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Turkish academic disinvited due to ‘politically sensitive’ paper

Turkey’s Koç University has rejected the presentation of an academic paper at a workshop, finding it politically too sensitive for the current extreme conditions in Turkey, the Diken news website reported on Wednesday.

Yasemin Yılmaz, whose paper is titled “Elite Interests and Media Suppression: The Cases of Turkey and Venezuela,” was invited to present her paper at a workshop on Turkey and Latin America on July 20-21 at Koç University.

The organizers of the workshop then sent her an email saying the paper was “politically too sensitive … given the potential consequences involved in the current extreme conditions for academic work in Turkey.”

Yılmaz, who criticized the decision as a good example of self-censorship and academic cowardice, shared the email on her social media account and wrote the following comment:

I was just disinvited from presenting at a workshop on ‘Turkey and Latin America in Comparative Perspective’ to be held at Koc University, July 20-21. Despite having accepted my paper almost two months ago, organizers informed me today that my paper is too ‘politically sensitive,’ ‘given the potential consequences involved in the current extreme conditions for academic work in Turkey’ (read the full text if you can, it’s full of gems). Ironically, my paper deals with freedom of press in Turkey and Venezuela, arguing that where elites support the political/economic project of the government, they will yield free speech. First off, I would like to thank the organizers for validating my academic argument in a way that would have taken me a few drafts, at least. While the academic environment in Turkey is without a doubt extreme, it will definitely not improve through self-censorship and academics who are too afraid to hold a simple discussion behind university doors. To reshape conferences based on fears and anticipation of repercussions — based only on paper titles and abstracts no less — is a sure way to preserve the extremeness of the status quo.”

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