ArticlePDF Available

Debating diaspora: Securitization framework and the Turkish state's making of dissent abroad



A burgeoning scholarly interest in diaspora governance has recently established that state policies of engagement and mechanisms of control exist simultaneously. While the sending state aims at fostering relations with some groups, it devises strategies to monitor and control some others in diaspora. In explaining this discrepancy, the scholarship points at the heterogeneity in diaspora as well as state perception of political migrants as a security threat due to their role in long-distance opposition. Referring to the legitimacy of the political apparatus in defining their subjects, the literature indicates that migrants are framed as dissent when the political authority classifies them as such. This article contributes to the existing literature by examining how certain diaspora groups are politically constructed as dissent. Using securitization theory as an analytical framework and taking Turkish parliamentary debates (1960–2002) as a case study, this research explores the politics of establishing three major dissent groups in Europe, namely the communists, Islamists, and Kurds. The article shows that based on distinct narratives each category has its own course of construction though at times these processes occur simultaneously. It also demonstrates the agreements and conflicts among political parties over how to frame diaspora groups and the role of symbolic power as a constitutive element in the practice of securitization. Finally, it argues that while securitization rests on the symbolic power of political actors, under certain circumstances they do not need to occupy a position of authority as they can mobilize securitization despite being in the opposition.
Debating Diaspora:
Securitization Framework and the Turkish State’s Making of Dissent Abroad
Z. Selen Artan
A burgeoning scholarly interest in diaspora governance has recently established that
state policies of engagement and mechanisms of control exist simultaneously. While
the sending state aims at fostering relations with some groups, it devises strategies to
monitor and control some others in diaspora. In explaining this discrepancy, the
scholarship points at the heterogeneity in diaspora as well as state perception of
political migrants as a security threat due to their role in long-distance opposition.
Referring to the legitimacy of the political apparatus in defining their subjects, the
literature indicates that migrants are framed as dissent when the political authority
classifies them as such. This article contributes to the existing literature by examining
how certain diaspora groups are politically constructed as dissent. Using securitization
theory as an analytical framework and taking Turkish parliamentary debates (1960-
2002) as a case study, this research explores the politics of establishing three major
dissent groups in Europe, namely the communists, Islamists, and Kurds. The article
shows that based on distinct narratives each category has its own course of
construction though at times these processes occur simultaneously. It also
demonstrates the agreements and conflicts among political parties over how to frame
diaspora groups and the role of symbolic power as a constitutive element in the
practice of securitization. Finally, it argues that while securitization rests on the
symbolic power of political actors, under certain circumstances they do not need to
occupy a position of authority as they can mobilize securitization despite being in the
1. Introduction
The scholarly attention to diaspora governance, which explores the sending-
state interest in developing policies regarding their nationals abroad, has intensified
over the years. Maintaining a rather positive standpoint, earlier works on state-led
transnationalism have primarily focused on the changes in economic, political, and
bureaucratic fields, and their contribution to the creation of a transnational social
space (Goldring 2002; Portes 2003; Smith 2003). In a complementary fashion, the
literature on authoritarianism has explored mechanisms that are designed and used by
sending states to control and repress dissent groups in diaspora (Shain 1989; Brand
2006; Tsourapas 2020). Ranging from diplomatic pressures on the receiving state to
confiscation of passports, from surveillance to kidnapping and assassination, these
policies are perceived by authoritarian states as an extension of their political
jurisdiction to curb political dissent beyond their territorial borders. Recent
scholarship has demonstrated that nation-states use fostering strategies and practices
of control simultaneously, usually targeting different diaspora groups and hence
creating a multilayered policy structure (Tsourapas 2015; Dalmasso et al. 2018;
Glasius 2018).
Why is there a discrepancy among policies targeting different diaspora
groups? Part of the answer offered by the literature points at the heterogeneous nature
of diaspora (Brubaker 2005; Gamlen 2008). Although the term has been traditionally
used to describe a traumatized group of people dispersed from a homeland, more
recent definitions of diaspora have stretched the concept to include immigrant groups
that retain varying levels of collective identity and relations to a home country (Cohen
2008; Safran 1991; Adamson 2016). The literature also asserts that sending states
define some diaspora groups, including refugees, exiles, and other political migrants,
as security threat to the survival of the regime due to their political activism abroad
(Shain 1989; Brand 2006; Michaelsen 2018). Therefore, sending-state authorities are
claimed to develop control policies to track down dissent groups, monitor their
activities, or repress them (Moss 2016; Gamlen 2014). In other words, emigrants’
inclusion in or exclusion from policies of fostering depends on their behavior and the
perceptions of the political body (Shain 1989; Dalmasso et al. 2018).
Recent scholarship on Turkish diaspora governance uncovers the simultaneity
of fostering and control policies developed by the state (Şahin Mencütek and Başer
2018; Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı 2019; Arkilic 2020b). Referring to the legitimacy of the
political apparatus in defining their subjects, the literature explains that migrants from
Turkey are framed as dissent when the political authority classifies them as such
(Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003; Mügge 2013; Aydın 2014; Adamson 2019). Drawing on
parliamentary debates, this article contributes to the existing research by exploring
how certain diaspora groups are politically constructed as dissent. According to
Bourdieu (1991), modern states construct their subjects using symbolic power, thus
furnishing them with a framing of the social world that has meanings recognizable by
the subjects. Similarly, the symbolic power of the political authority plays a crucial
role in constituting certain diaspora groups as dissent. Therefore, a study on the
making of dissent brings into view the range of arguments employed in the process of
framing distinct groups while unveiling power struggles among political stakeholders.
This article builds on the tenets of securitization theory offered by
Copenhagen school and Paris school. While both approaches adopt a constructivist
perception of security, they also have significant differences (Buzan 1983; Wæver et.
al 1993; Wæver 1995; 1996; Buzan et. al 1998; Buzan 2006; Huysmans 2000; Bigo
2000). For Copenhagen school, the instrument of securitization is the ‘speech act’ that
is the practice of uttering an urgent existential threat regarding a ‘referent object
(Buzan 1983; Wæver 1995; Wæver 1996). Focusing exclusively on a European
context and accepting the role of speech act in the securitization process, Paris school
extends their analytical framework to include daily practices of knowledge production
by security professionals (Huysmans 2000; Bigo 2000; 2002). While acknowledging
Paris school’s emphasis on administrative practices, by virtue of its context, this
article relies solely on the speech acts of political actors. Nevertheless, the article
considers Paris school’s emphasis on symbolic power, complex state structure, and
power struggles among political stakeholders as crucial factors in understanding
securitization practices.
Drawing on Turkish parliamentary debates (1960-2002), this article explores
the securitization processes of three major Turkey-origin diaspora groups in Europe:
communists, Islamists, and Kurds.
Although it is possible to identify other politically
constructed dissent groups such as Armenians, the scope of this research is limited to
the citizens of Turkey who left the country in mass numbers after the establishment of
the Republic. The article proceeds as follows: First, it introduces the theoretical
framework while situating the research within the literature on diaspora governance
and establishing links to securitization theory. Next, it discusses the methodology and
moves on to the analysis section, where it explores the narratives of parliamentarians
and the political construction processes of dissent groups. The final part is the
2. Diaspora Governance and Securitization Theory
Although the initial scholarly emphasis in transnationalism literature was on
non-state actors, a growing body of literature over the years has underlined the role of
sending states in shaping the transnational social space (Goldring 2002; Portes 2003;
Smith 2003, Margheritis 2007). Primary motivations behind the development of
engagement policies (economic, bureaucratic, political, etc.) are cited as the
channeling of remittances and investment into the country, transfer of knowledge and
human capital, political lobbying abroad and symbolic purposes (Ostergaard-Nielsen
2003; Bauböck 2003; Collyer 2013; Adamson 2016). However, a recent strand of
literature finds these categorizations problematic claiming that they depict sending
states with uniform, constant and rational interests. Offering the term “diaspora
governance” instead, this scholarship attests to the fluid nature of state interest which
depends on the government agenda and competition for power among different state
structures (Gamlen 2014; Ragazzi 2014; Delano and Gamlen 2014; Moss 2016). A
growing body of research that explores differences among political parties in
outreaching diaspora and their diverse effects upholds this claim (Burgess 2018;
Koinova and Tsourapas 2018; Koinova 2018; Ostergaard-Nielsen and Ciornei 2019).
In diaspora governance, policies that aim to foster ties and strengthen loyalties
of emigrants are only one side of the coin, as on the other side lie strategies of
monitoring and control. According to the scholarship on state authoritarianism,
internal conflicts in the home country tend to produce opposition groups such as
exiles, refugees, or politicized emigrants in the diaspora. When these groups find
freedom to organize in the receiving state, they engage in activities supporting
political dissent in the country of origin (Shain 1989; Brand 2006). Growing
suspicious of their nationals and fearing their political activism, sending states enact
policies to suppress these groups (Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003, Michaelsen 2018).
Spread over a wide spectrum, state policies of control include diplomatic pressures on
the receiving state, regulating exit/entry, confiscation of passports, infiltration and
surveillance, hacking into social media accounts, emailing or publicly posting threats,
planting malware, phishing for private data, confiscation of property and persecution
of relatives/friends in the home country, and at the most extreme end, kidnapping and
assassination (Shain 1989; Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003; Brand 2006; Lewis 2015; Moss
2016, 2018; Dalmasso 2018). Moreover, sending states may also choose non-coercive
measures to control diaspora such as nurturing their feelings of belonging (i.e.,
The reason why Alevis as a group are not included in the analysis is the fact that the parliamentarians
neither discuss nor constitute them as a separate dissent category.
