Ayla Gol, Ph.D.


The University of Nottingham

Country: United Kingdom (Wales)

About Me:

Ayla Göl holds a Ph.D. from the Department of International Relations, 
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). She has worked as a lecturer at LSE, and as both a Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor in the 
Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth
University. She has been a Visiting Professor at the Renmin University of China, a Visiting Scholar at the HRC Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies (University of Cambridge), and the inaugural John Vincent
 Visiting Fellow at the Department of International Relations, Australian National University. She was the Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth between 2015-17. She is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social and Global Justice at the University of Nottingham and a Senior Fellow with the Higher Education Academy, in the United Kingdom.

Research Interests

Middle East & North African Politics

Foreign Policy

Gender and Politics

Religion & Politics

Race, Ethnicity and Politics

Political Islam

Nationalism, National Identity

Countries of Interest


My Research:

Dr Göl is the author of, Turkey Facing East: Islam, Modernity and Foreign Policy (Manchester University Press, 2013); as well as numerous articles and book chapters on Turkish nationalism, foreign policy and International Politics of the Middle East. Most recent publications are: The Paradoxes of 'new' Turkey: Islam, Illiberal Democracy and Republicanism, International Affairs,93: 4, July 2017.https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/publications/ia/INTA93_4_12_Gol.pdf
Islamophobia is preventing the empowerment of Muslim women repressed by political agendas, The Conversation, 3 September 2018  https://theconversation.com/islamophobia-is-preventing-the-empowerment-of-muslim-women-repressed-by-political-agendas-101082


Journal Articles:

(2017) ‘The Paradoxes of "New" Turkey: Islam, illiberal Democracy and Republicanism', International Affairs

When the pro-Islamic Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi—AKP) first came to power in 2002, Turkey was described as a shining example of ‘the only Muslim democracy’ in the Middle East. The AKP has remained in power since then. While some hailed it as the so-called ‘Turkish model’, many have been rather sceptical about an ideological ‘hidden agenda’ of the AKP leadership to Islamize Turkish politics. Nevertheless, a stable Turkey under the pro-Islamic AKP rule was perceived as essential to improving relations between the West and the Muslim world. Within the last two decades, under Erdoğan's leadership it has become clear that a western model of ‘liberal democracy’ will probably not be the final destination of Turkey's path, but just one of many possible exits. What went wrong under the AKP governance, causing a promising ‘Turkish model’ to turn into authoritarian rule with the rise of illiberal democracy? While the three books under review have different emphases and address different questions, all of them offer timely insights into understanding this pressing question in both Turkish and Middle Eastern politics. They all seem to broadly agree that Turkey under AKP rule has undergone a metamorphosis in three stages: the ‘economic miracle’, combined with pseudo-democratization (2002–7); the phase of ‘regime change’ (2007–11) and, finally, the rise of authoritarianism and Islamo-nationalism (2011–15). Based on these insights, it is possible to argue that this metamorphosis has led to the paradoxes of ‘new’ Turkey, which I will attempt to highlight and explore in this review article. I identify three paradoxes: the persistency of Islam, combined with nationalism (Islamo-nationalism), in state-society relations; the impacts of Turkey–EU relations and reforms on the democratization process; and the future of republicanism in Turkey. I conclude by arguing that the rise of Erdoğan's authoritarianism combined with illiberal democracy at home will have serious implications for Turkish foreign policy.

(2015) ‘Imagining the Middle East: the state, nationalism and regional international society, Global Discourse

The Middle East is commonly perceived as a zone of cultural and political differences within the global international society. Imagining the Middle East as a ‘unique’ region is not a new idea, but relocating this conception within the English School (ES) of International Relations (IR) is. This article challenges the perceived ‘exceptionalism’ of the Middle East, which claims that the European concepts of state, sovereignty and nationalism are alien to Islam, therefore preventing the emergence of a regional international society. The first part highlights the correlation between Eurocentrism in IR and the lack of interest in regional – area – studies through the critique of Orientalism and the ES. The second part moves to demonstrate why the ES is more explanatory than other IR theories in the context of the Ottoman–European relations. The third part explores the ‘institutional distinctiveness’ of the Middle East, disproving the notion of regional ‘exceptionalism’ and IR’s foundational Eurocentric assumptions. This article concludes by arguing that there is a strong case for calling the Middle East a ‘regional interstate society’, which remains to be a litmus test of whether or not a truly global international society is possible.

