Hayal Akarsu Karpuzcu

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Utrecht, U of

Grant number

Gr. 10550

Approve Date

September 29, 2023

Project Title

Akarsu Karpuzcu, Hayal (Utrecht, U of) "Force Experts: Afterlives of Police Reforms in Turkey"

Force Experts: Afterlives of Police Reforms in Turkey analyzes how European-Union inspired police reforms are interwoven with authoritarian governance in Turkey, as human-rights violations by the police once again bring police reform to the global spotlight. Based on 18 months of Wenner-Gren Foundation funded fieldwork (between 2015-2017) on so-called non-violent tools and practices of police reforms, I trace what police do with reform and what reform does to police and the public, if not preventing violence. My fieldwork included following one cohort of Police Academy trainees over a year; participating in international standardization projects in Ankara, Istanbul, London and Belfast; and accompanying police while interacting with communities in neighborhoods of Ankara and Istanbul. The book demonstrates how an ostensible aspiration for democratization can also provide governing regimes with a new toolkit to extend their power into novel social domains, manufacture legally-sanctioned impunity, and garner popular support. Rather than dismissing reforms, I argue, the Turkish police embraced EU-induced reforms to redefine and ultimately reclaim the violence they are professionalized in as what I call force experts. Force Experts theorizes police violence not only in terms of brute force but also as violence of abstraction, reform, and state care.