Kaya Genç’s most recent book is Under the Shadow: Rage and Revolution in Modern Turkey. He lives in Istanbul. (June 2018)


Sex Changes in Turkey

A cross-dressing male dancer, or köçek, in the Ottoman Empire, nineteenth century
On the night of September 27, 2017, Derin Oylum, a twenty-year-old Turkish graphic design student who is in the early stages of transitioning from female to male, met with his girlfriend, Emine, in the small Aegean town in Turkey where they both live. The couple climbed a hill, enjoyed the views of green fields, and talked about their relationship. Fifteen minutes later Emine’s brother appeared on a motorcycle. Derin says the boy punched him to the ground and kicked him several times in the face. He was head-butted twice; his right cheekbone was fractured. “Are you lovers?” the attacker asked as he choked Derin, called him a lesbian, and telephoned Emine’s father for assistance. Half an hour later the father arrived. He began punching Derin in the face, threatened him with rape, and pushed him toward the edge of a cliff.

A Very American Endeavor

Suzy Hansen in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul, August 2017

Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World

by Suzy Hansen
Suzy Hansen was twenty-nine when, in 2007, she was awarded a fellowship to study in Turkey. Before leaving New York City for Istanbul, she had led a rather comfortable life as a reporter for The New York Observer, interviewing Woody Allen, covering the Republican Convention, and poking fun at conservative …


Erdoğan’s Flights of Fancy

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with his wife Emine Erdoğan, and the presidents of Serbia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, and Kosovo at the opening ceremony of new airport in Istanbul, October 29, 2018

From the outset, Erdoğan’s big infrastructure programs have been interesting for their interaction with democracy: at their best, as with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Interstate program, such projects can be Keynesian expressions of national will. But under an undemocratic form of Keynesianism, as in Erdoğan’s Turkey, they instead became symbols of a slide into illiberalism. Young Turks were the first to notice. In Gezi Square, they pitched tents and sprayed environmentalist graffiti on walls against the “crazy projects.”

Will Turkey’s Voters Give Erdoğan the Imperial Presidency He Seeks?

Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan waving flags in Istanbul's Taksim Square, July 18, 2016

President Erdoğan has proved extremely effective in the past at turning out his base, especially with the army on the move against Kurdish militias in southeast Turkey and northern Syria. All the same, cracks in his “New Turkey” have re-emerged. Especially since 2016, dissent has been suppressed, the rule of law has deteriorated, and a human rights crisis has escalated; meanwhile, opposition to Erdoğan’s rule has gained cohesion.