University of Macedonia
The essay addresses an outsider's perception of the characteristics and dynamics of the IR field/discipline in Turkey. How may this country serve as a role model or, at the very least, as a source of inspiration, reflection, or evaluation of the field's development in other local/national settings? In this respect, Greece is chosen as a case study. Βy addressing and assessing Turkish self-reflection and the search for disciplinary identity within Turkish IR scholarship, what can be learned, on behalf of Greek IR scholarship, regarding both Greece's and Turkey's social scientific development regarding foreign affairs/policy? A major theme discovered is the acknowledgement of the limitations of the dependency/vulnerability-centered explanations for the development of IR.
How do collectivities and people practice, ‘speak,’or conceptualize the ‘international’? This is the broader focus of International Relations (IR) as a scientific field, i.e., a large-scale unit of knowledge production in which research is guided, as well as an academic discipline, i.e., the field’s institutionalized educational form invested in skill inculcation and certification. The subject matter, which IR scholars authoritatively aspire to deal with, is often thought of as something characterized by universal validity. However, there is no shortage of voices in the respective field/discipline that attempt to address this presumed validity, to problematize it, and even to disrupt its perception as a given. This phenomenon has probably been present since the discipline’s birth, but it has occurred distinctively since the eve of the current century and onwards.
This trend is well reflected in the emergence and consolidation of IR subfields or problématiques in the name of sociology of IR, historiography of IR, global IR, and the like. It is also clearly illustrated by the vast work within the ‘Teaching, Research & International Policy’ (TRIP) project. An intriguing name depicting the bulk of the burgeoning literature is ‘reflexive studies on IR,’ composed of three perspectives: geoepistemic, historiographical, and sociological. Τhe geoepistemic approach underscores disciplinary development along geographical lines, particularly in terms of global hierarchies and/or local specificities. The historiographical one involves the unravelling of disciplinary (hi)stories and narratives, either dominant or dissident/alternative. The latter perspective focuses on power relations and patterned interactions within the field. A series of issues has been raised in the search for disciplinary identity, i.e., IR self-reflection, representatively including:
Defining IR self-reflection in this way involves understanding it as both an interpretative endeavor and a research program. It is thus a noticeable and undeniable indication of reflexivity in the field. It is also akin to ‘reflexive IR,’ though not equivalent to it. As I. Hamati-Ataya notes, reflexivity/reflectivity has not only been subject to multiple understandings within IR, but it has also faced major challenges. Firstly, how is reflexivity as an epistemic position translated into the realm of empirical research? Secondly, how is it inscribed in the realm of ethics? In this respect, caution is raised on the equivalence of ‘reflexive theory’ to‘critical’ or ‘emancipatory theory,’ or, subsequently, of ethical/normative issues to epistemic/theoretical ones, and on the need for going beyond meta-explanation of empirical knowledge. IR self-reflection may unfold as critical self-reflection, but neither necessarily nor automatically. Its very existence is not per se a criterion for its success and fruitfulness.
A sizeable part of the aforementioned literature includes the manifestation of disciplinary identity at particular local, national, or regional contexts. Just as the existence of a few seminal books or articles on foreign policy/affairs of almost all countries would hardly cause surprise, the existence of books and articles on IR in a country (or a region) is barely surprising. This self-reflection has not been a uniform or singular endeavor. There may be countries with a distinctively small size of related work, while others may have a more sizeable volume. A variety of contributing factors explains a diversified development of IR and, quite possibly, of IR self-reflection. Turkey exemplifies a case of not only a consolidated—even if presumably fragmented—IR, but also of a lengthy IR self-reflection. The latter relates to a distinct, extensive, and self-aware engagement with disciplinary identity, which has an impact on IR work produced as a whole. Participants include mostly scholars of Turkish origin residing in the country, but also some outside it.
