Where do the Solidarity Academies Stand in Relation to the Commons? – Can Irmak Özinanır

This paper discusses whether organizations such as solidarity academies and Street Academy will be able to form a new pattern of politics in terms of the commons or not, as well as the opportunities and limitations of this new way of politics. The formation of these organizations in many cities started to emerge upon the dismissal of hundreds of academics following the Academics for Peace campaign calling on academics to sign a petition entitled “We will not be a party to this crime”. First a brief historical perspective will be presented, particularly related to the issue of universities and their connection with knowledge production and the transformation that is currently going on at universities since the emergence of neoliberalism will be discussed. The paper also attempts to summarize the transformation that taking place within the universities during the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) term of office, which has been carried out largely by decrees enacted during the state of emergency. As well as this, the methods of struggle carried out by solidarity academies that emerged during this period and where this could evolve will be elaborated on, based mostly on the case of Ankara Solidarity Academy, whose development I have witnessed closely.

Neoliberalism and universities

Capitalism entered into a phase of crisis starting with 1970’s, and this revealed that the regime of Keynesian accumulation, regarded as the common regime for the future of capitalism since 1945, was not at all sustainable. Therefore, new approaches began to emerge. Under such circumstances, neoliberalism, a trend that actually developed in the university, came into play, and it gradually brought about a huge social change. The ideology of this new period was to a large extent shaped by views such as ‘knowledge society’ and ‘knowledge-based economy’, which claimed that economy was henceforward based on knowledge. Callinicos maintains that knowledge-based economy was the key ideology that triggered the transformation of the universities, and definitions regarding knowledge-based economy encompass some arguments that supported the following: production of the tangible shifted toward the production of the intangible, production slipped toward a knowledge-intensive ground due to this shift rather than toward a labor-intensive one; and thus companies as well as national economies needed well-equipped human capital rather than having the need for physical equipment (Callinicos, 2006: 9). Along with such arguments, Callinicos argues that the system leads knowledge to be used for the creation of wealth that is based on competition and profit. He places this situation at the center of this perspective and explains that universities have been transformed in line with this aim.[1]

The concept of ‘knowledge society’, according to L. Işıl Ünal, is the Trojan horse of neoliberalism. According to this understanding, universities are supposed to educate the ‘qualified labor force’ (knowledge workers) with the minimum unit cost and transfer the knowledge produced by them to flexible manufacturing via information technology (Ünal, 2011).

One point of emphasis that many authors agree upon is that, under neoliberalism the university has begun to be viewed as a sort of factory. For Haiven, considering the university as an Edu-factory has come to mean that the university has adjusted itself to the rationality of mass production, and this has caused education to become a homogenized commodity. This emphasis underlines the idea that the university is the creator of a new generation that is made up of capitalist ‘subjects’ (Haiven, 2018: 133).

Former Downing Street adviser Charles Leadbeater compares the neoliberal transformation of universities on the basis of a knowledge-based economy with mines that has even more negative connotations than a factory:

“Universities should become not just centres of teaching and research but hubs for innovation networks in local economies, helping spin-off companies for universities, for example. Universities should be the open-cast mines of the knowledge economy.” (Leadbeater, 2000, cited by Callinicos, 2006: 16)

Whether it is described as a company, a mine or a factory, the transformation of the university during the neoliberal period is shaped by the rationale of enterprise and entrepreneurship. As a result of this, the merging of the universities and companies has increased steadily. This merging has taken a different course in each country but it has been quite rapid in some countries, for example the USA and the UK. Although this course has been slower in European universities, and especially in those in Turkey, it would be conceivable to state that the development of university-company cooperation constitutes one of the most important aspects of neoliberal transformation. This means a change in the quality of education and research. In an education and research program where companies become more and more dominant, it becomes more difficult to produce critical knowledge and expand such knowledge:

“The trading of ‘education packages’ related to the knowledge needed in the market is conducted by the centers in the university (through distance education and lifelong learning practices). Through ‘technology exchange’, which is the element of ‘interactive’ and ‘long-term’ elements of university-company relations, universities orient themselves toward topics of research that companies are in need of. Hence, not only the articulation of universities into the market is realized but also it becomes easier for academicians to establish connections with companies and other corporations” (Ünal, 2011).

