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Humanism in Ruins


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Table of Contents

Contents and AbstractsBy Way of an Introduction: The Entangled Legacies of a Population Exchange chapter abstract

This chapter introduces the key concepts as well as the general approach and methodology of the book: biopolitics, humanism, ruins, and palimpsests. These concepts are later further developed in the relevant chapters, in relation to the analysis of the sources, but here they are laid out in relation to the entangled legacies of the 1923 exchange in general. The Introduction also provides a lengthy historicization of the 1923 exchange together with the notion of "racialized thinking" that constitutes the basis for the discussion of biopolitics and humanism.

Part I: Humanism and Its Discontents: Biopolitics, the Politics of Expertise, and the Human Family chapter abstract

This chapter discusses various scholars-eugenicists, sociologists, anthropologists, and legal scholars among others-and their intellectual networks to unravel a complex, transnational intellectual and cultural history, and addresses the entangled dynamics revolving around the segregative legacy of the 1923 Greek-Turkish population exchange. Focusing on the first decade after 1945, this part traces how segregative biopolitics was addressed transnationally through a refugee association presided over by a Turkish eugenicist, Fahreddin Kerim Goekay, and founded in collaboration with an Italian eugenicist and statistician, Corrado Gini-who also was a supporter of Mussolini's fascism. The 1923 exchange was a reference point for the association and for the research it promoted. Against this backdrop, the chapter also analyzes the rise of UNESCO-oriented cultural policies developed to address alterity and race during that period, with a special focus on liberal humanism and a photography exhibition: The Family of Man.

Part II: Of Origins and "Men": Family History, Genealogy, and Historicist Humanism Revisited chapter abstract

This part turns to the notions of genealogy and origins and attends to their different uses across time and space in relation to the 1923 exchange, racialized thinking, and historicist humanism. It begins with post-1990s Turkey and traces how legacies of segregative biopolitics were primarily engaged on a personal level through family histories configured as cultural heritage. Engaging individual and institutional practices that configured family histories as sites of articulating different backgrounds-alterity-after the 1980 military coup, the part considers the implications of engaging biopolitical ruins via individual genealogies and origins configured through the family. Next, it historicizes other forms of engaging genealogies and origins and examines this process through historicist humanism and racialized thinking, which were instrumental in categorizing peoples on the paths that led to segregative policies in general, the 1923 Greco-Turkish exchange in particular.

Part III: Unity in Diversity: Culture, Social Cohesion, and Liberal Multiculturalism chapter abstract

This part traces the palimpsests of cultural policy pertaining to contemporary liberal multiculturalism in Turkey and the European Union. Addressing liberal and historicist humanism embedded in liberal multiculturalism narratives in Turkey and beyond, this part engages the discourses and policies that enabled the building of the first 1923 Greco-Turkish Population Exchange Museum in Turkey as part of the Istanbul 2010 European Capital of Culture project. Considering the impact of UNESCO's cultural policies on the EU, which then traveled to Turkey, this part addresses the limits of liberal multiculturalism and the form it took in Turkey: neo-Ottomanism. After tracing the transnational crossing of liberal multiculturalism to Turkey, the part turns to the local historical context that neo-Ottomanism draws from: cultural policy in the post-1980 coup era and the Turkish-Islamic synthesis and its broader implications for the fascistic historicist humanism mobilized during the 1980 coup era.

In Lieu of a Conclusion: Cultural Analysis in an Age of Securitarianism chapter abstract

The Conclusion picks up the threads of the analysis laid out throughout the book and reconsiders the relevance of the book's key concepts such as biopolitics, segregation, and culture from the perspective of the contemporary rise of neofascism, securitarianism, and xenophobia.

About the Author

Asli Igsiz is Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University.


"At the start of 2019, almost eighty million people were displaced by war or violent conflict. It is virtually certain that mass population movements will continue, and it is clear that there is a pressing need to change the terms of the international debate and policy regarding the issue. This reality deems Asli Igsiz's insightful book, Humanism in Ruins, to be not only timely but also an essential read."--Elektra Kostopoulou, Jadaliyya
"[Humanism in Ruins] is the latest addition to the growing literature of critical analysis of the Greek-Turkish population exchange and without a doubt debunks the myth that it was a win-win solution and a clear achievement once and for all....Each part is strong enough to be a stand-alone treatise and an invitation for engaged and committed practices of cultural analysis." -- Nergis Canefe * EuropeNow *
"Humanism in Ruins is a brilliant, path-breaking book....Igsiz makes major interventions into debates on liberalism, culture, and politics. And for those who have been decrying the paucity of works on race in Middle East studies, this book is a very welcome addition....There is much to digest in this fascinating and highly original work, so much that it is hard to do justice to it in a short review." -- Beth Baron * International Journal of Middle East Studies *
"Igsiz's perceptive analysis shows how arguments both for and against diversity are in fact informed by biopolitics. Her study thus presents a unique vantage point for an examination of the limits of the key notions of liberal cultural policies....Humanism in Ruins is an excellent and complex analysis of the racist legacies of population exchanges in modern-day cultural policies." -- Ceren OEzgul * New Perspectives on Turkey *
"[An] original and necessary work....At the center of Igsiz's virtuoso argument here is the suggestion that the liberal humanism that has established the global order of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries is built upon a ruinous foundation: "the policies of biopolitics"....intellectually, politically, and in every other sense, a truly courageous book."--Anthony Alessandrini, Jadaliyya
"Humanism in Ruins incisively reveals how liberal discourses of peace and tolerance have been entangled with the racialization of social difference. An impressive contribution to the critical study of liberalism in the Middle East." -- Kabir Tambar * Stanford University *
"Humanism in Ruins is a stimulating and well-structured book.[It] manages to move successfully through a great variety of material, historical and theoretical, and offers a fruitful contribution in the field of migration studies." -- Alexandros Sakellariou * International Migration Studies *
"Asli Igsiz offers original and creative insight into the aftermath of the 1923 population exchange. A superb genealogy of cultural policy and the politics of culture in Turkey." -- Yael Navaro * University of Cambridge *
"Igsiz's work is...unique in tracing the foundational imprint historicist humanism has made on liberal humanism....As we see the segregative logic of walls and fortresses emerging anew, as a response to the largest refugee crisis to occur since World War II, attending to the complex and contradictory histories and effects of existing humanitarian regimes takes on great urgency."--Esra OEzyurek, Political and Legal Anthropology Review

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