In this respect, the present essay addresses an outsider's perception of the characteristics and dynamics of the IR field/discipline in Turkey. Could the country serve (or not, and if yes, how?) as a role model or, at the very least, as a source of inspiration, reflection, or evaluation for the field's development in other local/national settings and contexts? Greece is chosen as a case study. By addressing and assessing Turkish self-reflection and the search for disciplinary identity within Turkish IR scholarship, what can be learned, on behalf of Greek IR scholarship, regarding both Greece's and Turkey's social scientific development regarding foreign affairs/policy?
From the three aforementioned perspectives of reflexive studies in IR, this endeavor mainly falls within the geoepistemic approach. Its driving force is a remark from a renowned Greek IR scholar, Th. Couloumbis, henceforth called the Couloumbis hypothesis, primarily attributing disciplinary (under)development to broader political conditions:
“countries classified in the category of small, economically less developed, internally divided and strategically located (hence externally dependent and/or penetrated) also tend to exhibit a similar lack of scholarly productivity in the fields of foreign policy analysis and international relations.”
This remark, presented in Couloumbis’ account of IR in Greece, isn’t just a personal or isolated disposition. It was also characteristically reflected in his theoretical opponent P. Ifestos, when the latter harshly noted the propensity of IR communities in “small and dependent states” for “intellectual corruption, political conscription and indecent behavior.” Despite the following narrative’s obvious comparative tone, the scrutiny of the Couloumbis hypothesis renders it primarily a view of Greek IR through the filter of the Turkish case and extensive reference to the latter. The next section sets up the context of the argument, followed by a section including information for both cases, with use of the Turkish case as a filter for the Greek case. The conclusions are offered in the last section. Put bluntly, Greek scholars need not adopt a ‘do it like Turkish colleagues do’ stance in endeavors of self-reflection. Yet, they can reconsider their own experiences, taking into serious consideration their Turkish counterparts, acknowledging the limitations of the Couloumbis hypothesis, and the ‘dependency and vulnerability excuse’ for the development of IR.
2.Why choose Turkish and Greek IR? Why filter the latter through the former?
This section sets up the usefulness and validity of problematizing the Couloumbis hypothesis regarding the Greek case by simultaneously reflecting on the Turkish one. As shown below, there have been instances of self-reflection on European IR that have treated the two cases as fairly similar and as sharing commonalities. Evidently, most of the characteristics cited in the aforementioned hypothesis match both cases, given their rich and often turbulent socio-political histories. An obvious example is the common experience of military intervention in political affairs, no matter the notable differences. Discussion of the two countries, particularly during the Cold War, would inevitably include references to challenges of economic development, internal divisions, and external dependency or penetration. The only characteristic mentioned in the hypothesis that marks a difference is the notion of a ‘small state.’ In terms of size, e.g., population and geography, the two cases are not equivalent. Even so, however, they are both states that have had to adjust more or less to strategic challenges rather than be willing or able to define the strategic environment, although the latter is a major issue of concern for Turkey in the current century. Below, a common point of departure is established so that the instances of separate pathways are highlighted in the next section.
When referring to IR development in particular geographical settings, a common choice is to address it in terms of a division of labor, i.e., a text specifically devoted to one county. Articles or book chapters for different case-studies might occasionally be gathered to form a forum in a journal or a collective volume, possibly in the name of a region or a geocultural entity (e.g., Latin America, Post-West, or Global South), thus allowing for the comparison of case studies. Such a comparison taking place in a more explicit and thorough manner, within a single article or chapter, is less common, but it is certainly a legitimate choice. A relevant example for the present essay was offered by A.J.R. Groom and Peter Mandaville’s chapter on the “European Experience” of IR in 2001. As early as then, it was postulated that “IR is gaining strength in Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey,” that “There are... relatively few degree courses in IR... designated as such, although there are exceptions in Greece, Turkey and Russia,” that “Young scholars of great talent are manifesting themselves in Southern Europe... in Italy, Spain, Greece, and in Turkey,” and lastly that “it is now no longer necessary to go abroad to study to make a ‘successful’ career in IR, although this may still be helpful in Greece and Turkey.” A similarly succinct account had been offered by Groom himself, just a bit earlier. In all their brevity, those remarks indeed seem to grasp the gist of the matter.
