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Authorial Power, Authoritarianism, and Exiled Intellectuals: Syria and Turkey

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Dillabough, JA 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pHow does a crisis of the state and its ‘emergency politics’ lead to a crisis of the intellectual, or what does it mean to be an intellectual in our contemporary conjuncture beyond Western clichés and the universalistic bias of their declinist arguments? In responding to these questions, we draw upon data collected from Turkish and Syrian academics living in exile to argue that the critical commitments exiled intellectuals presume are under threat as rising authoritarianisms take hold globally and advanced neo-liberal practices tighten their grip on universities. The promise of Said’s figuration of the ‘intellectual in exile’ and its political potential is also under threat as displaced scholars navigate democratic backsliding and structural precarity in the contemporary university and in the nation-states to which they have found themselves tied, eroding even further the conceptual idea of the critical intellectual and the potential power of the ‘post-colonial intellectual’. In our research, this crisis of the intellectual is recounted by exilics paradoxically in both the autocratic and the ‘nominally democratic’ higher education (HE) context where in some cases the very idea of the intellectual can represent, at least in part, a banal political figuration epitomised in what Nancy Fraser refers to as jats:italicprogressive neo-liberalism</jats:italic>. This is largely so because both authoritarian and nominally democratic states, whilst different in political charge, are simultaneously invoking ‘states of emergency’ and culture wars that are eroding their own intellectual constituencies’ ability to disturb existing institutional norms and the taken for granted problems that emerge in everyday HE practices.</jats:p>


Acknowledgements: We wish to acknowledge the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) for funding the Turkish research outlined in this paper (ESRC number ES/T015519/1).


Critical intellectuals, Exilic intellectuals, Scholars in exile, Higher education and authoritarianism, Turkish academics, Syrian academics, Crisis of critique

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International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
ESRC (ES/T015519/1)