Despite this, is it not possible for academics to produce critical knowledge by opposing the pressures of the market? They may well produce such knowledge. However, this is prevented to a large extent by labor politics against academics. As it has been the case in all other fields during the neoliberal period, the basic determinant of employment in the university has also been ‘flexibility’ and competition, which can also be interpreted as precariousness. The university is no longer the ‘ivory tower’ of the common imagination. It is quite hard now in academia to find secure employment in most parts of the world. Most of academic positions are now temporary and project-based.

The Bologna Project constitutes one of the key legs of neoliberal transformation, particularly in Europe. There is insufficient space in this paper for a lengthy discussion on the Bologna Project; yet the values and series of concepts it extols shows very clearly what the project has transformed and how it has carried out this transformation. Adnan Gümüş and Nejla Kurul categorize the concepts used in the Bologna Process into two main clusters. The first cluster is related to the quality of education, and the second is concerned with academic, administrative, and financial management. Accordingly, the concepts in the first cluster include employability of the graduates, sustainability of lifelong learning, recognition, exchange of students, and the social dimension. The second group, meanwhile, involves concepts such as strategic planning, quality assurance, performance, transparency, accountability, diversification, stakeholders, board of trustees, agency, and accreditation. The concepts belonging to the first cluster suggest education of students fit for flexible working patterns, individualized and fee-paying certificate programs, and student debt, while those in the second group refer to the curtailing of public resources, competition between employers and students, diversification of financing, and a complete integration with the market (Gümüş and Kurul, 2011: 60-65).

The neoliberal transformation of universities in Turkey

The period after the 1980 coup saw the step by step neoliberal transformation of universities among the academia of Turkey through the cooperation between market and the Council of Higher Education (YÖK), which is an instrument of soldiers and political authorities for this process. For Ali Ergur, the attempt was to impose a hierarchy as practiced in the military and the rationality of market mechanisms on academic activities (Ergur, 2003 cited by Sarı and Karabağ Sarı, 2014: 42).

One of the outcomes of the convergence of universities with market rationality is the establishment of the foundation universities. These universities are colloquially known as ‘private universities’. Even though these universities technically seem to be bound by foundations and offer public services, it is, in fact, apt to call these universities ‘private universities’. In these institutions, more weight is given to applied sciences than to basic sciences, and only those who can pay the price can benefit from the services provided. Moreover, these universities are managed under the rationale of a company that rests on profit and cost accounting. The steady increase in the number of these universities since 1984 and the increasing number of students studying at them reveals a huge inequality between students with a high enough income to access a university education and those with a low level of income excluding them (Çobanoğulları, 2015: 72).

YÖK has taken steps to destroy what is ‘public’ in the financing of public universities. The formation of financial flexibility and an income structure with multi-resources have led universities to create their own resources, which encouraged them to integrate with the market.

Precarious labor has also become one of the key aspects of the neoliberal transformation in universities. While civil servants are as yet not entirely precarious, the employment of subcontracted workers is practiced in almost all universities. As for the academics, they have been appointed to different posts: those with 50d status their period of employment is limited to their doctorate duration, 33a status employed with a relatively secure position, and the Academic Staff Training Program for research fellow posts that forces academics into study debts from the very beginning. Consequently, this situation has created a difference of status between people performing the same jobs. The rigid hierarchy that the university has assumed since the Middle Ages has been accompanied by the hierarchy and competition between those who do the same job.

Turkish universities have been part of the Bologna Process since 2001. The concepts discussed above with regard to the Bologna Process were also included in the YÖK law drafts prepared during the term of the AKP. When this is considered along with the ongoing authoritarianism and mounting pressures exerted on the university, particularly after the Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) protests in 2012, the AKP has this expectation from the combination of YÖK and the Bologna Process: the university should be a ‘knowledge’ factory in the Taylorist fashion offering services to its customers, that is, students, and performing production for the market under the centralized control of the state (Özinanır, 2012). In Aslı Odman’s words, this could also be called a Mega Company. As Odman states, the dramatic transformation of the university had already started way before January 11, 2016, when President Erdoğan spoke about the academics who signed the peace petition (Odman, 2018). It is also important to note that it would not have been so easy for the government to carry out the dismissals through decrees had it not been for the state of war and the state of emergency declared after the July 15 coup attempt.