On their part, K.E. Jørgensen and T. Knudsen affirmed, based on the experiences of scholars in Spain and Italy, that “the impression of rather weak IR disciplines in Southern Europe in terms of institutional autonomy and theoretical innovation remains.” They also acknowledged that, when compared to their Northern European counterparts, “the IR traditions of Southern Europe appear to be strong… when it comes to the incorporation and understanding of legal questions and international law more generally.” Greece and Turkey were not explicitly referred to in that particular passage. However, optimism that the Turkish case especially would be further explored was eventually expressed. Indeed, such exploration had already started to take place and it has continued throughout the last two decades. Greece was no exception either. The accounts that formed the country-specific self-reflection were offered in either the local language or English. This kind of internationalization of the respective work allows for:
It is worth noting that Turkey was included as one of the twenty case studies in a major survey of the TRIP project in the early 2010s, reflecting the increased international visibility of several Turkish scholars’ work (regarding IR in general as well as IR self-reflection) along with a formidable number of scholars. It is telling that the country constituted the fourth-largest case population in terms of both scholars who were asked to participate on a questionnaire and those who actually responded. Turkey’s recognition as an intriguing case study was also illustrated by its inclusion in a whole chapter in A. Tickner and O. Waever’s seminal collective volume concerning IR scholarship worldwide. In fact, it was one of the few national cases that have their own designated chapter within the volume. By contrast, Greece, along with Portugal, was very briefly mentioned in a footnote in the chapter devoted to Western Europe as a case of an admittedly emerging IR community that lacked critical mass.
Judging by the content and characteristics of IR self-reflection in a specific geographical setting (e.g., a country), assumptions and inferences can be made about how scholars take notice of each other within that setting. This may also occur among scholars of different settings. Given the often-strained relations between Turkey and Greece, it is interesting to see how the respective scholars take notice of each other. Generally, some kind of scientific communication between Turkish and Greek scholars exists, although it can be described as fairly limited. Respectful dialogue between scholars at scientific conferences is not uncommon, whereas actual collaboration may appear more sporadically in collective volumes. Intriguingly, a few Greek citizens have found themselves to be part of Turkish IR in their capacity as professors of Turkish universities. The opposite is not the case. This is a manifestation not of a country-specific distrust but of the general limitations posed to foreign citizens in Greece wishing to become professors at Greek Universities (which are, by default, institutions belonging to the country’s public sector), which may require knowledge and use of the Greek language, or Greek or EU member-state citizenship.
Taking notice of Turkish foreign policy, or at least being expected to have an informed opinion about it, is typically expected of a Greek IR scholar, regardless of her/his academic specialty or particular academic interests, or even presumed competence in tackling the matter. Within Greek IR, Turkish scholarship is less visible. In a certain sense, however, Turkey is given not only a noticeable but an important—no matter how briefly stated—place/role in Greek IR self-reflection. Greece’s relations with this country have often been referred to as one of the outstanding factors in a major development of Greek IR: the willful and solid transcendence of the International Law and Diplomatic History boundaries that had characterized Greek IR until the mid-1970s. In particular, the strategic failure manifested by the Cyprus imbroglio and the events of 1974, along with increased threat perceptions (all points of dispute and contestation) vis-à-vis Turkey, proved to be major incentives for a reformed IR discourse in the years and decades to come. To be sure, these were contributing factors, but not unique causes, especially taking into account a vast amount of literature devoted to the EEC into which Greece would enter at roughly the same time. Notably, Greek IR scholars are accustomed to hearing remarks like ‘Turkish foreign policy is not as preoccupied or obsessed with Greece as Greek foreign policy is with Turkey’ from Turkish colleagues in exchanges during conferences. This claim may well be considered to be a valid one. Yet, it is still consistent with two predicaments. The first being that the entry and membership of Greece into the EEC/EU has been an important issue on its own. The second is that, in the hundred years following the Turkish-Greek War, varied (de)securitization and threat-related processes with regard to neighboring states occurred within Greece.
