoretical orientations, including Dr. Alper Kaliber’s “Sectoralisation of Security or Securitisation of Sectors? On the Operability and Political Implications of Sector Specific Approach to Security”, Dr. Azoulas Bagdonas’s “Private Armies: Legal, Political, and Moral Implications to the Provision of National and International Security” and Assoc. Prof. Salih Bıçakçı’s “Digital Westphalia: Sending Missiles for Securing Gigabytes”. The panel was concluded by Assoc. Prof. Pınar Bilgin, who overviewed the presented papers and raised questions to the panelists.
The third session “Alternative Perspectives in Turkish Foreign Policy” chaired by Assoc. Prof. Ayşegül Sever focused on different aspects of Turkish foreign policy in the recent decades. This panel brought together three scholars who employed diverse perspectives in interpreting contemporary Turkish foreign policy (i.e., stable peace theory, feminism and Gramscian political-economy). The presentations composed of Assist. Prof. Reşat Bayer’s “Stable Peace and Turkey”, Doğu Durgun’s “Fathers and Sons: A Feminist Perspective on Ahmet Davutoğlu's ‘Strategic Depth’ and Assist. Prof. Mustafa Küçük’s “Politics of Hegemony in/as the New Turkish Foreign Policy”. At the end of the panel, Prof. Fuat Keyman commented on each paper and raised questions on the broader issues concerning Turkish foreign policy, which was followed by a Q & A session.
The fourth session “Beyond Traditional Diplomacy?” chaired by Assist. Prof. Erhan Doğan focused on the new actors, issues and methods of exchange that lie beyond the boundaries of classical diplomacy. Among these non-traditional themes, Dr. Güliz Sütçü focused on science diplomacy (“Rebuilding the International Relations through Science Diplomacy”), Dr.Talat Ayesha Wizarat touched upon the non-state actors (“Track-II as a Method to Break Barriers: Pakistan-India Relations since 1980s”), Dr. Agnieszka Dybowska presented the case of local governments (“From Twinning to Global Approach. Local Government in New Diplomacy Paradigm”) and Johanna Nykänen focused on the network-based approaches (“Turkish Foreign Policy as a Network-based System”). The panel was concluded by the discussant Prof. Chris Brown who praised the panelists for their engagement with the core issues of international politics and commented on each paper.
MURCIR’s conference on “Alternative Approaches to International Relations: Turkey and Beyond” ended after the concluding session held by Prof. Ken Booth, Prof. Chris Brown and Assoc. Prof. Pınar Bilgin. The two-day conference provided a forum for the Turkish and international scholars of international relations, who engaged in discussions during the Q & A sessions following each panel.
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