Talk: “The Islamist Pendulum: Democracy and Authoritarianism in Turkey, Egypt, and Tunisia”
Dr. Şebnem Gümüşçü
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Middlebury College
Thursday, May 9, 2019, 12.30 – 13.30 p.m.
FEASS Building, A-326
This book studies the trajectory of mainstream Islamist parties in power. Through a comparative analysis of democratically elected Islamist governments in Turkey, Tunisia, and Egypt it explores the following questions: How do Islamists’ commitments to democracy change when they come to power? Under what conditions do incumbent Islamists adhere to democratic principles or take an authoritarian turn? It specifically argues that Islamist parties are composed of different factions with diverging perceptions of democracy, and that an Islamist party’s political trajectory ultimately rests on the balance of power between softliners and hardliners within the party apparatus. This study rests on multi-method research and data triangulation to substantiate its main claims. Specifically, it draws on Mill’s method of most similar systems design for comparative analysis and process tracing to unpack the causal mechanisms underlying Islamist party change in individual cases. It utilizes one hundred and thirteen semi-structured, in-depth interviews; ethnographic field research; and textual analyses to reveal Islamic parties’ internal dynamics.
Şebnem Gümüşçü is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Middlebury College and has published extensively on Turkish politics and the recent authoritarian turn under the Justice and Development Party. In her first book titled Democracy, Identity, Foreign Policy in Turkey: Hegemony through Transformation, co-authored with Fuat Keyman, she unpacked the AKP’s role in broader Turkish modernization and identified the ways in which the party transformed the Turkish state, regime, economy, and foreign policy between 2002 and 2014. She has also published several single-authored and co-authored articles on Islamist moderation and the AKP in journals like Comparative Political Studies, Journal of Democracy, Third World Quarterly, South European Society and Politics, Government and Opposition, Middle Eastern Studies, and Middle East Critique.