Eritrea) or granting them privileges not enjoyed by the locals (i.e., Morocco)
(Dalmasso et al. 2018).
The literature on Turkish state-led transnationalism underlines a gradual
development of state interest in Turkish nationals abroad from the late 1980s and
early 1990s, mirroring other migrant-sending countries in the latter half of the 20th
century (Ostergard-Nielsen 2003; Aksel 2014; Mügge 2011). While the state’s first
reaction was to enact policies on remittances and investment, in later years, they
introduced political (i.e., dual citizenship, voting rights, reduced military service),
bureaucratic (i.e., setting up of special commissions) and symbolic (i.e., switch from
“our workers abroad” to “our citizens abroad” rhetoric) policies as well. The rise of
the Justice and Development Party to power in 2002 and the publication of 2003
parliamentary report adopting a new strategy for diaspora policies are defined as the
beginning of a new era for state-diaspora relations (Ünver 2013; Aydın 2014; Öktem
2014; İçduygu and Aksel 2015; Şahin Mencütek and Başer 2018; Adamson 2019;
Arkilic 2020a). Unlike earlier periods where state policies were seen as reactionary to
the emerging needs of emigrants, this new era is defined as pro-active where the state
fostered relations with the purpose of cultivating a diasporic identity.
despite this newly found pro-active attitude, policies of engagement were selectively
implemented, excluding certain diaspora groups (i.e., Kurds, Alevis and non-
Muslims) from outreach activities organized by state institutions (Şahin Mencütek
and Başer 2018; Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı 2019; Arkilic 2020b).
The Turkish state diaspora policies of exclusion and control have a long
history. The scholarship tends to perceive the 1980 military coup as the turning point
for the adoption of such practices (Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003; Mügge 2011; Aksel
2014; Aydın 2014; Şahin Mencütek and Başer 2018). The coup had produced an
unprecedented number of political migrants to Europe, where they found the freedom
to organize and resume their political activism. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Turkish
state implemented a series of policies ranging from putting diplomatic pressure on the
receiving state and surveillance/infiltration by diplomatic missions to cancellation of
passports and questioning/arresting of emigrants once they return to Turkey
(Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003). The state also sought the help of nationalist and
conservative associations such as the Grey Wolves to spy on the leftist and Kurdish
dissent in Europe (Mügge 2011; Aydın 2014). An investigation undertaken by a
Parliamentary committee in 2012 revealed that in the post-1980 period 30,000
Turkish nationals had applied for asylum, while 14,000 had lost their citizenship, and
388,000 had been prevented from receiving a passport (TBMM 2012).
During the post-1980 coup period, aside from the politically active leftist and
Kurdish emigrants, Islamist organizations that flourished in western Europe came
under the scrutiny of the state (Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003; Aydın 2014). Supporting
orthodox Islamic teachings, organizations such as the Kaplancılar, the Islamic
Cultural Center of Süleymancılar and the Islamic Community of Milli Görüş became
the object of state control policies. To contain their influence, the Turkish state
established DITIB in the 1980s in Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, France,
The major government initiatives during this period include the establishment of Yunus Emre
Institutes in 2007, the setting up of the Office for the Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB) in
2010 and the legal amendment allowing Turkish citizens to cast their vote in national elections at
designated diplomatic missions in May 2012.
and Switzerland. Providing Islamic teachings to the diaspora, the institution was
expected to cultivate a religious identity in line with the secular principles of the
Republic. However, during the reign of the Justice and Development Party, a shift in
the recognition of these Islamist groups led to their redefinition as desirable diasporic
organizations (Bruce 2019; Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı 2019).
Recent research demonstrates that sending states, including Turkey, use
policies of fostering and control simultaneously (Dalmasso et al. 2018; Glasius 2018;
Adamson 2019; Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı 2019). Why do some diaspora groups become
the object of exclusionary, punitive, and even repressive policies while others do not?
The scholarly answer partially lies in the fact that diaspora represents a heterogeneous
group of people with wavering degrees of ethnic, religious, and national identification
to the home country (Brubaker 2005; Gamlen 2008). A complementary explanation
suggests that some of these groups, including refugees, exiles, and other political
migrants, are perceived as security threat by the sending state due to their political
activism in the receiving country (Shain 1989; Ibrahim 2005; Brand 2006; Ragazzi
2009; Michaelsen 2018). For the Turkish context, Ostergaard-Nielsen (2003:94)
argues that emigrants from Turkey are defined as dissent when “their activities are
perceived as sufficiently subversive by Turkish authorities.” Other scholars offer
“ideologies of nationhood” (Mügge 2013; Şahin Mencütek and Başer 2018), “national
interest” (Aydın 2014), “nationalism and identity politics” (Adamson 2019), “security
concerns” (Aksel 2014) and “dis/loyalty to the state” (Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı 2019;
Arkilic 2020b) as factors that explain the variation in Turkish diaspora governance.
Underlining the role of state authority in categorizing diaspora, these studies
have explored reasons behind the constitution of certain groups as dissent. This study
contributes to the existing literature by concentrating on how specific groups abroad
are discursively contrived as dissent by political stakeholders. Modern states construct
their subjects using symbolic power, which provides a framing of the social world
with certain meanings that are recognized by the subjects (Bourdieu 1991, 170).
Never exercised through physical force, symbolic power rests on the legitimacy of the
political actors. This legitimacy grants the state the authority “to name, identify,
define and demarcate; to classify and categorize; to specify authoritatively who is
who, and what is what; and thereby to help ‘make and unmake groups’” (Brubaker
and Kim 2011, 24). Likewise, the constitution of certain diaspora groups as dissent
depends on the symbolic power of state authority. Therefore, a study on the political
construction of dissent brings into view the range of arguments employed in the
establishment of certain categories. It also unveils the power struggles pertaining to
the political framing of specific groups as dissent abroad.
In analyzing the discursive practices that frame diaspora groups as dissent, this
article builds on the analytical framework of securitization theory. While adopting a
constructivist approach, securitization theory rejects a preconceived understanding of
security that has an intrinsic value (Buzan 1983; Wæver et. al 1993; Wæver 1995;
1996; Buzan et. al 1998; Buzan 2006; Huysmans 2000; Bigo 2000). For Copenhagen
school, any public issue has the potential to be securitized when perceived as threat
(Buzan 1983; Wæver 1995; Wæver 1996). The instrument of securitization is the
“speech act” that is the practice of uttering an urgent existential threat regarding a
“referent object,” which, traditionally has been conceived as the state. Therefore, one
must study the discourse of the actor(s) to explore the processes of securitization.
Scholars assert that it is usually the “political leaders, bureaucracies, governments,
lobbyists, and pressure groups” that engage in a securitizing move (Buzan et al. 1998,
40). However, not all securitizing moves can produce a security discourse since the
speech act has to gain symbolic power through wider public approval for that to
happen (Buzan et al 1998).
While Paris school accepts the basic tenets of Copenhagen school that security
is not an objective reality but a social construct, their analyses go beyond the scope
offered by the latter. Focusing predominantly on the European Union context, their
theoretical premises draws on Foucault’s governmentality and the Bordieuan notion
of habitus. Paris school considers a spillover effect of creating a European common
market without internal border controls on the emergence of securitizing mechanisms
for migrants arriving in the European Union (Huysmans 2000). Bigo (2000) contends
that the notion of security must be analyzed as a technique of governmentality. The
emergence of a Europeanized field of security, together with the development of
technologies of surveillance, have created a group of technocrats as producers of
security knowledge (Bigo 2002). Responsible from overseeing the assessment and
management of risk, it is their habitus to anticipate security problems and categorize
certain groups as security threats (Huysmans 2000; 2006; Bigo 2002; Bigo 2013).
Paris school criticizes Copenhagen school primarily for overlooking cases
where securitization is practiced without the speech act (Bigo 2013). They also
discard Copenhagen school’s claims that securitization is an exception to ordinary
politics by underlining the routine everyday work performed by security professionals
(Bigo and Tsoukala 2008). Paris school accepts that both discursive (speech act) and
administrative (routine work) practices contribute to the production of security
knowledge (Bigo 2002; Bigo and Tsoukala 2008; Huysmans 2006). While both Paris
and Copenhagen schools agree that securitization move rests on the symbolic power
of political and bureaucratic actors, Paris school rejects the latter’s perception of state
as a single sovereign apparatus (Huysmans 2006). They rather recognize state as a
complex web of relations where political struggles among different actors having
varying levels of authority are reflected in securitization processes (Bigo 2000;
Huysmans 2006; Bigo and Tsoukala 2008).
While acknowledging Paris school’s assertation that both discursive and
administrative practices contribute to securitization, this article builds solely on the
speech acts of political actors. The reason is Paris school attributes their
governmentality claims to the development of European level bureaucratic structures
and global technologies of surveillance policing migrants arriving in Europe. Within
the context of this research, a corresponding technocratic structure would be the
National Intelligence Organization, albeit their knowledge production processes are
highly classified. Nevertheless, the article considers the notions of symbolic power,
complex state structure, and power struggles among political actors as crucial factors
in understanding securitization practices. Based on these premises of securitization
theory, and drawing on Turkish parliamentary minutes, this research analyzes how
political authority constructs three diasporic groups (communists, Islamists, and
Kurds) as dissent by discursive practices.
