From exit to voice: reflections on exile through the accounts of Turkey’s intelligentsia

Baser, Bahar and Öztürk, Ahmet Erdi (2022) From exit to voice: reflections on exile through the accounts of Turkey’s intelligentsia. Middle East Critique, 31 (4). pp. 401-415. ISSN 1943-6157


The authoritarian turn in Turkey compelled many citizens to change life trajectories which included extreme measures such as migration and exile. Thousands of people left Turkey in the last decade, this recent wave constituting one of the largest Turkish migrations to Europe and beyond. The profile of the migrants included those who were comfortable with and/or opposed the current regime’s political and social policies, members of oppressed minority groups, Gülen movement members who are accused of orchestrating the failed 2016 coup attempt as well as white collar and secular Turkish citizens who made lifestyle migration choices because of the political and economic developments in the country. The article focuses on the narratives of a specific group within this new wave, those whom we refer to as Turkey’s intelligentsia in exile, and who decided to leave Turkey following the Gezi protests in 2013. The findings are based on 25 interviews conducted in 2021 with former academics, activists, artists, journalists and politicians who migrated to a variety of locations as a result of pending trials or arrest warrants against them, dehumanization discourse that pro-regime politicians directed toward them, as well as lack of freedom of speech and assembly.

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