Academic Freedom and the Turkish Turmoil: Symposium on Academic Freedom in Turkey

Thursday, Aug 25 2016 1:00 pm

Event End Time 2016-08-25 17:00
Event Location Porthania II, Yliopistonkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki
Co-sponsors University of Helsinki,
Contact Yonca Ermutlu (
In Event Types: Conference

University of Helsinki welcomes you to an academic discussion on the current situation of academia in Turkey.

In last January this year, 1128 academics signed an open letter which addressed the Turkish government calling for a lasting peace in Turkey and asking to end its violence in South Eastern Turkey which is mainly inhabited by Kurdish citizens. The next day, after the petition for peace was published, the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the signatories of treason and aiding the terrorist organization PKK. Since then, the signatories, as they call themselves the “Academics for Peace”, have been facing investigations, suspensions, dismissals and imprisonments.

On July 15th this year, there has been an attempt for a military coup d’état in Turkey. In a few days after the government has overthrown the attempt for coup, the Higher Education Council of Turkey (YÖK) has ordered the resignation of all Deans, altogether 1577 university deans, from public and foundation universities. 15 universities have been shut down since then and 2239 academic staff members are under investigation under the regulations of the state of emergency.

In order to understand the current, multi-layered and complicated political situation in Turkey and its effects on the academia, the University of Helsinki is organizing a symposium on August 25th with guest speakers. The event will be opened by Chancellor Thomas Wilhemsson, University of Helsinki, followed by  the keynote speech by Professor Umut Özkirimli from the University of Lund on  nationalism in today’s Turkey. Other speakers will include Senior Researcher Toni Alaranta from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, who will talk about the EU-Turkey relations, and Professor Mahmut Mutman from the University of Tampere, whose topic is populism in Turkey.

After the coffee break, there will be a panel discussion with researchers from the University of Helsinki. The panelists will include Professor Juhana Aunesluoma, Network for European Studies, Research Fellow Halil Gürhanli, Faculty of Social Sciences, Research Fellow Johanna Vuorelma, University of Warwick and Professor Hannu Juusola, Vice president of the Foundation of the Finnish Institute in the Middle East.

The symposium will be held on Thursday, 25 August, 2016, at 13-17 in the lecture hall Porthania IV (Yliopistonkatu 3).


13:00 | OPENING: Academic freedom and autonomy, Chancellor Thomas Wilhelmsson, University of Helsinki

13:20 | KEYNOTE: Quo Vadis Turkey? Professor Umut Özkirimli, University of Lund

14:00 | Turkey, EU and the narratives of emancipation: a reality check, Senior Research Fellow Toni Alaranta, the Finnish Institute of International Affairs

14:30 | Putschists vs. Populists, Professor Mahmut Mutman, University of Tampere

15:30-16:30 | PANEL DISCUSSION

Panel discussion Chair: Research director Juhana Aunesluoma, University of Helsinki

Research Fellow Halil Gürhanli, University of Helsinki

Professor Hannu Juusola, University of Helsinki

Research Fellow Johanna Vuorelma, University of Warwick