Şener Aktürk

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Contact / Email: sakturk@ku.edu.tr 



Short Bio:
I am a scholar of comparative politics, with a focus on comparative politics of ethnicity, religion, and nationalism, and Professor in the Department of International Relations at Koç University in Istanbul. After completing my BA and MA at the University of Chicago and my PhD in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and a Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Government at Harvard University. My book, Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey (Cambridge University Press, 2012) received the 2013 Joseph Rothschild book prize from the Association for the Study of Nationalities. My academic articles have been published in International Security, World Politics, Perspectives on Politics, Comparative Politics, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Post-Soviet Affairs, Mediterranean Politics, Social Science Quarterly, European Journal of Sociology, Nationalities Papers, Problems of Post-Communism, Turkish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Osteuropa, Theoria, Ab Imperio, All Azimuth, Insight Turkey, Turkish Policy Quarterly, Central Eurasian Studies Review, Perceptions, Uluslararası İlişkiler, Doğu Batı and various edited books. I published 16 articles in SSCI indexed journals, of which 13 have been single-authored, which you can find under "Selected Publications" below. I published chapters in 20 edited books, 34 research articles in academic journals, and 24 book reviews, which you can find in the "Curriculum Vitae" link above. My H-index was 22 and my i10 index was 41 as of June 30, 2024.

My article, "Regimes of Ethnicity," was the first article published in World Politics by a scholar based in Turkey. My article, "Passport Identification and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Russia" was the first article published by a Turkish scholar in Post-Soviet Affairs. I am the recipient of Peter Odegard Award (2006), Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant (2010-2014), Baki Komsuoglu Social Sciences Encouragement Award (2011), Kadir Has Social Sciences Prize (2015), TUBA Young Scientist Award (2016), BAGEP Science Academy Award (2017), Koç University CASE Faculty Outstanding Teaching (2017) and Outstanding Research Award (2019-2020), and TUBİTAK Incentive Prize (2019). I was elected as an Associate Member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences in December 2023.

As a comparative political scientist broadly defined, the following countries were among the qualitative case studies in focus in my previous publications: Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, the Netherlands, North Macedonia, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. In addition, my publicly presented but not yet published works in progress include as case studies the following countries: Denmark, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. I have been the principal advisor of 4 PhD students and 8 M.A. students who received their degrees from Koç University between 2010 and 2022, in addition to some other students in whose thesis committees I participated as a member.  

My publications are often explicitly motivated to solve a major empirical puzzle of theoretical significance: In “Regimes of Ethnicity” (World Politics, 2011), I explained why, when, and how states change their policies toward ethnic diversity with a focus on the change in the official policies defining what it means to be German, Russian, and Turkish at the turn of the 21st century. In “Passport Identification and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Russia,” I explained why and how the removal of ethnicity from Russian identification documents was a major symptom of the state-led effort to change Russian national identity in an assimilationist direction. In “Counter-Hegemonic Visions and Reconciliation through the Past” (Ab Imperio, 2004) and “Turkish Eurasianism as a Pro-Russian Rethinking of Turkey’s Geopolitical Identity” (Turkish Studies, 2015), I explained why and how a segment of the Turkish elite advocated, for the first time in history, Russo-Turkish alliance and integration as the most beneficial course for Turkish national interests. Published in 2004, “Counter-Hegemonic Visions and Reconciliation through the Past” is almost certainly the first scholarly article published in English on pro-Russian Turkish Eurasianism. In “Nationalism and Religion in Comparative Perspective” (Nationalities Papers, 2022), I explained why religious identification motivates and intensifies some nationalisms, whereas it moderates and weakens nationalism in many other nationalisms. In “Comparative Politics of Exclusion” (Comparative Politics, 2020), I explained why and how “the exclusion of Jews and Muslims, the two major non-Christian religious groups in Europe and the Americas, has continued on the basis of ethnic, racial, ideological, and quasi-rational justifications, instead of or in addition to religious justification, since the Reformation.” Why do Turkish language and ethnicity have constitutional status in North Macedonia, but not in neighboring Greece or especially Bulgaria, where the Turkish minority is far more numerous with a powerful political party that has been part of numerous Bulgarian coalition governments? (Mediterranean Politics, 2022) Why is the Muslim minority most underrepresented in the national parliaments of France, which has the largest and one of the oldest Muslim minorities in the West, whereas Muslims are proportionately represented and even overrepresented in neighboring Belgium? (Perspectives on Politics, 2021)

Selected Publications


Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey. New York: Cambridge University Press (Problems of International Politics Series), 2012.

Türkiye’nin Kimlikleri: Din, Dil, Etnisite, Milliyet, Devlet ve Medeniyet. Istanbul: Etkileşim, 2013.

