Senem Kaptan, under the supervision of Dr. Rocio Magana, will examine how the rule of law is used during processes of democratization as a tool to dismantle militaries and produce new forms of citizenship. The researcher will examine the ongoing trials of military officers accused of treason and coup plotting in Turkey. Initiated as part of the EU integration process and promoted by the government as a switch to the rule of law and end to arbitrary legal procedures of the previous regimes, the trials have paradoxically been fraught with inconsistencies and irregularities. Through a twelve-month ethnographic research that includes participant observation in open-court trials; collection of life histories with the officers' families; interviews with acquitted officers, attorneys, judges, prosecutors, journalists, and NGO workers; and the analysis of court transcripts, this dissertation project will examine 1) the social downfall of the military through the impact these trials have had on the officers and their families, 2) the public trust in the military, and 3) on the notions of law and justice. In doing so, this project analyzes how the rule of law becomes a tool to dismantle militaries and produce new forms of citizenship.

As a study that examines how former military elites in power face charges in court, this research will also be of benefit to relevant parties outside of academia, like NGOs, in reconciliation efforts with former victims of state violence. Furthermore, research results will benefit policy makers by providing them with scientific knowledge on the role that judicial processes play in transitional regimes. Due to pending EU candidacy and status as a newly emerging power in the Middle East, the findings of this research hold particular comparative importance in analyzing the applications of the rule of law and its extension into realms of citizenship, democracy, and transparency. This project will also support the scientific training of a promising early career scholar.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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Deborah Winslow
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Rutgers University
United States
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