Academics for peace and solidarity academies

The latest wave of dismissals from universities in Turkey began with the state of emergency declared on July 20, 2016, following the July 15 coup attempt. 5,010 academics were dismissed from their positions between July 20, 2016, and July, 2018. A significant number of these academics were removed because they were stated to have been linked with a religious community organization that, after July 15, has become known as FETÖ. However, before then, more than 80 signatories to the petition had been dismissed; although this number was not as high as the number dismissed by decree. Moreover, the work permits of three non-citizens of the Republic of Turkey were revoked, one before the state of emergency and two following.[2]

While it may seem unnecessary to provide a lengthy explanation of the neoliberal transformation of universities in a paper on solidarity academies, most of the academics who established the Solidarity Academies were also involved in the struggles against this neoliberal transformation. They were also struggling against state and capital policies particularly through Eğitim Sen, which is the confederation of public employees working in education and science. It is also important to note that even though there were some academics who were dismissed because of their involvement in struggles against neoliberalism, and the ‘We will not be a party to this crime’ petition, academics’ opposition to the state’s ‘local-national’ perspective, which emerged in 2015 with regard to the Kurdish problem, became another determining factor for dismissing academics other than being accused of Gülenism. There were also some academics who did not sign the peace petition but who signed a second petition that declared that signing the ‘We will not be a party to this crime’ petition was a matter of freedom of speech. Some of these were also dismissed by decree. Therefore, in the emergence of Solidarity Academies, the policies of the state and government that viewed the Kurdish issue as a survival problem of the state as well as the harsh reflection of this issue to the university were more influential than neoliberal policies promoting precarity. However, this does not change the fact that neoliberalism policies go hand in hand with authoritarian policies, and Solidarity Academies, which have emerged as a reaction to them, provide an alternative perspective to the neoliberal transformation of universities.


The first example of the new patterns of politics under discussion materialized in the form of solidarity academies during the period when dismissals in many cities began to be expected. The first solidarity academy was formed in Kocaeli upon the dismissal of all those who signed the peace petition at Kocaeli University on September 1. Kocaeli Solidarity Academy held its inauguration 27 days after the dismissals and became an inspiration for academics who had either been discharged or who were living under the threat of being discharged. Today it continues as an association. Currently there are nine other solidarity academies: in Ankara, İstanbul, Dersim, Urfa, Mardin, Izmir, Mersin, Antalya, and Eskişehir. 

In Istanbul, as well as the Istanbul Solidarity Academy, a group of activists operate under the name Campusless (Kampüssüzler) movement. Ankara Solidarity Academy is moving toward establishing an institution offering settled regular courses. Besides this, another organization known as Street Academy conducted courses in the parks, but it has recently ceased doing so. In Mersin, as well as the Solidarity Academy, dismissed academics opened a café-library, called Kültürhane. Expatriate academics, most of whom live in Germany, also established a solidarity academy named Off-University.

Solidarity Academies make collective decisions during meetings. As of March 2017, a common coordination has been established for all of the solidarity academies. On their common webpage, they explain who they are as follows:

“We are academics who got their share from the reflection of authoritarian neoliberalism process to the universities. We were dismissed from the university positions since we opposed oppression, war, violence and injustice, having been nurtured by the hope of peace, and we stood firm in our remarks during this process.”[3]

The goal of the solidarity academies is described as follows:

“Our concern is to maintain our connection with knowledge outside the university structures. And this connection requires courage, inevitably challenging authoritarian structures during the knowledge production and circulation which prioritizes peace. While carrying on with our connection with knowledge, we aim at producing and sharing knowledge with reference to the principles of equality, freedom and solidarity, which have been ostracized and excluded from the institutional sphere.”

