Research Agenda

My research expertise includes contemporary political theory, citizenship, migration, borders and boundaries, global justice, and democratic theory.


The Right to Travel: Toward an Ethics of Short-Term Mobility


The ethics and politics of international migration are two topics that have been central to both academic and political debates over the last few decades. Most migration scholars think and write almost exclusively about long-term and permanent immigration. Nevertheless, most cross-border movement of people is short-term and not with the intent to settle. This has resulted in the underdevelopment of normative theory on the right to travel. This dissertation theorizes short-term mobility across political borders addressing international travel, temporary and circular migration. I argue for a human right to travel, explain that right’s moral and practical limits, and examine the normative implications of such a right for democratic politics. Throughout the dissertation, I point out the global mobility divide that leads to global inequality of opportunity, and I argue that existing normative arguments for national border controls do not justify excluding travelers, temporary and circular migrants. Instead, we should consider separate reasons to restrict short-term mobility and examine the objections to short-term mobility.

Chapter 1 introduces the subject matter and the methodology, and it briefly demonstrates the history of passports and the practice of mobility of the present age. Chapter 2 explores the concept of travel in the history of political thought to understand what philosophers thought about short-term mobility and migration. Chapter 3 proposes a right to travel benefiting from a pluralist conception of human rights, and it shows why this right does not ground a right to long-term and permanent migration. Chapter 4 examines the normative arguments for border controls, which are grounded on states’ right to self-determination, the freedom of (dis)association, the welfare state, the duty to compatriots, and brain drain. It argues that these arguments do not justify excluding travelers, temporary and circular migrants from the territory. It responds to the overstay objection. Chapter 5 presents potential reasons for travel restrictions, and it discusses the moral criteria for selecting travelers. Chapter 6 examines the democratic theory objection to mobility. It introduces two conceptions of the demos, which suggests that short-term migrants are owed democratic justification, but they are not necessarily owed citizenship. It, then, argues that short-term mobility does not undermine the value of democracy and democratic citizenship. Chapter 7 concludes.


The Open Borders Debate, Migration as Settlement, and the Right to Travel

"The open borders debate, migration as settlement, and the right to travel," Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy (2022) DOI: 10.1080/13698230.2022.2040202

Abstract: The philosophical debate on the freedom of movement focuses almost exclusively on long-term migration, what I call, migration as settlement. The normative justifications defending border controls assume that the movement of people across political borders, independent of its purpose and the length of stay, refers to migration as settlement. “Global mobility,” “international movement,” and “immigration” are often used interchangeably. However, global mobility also refers to the movements of people across international borders for a short length of time such as travel, short-term and circular migration. While most scholarly attention has focused on long-term migration, the vast majority of cross-border movement of people (approximately 85% of all cross-border movements in 2019) is short-term. The existing literature offers normative arguments for border controls, which are grounded on states’ right to self-determination, the freedom of (dis)association, the welfare state, the duty to compatriots, and brain drain. In this paper, I argue that these arguments do not justify excluding travelers, short-term and circular migrants from the territory.

Democratic Citizenship

“Democratic Citizenship,” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Political Science. Ed. L. Sandy Maisel. New York: Oxford University Press (2020)

Co-authors: Ugur Altundal and Rick Valelly.

This peer‐reviewed article in Oxford Bibliographies is a reference resource, an annotated bibliography, on democratic citizenship.

The Idea of Individual in Political Liberalism: A Critical Perspective

"The Individual in Political Liberalism: A Critical Perspective,” Journal of Individual and Society. Vol. 7, No. 13 (Spring 2017): 59-78. (In Turkish)

Co-authors: Mehmet Kocaoglu and Ugur Altundal

Abstract: It is difficult to say that there is a consensus on how to situate the individual within a society in liberal theory. The individual is regarded as an agent that looks out for her own personal interest and is a part of the social cooperation in liberal theory. Political liberalism is one of the attempts that tries to place the individual within a society. This paper focuses on how political liberalism places the individual within a society. The purpose of the study is to explain how political liberalism situates the individual as an agent that looks out for her own interest and plays an important role in the social cooperation. Firstly, it  focuses on how the individual and society are placed in political liberalism. Secondly, by taking into consideration the criticism which emphasizes that political liberalism leads to an understanding of the individual as one who is detached from the society, we explore the nature of the relationship that depends on interaction, communication, and cooperation between the individual and society in political liberalism. Thirdly, we discuss the effects of the distinction between public and private spheres on the individual in political liberalism. Lastly, it is argued that political liberalism neither detaches the individual from the society nor fictionalizes the society that ends the autonomy of the individual but rather proctects the autonomy and separateness of individual.

Key Words: Individual, Rights, Liberty, Autonomy, Political Liberalism

Regime Change within Defective Democracies: Turkey in the Early 1990s and 2010s

“Regime Change within Defective Democracies: Turkey in the Early 1990s and 2010s,” Journal of Democracy and Society, 2016, Vol 13., no 1, Pp.10-15.

While democratization studies have been revived after the so-called “third wave” of democratization and “the Arab Spring” recently, the failure of some countries to transition to a functioning democracy has raised important questions. Recent scholarship, accordingly, has mainly focused on understanding “hybrid regimes.” Although some autocratic governments undergo important regime changes, empirical studies demonstrate that they are not necessarily replaced by democratic systems. Such cases help proliferate alternative conceptual studies through a balance between analytic differentiation and conceptual validity. Democracy-with- adjectives, which enables different typologies, is a critical tool to compare and grasp the regime attributes of different cases and/or the regime attributes of the same case across different periods.

By examining the case of Turkey in two periods — 1990s and 2010s—those theoretical distinctions can become meaningful. The tutelary features of the regime in the early years of the republic have almost disappeared in 2010s; however, the “distance to democracy” is still questionable compared to early 1990s. I argue that the decline of the tutelary powers of the military has not led a “more democratic” regime in Turkey. In contrast, it enabled the executive branch to have a privileged position. This unexpected outcome also shows the complexity of political interactions, which requires a more careful political analysis.

Book Review(s)

Immigration and FreedomContemporary Political Theory (2022) DOI: 10.1057/s41296-022-00585-2. 

Review of Nazli Avdan’s Visas and Walls: Border Security in the Age of Terrorism,Political Science Quarterly, Vol.135 No.3 (Fall 2020): 536-538.