3. Data and Methods
Based on archival research, this article uses dataset drawn from the Turkish
parliamentary minutes from the pre-Justice and Development Party era. The minutes,
which I gained access from a university library in Istanbul, are organized periodically
where each volume is consisted of varying number of daily sessions (birleşim) and
each session is composed of at least one meeting (oturum). Since this article was part
of a larger research project on Turkish diaspora policy, I scanned each volume
published during the period between 1960 and 2002. After reading the “contents”
section of each session, I proceeded to take a closer look at the topic of each meeting
to see if they were in anyway related to migrant workers abroad. The scanning
process was completed in three weeks. Next, I read and coded all sessions on migrant
workers into thematic categories. These included “economic-related,” “political
rights,” “identity,” “children,” among others. The parliamentary debates on which this
article is based were coded as “threat perception.” Finally, I employed critical
discourse analysis (Van Dijk 2008) to examine and interpret narratives used by
4. The Making of Dissent in Europe
4.1. The Communist Threat
The Cold War era in Turkey, especially the period between two military
interventions (1960-1980), is characterized by a gradual public polarization. The
expansion of political and civil liberties after the adoption of 1961 Constitution
accelerated intellectual production as leftist ideologies gained popularity among
academics, workers, and students (Zürcher 1994; Ahmad 2003). The leftist movement
was countered by an ideological alliance formed between nationalists and Muslim
conservatives in the early 1960s. Backed by the military in later years, the right-wing
coalition perceived communism as an existential threat to Turkey (Özkazanç 1999).
This period is also marked by the signing of labor exchange programs with European
governments, which steadily increased the presence of Turkish nationals abroad.
Enjoying political liberties offered in a post-World War II era, the Western Europe at
the time was a hotbed for radical leftist groups and organizations (Ögelman 2003;
Nell 2008). As a result, concerns for the communist threat occupied the parliamentary
debates during this period while socially constructing leftist and politically active
nationals as dissent.
The fear that Turkish workers would come under the influence of “false
ideologies” becomes part of the parliamentary discussions from the 1960s onwards. In
1968, opposition MP Osman Bölükbaşı from nationalist-conservative Nation Party,
submits a motion to open parliamentary investigation against the then Prime Minister
leyman Demirel due to his government’s indifference to Turkish workers’
problems in Europe.
Having returned from his travels across several German cities,
Bölükbaşı complains from lack of government measures that would protect workers
from the grasp of communism. While almost entire opposition, including left-leaning
Republican People’s Party, support the motion, it gets rejected by the members of the
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 69, vol. 27, meeting 1, 5.4.1968, p. 533.
Justice Party. However, this does not mean that the center-right government was
oblivious to the communist threat in Europe. In January 1971, İlhan Egemen
Darendelioğlu from the ruling Justice Party makes a five-minute statement on the
communist propaganda exposed by workers abroad.
He points out the activities of
the Turkish Communist Party, which he claims to have branches in Leipzig,
Budapest, and Prague, as he presents copies of communist newspapers distributed
among Turkish workers in Europe.
Parliamentarians consider radio broadcasting as one of the most effective means
of conveying communist propaganda to Turkish workers. Therefore, they entertain
the idea of Turkey creating its radio content to prevent workers’ exposure to such
programs. In 1963, opposition parliamentarian Şadi Pehlivanoğlu from Justice Party
gives a short speech on Turkish workers in Europe where he asserts that the Budapest
Radio broadcasts communist propaganda in Turkish, which is usually aired during
workers’ rest time. He asks the coalition government led by İsmet İnönü to send some
tapes from Turkey to be broadcasted in factories in Germany and warn workers
against the propaganda they are exposed to by the Budapest Radio and other ‘red’
Similarly, during the 1972 budget meeting of the Ministry of Labor,
Mehmet Aytuğ from Republican People’s Party, one of the three political parties
forming the coalition government, underlines the importance of radio and television
broadcasting to counter “dangerous indoctrinations” while urging the government to
make necessary arrangements so that radio stations from Turkey would be able to
broadcast in Europe.
For many parliamentarians, the perils of the communist propaganda in Europe lie
in the possibility of workers challenging the political regime in Turkey. There were
concerns that workers would transfer a radical ideology rather than their newly gained
skills to Turkey, which would pose a great danger to the political regime of the
country. Opposition MP Vefa Tanır from left-leaning Trust Party, during the 1970
budget meeting of the Ministry of Labor, argues that the threat of “deviant ideologies”
on “young minds” from Turkey should be of more significant concern to the Justice
Party government than the issue of transferring remittances to Turkey.
He argues that
even if these workers return with their savings in three to five years, having come
under the influence of deviant ideologies, they would be of no beneficial use. In the
1972 budget meeting mentioned above, Şevket Yılmaz from Justice Party, partner of
the coalition government, claims that extremists in Europe try to influence Turkish
workers. Based on a recently published news article, he asserts that the communists
are willing to train at least 50,000 Turkish workers in Germany as insurgents to erupt
a civil war and eventually establish a proletarian dictatorship in Turkey.
During these discussions, the Türk-Danış Offices in Germany come under heavy
fire by parliamentarians. Operating under the Workers Welfare Association
(Arbeiterwohlfahrt), the main objectives of these offices were to help Turkish workers
and solve their employment related problems.
However, some parliamentarians claim
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 44, vol. 10, meeting 1, 29.1.1971, p. 334-335.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 148, vol. 22, meeting 1, 3.10.1963, p.168.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 48, vol. 22, meeting 4, 24.2.1972, p. 209-210.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 90, vol. 5, meeting 1, 28.5.1970, p. 890.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 48, vol. 22, meeting 3, 24.2.1972, p. 192.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 88, vol. 24, meeting 1, 12.5.1972, p. 654.
that these institutions harbor Turkish communists who are likely to influence Turkish
workers as they get into regular contact with them. During the discussions of the 1968
parliamentary motion mentioned earlier, opposition MP Osman Bölükbaşı asserts that
these offices, among others, employ Turkish communists expelled from Turkish
He mentions a particular employee in the Achen region who allegedly
asks workers questions about the Russian revolution and its leaders while
recommending them books by Lenin and Marx. Enver Akova from coalition partner
Justice Party, in his question of motion posed in May 1972, warns the government
that some “leftist militants” are employed as teachers by the Türk-Danış Offices in
He also asserts that Russian and Maoist Turkish groups station their leftist
militants as interpreters, social workers, or union representatives where Turkish
workers are employed. Concerned from a ripple effect in Turkey, he asks the
government their plans to deal with this imminent danger.
Parliamentary discussions also reveal two of the strategies employed by the
Turkish state at the time in monitoring and controlling communist dissent in Europe.
These are by no means period-specific strategies as the Turkish state have continued
to use them in the following decades. However, they show that such policies have
been in place since the 1960s. First, through diplomatic channels, the Turkish state
had tried to convince receiving country authorities to prevent workers’ exposure to
communist propaganda. However, this strategy was not always productive as officials
refused to cooperate in order not to infringe workers’ democratic rights. In 1963, the
then Minister of Labor Bülent Ecevit indicates that the government had reached out to
German officials, asking them to interfere in radio broadcasting in Germany and have
these stations air Turkish programs. However, they had been rejected on the grounds
that such decisions rest with radio station managers only.
In a similar vein, in 1972,
the then Minister of Foreign Affairs Haluk Bayülken, confesses that due to the liberal
system in Germany, they were unsuccessful in their attempts to suspend Türk-Danış
employees on the sole basis of their ideological views.
Still, the Turkish state had
managed to have some employees got fired on the grounds of corruption, but they
were helpless for those with a clean track record.
Unsuccessful in their attempts to convince authorities through diplomatic
relations, the Turkish state had deployed another strategy: installing members of the
National Intelligence Agency (MIT) at diplomatic missions to monitor Turkish
citizens abroad. In April 1967 opposition parliamentarians from both right- and left-
leaning political parties submit a motion to open investigation against the Justice
Party government regarding their policies towards workers in Europe. One of the
parliamentarians submitted the motion, Ali Cüceoğlu from Republican People’s Party,
discusses the poor work conditions of a labor attaché in Munich who did not have a
desk to work from for a while. When he was shown a spare room at the attaché’s
office, Cüceoğlu asks whose room that was, “Someone from the National Security,”
they reply. When he asks his duties, they say, “He hunts communists.”
A laughter
erupts from the audience after this remark. Brushing them aside, Cüceoğlu continues
with his speech without questioning the presence of National Security personnel in
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 69, vol. 27, meeting 1, 5.4.1968, p. 533.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 88, vol. 24, meeting 1, 12.5.1972, p. 652
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 155, vol. 22, meeting 1, 22.10.1963, p. 297.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 88, vol. 24, meeting 1, 12.5.1972, p. 654-655.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 89, vol. 16, meeting 1, 20.4.1967, p.298.
Germany. Three years later, Justice Party government’s Minister of Labor Seyfi
Öztürk confirms the presence of MIT members abroad. He states that there are
personnel at the Turkish Attaché’s office, sent for “different missions,” who are
“sensitive and careful” about the radio stations and publications used for communist
These debates reveal that the political construction of communist dissent in
diaspora and the adoption of state policies of monitoring and control had started in the
1960s. For many parliamentarians the risks of the communist propaganda include the
possibility of Turkish workers coming under its influence and transferring these
teachings to Turkey, and hence challenging the political regime of the country.