Examining these goals, we can see academics whom the state apparatus wants to ostracize are creating a new pattern that is much freer, and more equalitarian and cooperative than universities.

Street Academy, which generally operates in Ankara, claims to carry the academy to the street, as stated on their Facebook page:

 “As opposed to those who want to eliminate science and life from the campuses, we are carrying academy to the center of life, namely to the street.”[4]

Universities as laboratories of neoliberalism and sites of struggle

Begüm Özden Fırat and Fırat Genç define the first determinant of the commoning strategy in the following way: “Self-empowerment and revealing of the utopian moments. Getting strong collectively that will initially ensure practices which will generate the commoning of different personal experiences and build a barrier against the sense of fragmentation and powerlessness caused by neoliberalism in social life.” The second determining component proposed by Fırat and Genç is to create a concrete and material utopian moment by making connections between such organizations (Fırat & Genç, 2014). Solidarity academies have become means of self-empowerment especially for those academics who were dismissed due to decree and subsequently are facing a really severe situation. Academies have also created a huge feeling of self-confidence by helping academics to share different personal experiences. They also helped people in that they did not remain detached from their professions and they also started to have a different perspective regarding their professions.[5] On the other hand, it is hard to imagine that collectivism and the sense of community required for the solidarity academy to transform into a concrete moment has already occurred or that it can occur in the short term. In the following section of this paper, I put forward my opinions on whether the commoning perspective will prove to be sufficient for this or not, and also on the perspective of struggle that needs to be waged for the moment for collectivism to be attained.

Let me digress a little so that I can address the issue of the neoliberal transformation of universities and universities as areas of struggle. Later, I shall return to the discussion of Turkey and Solidarity Academies in the relevant context. The envisioning of a struggle that is equalitarian and free seems rather hard in the presence of atomization and precarization in the universities as brought about by neoliberalism. Yet struggles and resistances take place against each move of neoliberalism; and from time to time such struggles and resistances do win victories. As capitalism creates new ways of appropriation and exploitation, new patterns of struggle embedded within them emerge or at times some earlier methods of struggles come to the fore. Resistance movements conducted either against the marketization of universities or against state pressure take place in many different places around the world. We may also recall the struggles waged both by education workers and students in Turkey in the mid-1990s. Besides this, there have been ongoing struggles in Greece since the beginning of 2010, while in Chile, students put up a fight and gained important advances through the mass struggles they put forward. Another example we may provide is the student and worker movements in France in 2018, which was the 50th anniversary of May 1968. Even though such resistance movements gained advances and slowed down the process, they have not yet managed to stop the general trend regarding the transformation in universities. Nevertheless, each struggle has a potential. As Haiven puts it: “The important factor about these struggles is not merely their victories or failures, but the way they keep alive and fight for the ideal of what the university could be” (Haiven, 2018: 144).

The important point here is what kind of political line these struggles will tend toward. I think the perspectives of two authors, who view universities as the laboratories of neoliberalism and point out methods of struggle, are relevant for the creation of a new university vision: One is Max Haiven, who discusses the issue around the commoning perspective, and the other is Panagiotis Sotiris, who discusses counter-hegemony in relation to Gramsci’s conception of hegemony and hegemonic apparatus.

Both Haiven and Sotiris state that universities do not only serve as the target of neoliberalism but also function as laboratories where neoliberalism is applied. For Haiven “university is not merely an example of new forms of discipline and exploitation; it is a laboratory” (Haiven, 2018: 136). Haiven also emphasizes that the university has created a lot of ‘hopefuls’ who expect that they will get a return on the money they have invested in education; however, the number of those employed remains very low. As a result, the cost of creating a specialized workforce is externalized and also the wages and worker demands are kept minimal. Those who are not members of the lucky minority are burdened with debt. 

This debt makes people learn that they live in an isolated and competitive world, and they are obliged to compete with their rivals if they want to attain a good standard of living. For all these reasons, university is not only a site to which neoliberal practices are reflected; it is also a laboratory in which the ‘subjects’ fit for neoliberalism are reproduced around the concept of competition. Therefore, universities can be regarded as a key area of struggle against neoliberalism and also for the struggle to be given for imagination and social values (Haiven, 2018: 136-139, 144).

