International migration of skilled labor: human capital formation challenges from the perspective of countries of origin; by Florencia Barindelli

The purpose of this paper is to examine how different theories have historically explained the causes and consequences of skilled international migration (SIM) and to contrast them in light of recent empirical data. Given the relevance that human capital formation has for economic growth and the new concrete forms of SIM, the concept of “brain drain” is subject of academic reconsideration and political dispute. Current empirical data allows us to explore the loss of human capital that skilled emigration has caused to the developing world and provides a robust technical and political justification for policy interventions.


Humanitarianism as Foreign Policy: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Turkey; by Jill Boyd

The uprising turned civil war in Syria has displaced millions of Syrians and created one of the grimmest humanitarian disasters in history. As the war continues, the refugee situation and implications for neighboring countries receiving floods of fleeing Syrians created by the displacement should be analyzed and evaluated. This paper will explore the political significance, liability, and challenges of the Syrian refugee population in the context of Turkey. I argue that Turkey’s humanitarian response towards incoming Syrians is a flexing of its foreign policy, and is in its best interest to keep acting accordingly if it wishes to attain regional and international prestige. Despite criticisms from Western politicians and prominent NGO’s on Turkey’s tight grip on the reins of a humanitarian response, its actions grant legitimacy to its own criticisms against the structure of multilateral institutions. As Turkey acts on the situation, it is simultaneously being tested on its absorption capacity and its consistency on defining its own narrative.

The timeliness and political relevance of this study is justified for a number of reasons. Turkey as a host country has been widely praised for its benevolence towards its Syrian neighbors seeking refuge it in its borders, however, it has been criticized for tight restrictions on NGO’s and humanitarian agencies that seek to offer supplemental services. In recent history, control of refugee populations has been directed under the auspices of organizations like the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR); in this case, however, the Government of Turkey has assumed almost complete control of administering services and providing shelter to incoming Syrians. This strategy of state humanitarianism in Turkey offers an ideal case of the institution versus state tension, luring an international audience on whether its success, or failure, to effectively meet the needs of refugees will occur. A coherent analysis of Turkey’s response to the humanitarian crisis posed by Syria will take into account Turkey’s guiding foreign policy principles, past criticisms towards international institutions, and services provided to refugees. It is the position of this paper that Turkey’s ability to generate and sustain the livelihoods of destitute Syrians that will determine its internal and foreign capabilities in times of international crisis.

The broad purposes of this research are 1) to analyze and evaluate the role of Turkey as a receiving host country for fleeing Syrians and 2) to create awareness on how refugees and state humanitarianism fit into interior and foreign policy systems. This comprehensive analysis will be broken into several sections. First, this report will review existing literature and legal instruments on the relationship between international institutions and state sovereignty in order to construct a basic framework in which the creation and necessary response to a refugee crisis is conditioned. Since this paper locates Turkey as the state actor in the humanitarian crisis, this section will likewise review an institutional actor: the United Nations Refugee Agency, the world’s central refugee coordination and regulating body. This will include a presentation of official documents as it applies to state and non-state actors, including Turkey’s official foreign policy vision and the UNHCR’s international refugee legal instruments that define and classify those who follow under its protection and the rights guaranteed under its jurisdiction. Next, this paper will utilize the Syrian civil war’s refugee crisis as a case in which the state versus institution interaction will be materialized and evaluated in terms of services, motivations, and sustainability. The last section will present a rational evaluation on the overall performance of the Turkish government, including points of highlights gained from this research.

The Rhetoric of Force and the Turkish Government’s Claims to Legitimacy; by Dana Heitz

Does a comparison of different domestic conflict situations, which either present a challenge to the legitimacy of the state or are perceived to do so, reveal a pattern of consistent state response to such challenges? Are any emergent patterns useful in identifying the effectiveness of these strategies, as measured by the dissenting target audience’s willingness to accept their message of legitimacy? What do these patterns show about how a government views its own power and its accountability to those who put it in office in the first place?

In Turkey, this is an opportune time to pose these questions. The conflict between state and citizen which arose from the plans to redevelop Gezi Park, and the reaction from the government – slightly panicked, fairly autocratic, with a hefty sprinkling of hyperbole – represent a unique moment in the country’s history where thinly-veiled authoritarianism, erstwhile apolitical actors, and social media collide on the political stage. By comparing the present situation with a past conflict, it may be possible to show that a common modus operandi exists in state dealings with dissent. This paper compares the current protests with the enforced disappearances undertaken by the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counterterrorism Unit (“JİTEM”) against suspected Kurdish militia during the 1990s, another example of state-citizen conflict, to investigate whether that is the case.

A brief acknowledgement of certain assumptions is in order before the discussion proceeds. First, this paper uses the following definition of legitimacy: “The power of a state, contemporaneously authorized pursuant to accepted terms of assent, to undertake a given act.” The usefulness of this definition, despite its omissions and assumptions, will be developed later on, and it is important to note that what the implications of this definition would be for any government other than a constitutional democracy such as Turkey is beyond the scope of this paper. The same is true of an analysis of the initial legitimacy of the prime minister and Freedom and Justice Party (“AKP”) government – while this may be open to debate, the paper assumes that they were voted into office in accordance with proper Turkish electoral procedure. Finally, the paper uses the words “discourse” and “communication” freely, and extends them to cover any means by which a message is conveyed – by acts, symbols, tone, etc., and does not limit their meaning only to actual words.

After describing its methodology, this paper first establishes a background in the academic literature for the questions presented, and offers a theoretical justification for the definition of “legitimacy” it assumes. It then lays out the data sets considered for this study and considers that information in light of the theories. The paper finally concludes that the Turkish government has a poor track record of normative justification for its claims to power, and that its efforts to shift from a superficial to more deeply-rooted legitimacy are unlikely to be successful.

Doing Student-y Things Around Istanbul

Here’s a couple recent snapshots of great minds in action! Great job everyone.


Turkish polarization widens on anti-government protests


Reported by CNN International, aka the conspirators (6.17.13). And so the divisions run deeper.