Turkey is currently governed by a regime which blurs the line between authoritarian and democratic rule. While some authors tend to interpret this state as a moment of transition towards full authoritarianism, this paper argues that we should rather understand the coevalness of democratic and non-democratic practices as a deliberate and “cunning” mode of government, which we call soft authoritarian. Outlining some of the dimensions of this mode of governing, the paper specifically focuses on the government’s interventions into the realm of civil society. In doing so, it highlights the flexible and fluid nature that characterizes soft authoritarianism. It suggests that the regime dismantles a functioning opposition not only by means of direct repression, imprisonment and fear. Instead, this cunning and flexible form of governing through contradictions enables an affective management of the opposition, which produces a withdrawal from active engagement, passive forms of waiting and apathy.
The Fellows Colloquium will be held by Ulrike Flader, lecturer at the Institute for Ethnology and Cultural Studies (IfEK), Bremen University.