Framing it as an existential matter, members of the parliament discursively construct
leftist Turkish nationals, radio-station employees, and Türk-Danış personnel as
security threat. The debates also unveil that not only parliamentarians from ruling
parties and coalition partners but also those in the opposition employ securitization
rhetoric. Moreover, political parties from both sides of the spectrum contribute to this
practice. While specific interest in the communist threat fades in the aftermath of the
1980 military intervention, concerns over leftists, albeit having lumped together with
Kurds, continues in parliamentary discussions for years to come. Moreover, state
policies of control put in place in the 1960s are also used for other dissent groups in
different time periods as well.
4.2. The Islamist Threat
Rising to popularity in the 1970s, the political Islam in Turkey gained an
unprecedented momentum in the 1980s. Two strands of literature offer explanations
for this significant development in the socio-political sphere in Turkey. The first one
perceives the adoption of the “Turkish-Islamic synthesis” by the 1980 military junta
to thwart the communist threat and end polarization in Turkey as the major catalyzer
behind this change (Cizre 1994, 1996; Ahmad 1988). Adopting a grassroots
perspective, the second explanation points at the failures of modernism, where the
liberal economic policies of the 1980s contributed to the expansion of the urban poor
in Turkey (Gülalp 1997). According to this view, political Islam, emphasizing the
unfulfilled promises of the Kemalist modernization project, managed to galvanize
major political support across Turkey.
Although the military junta and ensuing civilian governments favored Islamic
teachings for their potential to curb ideological alignments in Turkey, state actors
stayed wary of political Islam’s possible challenges to the regime (Ahmad 1988;
Gülalp 1999). Expressed mostly by parliamentarians from secular/left-leaning
political parties, the political construction of Islamist groups as dissent starts from the
late 1960s onwards. In 1968, during the parliamentary discussions over opening a
motion against the then Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel, opposition MP Coşkun
Kırca from secular-leaning Trust Party warns the Justice Party government that
communism is not the only threat faced by workers in Europe as there are reports on
the activities of “theocracy supporters” dismissed from Turkey.
Almost three
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 90, vol. 5, meeting 2, 28.5.1970, p. 906, p. 914.
!I use the termssecular-leaningand religious-leaningdeliberately to emphasize the range of
perspectives in these ideologies and to escape the reductionism of religious/secular dichotomy. !
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 69, vol. 27, meeting 1, 5.4.1968, p. 552.
decades later, the notion of “Islamist threat” continues to occupy parliamentarians’
agenda. In January 1993, opposition parliamentarians from the center-right
Motherland Party submit a motion to investigate workers’ problems abroad. During
the discussions, Algan Hacaloğlu from Republican People’s Party, also in opposition,
calls parliamentarians to realize a “dirty game” at play, which concerns the “ugly
indoctrination and zealot propaganda” among Turkish workers and citizens abroad
aspiring to change the political regime in Turkey.
As the size of the Turkish community expanded in Europe, emigrants started
to organize and found associations in their receiving country. While they primarily
established class-based organizations in the 1960s and 1970s, ethno-cultural
associations became more active from the 1970s onwards (Ögelman 2003; Avcı 2005;
Yükleyen and Yurdakul 2011). Before gaining political support that eventually
carried him to power in Turkey, the leader of the outlawed National Order Party
Necmettin Erbakan had escaped to Europe after the 1971 military intervention where
he had sown the seeds of the Milli Görüş movement (Bruce 2019). Süleymancılar, a
Nakşıbendi religious order, had created a network of followers in the 1960s which
grew in the 1970s. The Nurcu group, following a Sufi tradition and later came to be
known as the Gülen movement, began to organize by the end of the same decade.
Finally, the Kaplancılar, a spin-off from the Milli Görüş movement, established their
network in 1983.
Adherents of a more orthodox Islamic teaching, these organizations had raised
alarms for several parliamentarians as a source of security threat. In April 1987,
opposition MP Aydın Güven Gürkan from Social Democratic Populist Party submits
a parliamentary motion to investigate “measures to be taken to protect Turkish
citizens abroad from groups organized against the democratic and secular principles
of Turkey and its territorial unity.” During the discussions, he accuses such religious
groups of dividing Turkish community along “fundamentalist” religious lines.
Referring to a report submitted to the National Security Council in 1982, in which it is
claimed that a quarter of all mosques in Europe were under the rule of “factious”
tarikats, Gürkan argues that the division of Turkish community is far worse than it
was before the 1980 military intervention. In the same meeting, opposition MP Arif
Toprak from the secular-leaning Democratic Left Party complains about the
flourishing of Islamist organizations in Europe. He argues that of the five Turkish
mosques in Germany, only one belongs to Diyanet, whereas the rest are controlled by
Milli Görüş, Süleymancılar, Türk Ocağı and an individual with ties to Khomeini
The securitization of Islamist groups in Europe had paved the way for the
establishment of a state controlled religious institution, Diyanet İşleri Türk İslam
Birliği (DITIB) in Germany and in other European countries in the early 1980s. The
rationale behind this move was to reduce the influence of these groups and cultivate a
religious identity among Turkish nationals in line with the secular principals of the
Republic (Ögelman 2003). Many parliamentarians welcome this development as a
means to scrutinize and control Islamic currents among Turkish migrants in Europe.
During the discussions of the abovementioned parliamentary motion, Mehmet Topaç
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 54, vol. 27, meeting 1, 13.1.1993, p. 207.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 92, vol. 39, meeting 1, 21.4.1987, p. 312.
Ibid, p. 306.
from the ruling Motherland Party asserts that DITIB is established to lower the
influence of harmful religious currents engaged in “destructive, separatist activities”
and to strengthen workers’ attachment to Turkey.
However, there is also some discomfort among parliamentarians from
religious/conservative-leaning political parties over the issue of DITIB. In March
1995, opposition parliamentarian Seyfi Şahin from the Nationalist Movement Party
submits a question of motion inquiring if DITIB acts as a political apparatus imposing
a certain ideology. In his reply, the then Minister of State Necmettin Cevheri from the
center-right True Path Party indicates that the only aim of DITIB is to offer religious
services clear of deviant religious currents. However, his answer does not offer
comfort to Seyfi Şahin who, in his reply, accuses the government of using DITIB to
pass on the teachings of official Islam and thus creating fractions and building distrust
among workers.
The conflict among discourses in framing the Islamist groups in Europe spills
over to other areas. One such issue concerns how to teach children their culture in
diaspora, especially language and religion. During the discussions, parliamentarians
raise diverse concerns over religion teachers and teaching materials, signaling
competing narratives and divisions along ideological lines. In April 1979, opposition
parliamentarian Ahmet Buldanlı from the center-right Justice Party submits a question
of motion asking, among other issues, why the government, composed of three
secular-leaning political parties, does not allow imams in Europe to teach children the
principles of Islam at Quran courses.
In his reply, the then Minister of Labor Bahir
Ersoy from the Republican People’s Party refers to a government circular from 1978,
which states that children of Turkish workers should receive religious teaching that is
suited to the principles of the secular education system. For that reason, religion is
only taught by teachers assigned by the Ministry of Education. Moreover, the
Minister also indicates that Turkish citizens should be warned against religious
activities that aim for separatism. He implies that the Quran courses offered by such
“independent” imams fit into that description.
Parliamentary debates also reveal that the framing of Turkish nationals as
dissent due to their affiliations with certain religious groups had repercussions
especially in their affairs with the Turkish state. In June 1993, the parliament holds a
general meeting on the safety of Turkish citizens living in Europe, especially in
Germany. During the discussions, Esat Bütün from the far-right Great Union Party,
rejects securitization practices of the government composed of center-right True Path,
and center-left Social Democratic Populist Party. He criticizes the government for
treating certain nationals as second-or third-class citizens at consulates, or while
entering-exiting Turkey, and for denying passport extensions when their wife wears a
Drawing on the human rights discourse, he argues that it is impossible to
talk about human rights in a context where Turkish citizens are not treated equally by
their government. He insists that unless Turkey respects the rights of all its citizens, it
is not possible to expect European governments to show respect to Turkish migrants.
Ibid, p. 306.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 89, vol. 82, meeting 1, 22.3.1995, p. 201-202.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 81, vol. 12, meeting 1, 19.4.1979, p.336.
Ibid, p.336-337.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 112, vol. 36, meeting 1, 15.6.1993, p. 403.
In April 2003, shortly after Erdoğan came to power, the parliament negotiates
opening an investigation on the problems of Turkish citizens abroad. During the
meeting, Onur Öymen from the Republican People’s Party objects an argument
presented earlier by an MP from the ruling party that some Turkish citizens are
ostracized by Turkish diplomatic missions due to their ideological orientations.
an ex-diplomat, he asserts that Turkish state has always supported its citizens as long
as they do not get involved in terrorist organizations opposing secularism and the
fundamental principles of the Constitution. Framing Islamist groups as dissent,
Öymen legitimizes different state treatment on the grounds of support for terrorism.