Haiven imagines a university of the commons against this situation. This does not rely on the thought that the university would be regarded as a common either. For Haiven, this sort of imagination relies on ‘undercommons’ and is revealed by a radical and common imagination. Faculty members, staff, students, and ‘outsiders’ try to leverage their precarious positions within the university, and for this reason they start to reimagine education and create different forms related to it:

“Occasionally, these undercommons explode into open revolt. When students occupy their universities or the streets, they infuse those spaces with the spirit of what the university could be… These movements both call for and, in a small way, materialize an alternative social space where the radical imagination can flourish, where we can ask deep questions about the nature of our society and ourselves, and where we can experiment with alternative forms of living. What peeks through in the streets or in the occupied classroom, or in the general assembly, or even sometimes in the day-to-day operations and classes of the university itself, is not the privatized university, or even the ‘public university’ of old, but rather the university to come, the university of the commons.” (Haiven, 2018: 145)

Similarly, Sotiris also points out that universities are not merely concerned with knowledge and research. They are also concerned with collective desires, representations as well as practices. The current neoliberal strategy is preoccupied with creating a workforce that is more qualified and fit for making shifts between different tasks, and also one that has lower wages and fewer rights. The key to this is to create a workforce that is more individualized and atomized as well (Sotiris, 2013:7). Sotiris views universities as laboratories of hegemony:

“As a hegemonic apparatus, the University acts as one of the laboratories of hegemony. From the development of new productive techniques, … to new economic discourses, to new ways to relate to technology, to new aesthetics and in general collective practices, the university is – in many aspects a laboratory of hegemony.” (Sotiris, 2013: 8)

It is for this reason that university struggles could be considered as an apparatus of counter-hegemony in Sotiris’s view. However, it would not be adequate to resist merely the austerity policies or neoliberal practices: “counter hegemony should be viewed as the strategic condensation of a new politics of labour, an attempt at social experimentation beyond capitalism, new forms or social interaction” (Sotiris, 2013: 10).

Despite not having an exact overlap, the perspective of hegemony and that of commoning share similar points in terms of a new political imagination and creation of a new ‘political’. Gramsci points out that the hegemonic apparatus is a series of institutions and practices, ranging from newspapers to educational organizations to political parties by means of which a class and classes in alliance engage in a struggle for political power (Thomas, 2010: 226). This shows the emergence of hegemony as a concrete practice that is beyond a theoretical abstraction. As Buci-Glucksmann states, “the hegemonic apparatus is intersected by the primacy of class struggle” (1980: 48). Therefore, Sotiris proposes a redefinition of this class struggle within the university and the construction of a new and proletarian ‘political’ in opposition to what capitalism or its old and new versions propose.

This proposal has similarities with the approach that suggests a new political understanding that relies on commoning beyond binaries, for example, market-state, public-private, and nature-culture (Bollier & Helfrich, 2018: 46). In the same way as Eylem Akçay and Umut Kocagöz, who regard the commoning of politics as the configuration of political subjects, Gramsci also handles politics as a formative practice. The authors state that a social party that has the recommendation of organizing society as a party expresses the forms that can be established by counter hegemony (Akçay and Kocagöz, 2018: 33).

Outside the laboratory?

Solidarity academies emerged precisely as an outcome of neoliberal and oppressive experimentation performed on those who work in the university. They gained power owing to a short-lived street/campus struggle in the case of Ankara Solidarity Academy, which I closely witnessed. Ankara Solidarity Academy declared its establishment shortly after the dismissals that took place in January 2017. Following the huge wave of dismissals, which struck Ankara University in particular, the academy managed to get the support of the resistance that occurred in the street and campus. In its very first days, it also managed to get the attention of people from unions in different sectors.

Naturally, this struggle did not come out of nowhere. It managed to take place as a result of many previous experiences, particularly as an outcome of the unionization struggle waged through Eğitim Sen as well as other experiences like the struggle of research assistants for a secure job, experiences during the Gezi protests, forums, the struggle for peace, and the experience of each individual who took part in organizing resistance.

