mübeccel kıray has passed away. she was probably the brightest, most insightful, enlightening turkish scholar, who, unlike muzafer sherif, the renowned psychologist, for instance, chose not to break her ties with the country.
kıray was born in izmir, the year the republic was declared. she studied anthropology, a brand new social science, at the then newly founded ankara university; taught sociology and social anthropology at the middle east technical university (metu), london school of economics, istanbul technical university, marmara university and university of texas, austin.
kıray contributed to theories of modernization and social change by pointing out to the very significant (especially as developing societies are concerned) phenomenon that modernity is not an accoutrement that is linearly attained by emulating the same forms as the capitalist western societies. she proposed that intermediary forms and buffer mechanisms/institutions occur which mediate the passage from one social structure to another. such institutions are, by themselves, neither modern/capitalist nor premodern (feudal) or agrarian. they belong to the period of the passage, to be left behind as progression to another stage is complete.
kıray's theoretical contribution was a blow to the development theories and policies of the 60s and 70s, which constituted the cultural - political aspect of american hegemony and maintained that the formation of western institutions in the third (and third-and-a-half) world would ensure their transition to modernity. when the theory failed, u.s. backed colonels' coups and authoritarian regimes erupted all over...
every turn of turkey's - or possibly, chile's or pakistan's - history of cultural transformations provides a plethora of events that corroborate kıray's theory; from instituting educational establishments that teach more hype than knowledge and science, to strange interpretations of modern-ized legal systems so that gabriel garcia marquez's story of south america, red monday, is reenacted in batman, eastern turkey; or perrennial messes in traffic that result from a collective idiocy that institutionalizes the ignorance of organizational norms.
today, i asked my class to name turkish football players in foreign leagues. they counted at least six.
none of them knew who mübeccel kıray was...