Once there was and once there wasn’t: the tale of intellectuals and the state in Turkey

Gençoğlu, Funda
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Third World Quarterly
This article presents a taxonomy of various conceptions of the intellectual and then analyses the changing official discourse on intellectuals in Turkey with reference to this taxonomy. The taxonomy developed here is an original contribution to the existing literature on intellectuals. It distinguishes six conceptions of the intellectual: (i) as the gadfly and the gift of god, (ii) as the philosopher, (iii) as parrhesiastes, (iv) as the activist, (v) as the exile and (vi) as the persona non grata. During the single-party years, the dominant approach oscillated between the intellectual as gadfly, God’s gift and philosopher; during the 1960s and 1970s, it was replaced by a conception of the intellectual as the activist; during the aftermath of the 1980 coup d’état, the intellectual was the exile. During the 1990s and 2000s, the intellectuals were mainly the critics of the hegemonic Kemalism, thus they were the epitomisation of parrhesia. This study argues that variations within the official discourse on intellectuals give important clues about how a hegemonic configuration is installed/challenged/displaced/replaced/re-installed, and since the current hegemony in Turkey stands on anti-intellectualism, the intellectual is now persona non grata.
Published by Third World Quarterly, https://doi.org/10.1080/01436597.2023.2219607, Funda Gençoğlu, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Atilim University, Ankara, Turkey.
Intellectuals, anti-intellectualism, hegemony, parrhesia, populism