Bayram Balci, Juliette Tolay

While the issue of Syrian refugees has led an increasing number of countries to work on curbing arrivals, one country, Turkey, hosts almost half of these refugees. Yet, far from imposing restrictions, Turkey has distinguished itself for its open border policy and large-scale humanitarian contribution. Turkey’s generosity alone is not sufficient to understand this asylum policy put in place specifically for Syrians. There are indeed a number of political factors that indicate a certain level of instrumentalisation of this issue. In particular, Turkey’s benevolent attitude can be explained by Turkey’s early opposition to Assad in the Syrian conflict and its wish to play a role in the post-conflict reconstruction of Syria, as well as by its willingness to extract material and symbolic benefits from the European Union. But the refugee crisis also matters at the level of domestic politics, where different political parties (in power or in the opposition) seem to have used the refugee issue opportunistically, at the expense of a climate favorable to Syrians’ healthy integration in Turkey

Dilek Yankaya

Müsiad International Fair held in Istanbul in 2014 aroused great public interest due to the strong presence of political elites as well as to the mobilization of a large network of institutions, firms and media partners. International exhibitions are relevant fields to explore the formation of trade circuits and the creation of sociabilities, as well as to question the political and international issues central to the construction of trade networks and markets. This event appears as the representation of the Turkish state as it is formed under the AKP power. We witness a double trend of reconfiguration and of internationalization of the state constituting processes through the phenomena of increased interactions between private enterprise and public action on one side and the shrinkage of patronage networks on the other. Participating to this event therefore becomes a question of legitimization and delegitimization for private actors regarding these networks of power, the production of which is based on the presentation of economic and industrial productions and goes together with the creation of Imaginaries. The ethnographic study of the fair shows how industrial, cultural and symbolic representations bring about the production of two types of Imaginary, one related to the reinvention of the idea of the ummah across merchant networks and the other referring to the supremacy of Turkey as the carrier of this project.

The Justice and Development Party (JDP) has been in power in Turkey since 2002, consolidating its electoral support among an array of social groups ranging from broad appeal among the popular classes to business leaders and a growing middle class. The success of the JDP is a consequence of the manner in which the party inserted itself into certain economic and social sectors. While the party has internalized the principles of reducing the public sphere and outsourcing to the private sector, it has not restricted the reach of government intervention. On the contrary, it has become increasingly involved in certain sectors, including social policy and housing. It has managed this through an indirect approach that relies on intermediaries and private allies such as the businesses and associations that is has encouraged. In this way, the JDP has developed and systematized modes of redistribution that involve the participation of conservative businessmen who benefit from their proximity to the decision-makers, charitable organizations, and underprivileged social groups. These public policies have reconfigured different social sectors in a way that has strengthened the Party’s influence.