Debates show that the political construction of Islamist groups as dissent in
diaspora starts in the late 1960s. For parliamentarians who raise this issue, Islamist
dissent poses an existential threat to the secular principles of the Republic. Framed as
‘fundamentalist,’ ‘destructive,’ and ‘separatist,’ Islamist organizations formed in
Europe are claimed to divide the Turkish community abroad. Debates also reveal that
the securitization act is mostly practiced by parliamentarians from secular-leaning
political parties. While parties situated at the center-left of the political spectrum are
more vocal about this issue, MPs from the center-right, such as the Motherland Party
and the True Path Party, also take part in this act. However, unlike the case with the
communist threat, there is disharmony among parliamentarians as opposing narratives
presented by religious/conservative-leaning political parties demonstrate. Moreover,
those engaged in securitization are situated in both the opposition and government,
whereas the ones offering alternative narratives exclusively come from opposition
parties whose symbolic power did not carry much weight at the time. Finally,
concerns over state policies of monitoring and control towards Islamist dissent are
mostly mentioned by the latter group only to be dismissed by the actors of
4.3. The Kurdish Threat
The military coup of 1980 suppressed not only internal violence, but also any
expression of Kurdish identity and political representation in Turkey (Bozarslan
2008). After the coup, those who fled to Europe managed to politically organize
Kurdish workers, who had mostly remained apolitical until then. As the armed
conflict between the security forces and the PKK escalated throughout the 1990s, the
Kurdish opposition in Europe intensified, making diaspora the headquarters for
raising funds and designing political activism (Bruinessen 1998, Barkey 2000, Lyon
and Uçarer 2001, Saatçi 2002). During this period, parliamentary debates have
gradually centered on the formation of a Kurdish (intermingled with leftist) dissent in
Europe, perceiving them as a security threat due to their mobilization of economic
and political support for the warfare in Turkey.
While Kurdish migration from Turkey to Western Europe started in the 1960s
under labor recruitment programs, majority of these workers did not assert a Kurdish
identity until after the 1970s (Bruinessen 1998, Ögelman 2003). Paralleling this
development, an emphasis on the presence of Kurdish threat in Europe emerged in the
parliament as early as the 1970s. In February 1972, during the budget meeting of the
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 66, vol. 12, meeting 2, 15.4.2003, p. 27.
Ministry of Labor, Şevket Yılmaz from center-right Justice Party, one of the partners
of the government, discusses a newspaper article mentioning an ongoing propaganda
of Kurdism (Kürtçülük) in Germany.
However, neither the then Minister of Labor
Ali Rıza Uzuner nor other parliamentarians who took the stage to talk about the
budget pick up on this discussion. Yet, debates on the Kurdish threat becomes more
prominent after the 1980 military coup which had produced an unprecedented number
of Kurdish and leftist asylum-seekers in Europe.
In the aftermath of the coup, European governments that accepted political
migrants from Turkey as refugees come under heavy fire in the parliament. In April
1987, during the discussions of a motion on the measures to protect Turkish citizens
from “organized powers against the secular principles and unity of Turkey,” the then
Minister of State Celal Güzel from Motherland Party indicates that people who
escaped from Turkey to Europe after the coup are involved in propaganda against
Turkey and they are influencing Turkish citizens abroad. Although he does not
specify which groups these people belong to, he complains from the fact that some
European governments have treated them as refugees.
During the same discussions,
Mehmet Topaç, also from the ruling Motherland Party, argues that the sensitivities of
European publics and governments on human rights issues are abused by these
“anarchists” who now aim to influence Turkish citizens abroad and eradicate
Turkey’s reputation and security.
He also refrains from naming these groups while
asserting that they benefit from “the tolerance of destructive and separatist” groups,
and the financial support provided by “the enemies of the Turk.”
In October 1992, the parliament discusses a motion submitted by Nationalist
Labor Party
in opposition, over holding a general meeting on the problems of
Turkish workers and citizens abroad. Mustafa Dağcı from Nationalist Labor Party
asserts that some of the teachers assigned by local governments in Europe are “state
enemies and PKK supporters.”
He also claims that PKK forces Turkish citizens to
pay money labeled as taxes in Germany and France. In the same meeting, opposition
MP Gaffar Yakın from Motherland Party, reminding the activities of “PKK and
terrorist leftist organizations” in Europe, reads a long passage from a letter sent from
Switzerland which complains about leaflets found in post boxes, posters plastered on
walls, and people knocking on doors late at night asking for money to support their
Echoing Dağcı’s claims, the letter asserts that some Turkish nationals are
paying tributes to these organizations as they are threatened by them. In these
speeches, Kurdish dissent is constructed as a security threat, not only to the unity of
the Turkish state but also to its loyal citizens abroad who are frightened and forced to
pay money. Although the parliament agrees to hold a general meeting in unanimity,
other political parties, including coalition partners True Path and Social Democrats,
do not make any reference to Kurdish threat during the discussions.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 48, vol. 22, meeting 3, 24.2.1972, p. 192.
After the coup, 30,000 people sought refuge in Germany only (Ammann 2005).
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 92, vol. 39, meeting 1, 21.4.1987, p. 301.
Ibid, p. 310.
Nationalist Labor Party was established in 1985 to consolidate the constituents of Nationalist
Movement Party which was closed in the wake of the 1980 military coup. The party got dissolved after
they joined the ranks of Nationalist Movement Party in 1993.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 17, vol. 19, meeting 1, 20.10.1992, p. 309.
Ibid, p. 294.
Some parliamentarians discuss the possibility of Kurdish groups forcing civilians
or organizing local extremists to commit crimes against Turkish nationals. Returning
from an official trip to Germany in February 1995, opposition MP Ali Günaydın from
Motherland Party shares the delegations’ observations with the parliament. Günaydın
claims that they have found out PKK smuggling approximately 60-70 Turkish citizens
daily to Germany on false documents presenting them as asylum-seekers.
their fear of deportation to Turkey, he asserts that PKK forces these people to commit
several offenses on their behalf while getting a cut from the benefit they receive from
the German government. In June 1993, during a general meeting on the safety of
Turkish nationals in Europe held two weeks after the Solingen attack, opposition MP
Koray Aydın from Nationalist Movement Party questions the possibility of PKK,
together with Armenian and Greek lobbies, galvanizing the Neo-Nazi hatred against
Turkish immigrants in Germany.
By expressing these claims, he automatically
enacts association between the Kurdish dissent and diaspora groups having traumatic
historical relations with the Turkish state. It is also worth noting that speakers from
coalition partners True Path and Social Democratic Populist Party do not dwell on this
issue during the general meeting.
The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the bipolar structure of the
international system, followed by the eruption of ethnically motivated internal
conflicts in neighboring regions were monitored with great attention by the
parliamentarians. The neighboring Iraqi-Kurdish conflict, alleviating fears about
similar developments taking place in Turkey, has contributed to the securitization of
Kurdish diaspora in Europe. In October 1992, opposition MPs İsmail Cem from
Republican People’s Party and Vehbi Dinçerler from Motherland Party both deliver a
short speech on the establishment of a Kurdish federation in Northern Iraq and ask the
policy that will be pursued by the coalition government of True Path and Social
Democrats. In his reply, Hikmet Çetin, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, indicates that
the new international system is characterized by “uncertainty and instability with
Turkey right in the middle,” while asserting they will not recognize the Kurdish
federation in Iraq.
When the issue of setting up a ballot box abroad to elect a
Kurdish parliament in Iraq comes up in November 1992, opposition MP Engin Güner
from Motherland Party, after criticizing Europe for permitting it, asks the Turkish
government if such developments would affect the sovereignty and territorial unity of
Turkey in the future.
However, in his brief reply, the Minister of State Akın Gönen
from True Path Party discusses other matters brought up by Güner without touching
upon the issue of Kurdish elections.
The parliamentary debates also reveal that state monitoring of diaspora was in full
swing in the aftermath of the 1980 military coup. In November 1982, in the budget
meeting of the Ministry of Labor, Vahap Güvenç from the National Security
Council’s Consultative Assembly indicates that the union specialists abroad not only
investigate workers’ problems but also cooperate with Turkish diplomatic missions
regarding workers’ activities against Turkey. Although he does not specify who these
people are and what type of activities they are supposedly engaged in, it is safe to
assume that they are mostly leftists and Kurds who fled the country after the military
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 74, vol. 79, meeting 1, 14.2.1995, p. 39.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 112, vol. 36, meeting 1, 15.6.1993, p. 406.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 12, vol. 18, meeting 1, 7.10.1992, p. 346.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 30, vol. 21, meeting 1, 24.11.1992, p. 240.
intervention took place.
Similarly, in 1985, during the Motherland Party rule,
opposition MP Hilmi Nalbantoğlu from center-left People’s Party
submits a
parliamentary question on radio broadcasting against Turkey in Europe, asking which
measures are taken to deal with these “separatist, destructive, and provocative”
In his written reply, the Minister of State Mesut Yılmaz acknowledges
the difficulty of intervening in radio broadcasts as program managers in charge of the
content are usually German nationals. However, he reassures that the state follows the
activities of Turkish nationals employed in these radio stations.
After the 1980 military intervention, the Turkish state, following two legal
amendments in the passport law, had also adopted the policy of confiscating passports
to punish political dissent in Europe. In 1986, Motherland Party government’s
Minister of Internal Affairs Yıldırım Akbulut, in his written answer to a parliamentary
question, confirms that Turkish nationals involved in “activities against Turkey” and
engage in “actions endangering state security” are having their passports
Claiming that “objective criteria” are used to assess each case, he
indicates that those who lost their passports are granted travel documents to return to
Turkey. During the discussions of his parliamentary motion in April 1987, Aydın
Güven Gürkan from Social Democratic Populist Party offers an alternative narrative
in the face of this securitizing state practice.
