Invited Talk – An Exiled Scholar: Challenging the Tyranny of the Method

Posted on January 16, 2023

You are cordially invited to a presentation by renowned Turkish scholar in Exile Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu on Tuesday, January 17, at 3 pm in North Hall 304.

Title: An Exiled Scholar: Challenging the Tyranny of the Method
Time: Jan 17 at 3 pm
Location: North Hall 304

Presentation Abstract
In social sciences, methods are essential and yet problematic. Methodological rigor is often considered the most important standard in assessing the quality of scholarly work. In psychology, for example, students across the world spend a lot of time and energy on learning methodology. The ever-growing emphasis on methods has resulted in a tremendous number of scientific publications that are very strong in methodology, but have little relevance for alleviating suffering, improving people’s lives, and elevating social justice. For scholars working in the Global South, the methodological standards produced in the Global North often create an impediment to addressing local issues. In many ways, scholars are now faced with the tyranny of methods. This dilemma is a very familiar one in arts. Those who introduced innovative methods of painting, creating theater, or composing music were often rejected by the orthodoxy. The dilemma is particularly relevant for upcoming scholars and young artists. This presentation offers ways to challenge the tyranny of methods with examples of grounded scholarship from Turkey, and then examines the notion of creative spaces for young people with examples from Italy and the U.S.

Speaker Bio
Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu characterizes himself as a developmental psychologist by training, a community psychologist by conviction, and a public scholar by definition: He has always seen public service, social justice and human rights as a primary responsibility. For two decades, he has insisted on putting psychology in service of social justice and human rights.Serdar has produced ground-breaking work focusing on burning yet sorely neglected issues for two decades. His earlier books focused on children’s rights and young people’s participation. In 2004, he teamed with Can Candan to produce an award-winning documentary on the experiences of millions of young people as they take the university entrance exam. His later books focused on persistent inequalities in Europe, martyrdom/militarism in Turkey, for-profit higher education and the decline of universities in Turkey, and psychosocial consequences of personal debt around the world. His latest book focuses on resistance and solidarity in universities in Turkey.
As an outspoken advocate of children’s rights, he has been writing a Sunday column focused on children’s rights and well-being in Evrensel (a daily newspaper in Turkey) since 2008. Serdar has served as a consultant to WHO, Unicef, the Council of Europe, and labor unions and progressive municipalities in Turkey. He served as president of the Children’s Rights Network of Turkey for two years. He also served as president of the NGO/UNICEF Regional Network for Children in CEE/CIS & Baltic States, a network spanning 27 countries. He was one of the founding members of the European Community Psychology Association and later served as its president. In 2019, he served years as president of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict & Violence (Peace Psychology). He is a long-time member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility and served two terms on the Steering Committee.
Serdar was a professor of psychology in Istanbul when he was fired in April 2016 for having signed a peace manifesto. In 2017, he was banned from public service for life. Forced to go in exile, he has held visiting positions in Cairo, Macerata, Brussels and now in Frankfurt. He is now a Visiting Scholar and a Philipp Schwartz Fellow at Goethe University Frankfurt A.M, Germany.
In 2020, Serdar was awarded the Josephine “Scout” Wollman Fuller Award by Psychologists for Social Responsibility for his work on peace and social justice for children. In 2022, he was awarded the Outstanding Service Award by the Society for Peace Psychology.

The Event is sponsored by The Pratt Senate, The Pratt Union, and the Social Science and Cultural Studies Department.