During the days when Ankara Solidarity Academy was established, many academics who joined this institution had yet to be dismissed. It would be apt to recall that afterward many of those who had undertaken the burden of setting up the Academy were the ones who had been working as employees or graduate/postgraduate students, along with academics who had been dismissed. Today, with its regular courses, rising and declining number of students, Ankara Solidarity Academy (like the other solidarity academies) is living proof of the possibility of making knowledge common and performing academic activities outside the university (although with some persistence). In this sense, it can be seen as the laboratory of a university that is collaborative (or common) rather than as the laboratory of neoliberalism. Its value is derived from this understanding. However, laboratory is the space of experiments, not of a completed process. Neither Ankara Solidarity Academy nor any other solidarity academy has managed to socialize the commoning practice completely. Yet they have the ability to calling out to a limited audience. The way to address a larger social section is through discussing politics that go beyond coming together and taking action.

At this point, I find it useful to have a concurrent discussion about the inside and outside of the university along with the discussion of becoming public. An important component of the struggle of the university staff against neoliberalism has always been the struggle related to the public funding of universities. In this regard, there has always been a struggle against the merging of companies and universities, the privatization of various sectors or forcing universities to find resources from the market under the name of ‘financial autonomy’. By decree, the public resources that hundreds of academics benefited from in order to conduct their research and courses as well as the resource for their payments were taken from their hands. 

The primary problem of these academics is that they have been deprived of the resources by which they could maintain a living. Solidarity academies, associations, and cooperatives try to create new economic models through different debates so as to create new resources in a solidaristic way. Despite these efforts, a permanent solution to this problem has not been found yet. This situation is inevitably forcing many academics to attempt at getting funds from the projects. Therefore, a practice that used to be opposed to while the academic was inside the university for the sake of public funding becomes one of the basic conditions of being able to perform academic activities when that person is outside the university. Accordingly, the question as to how production will be reorganized still remains as a threshold in the politics of the solidarity academies.

Unions and solidarity academies are certainly separate entities; and they should remain separate too. Yet it is important to remember the role of Eğitim Sen in enabling the continuity of the solidarity academies. One of the practices that minimizes the problem of making a living and ensures the continuity of academic activities is the money that is still paid to the dismissed academics from the solidarity account of Eğitim Sen. In this regard, Eğitim Sen is acting in solidarity with its members, and this solidarity can be taken as a worldwide example. The operations of Eğitim Sen are not limited by this. The main function of the union is to work for protecting and improving the rights of the faculty members who are still in the university. In order to overcome this seemingly binary situation, it is important to regard the practices of solidarity and struggle both within and outside the university as the various aspects of the same class struggle. In addition, it is crucial to discuss how all these can be brought together; for this, proposing a transformative action seems to be an inevitable moment for a new university imagination. Building stronger connections between the struggle of the unions and the commoning practices of the academies can help those outside and those within the university gain substantial strength.

Considering the solidarity academies as the core of a counter hegemonic apparatus requires a political perspective that takes over the inside of the university from which we have been pushed ‘out’. This also makes it a requisite that the struggle of both sides should be made in common. These sides are, on the one hand, those who have been dismissed and pushed out of the university, either due to decrees or for any other reason, and on the other hand, those who are still within the university and suffering from the oppression of 50/d status as well as the Academic Staff Training Program along with those working in the precarious atmosphere of foundation universities. Conducting commoning activities only within the university would not be sufficient. It is also necessary to persevere with the struggle that encompasses different parts of society, primarily with the working class, besides all those who have taken action and carry the potential of taking action. The most important point is that the perspective of putting a proletarian hegemonic apparatus into practice does not only require solidarity, it also requires a practice that can reorganize the relations of production in a proletarian way. This can open the door of a politics that goes slightly beyond solidarity and achieves the reconstruction of the university.