While he accepts that there are people
who deserve to have their passports cancelled, he criticizes the policy since many
cases were decided without due judicial process. Arguing that the loss of a passport is
the highest penalty one can receive, he deems many of these cases to be deserving
lighter penalties. Referring to the human rights discourse, he is also concerned that the
passport cancellation policy is harmful to Turkey’s image as a democratic country.
However, like parliamentarians from religious-leaning political parties discussed in
the previous section, his narratives do not carry any symbolic power in the parliament.
These discussions demonstrate that the political construction of Kurdish dissent in
diaspora starts in the early 1970s, picking up speed after the 1980 military
intervention. Involving several discursive maneuvers, the constitution of Kurdish
dissent rests on the claim that it poses an existential threat to the political unity of
Turkey and its loyal citizens abroad. Debates also reveal that it is mainly the
nationalist- and center-right political parties involved in the practice of securitization
although center-left Republican People’s Party also takes some part. Interestingly, in
the early 1990s, the coalition partners True Path and Social Democrats refrain from
using speech acts that would contribute to the securitization of Kurdish diaspora.
However, their narratives, usually relayed by Social Democrats, are countered with
mockery and accusations of being unpatriotic.
Therefore, from time to time, they
join other parties to criticize security-related developments unfolding in Turkey.
This shows that, depending on the context, occupying a position of power may not be
enough to stand against the forces of securitization already in place. Although ‘speech
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 25, vol. 12, meeting 2, 26.11.1982, p. 460.
In November 1985, Peoples Party unites with Social Democracy Party, changing their name to
Social Democratic Populist Party.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 95, vol. 16, meeting 1, 7.5.1985, p. 171-2.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 10, vol. 31, meeting 1, 7.10.1986, p. 457.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 92, vol. 39, meeting 1, 21.4.1987, p. 315.
Republic of Turkey, TBMM Tutanak Dergisi, session 59, vol. 8, meeting 2, 23.3.1992, p. 283.
Ibid, p. 293.
acts’ that explicitly securitize Kurdish diaspora wear off in the second half of the
1990s, parliamentarians continue to take the presence of foreign support, imagined as
an amalgamation of European governments and Kurdish diaspora, for granted in their
5. Conclusion
The aim of this article is to contribute to the scholarship on diaspora governance
which has expanded in scope over the years. Research has demonstrated that diaspora
governance may establish a framework of duality as sending states exercise policies
of fostering and control simultaneously (Dalmasso et al. 2018; Glasius 2018). The
literature on Turkish diaspora governance has disclosed its dual structure where
policies of engagement are selectively implemented thus excluding diaspora groups
such as Kurds, Alevis, and non-Muslims (Adamson 2019; Yanaşmayan and Kaşlı
2019). Referring to the role of state authority in defining their subjects, the
scholarship has already explored the reasons behind the categorization of certain
diaspora groups as dissent (Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003; Mügge 2013; Arkilic 2020b).
This article contributes to the existing literature by examining the discursive and
political construction of dissent categories in diaspora, and the role of symbolic power
for political actors in their securitization.
Drawing on Turkish parliamentary debates (1960-2002), this research reveals the
political construction processes of three distinct dissent categories in Europe: the
communists, Islamists, and Kurds. Although each category has its own course of
political construction, at times these processes occur simultaneously. For instance, the
narratives on both the communist and Islamist threat first emerge in the late 1960s.
While the specific interest on the former ebbs after the 1980 military intervention, the
securitization of Islamist groups continues until the early 2000s. On the other hand,
the securitization of Kurdish diaspora first appears in the 1970s whereas it intensifies
after the 1980 military coup. Moreover, in the parliamentary debates, leftists who had
fled the country after the coup usually get brought together with Kurds.
Debates also unveil the range of narratives used during the securitization of these
three distinct groups. For many parliamentarians the dangers of the communist
propaganda lie in its potential to influence Turkish workers and have them transfer
these teachings to Turkey. As a result, they politically construct leftist Turkish
nationals, including workers, radio-station employees, and Türk-Danış personnel as
security threat to the liberal regime of the country. Islamist organizations, on the other
hand, are perceived as existential threat to the secular principles of the Republic.
Framed as fundamentalist, destructive, and harmful, these organizations as well as
their adherents are constituted as dissent in the parliamentary debates. On the other
hand, Kurdish diaspora is defined as threat to the political and territorial unity of
Turkey. Parliamentarians describe individuals who are claimed to support Kurdish
opposition as the ‘enemies of state.’
Parliamentary discussions also display the agreements and controversies when it
comes to the securitization of certain diaspora groups. Political parties both on the
center-right, i.e., the Justice Party, and on the center-left, i.e., the Republican People’s
Party, take part in the political construction of communist threat in diaspora. In other
words, there is a unison among parliamentarians in the absence of any alternative
discourses. On the other hand, for Islamist groups, it is mostly secular-leaning
political parties, either in power or in opposition, that get involved in the
securitization practices. Moreover, center-right political parties, such as Motherland
and True Path, are on board with the center-left Republican People’s Party during
these discussions. However, unlike the case with the communist threat, there is
disagreement among political parties over the securitization of Islamist groups.
Although religious-leaning political parties resist narratives of securitization using
human rights arguments, as parties in opposition, they do not have enough symbolic
power to shape the narrative.
As for the Kurdish threat, parliamentarians from the nationalist-right, i.e., the
Nationalist Movement Party, and the center-right, i.e., the Motherland Party, are the
main actors of securitization. Yet, MPs from the Republican People’s Party has also
taken part in this process. It is worth noting that, in the early 1990s, the coalition
government of True Path and Social Democrats refrain from deliberately constituting
Kurdish diaspora as dissent. However, due to the powerful nationalist discourse in the
parliament around the Kurdish issue at the time, they are unable to flip the narrative
despite their position of power. Moreover, at times, they join other parties to criticize
security-related developments unfolding in Turkey. Unlike the case with the Islamist
threat, in this example, the opposition emerges as the actor of securitization in the
Lastly, the analysis of these debates reveals that although parliamentarians have
an agreement on the dangers of the communist threat, there are conflicts among them
regarding the Islamist and Kurdish threats. Furthermore, while the Islamist groups are
constituted as security threat especially by those occupying a position of authority, for
the Kurdish case, in the early 1990s, the ruling power refrains from using
securitization rhetoric. However, they cannot stand against the narratives of
securitization employed by the parliamentary opposition. This demonstrates that
while securitization rests on the symbolic power of political actors, under certain
circumstances they do not need to occupy a position of authority as they can mobilize
securitization despite being in the opposition.
Adamson, F. (2016). The growing importance of diaspora politics. Current
History, 115(784), 291–297.
Adamson, F. (2019). Sending states and the making of intra-diasporic politics: Turkey
and its diaspora(s). International Migration Review, 53(1), 210-236.
Ahmad, F. (1988). Islamic Reassertion in Turkey. Third World Quarterly, 10(2), 750-
Ahmad, F. (2003). Turkey: The Quest for Identity. London: Oneworld Publications.
Aksel, D. (2014). Kins, distant workers, diasporas: Constructing Turkey’s
transnational members abroad. Turkish Studies, 15(2), 195-219.
Arkilic, A. (2020a). Explaining the evolution of Turkey’s diaspora engagement
policy: a holistic approach. Diaspora Studies, 14(1), 1-21.
Arkilic, A. (2020b). Empowering a fragmented diaspora: Turkish immigrant
organizations’ perceptions of and responses to Turkey’s diaspora engagement policy.
Mediterranean Politics. DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2020.1822058
Avcı, G. (2005). Religion, transnationalism and Turks in Europe. Turkish Studies,
6(2), 201-213.
Aydın, Y. (2014). The new Turkish diaspora policy: Its aims, their limits and the
challenges for association of people of Turkish origin and decision-makers in
Germany. SWP Research Paper, 10, 1-28.
Barkey, H. (2000). The struggles of a "Strong" State. Journal of International
Affairs, 54(1), 87-105.
Bauböck, R. (2003). Towards a political theory of migrant transnationalism.
International Migration Review, 37(3), 700-723.
Bigo, D. (2000). When two become one: Internal and external securitization in
Europe. In M. Kelstrup, M. Williams, (Eds), International Relations Theory and
Politics of European Integration (pp. 171-204). London: Routledge.
Bigo, D. (2002). Security and immigration: Toward a critique of the governmentality
of unease. Alternatives, 27, 63-92.
Bigo, D. (2013). Security: Analysing transnational professionals of (in)security in
Europe. In R. Adler-Nissen, (Eds), Bourdieu in International Relations (pp. 114-130).
New York: Routledge.
Bigo, D., Tsoukala, A. (2008). Terror, Insecurity and Liberty: Illiberal Practices of
Liberal Regimes after 9/11. UK: Routledge.
Bourdieu, P. (1991). Language and Symbolic Power. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Bozarslan, H. (2008). Kurds and the Turkish State. In R. Kasaba, (Eds.), History of
Turkey Volume 4: Turkey in the Modern World (pp. 333-356). Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
Brand, L. (2006). Citizens Abroad: Emigration and the state in the Middle East and
North Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Brubaker, R. (2005). The ‘diaspora’ diaspora. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28(1), 1-19.
Brubaker, R., Kim, J. (2011). Transborder membership politics in Germany and
Korea. European Journal of Sociology, 52(1), 21-75.
Bruce, B. (2019). Governing Islam Abroad: Turkish and Moroccan Muslims in
Western Europe. Cham: Palgrave.
