“Academia is outside of the academy now”

Prof. Dr. Nilgün Toker Kılınç, who signed the “Academics for Peace” declaration and is dismissed with the recent emergency decree, thinks that dismissal is an “act of vengeance” rather than punishment.

With 3 emergency decrees issued on January 6, 2853 public servants have been dismissed, including many academics. 42 of the 631 dismissed academics had signed the “Academics for Peace” declaration. 

With the last wave of purge, total number of dismissed academics has risen to 4481. 125 academics for peace have been dismissed.

Signing the “Academic for Peace” declaration, Prof. Dr. Nilgün Toker Kılıç, chair of Ege University Philosophy Department, is one of the academics who were dismissed with the recent decree.

Toker says that the locks of their offices were changed and they cannot even go to school. We talked to her about what happened in Izmir and academic production “inside and outside.”

Was a legal or administrative investigation launched against you, after you signed the declaration?

No, I didn't have a legal or administrative investigation against me. I guess they have to wait for a permission from Ministry of Justice for initiating a legal process, but I am not sure. As for the administrative investigation, the rector launched an investigation right away. However, this investigation hasn't been concluded by the investigating committee, which stated that there is no need for a disciplinary punishment. After that, the newly-assigned rector formed another committee. Given that the process of dismissal is started, I assume that they completed the investigation. These are just guesses, because the university hasn't notified us about an investigation. We can say that they don't consider us as an “interested party” anymore.

Do you think that you are dismissed because you signed the peace declaration?

Yes, this is definitely the case. They portray all dissident people in the country as if they are part of the attempted coup and they aim to create vagueness concerning the dismissals. However, we and the ones who demanded these dismissals know that this is a punishment for our demand for peace. In fact, this is not punishment, this is an act of vengeance.

9 academics have been dismissed from Ege University with this decree. Some others were dismissed before. In the processes of peace declaration and emergency decrees, how was the atmosphere for you and your colleagues?

Conditions of state of emergency was implemented in Ege University long before. The administration started to solve the problems anti-democratically in contrast with the traditions and customs of the university and a system of banning has been operating for 2 years. In this process, social sciences, especially philosophy, was at the center of attention. As our friends from other universities were dismissed, we were waiting for our turn in a heavy uncertainty. However, I should note that this didn't prevent us from performing our academic activities. We continued to hold conferences and congresses, though we were generally afraid that they might cancel them. We continued to teach our classes like always. In short, they kept putting barriers, but we were trying to do our job.

However, something happened that didn't happen anywhere else. We have yet to go to the university for packing our staff and say goodbye. They changed our locks or locked our doors with padlocks. We are not allowed to enter our offices. Police searched through our offices this morning. They might allow us to pack our stuff now. However, I am afraid that they might try to prevent us from entering the university after that.

In your opinion, how will these dismissals affect the academic production?

Academia is outside of the academy now and I am sure that there will be a more qualified production outside compared to inside. If you ask what will happen to education and production in universities, I am sorry for the academics and students in the universities. From now on, it won't be easy to carry out academic activities in the universities, because the prerequisite of the academic production is an academic liberty based on freedom of thought and expression. Academic production is not possible in a place where freedom is abolished altogether.

Speaking for myself, now I have much more time and I can focus on completing my unfinished projects, writing and translating, because I am engaged with a theoretical activity. However, “theoria” becomes deeper in dialog and those classes that they took away from me are the sphere of dialog. We need this dialog and we will find ways for talking and discussing. It might seem like I have lost the students, my chance to contribute to their desire for change and to be alive thanks to their dynamism, but I am sure that we will find other ways for forming this “contact” again.

In an interview in 2013, you said, “Academy is collapsing on me with the country,” after the process leading to arrest of Büşra Ersanlı. How do you feel now?

Academy has collapsed on me. However, I should admit that I was feeling ashamed because I was staying, as my friends were dismissed. Now, I am free of that feeling. Now, I feel like I am with the academics who are left outside. I am proud of it, because it is harder to stay in the universities for the ones who have the capacity of free judgment and opinion.  


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Gözde Kazaz