In particular, Greek discourse on Greece’s foreign affairs has undoubtedly included the so called ‘danger from the East.’ Nevertheless, there were lengthy periods during which Turkey was desecuritized or seen as a less threatening state, compared to other countries, for Greece. Security-wise, for example, the first half of the Cold War presented a presumed ‘danger from the North,’ which would eventually be tackled by means of participation in NATO. This hardly causes surprise, taking into consideration:
Through the passing of years, perceptions of a northern threat were assumed to be checked or even lessened. At the same time, strained Turkish-Greek relations were manifested in conflicts over Cyprus, leading up to the brink of war, along with a lethal confrontation between Turkish and Greek armed forces in territory belonging to neither the Turkish nor the Hellenic Republics. Having noted the historicity and non-reified nature of threat perception, Greek references and discussions related to Turkey can still obviously include foreign policy issues, but they can also go beyond them in relation to the latter country’s IR field and discourse.
3.What to Make of Turkish IR and Its Self-Reflection: A Greek Standpoint
Above it was established that talking of a common point of departure for both cases makes sense. Emphasis may now be put to the commonalities of pathways taken but also to differences, pointing to the insufficiency of the Couloumbis hypothesis. Unsurprisingly, Greek and Turkish scholarship share, within the perception and analysis of international affairs, a persisting facet, i.e., a dominant IR viewpoint that emphasizes the respective foreign policy and related issues. This emphasis has had an impact on the visibility of the work produced in foreign languages, particularly English, on a global level. Thus, a challenge is faced by the corresponding IR communities concerning the asymmetrical communication with the field’s core and the difficulty for the periphery’s research to expand or to be noticed as something more than a mere correspondent specializing in the state’s foreign affairs, as regards scholars’ participation in theory building. Within Turkish scholarship, this predicament of the dominance of issues deemed important for Turkey’s foreign affairs was eloquently presented in terms of “Telling Turkey About the World, Telling the World About Turkey,” i.e., of addressing the country’s role in the World—e.g., the West, but eventually also beyond it—and vice versa. It was extensively discussed in the name of ‘periphery theorizing’ or ‘homegrown theory,’ of the “conceptions of ‘the international’ beyond the core,” of engagement in scholarly debates and degree of fragmentation, as well as of notions of mutual dependence and task uncertainty in the sociology of science.
Those discussions have extensively drawn from the broader IR self-reflection while simultaneously contributing intuitively to it. By comparison, Greek IR self-reflection has paid some—indeed considerable—attention, but certainly less than Turkish self-reflection does, to the broader IR self-reflection and the totality of its characteristics, methods, and trajectory, as the latter country has evolved in the current century. It has vividly emphasized the ‘theory-praxis’ predicament of Greek foreign policy, i.e., how theory-informed IR would contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between foreign affairs and Greece’s foreign policy. In fact, quite a few relevant texts have included the notion of ‘theory-praxis’ in their titles. This is not to negate Greek scholars’ adaptation to the trends of IR self-reflection particularly in the last decade.
