The Education of International Relations in Turkey and Orientalism: A Critical Pedagogical Approach to the Discipline


Hakan Övünç ONGUR* and Selman Emre GÜRBÜZ**


Using a qualitative discourse analysis, this article aims at introducing the sub-discipline of Critical Pedagogy (CP) to the studies of International Relations (IR), incorporating the orientalist text analysis into CP and arguing over the orientalist texture of the undergraduate education of IR in Turkey. It is argued here that due to the Western-centrism of CP studies, they ‘forget’ to bring into question the orientalist tone of the standardized Western curricula, next to the main discussions of academic capitalism and neoliberal instrumentalization of education. Making an investigation of the curricula and the fundamental reading materials over ten selected IR programmes in Turkey, this article both recalls this need of orientalist inquiry in CP studies and provides a fresh perspective for the scholarly analysis of the IR education in Turkey. The findings suggest a non-critical reproduction of the Western literature for the Turkish IR as well as a continuation, if not reinforcement, of this literature by the Turkish-speaking academia. As a result, it is argued here that the orientalist subtext of concepts, including radical Islam, Jihadism, fundamentalism, Islamic terror, the Third World, underdevelopment, etc., has become a part of the IR literature in Turkey.

Keywords: International Relations, Critical Pedagogy, Orientalism, Education, Turkey


* Assoc. Prof. Dr., Department of Political Science and International Relations, TOBB ETU, Ankara.

** PhD Candidate,  Department of International Relations, Kadir Has University, İstanbul.