No one can know when a new wave of struggle will be born. Yet until that day solidarity academies provide us with a great opportunity so that the new imagination of labor can be positioned in daily practices. Perhaps, when that day arrives, the universities we will come back to will not be the old ones anymore and we will change the slogan to:

“Universities belong to everyone, and they will be made free by everyone!”


[1] At this point, it would be apt to emphasize that universities have never been a ‘heaven’ for many. Historically speaking, the university emerged as a result of urbanization in Europe in the tenth and eleventh centuries. The university was under the control of clergies at first, later of the noble elites, and gradually over time shaped by the needs of the bourgeoisie. Up until the time when the bourgeoisie needed qualified employees, the university remained an elitist organization and its doors were closed to the working class and others who were oppressed and subjugated:
“The Western University emerged out of the guild system of the Middle Ages where ‘Masters’ and ‘Doctors’ (all men from wealthy aristocratic families) jealously hoarded knowledge in the same way masons and brewers protected their trade secrets… In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the university became an important institution in the development of new industrial machinery and other technologies that saw the rise of modern capitalism and the modern exploitation of waged labour. In other words,…the university has been a key institution for the reproduction of the ruling class” (Haiven, 2018: 139-140).

[2] Universities in Turkey have a noteworthy tradition of dismissals. It can be said that since their inital foundation, universities in Turkey have always been under the control of political authorities and the market. The establishment of the universities dates back to 1773 when Mekteb-i Hendese (Engineering School) was founded (Başaran, 2017). The first dismissals took place at Darülfünun in 1870, seven years after its establishment. The Commission for Dismissal, established upon the merging of the Military Medical School and Civilian Medical School between the years 1909 and 1913, terminated the employment of many academics. Further dismissals occurred in 1919 at Medical School, and in 1922 at Darülfünun Literature Faculty. With the establishment of the Republic, the university was completely shaped around the central authority, and handled as a component of goals related to modernization and advancement. With the arrival of German scientists who came to Turkey after having escaped the Nazis in 1933, a reform was enacted in the university (Başaran, 2017). However, this reform was also synonymous with dismissal. Dismissals took place at the new Darülfünun in 1933 (Karaaslan Şanlı, 2011: 107). During the transition to multi-party democracy, when the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was still in power, a reform was enacted on June 13, 1946, that acknowledged the autonomy of the university for the first time. The new university law that bestowed scientific and managerial autonomy to universities was accepted unanimously in the Assembly. In fact, this recommendation of autonomy was also included in the program of the Democratic Party (DP), which was the new rival to the CHP in the multi-party system (Mazıcı, 1995). Two years after the enactment of this law, in 1948, Pertev Naili Boratav, Behice Boran, and Niyazi Berkes were dismissed from Ankara University Faculty of Language, History and Geography on grounds that they were “acting against Turkism”, “making communist propaganda”, and even “making friends with those who are known to be communists”. Following the coup on May 27, 1960, academics known as the 147s, were dismissed by the National Unity Committee who had carried out the coup. There were also academics who were dismissed due to individual pressures and informants. İsmail Beşikçi is one such example. He was removed from his office at Atatürk University, on July 23, 1970, due to speaking about the Kurdish issue. He was appointed as an assistant of Ankara University Faculty of Political Science in 1971; however, he was arrested after the Military Memorandum of March 12 that year and was never reappointed (Ünlü, 2018: 322-235). During the September 12 period, dismissals known as the 1402s were carried out. Through an annex enacted for the martial law No. 1402, 5,000 civil servants were discharged. 148 of these 5,000 civil servants were academics. The coup plotters of September 12 passed the Higher Education Law No. 2547 in 1981, and thereby made it possible that all higher education institutions would be bound by the Council of Higher Education (YÖK). In the aftermath of the February 28, 1997, military memorandum, academics regarded as Islamists, in this instance, were ostracized from the profession by the Disciplinary Committee of YÖK.

[3] https://www.dayanismaakademileri.org/

[4] https://www.facebook.com/sokakakademisi/

[5] It is important to underline that this is a subjective evaluation but Ankara Solidarity Academy and Street Academy have become one of the key means of expressing something confidently for many of my colleagues who have, like me, also been dismissed.


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