Bruinessen, M. V. (1998). Shifting national and ethnic identities: the Kurds in Turkey
and the European Diaspora. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 18(1), 39-52.
Burgess, K. (2018). States or parties? Emigrant outreach and transnational
engagement. International Political Science Review, 39(3), 369-383.
Buzan, B. (1983). People, States, and Fear: The National Security Problem in
International Relations. Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books.
Buzan, B. (2006). Will the ‘global war on terrorism’ be the new Cold War?
International Affairs, 82(6), 1101-1118.
Buzan, B., Wæver, O. and Wilde, J. (1998). Security: A New Framework for Analysis.
London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Cizre Sakallıoğlu, Ü. (1994). Kemalism, hyper-nationalism and Islam in Turkey.
History of European Ideas, 18(2), 255-270.
Cizre Sakallıoğlu, Ü. (1996). Parameters and Strategies of Islam–State Interaction in
Republican Turkey. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 28(2), 231-251.
Cohen, R. (2008). Global Diasporas: An Introduction. New York: Routledge.
Collyer, M. (2013). Afterword: States of Emigration. In M. Collyer, (Eds.),
Emigration Nations: Policies and Ideologies of Emigrant Engagement (pp. 327-333).
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dalmasso, E. (2018). Participation without representation: Moroccans abroad at a
time of unstable authoritarian rule. Globalizations, 15(2), 198-214.
Dalmasso, E., Sordi, A. D., Glasius, M., Hirt, N., Michaelsen, M., Mohammad, A. S.,
Moss, D. (2018). Intervention: Extraterritorial authoritarian power. Political
Geography, 64, 95-104.
Delano, A., Gamlen, A. (2014). Comparing and theorizing state-diaspora relations.
Political Geography, 41, 43-53.
Gamlen, A. (2008). The emigration state and the modern geopolitical imagination.
Political Geography, 27(8), 840-856.
Gamlen, A. (2014). Diaspora Institutions and Diaspora Governance. International
Migration Review, 48(1), 180-217.
Glasius, M. (2018). Extraterritorial authoritarian practices: a framework.
Globalizations, 15(2), 179-197.
Goldring, L. (2002). The Mexican State and Transmigrant Organizations: Negotiating
the Boundaries of Membership and Participation. Latin American Research Review,
37(3), 55-99.
Gülalp, H. (1997). Modernization Policies and Islamist Politics in Turkey. In S.
Bozdoğan, R. Kasaba, (Eds.), Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey
(pp. 52-63). Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Gülalp, H. (1999). Political Islam in Turkey: The Rise and Fall of the Refah Party.
The Muslim World, 89(1), 22-41.
Huysmans, J. (2000). The European Union and the Securitization of Migration?
Journal of Common Market Studies, 38(5), 751-777.
Huysmans, J. (2006). The Politics of Insecurity: Fear, migration and asylum in the
EU. London: Routledge.
Ibrahim, M. (2005). The Securitization of Migration: A Racial Discourse.
International Migration, 43(5), 163-187.
İçduygu, A., Aksel, D. (2015). Migration Realities and State Responses: Rethinking
International Migration Policies in Turkey. In S. Castles, D. Ozkul, M. Cubas (Eds.),
Social Transformation and Migration (pp. 115-131). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Koinova, M. (2018). Endorsers, challengers or builders? Political parties’ diaspora
outreach in a post-conflict state, International Political Science Review, 39(3), 384-
Koinova, M., Tsourapas, G. (2018). How do countries of origin engage migrants and
diasporas? Multiple actors and comparative perspectives, International Political
Science Review, 39(3): 311-321.
Lewis, D. (2015). ‘Illiberal spaces’: Uzbekistan’s extraterritorial security practices
and the spatial politics of contemporary authoritarianism, Nationalities Papers, 43,
Lyon, A. J., Uçarer, E. E. (2001). Mobilizing ethnic conflict: Kurdish separatism in
Germany and the PKK. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 24(6), 925-948.
Margheritis, A. (2007). State-led transnationalism and migration: reaching out to the
Argentine community in Spain. Global Networks, 7(1), 87-106.
Michaelsen, M. (2018). Exit and voice in a digital age: Iran’s exiled activists and the
authoritarian state. Globalizations, 15(2), 248-264.
Moss, D. (2016). Transnational Repression, Diaspora Mobilization, and the Case of
The Arab Spring. Social Problems, 63, 480-498.
Moss, D. (2018). The ties that bind: Internet communication technologies, networked
authoritarianism, and ‘voice’ in the Syrian diaspora. Globalizations, 15(2), 265-282.
Mügge, L. (2011). Managing Transnationalism: Continuity and Change in Turkish
State Policy. International Migration, 50(1), 20-38.
Mügge, L. (2013). Ideologies of nationhood in sending-state transnationalism:
Comparing Surinam and Turkey. Ethnicities, 13(3), 338-358.
Nell, L. M. (2008). The Shadow of Homeland Politics: Understanding the Evolution
of the Turkish Radical Left in the Netherlands. Revue Europeenne des Migrations
Internationales, 24(2), 121-145.
Ögelman, N. (2003). Documenting and Explaining the Persistence of Homeland
Politics Among Germany's Turks. International Migration Review, 37(1), 163-193.
Öktem, K. (2014). Turkey’s New Diaspora Policy: The Challenge of Inclusivity,
Outreach and Capacity. Istanbul Policy Center.
Ostergaard-Nielsen, E. (2003). The Politics of Migrants’ Transnational Political
Practices. International Migration Review, 37(3), 760-786.
Ostergaad-Nielsen, E., Ciornei, I. (2019). Political parties and the transnational
mobilization of the emigrant vote, West European Politics, 42(3): 618-644.
Özkazanç, A. (1999). Türkiye’de Otoriter Yönetim Zihniyeti. Mürekkep,13, 8–39.
Portes, A. (2003). Conclusion: Theoretical Convergencies and Empirical Evidence in
the Study of Immigrant Transnationalism. International Migration Review, 37(3),
Ragazzi, F. (2009). Governing Diasporas. International Political Sociology, 3(4),
Ragazzi, F. (2014). A comparative analysis of diaspora policies. Political Geography,
41, 74-89.
Saatçi, M. (2002). Nation–states and ethnic boundaries: modern Turkish identity and
Turkish–Kurdish conflict. Nations and Nationalism, 8(4), 549-564.
Safran, W. (1991). Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return.
Diaspora: A Journal of Transnational Studies, 1(1), 83-99.
Şahin Mencütek, and Başer, B. (2018) Mobilizing Diasporas: Insights from Turkey’s
Attempts to Reach Turkish Citizens Abroad. Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern
Studies, 20(1), 86-105.
Shain, Y. (1989). The Frontier of Loyalty: Political Exiles in the Age of the Nation-
State. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.
Smith, R. C. (2003). Diasporic Memberships in Historical Perspective: Comparative
Insights from the Mexican, Italian and Polish Cases. International Migration Review,
37(3), 724-759.
TBMM (Turkish Parliament). (2012). Investigation Commission Report,
<> [accessed on
September 22, 2020]
Tsourapas, G. (2015). Why do states develop multi-tier emigrant policies? Evidence
from Egypt. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 41(13): 2192-2214.
Tsourapas, G. (2020). The long arm of the Arab state. Ethnic and Racial Studies.
43(2), 351-370.
Ünver, C. (2013). Changing Diaspora Politics of Turkey and Public Diplomacy.
Turkish Politics Quarterly, 12(1), 181-189.
Van Dijk, T. (2008). Discourse and Power. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Wæver, O. (1995). Securitization and Desecuritization. In R. Lipschutz (Eds.), On
Security (pp. 46-86). New York: Columbia University Press.
Wæver, O. (1996). European Security Identities. Journal of Common Market Studies,
34(1), 103-132.
Wæver, O., Buzan, B., Kelstrup, M., Lemaitre, P. (1993). Identity, Migration and the
New Security Agenda in Europe. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Yanaşmayan, Z., Kaşlı, Z. (2019). Reading diasporic engagements through the lens of
citizenship: Turkey as a test case. Political Geography, 70, 24-33.
Yükleyen, A., Yurdakul, G. (2011). Islamic Activism and Immigrant Integration:
Turkish Organizations in Germany. Immigrants & Minorities, 29(1), 64-85.
Zürcher, E. (1994) Turkey: A Modern History. London: I.B. Tauris.
... The literature on diaspora politics teaches us how states with communities of citizens and ethnic kin abroad often implement policies and practices for actively engaging "their" diaspora abroad (Ragazzi, 2009(Ragazzi, , 2014Gamlen, 2014;Délano & Gamlen, 2014;Abramson, 2017;Ho, 2011;Ashutosh, 2021;Selen Artan, 2022). Another strain of this literature focuses on diaspora diplomacy showing how diasporas can be a "diplomatic actor in its own right" (Ho & McConnell, 2019). ...
... In identity-based engagement states act to construct and sustain diaspora identity for the purpose of maintaining links with the original or homeland culture (Sökefeld, 2006;Adamson & Demetriou, 2007) by developing education programs (Koinova & Tsourapas, 2018), organizing homeland visits (Abramson, 2017;Gamlen et al., 2013), using digital platforms to instill feelings of belonging to the homeland (Williams, 2019) and granting extraterritorial rights (Yanasmayan & Kaşlı, 2019;Waterbury, 2010). State engagement of diasporas can also be understood in terms of governance, in which policies are created not only to sustain connections with the diaspora but also for the purpose of control and competition for power (Ragazzi, 2014, Délano & Gamlen, 2014Gamlen, 2014, andSelen Artan, 2022). ...