From a Greek point of view, a reasonable starting point is the fact that both cases/countries didn’t immediately catch up with typical IR expansion beyond the study of international law and diplomatic history. They have also shared a sizeable growth during the post-Cold War period, which is characteristically evidenced by the creation of the respective IR departments. In this regard, remarks within Turkish scholarship about Political Science’s relatively low profile, along with its maturing in the shadow of certain fields such as Law and History, and about how the introduction of International Politics as a distinct field came up to complement them rather than to replace existing strands of thought, sound very familiar in respect to the Greek case as well. In fact, International Law was Greece’s only integrated IR subfield in the global discipline throughout the entire 20th century, with a noticeably internationalized presence of the respective scholars. Comparatively speaking, and taking into account the choice of naming the active Turkish IR association ‘International Relations Council of Turkey’ (founded in 2004), the institutionalization of this shadow can hardly be missed by Greece. This is manifested in the naming of the first professional IR association in the early 1980s as ‘Hellenic Society of International Law and International Relations.’ Although the latter has admittedly included scholars or experts from multiple (sub-)fields, its leadership has principally comprised International Law scholars. The establishment of another association consisting of (predominantly non-International Law) IR scholars would occur as late as 2018. It is called Council for International Relations, Greece.
The disciplinary solidification in Turkey involved the establishment of IR departments mainly in the name of ‘International Relations’ or ‘Political Science and International Relations.’ In this sense, the study of politics seems to elicit the emergence of IR as an integral scientific field rather than as just a sub-field of Political Science. There is a noticeable uniformity, which owes a lot to the country’s standardized academic structure. Compared to this, Greece is characterized by a distinct fluidity and thematic multiplicity or heterogeneity in terms of academic structure. This involves the frequent founding but also splitting and renaming of departments through the decades. Since the switch of the basic academic unit from ‘School/Faculty’ to ‘Department’ in the early 1980s, two departments, originally named Political Science and Public Administration, were devoted to Political Science. In a remarkably stable course, the department at the University of Athens retained the title, though including a sector in International European Studies. Yet, the other department at Panteion University was very quickly split into a series of departments, including the department of Political Science and International Studies. The latter was itself split a bit later (mid 1990s) into two departments, including International European Studies, which was eventually renamed in 2013 as International European Regional Studies. Τhis is just an example of the aforementioned fluidity. Overall, the current Greek academic structure, reflecting a varied relation of the ‘international’ with the ‘political,’ includes a bit more than a dozen departments devoted to:
The different history and place of IR departments in the academic structure of the two countries compels us to put into perspective a major impetus—indeed one of a contextual nature—for the aforementioned growth that commonly appears in both Turkish and Greek self-reflections. This impetus relates to the educational reforms from the 1980s onwards, which allowed for academic proliferation concerning IR departments, professors, and students, along with the expansion of multiple disciplines. Those reforms had the same outcome in terms of quantity but varied results in terms of quality. At the beginning of that decade, Greece had already been undergoing its first steps of democratization since the dictatorship’s abrupt demise in 1974. Turkey was facing a similar regime for a couple of years, which withdrew from government formation less abruptly. In both cases, academic proliferation was accompanied by the affirmation of polity’s primacy. In this general context, expectations for the field to be helpful in the understanding and pursuing of national/state interests would still hold. However, as it has been bluntly noted, this general affirmation and the reinforcement of state control involved different processes and aims. In Turkey, technocratic development was pursued, with the Higher Education Council holding a prominent overseeing role. At the same time, though, state monopoly in higher education was mitigated to a certain extent, at least in terms of the creation of foundation universities. In Greece, democratization and unhampered majority rule were pursued, combining the continuation of state monopoly in higher education with increased student participation in decision-making and the respective electoral processes.
Greek IR self-reflection distinctively addresses the aforementioned predicament in terms of a strengthened freedom of expression. Although academic restructuring had to be centrally approved, there was ample margin for varied choices, at least in terms of academic restructuring. To be sure, research institutes, the number of which has significantly risen since the 1980s, would generally—although with exceptions—rely on public funding, with the effect that negative fluctuations in such funding would seriously affect some institutes’ functioning and sustainability. With regard to Turkey, despite the inclusion of various perspectives ever since the institutionalization of Turkish teaching, research remained fairly atheoretical, reflecting the restricted interest in the understanding/‘internalizing’ of IR theory. Turkish IR self-reflection discusses changes in terms of the emergence of varied competing voices within a fairly pluralistic discipline (at least when compared to the past), warranted by an increased weight of academic criteria, yet it still does so in a troublesome manner. Despite an increased appreciation for theory, a large quantity of scientific work doesn’t necessarily entail quality or theoretical innovation. It doesn’t automatically ensure disciplinary unity or maturing, either. Moreover, intellectual priorities and research interests still reflect changes in Turkish foreign policy and in the international or regional scenery.
