Bill Kissane is on the faculty of the London School of Economics. On August 9, 2016, he interviewed University of Michigan Department of Sociology faculty member Fatma Müge Göçek for the website H-Nationalism. Their wide ranging conversation started from her growing up in Turkey and decision to become an Academic to her interpretation of what is going on in the Turkish government right now.
The Introduction is excerpted here:
"Bill Kissane first encountered Professor Fatma Müge Göçek at a conference held by the LSE Turkish Studies programme on March 17 2016. The conference theme was ‘Interrogating the Post-Ottoman’ and the day was devoted to the comparative study of that part of the world - especially south-eastern Europe - which had been under Ottoman rule before 1923. More specifically, the conference explored parallels and contrasts between Ottoman and western Imperialism, Ottoman practices of pluralism, and those historical and cultural commonalities which some claim have made the post-Ottoman world a unified region. Professor Goçek’s paper ‘Imagined Boundaries of the Post-Ottomans’ showed how different attitudes to the imperial past still played a significant role in party political divisions within the Turkish Republic, most visibly since the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002.
First educated at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul Turkey, Professor Göçek moved to Princeton in the United States in 1981 where she completed an MA in 1984 and was awarded her doctorate in 1988. In the same year she was appointed Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Michigan where she still teaches in the Department of Sociology and the Programme in Women’s Studies. In that period she has authored three monographs and four edited books, mostly focussing on the politics of Turkey and the Middle East. A select bibliography can be found at the bottom of this interview. She became full professor in the same university in 2012.
A central issue in her field has been the way in which Ottoman legacies affect the management (or otherwise) of cultural diversity in the Balkans, Anatolia and the Middle East. This has increasingly become a fundamental issue in Professor Göçek’s work too. Having begun her academic career working on an issue that has been central to the historical sociology of ‘the European periphery’ – how agrarian societies come to terms with western modernity – increasingly her focus is on nationalism: on those current internal conflicts which have followed the formation of a nationalist Republic out of the Ottoman Empire. Be these conflicts ethnic, ideological or religious, they form important threads of continuity running from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty first, and are an appropriate focus for a scholar who interprets the task of the historical sociologist to write present-centred histories of the past. This ambition is full of controversy, indeed risk, and is eloquent testimony to the reality that the break with the Ottoman Empire remains ‘an unsettled accomplishment’ for both Turkey and its neighbours."