(2009) ‘The Identity of Turkey: Muslim and Secular’,, Third World Quarterly

This article analyses the rise of political Islam in Turkey in the context of the akp's tenure in power with reference to complex social, economic, historical and ideational factors. It aims to answer one of the key questions, which has wider implications for the West and Islamic world: ‘having experienced the bad and good of the West in secularism and democracy’, as claimed by Samuel Huntington's ‘clash of civilisations’ thesis, is Turkey in transition from a secular to an Islamic state? The article first questions Turkey's ‘bridge’ or ‘torn-country’ status and then explains the akp's ambivalent policies towards religious and identity issues in relation to the increased public visibility of Islam and a ‘performative reflexivity’ of ‘Muslim-selves’. It concludes that the real issue at stake is not the assumed clash of secular and Muslim identities but the complex of interdependence between Islam, secularism and democratisation in Turkey.

(2005) Imagining the Turkish nation through 'othering' Armenians, Nations and Nationalism

National identities are socially constructed and inherently relational, such that collective imagination depends on a dialectical opposition to another identity. The ontology of otherness becomes the necessary basis of social imagination. National identity can hardly be imagined without a narrative of myths, and the Turkish nation is no exception. This article argues that the Turkish nation was imagined as a modern nation with territorial sovereignty after the erosion of traditional Ottoman umma (religious community) identity. During the process of this imagination, the Armenians became the first ‘others’, whose claims over eastern Anatolia were perceived as a real threat to Turkish territoriality and identity. Based on the analysis of modernist theories of nationalism, the methodological concern of this study is twofold: to explore the causal link between the policies of Ottoman modernisation and the emergence of Turkish nationalism; and to incorporate the self and other nexus into the relationship between the emergence of Turkish nationalism and the process of ‘othering’ the Armenians.

Books Written:

(2013) Turkey Facing East: Islam, Modernity and Foreign Policy, Manchester University Press

Turkey facing east is about the importance of Turkey's relations with its Eastern neighbours - Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Soviet Union - during the emergence of the modern Turkish nation-state from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The principal strength of this book is that it not only combines historical and theoretical arguments in order to provide a better understanding of the foreign relations of a predominantly Muslim country from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective, but it also applies the new approach to the analysis of Turkish foreign policy towards the South Caucasus between 1918 and 1921. Hence, it stands out with its original interdisciplinary approach to the Turkish transition and foreign policy-making that offers perspectives on the extant possibilities for the particular transitional states resulting from the Arab spring uprisings.


(2018) Islamophobia is preventing the empowerment of Muslim Women repressed by political agendas, The Conversation

For many, Muslim veiling represents the oppression of women in Islam. The head and/or face veils are a frequent topic of debate, which suggests that “saving” Muslim women from their oppressive religion is a moral duty of the West. But focusing on the (in)visibility of women in Islam does not help the cause of empowering women in Muslim societies. Looking through the lens of Islamophobia, all Muslim societies are seen the same, where women are subjected to the same oppression. However, the contrasting examples of Saudi Arabia and Turkey show that this could not be further from truth. Muslim women are fighting for their rights, but are being held back by political moves.

Media Appearances:

Blog Posts:

(2018) TEDx Talks Aberystwyth

Ayla Gol discusses the recent regime change in Turkey and asks to what extent the modern secular Turkey is at risk.

(2018) The Globe Post

Erdogan’s New Turkey: The Victory of Illiberal Democracy and One-Man Rule

(2017) The Open Democracy

What went wrong with Turkey's referendum?

(2016) The Open Democracy

Turkey’s clash of Islamists: Erdogan vs Gülen