Similar concerns are not uncommon in the Greek case, although they are expressed in a rather brief manner with some exceptions, like the work of P. Tsakonas emphasizing the lack of adequate knowledge, in terms of ‘favoring conditions,’ in the understanding of effective decision-making. Overall, there is a noticeable variety of criticisms of the poverty of Greek IR work in terms of theoretical confusion, inadequate linkage of research with theory, and lack of theoretical solidity. Nevertheless, IR theory has long been invoked in Greek textbooks and research. Such invocation seems to have suited the usual systematic failure to refer to the IR research published by Greek colleagues. Yet, there has recently been some progress with the coexistence of contending approaches reflecting—when compared to the past—a less conflictual engagement along with some lessening of ideological or interpersonal controversies.
Although this is barely remarked upon in Greek IR self-reflection, a Greek scholar can’t help but acknowledge a divergence concerning the above-mentioned delay in keeping abreast of current IR theory. Greece was certainly more delayed than Turkey in this regard. There are academic choices on behalf of early Cold-War scholars who taught International Law in Greece’s higher education institution dedicated to Political Science that can indeed be construed as attempts to deviate from a strictly international law perspective, e.g., by teaching Diplomatic History as well. However, these choices unfortunately did not adhere to Interwar’s intellectual initiatives for a distinctively systematic analysis, indeed in multiple terms (particularly geopolitics, but also imperialism and international organization). They hardly resembled their contemporary Turkish recognition of international politics as a subject deeming distinct university teaching and as a realm with its own marked concepts. Such recognition is undeniably illustrated by the holding of a conference for this teaching as early as the beginning of the 1960s, indeed based on claims that the systematic teaching of IR would help achieve security, and articles appearing in a major Political Science journal. It was not only about the discipline’s institutionalization, which indeed occurred at the time, but also about conceptual evolution within Turkey’s socio-political realities. Greek scholarship reached this recognition and solidly included it in teaching starting in the early 1980s.
Bluntly put, to find the near-equivalent of S. Bilge or T. Ataöv, one would have to trace Greek scholarship to more than twenty years later, in the cases of the U.S.-trained (PhD-wise) Couloumbis and D. Constas, along with a few others with PhDs from Continental Europe. Despite both countries’ strong political relations with the U.S. early on in the Cold War, intellectual engagement of the respective scholars with standard IR, as manifested in the U.S., was not warranted. In this sense, it is highly indicative that, when in the 1960s Greek and Turkish scholars, among others, were asked by a prominent international institution to provide a national perspective on the role of the United Nations, the Turkish report was written in English. The Greek contribution belonged to a minority of essays that were written in French.
Similarly, Turkish scholarship was able to catch-up to the post-positivist agenda, insofar as identity issues received serious attention. This development may well be attributed to the fact that identity challenges and ideological debates, which have always existed in both countries, have been met with much more controversy and intensity in Turkey, at least since the Cold War’s end. The 1990s were characterized by challenges, such as the relations with the E.E.C./E.U., a bigger array of issues and choices for Turkish foreign policy, and the disappointment in the West’s role in presumably sensitive issues. In this sense, a key challenge that Turkish science has broadly had to face is the oscillation between the enhancement of official ideology and that of a critical vision challenging it. A deep understanding of this predicament has included an extensive interest in the existence and functioning of methodological nationalism. Attention has also been paid by Turkish Scholars to the great margin for pedagogical innovation.