How can a state advocate on behalf of a diaspora community whose minority rights are threatened in a foreign country without appearing as intervening in this country's domestic affairs, thereby jeopardizing their bilateral relations? This is precisely the dilemma that Israel faced in 1960 when the Turkish government decided to close the national Jewish institutions in Turkey at a time when Israeli-Turkish relations were becoming increasingly amicable. On the one hand, Israel wanted to act, but on the other, it did not want to jeopardize its relations with Turkey, a country very sensitive to issues of national sovereignty and minorities. Wanting to intervene but fearing an adverse reaction from Ankara, Israeli diplomats decided to secretly mobilize B'nai B'rith, a Jewish-American organization. Based on primary sources from Israeli and B'nai B'rith archives, we analyze the Is-raeli decision to intervene, its mode of implementation, and the challenges faced by Israeli officials concerning their interactions with the Jewish actors in Turkey and the United States. We present a form of multilateral diaspora engagement taking place in multiple geographies in which one Jewish diaspora-the Jewish-American organization B'nai B'rith-was mobilized by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to perform unofficial diplomacy in the aid of another Jewish diaspora-the Jewish community in Turkey-for the purpose of reopening the latter's communal institutions. Looking at the motivations for engagement and the balances of power shaping it, we offer a new look on the dynamics of claiming and agency between states and diasporas.
Full-text available
This article provides a comprehensive framework to explain why Turkey has adopted a pro-active diaspora agenda since the early 2000s. It shows that Turkey’s diaspora policy is the result of an amalgamation of domestic, transnational, and international factors: Domestically, the AKP’s rise to power resulted in drastic economic and political reforms and the promotion of a new identity based on neo-Ottomanism and Sunni-Muslim nationalism. These developments have transformed Turkey’s state-diaspora relations. The 2013 Gezi Park protests and the 2016 failed coup attempt also played a role. Transnationally, Turkish expatriates’ growing socio-economic and political clout in their host countries, as evidenced by the mushrooming of political parties founded by Turks in Europe, has urged Turkey to reconsider the efficacy of its diaspora as a source of influence abroad as well as a noteworthy electorate in national elections. Various international events have also shaped Turkey’s new diaspora agenda, including Turkey’s increasing bargaining power vis-à-vis the EU since the early 2000s, particularly after the European refugee crisis, and the rise of Islamophobia in the post-9/11 era. I suggest that domestic factors have played the most significant role in shaping Turkey’s diaspora agenda. I examine the domestic dimension both as an independent factor and also in relation to transnational and international factors. The configuration of a new political elite has changed the ways in which Turkey interacts with its transnational diaspora and perceives its international position vis-à-vis European countries. The findings of the article draw on official statements and documents, semi-structured in-depth interviews conducted with Turkish officials, the Euro-Turks Barometer Survey, and news sources.
Full-text available
The existing literature on state-diaspora relations, primarily in the MENA, has mostly focused on how and why home states engage their diasporas, rather than with what consequences. This article investigates how different groups within the diaspora community are affected by the homeland’s multi-tiered diaspora engagement policy. I argue that sending states influence select immigrant organizations’ mobilization by empowering them in two key ways: They instill self- confidence and collective identity in organization leaders and provide them with capacity- development and know-how support. Yet such differential treatment may become a source of suspicion in host states and cause resentment among the disregarded diaspora groups. The findings draw from extensive fieldwork conducted in France, Germany, and Turkey between 2013 and 2019 and original data derived from interviews, official documents, and news sources.
Full-text available
The multiple politics and identities of many contemporary diasporic configurations raise a number of important conceptual issues for the study of diaspora politics, including what counts as a “diaspora,” how do particular “diasporas” emerge, and what shapes their politics? This article discusses conceptual and substantive splits in the burgeoning social science literature on diasporas and suggests the value of analyzing the politics and policies of sending states as crucial factors in both “diaspora-shaping” and “diaspora-generating” processes. It presents an extended case study of the emergence of diaspora groups connected with contemporary Turkey, situating Turkey’s “New Diaspora Policy” in its historical context. The article concludes by suggesting that the proposed framework allows for a deeper theorization of the relationship between identity categories and political action, thus shedding light on the conceptual puzzle of what constitutes a diaspora.
Full-text available
The relationship between political parties and voters is usually analysed in a national framework. However, the majority of states worldwide allow their emigrant citizens to vote from afar. This paper analyses how parties confront the challenge of mobilising voters across borders. We present an analytical framework for comparing the scope of party transnational mobilisation strategies across different electoral systems. Drawing on a contextualised qualitative analysis, the paper analyses transnational electoral mobilisation of the emigrant vote in recent elections in Spain, France, Italy and Romania. The analysis shows that a cost-benefit analysis of electoral incentives explains the scope of transnational campaign efforts of many of the political parties, Yet, we also suggest locating the analysis of party strategies in the particular context of the transnational electoral field, including the high dispersion, uncertainty and volatility of the emigrant vote and the overlap between the electoral arenas among emigrants and at home.
Full-text available
How do parties in government and opposition in a contested post-conflict state reach out to their diasporas abroad? Do their policies overlap or differ, and if so why? Scholarly accounts of sending states’ outreach towards diasporas have paid little attention to the variety of actors and processes within sending states, and have grouped states with contested sovereignty in the same cluster as states for which sovereignty is not a salient issue. This article focuses on one of these contested states, Kosovo, and on the party engagement with diasporas abroad that has emerged there. I conceptualize three types of extraterritorial party outreach – state-endorsing, state-challenging, and party-building. I argue that parties that emerge from secessionism and warfare are more likely to reach out to the diaspora through a state-endorsing or party-building approach, depending on whether they are in government or opposition. Parties that are newly institutionalized in the post-conflict polity seek to engage the diaspora through a state-endorsing or state-challenging approach.
From sending imams abroad to financing mosques and Islamic associations, home states play a key role in governing Islam in Western Europe. Drawing on over one hundred interviews and years of fieldwork, this book employs a comparative perspective that analyzes the foreign religious activities of the two home states with the largest diaspora populations in Europe: Turkey and Morocco. The research shows how these states use religion to promote ties with their citizens and their descendants abroad while also seeking to maintain control over the forms of Islam that develop within the diaspora. The author identifies and explains the internal and foreign political interests that have motivated state actors on both sides of the Mediterranean, ultimately arguing that interstate cooperation in religious affairs has and will continue to have a structural influence on the evolution of Islam in Western Europe.
In most scholarly discussions of ethnic communities, immigrants, and aliens, and in most treatments of relationships between minorities and majorities, little if any attention has been devoted to diasporas. In the most widely read books on nationalism and ethnonationalism. the phenomenon is not considered worthy of discussion, let alone index entries. This omission is not surprising, for through the ages, the Diaspora had a very specific meaning: the exile of the Jews from their historic homeland and their dispersion throughout many lands, signifying as well the oppression and moral degradation implied by that dispersion. But a unique phenomenon is not very useful for social scientists attempting to make generalizations. Today, “diaspora” and, more specifically, “diaspora community” seem increasingly to be used as metaphoric designations for several categories of people—expatriates, expellees, political refugees, alien residents, immigrants, and ethnic and racial minorities tout court—in much the same way that “ghetto” has come to designate all kinds of crowded, constricted, and disprivileged urban environments, and “holocaust” has come to be applied to all kinds of mass murder.
Diaspora policies have recently become prominent for an increasing number of states. While the growing body of literature on new diaspora policies and institutions has shown these as a sign of a state's willingness to include populations from abroad into the polity, an equally new adjacent literature has emphasised the exclusive and controlling aspect of extra-territorial power of authoritarian states. This article argues that a consideration of co-occurrence of positive and negative diaspora politics is needed for a holistic understanding of state-led transnationalism and its contested relationship to national territory and popular sovereignty. In this article, we build on the example of Turkish policies, which on the one hand took considerable steps to include its citizens abroad and on the other continued the exclusion of the ‘enemies of the state’ and re-defined the limits of political membership at home and abroad. By analysing the new diasporic institutional practices, the enfranchisement of external citizens and the right to exit along with loss of citizenship provisions, we show that Turkish state policy disrupts the assumed holy trinity of nation-state-territory forging a de-territorialised unity between internal and external citizens, as well as a de-territorialised division along the lines of party loyalty. Looking at diasporic engagements in all three dimensions - institutional, political and legal-through the lens of citizenship, we demonstrate that they are neither the extension of a heavy handed extra-territorial state power nor of an all-inclusive diaspora policy but a more complex combination of the two.
Under what conditions do authoritarian states exercise control over populations abroad? The securitization of cross-border mobility has been a common theme in examining immigration policies in the Global North. The securitization of emigration and diasporas in non-democratic contexts remains neglected; this is particularly true with regard to Arab states’ extraterritorial authoritarian practices. This article argues that authoritarian states develop a range of migration policies that are driven by the contradictory pressures of economic and political imperatives or, put differently, an illiberal paradox: if a state does not expect economic gains from cross-border mobility, it is more likely to securitize its emigration policy; otherwise, it is more likely to securitize its diaspora policy. The article illustrates this trade-off via a most-similar comparison of Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. Drawing on Arabic and non-Arabic primary and secondary sources, it sketches a novel area of research on migration and security.