Articles in Web of Science (Social Science Citation Index-SSCI) Journals

"Not So Innocent: Clerics, Monarchs, and the Ethnoreligious Cleansing of Western Europe." International Security 48, no. 4 (2024): 87-136. Link:

https://direct.mit.edu/isec/article/48/4/87/121307/Not-So-Innocent-Clerics-Monarchs-and-the (Open Access)

"Nationalism and Religion in Comparative Perspective: A New Typology of National-Religious Configurations." Nationalities Papers 50, no. 2 (2022): 205-218. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/nps.2021.17 (Open Access) 

"The puzzle of Turkish minority representation, nationhood cleavage, and politics of recognition in Bulgaria, Greece, and North Macedonia." (with Idlir Lika). Mediterranean Politics 27, no. 1 (2022): 1-28. DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2020.1750269

"Varieties of Resilience and Side Effects of Disobedience Cross-National Patterns of Survival during the Coronavirus Pandemic." (with Idlir Lika). Problems of Post-Communism 69, no. 1 (2022): 1-13. DOI: 10.1080/10758216.2021.1894405

"Institutionalization of Ethnocultural Diversity and the Representation of European Muslims." (with Yury Katliarou) Perspectives on Politics 19, no. 2 (2021): 388-405. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S1537592720001334

"Comparative Politics of Exclusion in Europe and the Americas: Religious, Sectarian, and Racial Boundary Making since the Reformation." Comparative Politics 52, no. 4 (2020): 695-719.  DOI: 10.5129/001041520X15786939438699

"Unipolar vs. multipolar: Russland und die Türkei im Vergleich." Osteuropa 68, no. 10-12 (2018): 119-129. https://zeitschrift-osteuropa.de/hefte/2018/10-12/unipolar-vs-multipolar/ and https://www.jstor.org/stable/26645003 

"One nation under Allah? Islamic multiculturalism, Muslim nationalism and Turkey’s reforms for Kurds, Alevis, and non-Muslims." Turkish Studies 19, no. 4 (2018): 523-551.  

DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2018.1434775

"Post-imperial democracies and new projects of nationhood in Eurasia: transforming the nation through migration in Russia and Turkey." Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 43, no. 7 (2017): 1101-1120. DOI: 10.1080/1369183X.2016.1246177

"Religion and Nationalism: Contradictions of Islamic Origins and Secular Nation-Building in Turkey, Algeria, and Pakistan.” Social Science Quarterly 96, no. 3 (2015): 778-806.

DOI: 10.1111/ssqu.12191

“Fourth Style of Politics: Eurasianism as a Pro-Russian Rethinking of Turkey’s Geopolitical Identity.” Turkish Studies 16, no. 1 (2015): 54-79. 

DOI: 10.1080/14683849.2015.1021246

“NATO Neden Genişledi? Uluslararası İlişkiler Kuramları Işığında NATO'nun Genişlemesi ve ABD-Rusya İç Siyaseti.” Uluslararası İlişkiler 9, no. 34 (2012): 73-97. Direct Link

“Regimes of Ethnicity: Comparative Analysis of Germany, the Soviet Union/Post-Soviet Russia, and Turkey.” World Politics 63, no. 1 (2011): 115-164. 

DOI: 10.1017/S0043887110000304 and https://www.jstor.org/stable/23018799 

“Passport Identification and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Russia.” Post-Soviet Affairs 26, no. 4 (2010): 314-341.  DOI: 10.2747/1060-586X.26.4.314

“Persistence of the Islamic Millet as an Ottoman Legacy: Mono-Religious and Anti-Ethnic Definition of Turkish Nationhood.” Middle Eastern Studies 45, no. 6 (2009): 913-929.

DOI: 10.1080/00263200903294229

“Incompatible Visions of Supra-nationalism: National Identity in Turkey and the European Union.” European Journal of Sociology 48, no. 2 (2007): 347-72. DOI: 10.1017/S0003975607000409

Edited Journal Special Issue

Guest Editor of the Special Issue on “Debating Turkey's Grand Strategy.” Perceptions: Journal of International Affairs (published by the Center for Strategic Research, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey), Vol. 25, no. 2 (2020). Available at http://www.sam.gov.tr/pdf/perceptions/Volume-XXV/Autumn-Winter-2020/perceptions-Volume-XXV-Autumn-Winter-2020.pdf 

Selected Book Chapters in Edited Volumes

Ethnicity and Religion in Russia.” In Susanne Wengle (ed.), Russian Politics Today: Stability and Fragility (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2023). 

Comparative Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Chapter 14 in Muzaffer Şeker, Ali Özer, Cem Korkut (eds.), Reflections on the Pandemic in the Future of the World (Ankara: Turkish Academy of Sciences, 2020): 309-324.

“The Myth of a Christian Europe: From the Siege of Vienna to the Massacre in Norway.” In Andreas Delsett (ed.), The Saladin Anthology (Oslo: Litteraturhuset [The House of Literature], 2015): 58-67. (article version, 2012)

“Politics of History in Turkey: Revisionist Historiography’s Challenge to the Official Version of the Turkish War of Liberation (1919-1922).” In Alexei Miller and Maria Lipman (eds.), Convolutions of Historical Politics (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2012): 279-308.

Regimes of Ethnicity and Nationhood in Germany, Russia, and Turkey 

Almanya, Rusya ve Türkiye'de Etnisite Rejimleri ve Milliyet

       Türkiye'nin Kimlikleri:

Din, Dil, Etnisite, Milliyet, Devlet ve Medeniyet

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