Accepted Paper:

Training Bureaucrats, Practicing for Europe: Constitutive Bureaucratic Imaginaries in Turkey  

Author:

Elif Babul (Mount Holyoke College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper attends to rights based trainings of bureaucrats as sites where terms of the governmental is reiterated and discussed by the current political and governmental actors. It analyzes how ideas and imaginaries of bureaucrats, bureaucracy and governing map out the meaning of the political in post-1980 Turkey.

Paper long abstract:

Turkey's EU membership is commonly discussed in terms of the country's compliance with the "Copenhagen Criteria." Complying with these norms is seen as a pathway for the country's governing apparatus to adopt higher standard of government, with respect to human rights and civil liberties.

According to the general accession framework, keeping up with European standards of "good governance" requires the development of state institutions via "capacity building" projects enabled by EU funds in Turkey. These projects mainly take the form of in-service trainings directed towards the bureaucrats on rights based issues (such as domestic violence, refugee law, juvenile justice etc.) for which they are held accountable. Training projects, co-run by national and international human rights NGOs, constitute significant sites of state-NGO interaction. These unusual assemblages serve as forums where two groups of actors - bureaucrats and activists - typically considered as each others' constitutive outside, meet to rehearse their long held convictions about each other as they discuss sensitive subjects related to the country's governance. These mutual convictions allude to a repertoire shaped by histories and imaginaries about who bureaucrats are and what bureaucracy in Turkey corresponds to.

This paper attends to rights based trainings of bureaucrats as sites where terms of the governmental - seen as distinct from the political - is reiterated and discussed by the current political and governmental actors. It analyzes how ideas and imaginaries of bureaucrats, bureaucracy and governing map out the meaning of the political in post-1980 Turkey.

Panel W052
World(s) of bureaucrats