Surely, Greek IR self-reflection echoes the burden of the Greek traditionalism/modernism debate in the understanding of the ‘international,’ manifested in frequent (but nowadays diminishing a bit) postulations that equated—in a voluntaristic fashion—realism with nationalism or populism and non-realist approaches with mere internationalism. Within this context, attention was drawn to the toll of an ‘underdog culture’ in tackling crucial foreign policy issues (such as Turkish-Greek relations), often publicly perceived as ‘national issues.’ What is missed, though, is how scientific discourse was more or less nation-centric and state-centric in the early and mid-Cold War, yet it barely included realism. Presently, the Greek case is characterized by the emergence of multiple pathways for the relevance of realist imagery as well as the potential for transcending it (i.e., either appraising it from a pro-sovereign viewpoint or problematizing and resisting it through a post-sovereign standpoint). In fact, some sort of homegrown theory has occurred in this respect, although not in a self-conscious manner or without its own intricacies. Examples include P. Ifestos’ attempt to fashion a Thucydidean Paradigm based on Aristotelean Epistemology, or I. Mazis’ attempt to lay forth ‘systemic geopolitical analysis.’ In this development of homegrown scholarship, the selective incorporation of foreign work remains a formidable challenge, especially when taking into consideration the evocation of foreign work more in terms of shutting down or guiding discussions and dialogue in certain pathways rather than leaving dialogic space open.
The Turkish equivalent of this burden, as regards the 20th century, would probably relate to the concern (not least in the eyes of the elite) for an avoidance of the Sèvres predicament. Yet it also involves a broader and complex trajectory of the country’s security culture and discourse. Interestingly enough, a particular incident/part of this trajectory was noticed by Greek IR. A few IR realist scholars found in A. Davutoğlu and his ‘strategic depth’ argument an admirable theoretical adversary, who should be acknowledged as such, no matter the critique cast on the argument per se, at least from a Greek point of view.
Crucially, as E. Aydınlı and G. Biltekin note for the Turkish case, an apparent theoretical diversity, along with merely a large quantity of scientific work, have automatically guaranteed neither an active engagement in scholarly debates nor an adequate communication, bearing an impact on knowledge accumulation. Thus, the tackling of the fragmentation of Turkish IR as a disciplinary community is still a key challenge, along with the mitigation of a lack of methodological diversity. A couple of observations are in order here.
Firstly, based on surveys with a noticeable number of respondents (although they do not exhaust the totality of the respective communities), theoretical diversity is indeed part of the IR communities in both countries, in the sense that multiple IR perspectives are present. In Turkey, no matter how troublesome, the theoretical diversity seems to be broader when compared to the Greek case. Realism appears to be fairly strong in Turkey, while in Greece it is very (although not absolutely) strong. In 2011, Turkish IR self-identification involved 26% realism, 24% constructivism, and 15% liberalism (with no use of paradigmatic analysis at 11%). In 2016, Greek IR self-identification involved 51% realism, 21% liberalism, and 14% constructivism (with no use of paradigmatic analysis at 7%).
Secondly, the findings of Aydınlı and Biltekin that publication in Turkish IR journals does not necessarily ensure a high level of engagement among scholars are a compelling reminder of the difference between communication and engagement. But Greek IR is still far from facing this predicament, missing adequate communication in the first place. In a nutshell, the very problem of Greece is that the degree of durability, stability and sustainability of IR journals hardly matches the corresponding figures in Turkey. Despite certain noticeable endeavors, presently, there is no Greek journal equivalent to, for example, the Turkish journals Uluslararası İlişkiler or All Azimuth: A Journal of Foreign Policy and Peace, or even to other Greek journals devoted to International Law. Moreover, the lack of a journal commonly acknowledged by the majority of IR scholars as a must-publish one or as a discussion forum for an entire disciplinary community has not been remedied by political science journals either. It should be noted, though, that the low levels of communication within the community’s own journals also relate to the choices of older generations of scholars to disseminate their work mainly by means of books/textbooks. The latter option has been closely related to the practice of state-subsidizing the publication of books used as course textbooks, which has functioned as a very strong, if not perverse, incentive in decisions regarding knowledge dissemination and academic publishing.
