BIAA London Lecture: Conflict and Reconciliation: A Role for Turkish Civil Society Today?

10 December 2019 18:30 to 20:00 | London

Council Room, The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton Terrace, SW1Y 5AH

A BIAA London lecture by Dr Leonidas Karakatsanis, former BIAA Assistant Director (2015-2019).

VENUE CHANGE: This lecture will now be held in The British Academy’s Council Room.

For more than a decade after 1999, significant reconciliation efforts emerged amidst the troubled relations between Turkey and its neighbours Greece, Armenia and the Republic of Cyprus. Even the thorny Kurdish issue saw the launch of a short-lived peace process between 2013-2015. In all these processes of rapprochement, civil society actors and initiatives played a significant role in facilitating empathy across the societies and ethnic groups in question. Civil society’s role was important because conflict and mistrust were sustained by painful memories of loss and displacement that usually excluded the pain of the ‘other’.

Today, the positive momentum that such reconciliation efforts achieved appears long gone. Instead, cool relations at best - tensions, live conflict, and war at worst - have returned. Adopting a comparative historical approach, this lecture will evaluate the successes and failures of civil society’s role in promoting rapprochement and reflect on the challenges that Turkish civil society faces in the pursuit of regional peace.


1) A common prayer for deceased ancestors by Turkish and Greek descendants of families affected by population exchange at the village of Panagitsa in Northern Greece. (Source: Milliyet Newspaper) 

2 and 3) The commemoration of Hrant Dink, an Armenian-Turkish journalist, on the 8th anniversary of his assassination. Osmanbey, Istanbul. Images by Esin.

Dr Leonidas (Leo) Karakatsanis holds a PhD in Ideology and Discourse Analysis from the University of Essex. He is the author of Turkish-Greek Relations: Rapprochement, Civil Society and the Politics of Friendship and co-editor (with N. Papadogiannis) of ‘The Politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece and Cyprus: Performing the Left since the Sixties’ as well as ‘Bordered Places, Bounded Times: Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Turkey’ (together with E. Baysal). He has taught at Universities in the UK and Turkey and has researched and published on issues relating to the politics of identity and reconciliation, civil society, minority rights, immigration and theories of qualitative methods in the social and political sciences. Leo initially joined the BIAA as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in 2012, and was the BIAA Assistant Director between 2015-2019. He is currently taking a parental career break.

Attendance for this event is free, but please register by emailing:

The lecture will be preceded at 6pm by the 2019 Annual General Meeting of the BIAA, which all members of the Institute are invited to attend.

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