Zeynep Sentek, born in Izmir, started her undergraduate studies at Middle East Technical University in Turkey and transferred to University College Roosevelt of Utrecht University in the Netherlands. She completed her bachelor’s degree in international relations in 2010 (Cum laude). She received her master’s degree in Conflict, Security and Development from University of Sussex in the UK in 2012 (Distinction). Between 2014 and 2016 she worked as a lecturer in Glion Institute of Higher Education in London where she taught Geopolitics and Sociology. Since October 2016, she is a doctoral student in Heidelberg University as a DAAD scholar under the supervision of Prof Aurel Croissant.
She also works as an investigative journalist focusing on corruption, offshore structures, human rights abuses and workers’ rights issues in Turkey. She has given many talks about her work and her investigations have been awarded and shortlisted for several journalism awards.
Working title: Evaluating the reconfiguration of security sector and its impact on democratization in Turkey under AKP rule
Summary of research: Starting from 2002, Turkey has undertaken an unprecedented project to demilitarize its politics. My research aims to explain why the acclaimed civilianization project of Erdogan’s AKP government did not achieve meaningful democratization in Turkey. It attemps to reveal a process of political demilitarization where a new coercive structure has been forged, together with the rebuilding of the political and social domain. The core argument is that under the country’s unique ‘scope conditions’, a political demilitarization agenda in Turkey can lead only to the loyalization of the potential drivers of change and institution-grabbing by the power central that is the civilian government. As a result, the state and its coercive arms go through a reactive re-structuring process where the police, the intelligence services and the paramilitary agents gain significant power and space. Politically, the patriarch of the motherland changes face. The new patriarch, with the notion of personality cult heavily present, creates a new modernity where nationalism, Islam, and security play a significant role in the social domain and any counter-hegemonic movement is pacified in the political domain. Under this set of circumstances, Turkey’s democratization project, ignited by political demilitarization, then ultimately fails and authoritarianism starts to appear. Using historical institutionalism as its main theoretical framework, the research will utilize the process-tracing method and collect evidence from the period 2002-2017.