Finally, the relationship between IR and certain subfields has often been troubled if not incoherent, as reflected in the lack of a clear differentiation between IR and security studies as well as strategic or war studies. The journal Strategein in Greece and the Turkish Journal of War Studies in Turkey constitute attempts to rectify this in both countries. Those efforts are still young, being restricted by an entrenched system where pure war studies are exiled to military schools or mixed with IR and Political Science.
Overall, this section’s narration doesn’t prove the factual inaccuracy of the Couloumbis hypothesis. Bluntly put, it isn’t denied that internal turbulence and strategic fragility are influential in IR development. Evidence for that can be found in both cases. Yet, what is problematized here is the mythological function of this hypothesis. Awareness of this function for the Greek case can be highlighted by addressing missed opportunities and neglected discourses, like the Interwar’s geopolitical one, and by exemplifying the Turkish case. In the early ColdWar, both countries fit the description of the original conditions described in the Couloumbis hypothesis. However, this hardly addresses how the Turkish counterparts of Couloumbis had made their appearance more than twenty years earlier.
Compared to Greece, Turkey is characterized by an abundance of not only varied but also systematic and theoretically embedded studies or arguments on the status and history of the IR discipline nationally and, at an increasing rate, globally. In a fashion equivalent to the postulation that it is “time to quantify Turkey’s foreign affairs,” a major challenge for the Greek IR self-reflection is how it is ‘time to problematize the dependency and vulnerability excuse’ for underdeveloped IR in the Greek case, taking into account the fairly successful Turkish one. If anything, the effects of the Couloumbis hypothesis have been tackled more thoroughly and extensively in Turkey than in Greece. That is the ultimate lesson learned for a Greek scholar. It is a lesson that may help to rectify the mythological function of this hypothesis.
This is not to directly refute remarks made by Greek scholars that internal divisions and strategic positioning of states—with the latter’s concomitant security exposure and external dependence—have undermined IR development, but to take them into comprehensive consideration. In this respect, Greece and Turkey were not so different in the early and mid-Cold War. But they followed different trajectories. This divergence has continued in certain aspects even since the Cold War’s end, despite considerable stimuli and challenges for both cases in light of the international system’s change.
No matter Greece’s troubled relationship with the West, it is no match to the political and ideological questioning of the West in present-day Turkey. Yet the latter has not impeded the respective community’s integration into the global discipline, no matter its fragmentation. In this respect, it is intriguing to consider whether insights on core-periphery and homegrown theory may well be related to the increasingly turbulent search for identity in Turkey that has included the (internal and external) political developments of the 21st century.
Turkish progress may also compel Greek IR scholars to reflect on the need to go beyond the ‘theory-praxis’ predicament, along with the corresponding bias for a ‘better foreign policy in light of a better theory or more adequate knowledge,’ or beyond an understanding of ‘backward (traditional) vs. forward (Western or Europeanized) mentality.’ In this regard, issues that should arise as relevant include internationalization incentives, the impact of the relation between the ‘private’ and the ‘public’ in conducting research or scientific work, gatekeeping mechanisms, the comprehensive inclusion of identity matters in IR research, and, certainly, strained disciplinary inner communication.
To conclude, this essay is not meant to set forth a postulation such as ‘concerning IR development, Greek IR scholars got something quite wrong, while Turkish colleagues got it quite right.’ And yet, reflecting upon how a neighboring country (Turkey), certainly with its own intricacies, has dealt with the vulnerability/dependence predicament may lead to the refinement or even reconsideration of one’s (Greece, in this case) own tackling with this predicament. On the other hand, and as far as Turkey is particularly concerned, the country’s claims for soft power provide a compelling incentive for exploring a new other possible case studies of how Turkish IR may exercise direct or indirect influence on the IR communities of other states.
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