Recent studies of authoritarianism in Turkey often conceptualize the problem as a move away from the rule of law toward rule by law; that is, law’s political instrumentalization by powerful authoritarian movements or personalities. Informed by the liberal legalist assumption that conceives law and politics as two disparate spheres, these studies tend nostalgically to idealize the liberal rule of law past as a benchmark against which today’s predicament is compared. Instead, we attempt to develop an alternative framework, which analyzes law and politics as co-constitutive domains of power, domination, and struggle. We argue that the current state of exception in Turkey (Olağanüstü Hal, literally meaning “extraordinary situation” and is abbreviated as OHAL) would be more fruitfully analyzed by taking into account the historical and structural relations of power traversing the daily practices of law. In this respect, we suggest the following three points as promising research strategies: (1) offering a more extensive temporal framework that focuses on the historical continuities and discontinuities as well as the uneven experience and spatiality of exceptional rule; (2) avoiding methodological nationalism and situating the current authoritarian surge in the context of other formations of authoritarianism in the “peripheries” of global law and politics; and (3) developing a more relational study of law by including the political economic dimension, not just as a causal factor, but also in terms of its effects.

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