This case examines the Academies of Solidarity founded by purged academics who signed a peace declaration and local political agents as collaborative collective actions in a context of deepening authoritarianism in Turkey. For more than two years, beginning right after the failed coup d’état attempt (July 15, 2016), Turkey has officially been governed under the state of exception during which the government made statutory decrees that are subject to no auditing nor judicial appeal by any means. With the implementation of those statutory decrees, they have massively been purged from Turkish universities due to their leading role in an initiative by signing a petition for peace as the armed confrontation between the state security forces and Kurdish guerrilla.
Additionally, those who have lost their job via statutory decrees can neither leave the country nor can they work at private universities as their passports are taken away and they are blacklisted. In the presence of these repressive and discrediting measures, those academics have decided to turn this severe situation into an opportunity to produce knowledge out of the limitations and competitiveness of highly neoliberalized institutions.
To that end, they founded ‘academies of solidarity’ in different cities with different forms depending on the local dynamics of each city and the organizations that act in solidarity such as unions, professional associations, students, citizens, international organizations, and gathered in order to respond to the judicial processes and the political repression collectively under the umbrella of these academies. Given that these practices aim to transform academic relations and knowledge production processes with other participants in a collective way, converting it into a reciprocal learning process instead of a top-down relation, it is crucial to analyze their effects in terms of resistance against democratic regression within the local realities of each city.
Through in-depth open-ended interviews in four cities (Istanbul, Ankara, Kocaeli and Mersin), we also scrutinize to what extent academies of solidarity have become influential political agents not only against the persecution of academics but also against the ongoing democratic regression in Turkey and neoliberalization of universities.