SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

The Struggle for Modern Turkey: Justice, Activism and a Revolutionary Female Journalist

Tia O’Brien, Nur Deriş and Kaya Genç

Date: 21 October 2019Time: 7:15 PM

Finishes: 21 October 2019Time: 8:15 PM

Venue: Free Word, 60 Farringdon Road London, EC1R 3GA

Type of Event: Panel Discussion

Sabiha Sertel rewrote history. She was a woman of firsts. Modern Turkey’s first professional female journalist. The first to face prosecution and imprisonment for her writings. And the first to end her life in political exile.

Shortly before her death in 1968, Sertel completed her autobiography Roman Gibi (Like a Novel), written during her forced exile in the Soviet Union. Translated into English for the first time, it offers a rare perspective on Turkey’s history as it moved to embrace democracy, then violently recoiled. Sertel’s unique first-hand account foreshadows Turkey’s increasingly authoritarian state with remarkably relevant insights for 21st century readers.

At a time when press freedom is under attack worldwide, Sertel’s memoir provides timely lessons for journalists, intellectuals and activists in Turkey and beyond confronting a surge in authoritarian repression.

Sertel was born into revolution in 1895 as an independent Turkey rose out of the dying Ottoman Empire. A passionate feminist, and committed socialist, her unrelenting push for democracy and social reforms ultimately cost Sertel her country and freedom.

Co-editors Tia O’Brien, journalist and granddaughter of Sabiha Sertel, Nur Deriş, independent translator, interpreter and grandniece of Sertel, and Kaya Genç, author and essayist, will join in conversation discuss this revolutionary journalist and her book with chair of English PEN Maureen Freely.

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Organiser: Presented by English PEN in association with I.B. Tauris and the SOAS Middle East Institute

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