The Turkish Malaise – A Critical Essay


The Turkish Malaise – A Critical Essay | by Cengiz Aktar | Published: 9 September 2021 [Mediterranean Politics Series: 1] | Paperback: ISBN: 978-1-80135-076-1  Buy from Amazon | Buy from Lulu |’dan al | Digital version: ISBN: 978-1-80135-077-8 | Read on Google PlayRead on Kindle | Read on CEEOL |’da oku


Cengiz Aktar

The Turkish Malaise – A Critical Essay

by Cengiz Aktar
Published: 9 September 2021 [Mediterranean Politics Series: 1]

Paperback: ISBN: 978-1-80135-076-1  Buy from Amazon | Buy from Lulu |’dan al
Digital version: ISBN: 978-1-80135-077-8  Read on Google Play | Read on Kindle | Read on CEEOL |’da oku

Renowned scholar Professor Cengiz Aktar’s treatise, The Turkish Malaise, is a timely and poignant search for the root causes of this debacle. A massive part of his answer focuses on revisiting the force of the Ottoman-Turkish past vis-à-vis the West and its relation to the present.

Read the full review here: Ümit Cizre, International Affairs, and a version appeared here:

No one can predict today how Turkey will evolve; which spirit will mark the country’s future. Who could have predicted the turn it has taken in recent years after having been a rising star in the early 2000s, a candidate for the European club, “the” model to follow, especially for Muslim countries seeking justice and prosperity? The failure of its candidacy, in which Europe has its share, has been the prelude to its progressive de-Westernisation accompanied by bellicosity on all fronts, at home and abroad.

Western countries are trying to manage this “Turkish crisis” between incomprehension and blind detachment, between appeasement and complicity, between containment and apprehension of seeing this large country decompose in its turn.

In this concise and well-documented essay, the author provides analytical tools to understand the split of a society, between state, nation, religion, imperial myth and the West. The analysis is complemented by interviews with the sociologist Nilüfer Göle and the historian Étienne Copeaux, both of whom have witnessed Turkey’s never-ending transformation.

“The Turkish Malaise” in media

Suddeutsche Zeitung – “Im Gegensatz zum deutschen oder italienischen Totalitarismus des 20. Jahrhunderts ging dem Abdriften der Türkei in eine Despotie im 21. Jahrhundert keine wirtschaftliche oder soziale Krise voraus.” Read the full article here. –  news portal [ ]: “Rarely has a Turkish scholar dealt so thoroughly and unsparingly with the failure of rapprochement between Europe and Turkey. In this critical essay, Cengiz Aktar digs deep into the history of the Ottoman Empire and Europe… ” Read the full article here.

Ahval – news portal [6 Oct. 2021]: “Political Islam in Turkey has lost the opportunity to mix with Western ideals and local dynamics, and ended up being restricted to parochial Islamism, Turkish political scientist Cengiz Aktar said in a podcast with Nervana Mahmoud, the host of Ahval’s “Turkish Trends” series.” Read the full article here.


  • Foreword
  • Between mitre and turban
  • A conqueror fascinated by what he conquered
  • Eastern cosmopolitanism versus Western “pensée unique
  • Voluntary and self-imposed westernization
  • Invention of the nation by forceps
  • The unaccounted crime of genocide, the founding moment of a republic born impaired
  • The last step in the march west, the European Union
  • De-westernization and decomposition
  • A belligerent power both externally and domestically
  • Making sense of the Turkish regime
  • West’s new Turkey conundrum
  • Epilogue
  • Interview with Étienne Copeaux
  • Interview with Nilüfer Göle



Cengiz Aktar is a political scientist. He teaches the history of political ideas in the 19th century Ottoman Empire, regional and home affairs policies of the European Union, and works on the politics of memory. He is a visiting professor at the University of Athens. He has worked for the United Nations and with the European Union on migration and asylum policies. He has campaigned in Turkey to raise awareness on the Armenian genocide. He contributes to Financial Times, Le Monde and Libération. He is the advisor of the Hrant Dink Foundation and participated in the creation of La Revue du MAUSS.

CREDITS: Cover design by Selcuk Demirel, Paris, 2020.


ISBN: 978-1-80135-076-1 (Print)
ISBN: 978-1-80135-077-8 (Digital)
Publisher: Transnational Press London
Published: 9 September 2021
Language: English
Pages: 99
Binding: Paperback
Interior Ink: Black & white
Weight (approx.): 0.3 kg
Dimensions (approx.): 15cm wide x 23cm tall

Additional information

Weight 0.40 kg




Interior Ink

Black and White

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