No: 26, Profiles

FACULTY Q&A: Interview with İhsan Efe Tokdemir

BY EKİNSU POLAT (AMER/II)

Assoc. Prof. Efe Tokdemir’s academic journey commenced with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Relations from Boğaziçi University in İstanbul, Turkey, in 2012. Building upon this foundation, he pursued advanced studies, earning both a Master of Arts (2015) and a PhD (2017) in Political Science from Binghamton University, SUNY. Following the completion of his doctoral studies, Dr. Tokdemir embarked on a distinguished career path, marked by significant contributions to the field of international relations. He was honored as a postdoctoral fellow of the ISA James N. Rosenau Fellowship and served as a visiting scholar at the Ohio State University’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies. Dr. Tokdemir’s scholarly endeavors have yielded noteworthy publications in esteemed journals such as the Journal of Peace Research, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Political Behavior, Conflict Management and Peace Science, Defence and Peace Economics and International Interactions. His impactful research extends to the realm of book authorship, with the publication of “Battle for Allegiance: Governments, Terrorist Groups, and Constituencies in Conflict” by the University of Michigan Press in 2020. This seminal work delves into the non-violent tactics employed by both state and non-state armed groups during conflict, offering valuable insights into contemporary geopolitical dynamics. His outstanding contributions to academia have been recognized through a series of prestigious awards and honors. Notably, Dr. Tokdemir was the recipient of the Young Scientist Award (BAGEP) from The Science Academy, Turkey (Bilim Akademisi) in 2019, followed by the Outstanding Young Scientist Award (GEBİP) from the Turkish Academy of Sciences (TÜBA) in 2020. His exemplary scholarship was further acknowledged with the Sakıp Sabancı International Research Award in 2021 and the TÜBİTAK Incentive Award in 2023. These accolades underscore Dr. Tokdemir’s profound impact on the academic community and his commitment to advancing knowledge in the field of international relations. He is teaching GE 512 (Quantitative Data Analysis) and IR 4130-(Foreign Policy and Public Opinion) for the spring semester.

What has been the most exciting moment of your career so far?
I guess it was my first ever publication. I’m neither arguing that this was the most influential, nor the most relevant for my research agenda. At the time, I was a PhD student, and having a publication was a big thing. Imagine the visual of a journal page: it’s well-formatted and your name is there with your affiliation. It is like you become part of academia from then on; you are part of that world that you would like to belong. Therefore, getting the news that our article was accepted to be published was one of the most exciting moments of my career.

What’s one piece of information from your field that you think everyone should know?
Those who aspire to get expertise in my field think that it is all about sitting down, mostly all alone in an office, and reading a lot, taking notes and nicely conveying ideas to others. Maybe in the past this was the case, but right now it’s not. Right now, it’s all about coming up with new ideas, finding puzzles and challenges and trying to answer them, coming up with new arguments and testing them. We’re testing whether they are true or false, whether these arguments are sound, robust or meaningful; therefore, we need some tools. That said, maybe for the students who are going to read this interview, I can say that international relations is not only about reading cool stuff and summarizing that. This is what people must be aware of when they want to pursue this degree.

When and where do you do your best thinking?
I’m a social scientist. Whatever I observe could be data for me to initiate some thinking processes. This is why I will say that there is no predesignated spot that I sit down and think. But most of the time, it’s when I’m cooking or exercising or walking around that I think most effectively. Because it’s not a process that you can plan, instead we’re constantly wondering about things, right? And, occasionally, good ideas pop up, too.

What distracts you?
Almost nothing. My friends and my family tell me it’s very easy for me to concentrate.
Once I get focused, I’m not easily distracted at all so noise does not affect me. People enjoying life around me or even my moods do not affect me a lot if I need to get things done.

What are you most curious about?
I’m an international relations scholar and my degrees are political science degrees. Most of the time we try to respond to political inquiries by focusing on the political features, characteristics and predispositions of individuals. Very recently I started thinking about coming up with some shortcuts, theoretical shortcuts, to predict some political outcomes using non-political indicators.
For example, we all support different football teams. Literally, we argue against each other depending on whether we are a Galatasaray fan or a Fenerbahçe fan. Can we simply investigate the behaviors and attitudes of a Fenerbahçe fan and the theoretical mechanisms lying behind them to predict how they might vote or how they think about some policies, countries or decisions? Can we predict whether individuals are happier politically speaking, or whether they are more leftist, depending on the time they spend in the traffic? Those types of questions bother me a lot recently.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
Well, I’m a huge Galatasaray fan, and it’s part of my life. If it’s not work or family time, I either watch a Galatasaray game or I examine the financial documents of the club or engage in intercommunity discussions about it. So, most of my leisure time is allocated for Galatasaray. But if you’re talking about daily activities, I enjoy trying new food, activities, visiting other cities and countries. I adore spending time with friends. We always try to invite people over to chat, or to dine.

Which books have influenced you the most, and why?
One book I read when I was a PhD student influenced my life a lot. It is, “The Invisible Hook, Hidden Economics of Pirates,” by Peter Leeson. The way Leeson could take a real-life example, theorize about it and model it to explain a real-world political phenomena was really exciting for me. If I tell you a pirate story, you will take it as a pirate story, as if it’s different from what we are doing, right? Yet, the way those pirates behave, the rules under which they operate, or how these rules emerge and evolve and transform the responses of states, well, this is very related to our work. I’m so excited about explaining political outcomes with non-political things and this was one of those cases. After reading this book, I realized that being an international relations scholar is not only knowing a lot about countries, following and reading well-known periodicals like Foreign Affairs or Economist regularly. Sure, we all do that, but, there is more, this book taught me.

If you weren’t an academic, what career would you choose?
I would be a diplomat. My university exam scores were really high, but I wanted to study political science and international relations because my dream job was to be a diplomat in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At the end of my third year, I realized it is a job that not only affects you but also your whole family. So, at the time, I thought that it would not be a good life choice for me. I decided to pursue a graduate degree. My initial intention was not to be a scholar, I will honestly admit that. But what I thought it was to be a scholar was not the same as being a scholar. Once I was in graduate school, I discovered the funs of being a researcher, then I made my final decision.

What is the secret of leading a happy life?
Maybe the secret of having a happy life is to believe that you are happy, that you have a happy life. This is also a very unconventional thing for a scholar to say because our job is to criticize things, right? But when it comes to enjoying the moment, I guess it’s all about being happy with what you have. I could have lived in different countries, but I’m living in Turkey now. And if you ask me, that was the best decision I’ve made. But I’m pretty sure if I had made another decision, I would have said, “You know what, I’m very happy that I made this decision.” So instead of constantly questioning your decisions about your daily life, maybe being happy and justifying things could give you have a more peaceful mindset. Yet, I must add, I’m still learning.

If you could go back to your undergraduate/graduate student years, what advice would you give to your younger-self?
I would take more time to enjoy the greens. When I was an undergraduate at Boğaziçi University I worked as a private tutor for high school and middle school students. I also worked in a think tank as a junior analyst. I would literally get out of the class and immediately run to a private tutoring session. Of course, there were benefits in doing that, but was it a necessity not to enjoy university life enough? I was doing sailing as an extracurricular activity, and I wish I had spent even more time for it.

What do you like the most about being at Bilkent?
Bilkent offers us scholars a lifestyle. Very honestly speaking, living in Turkey right now is difficult. I’m not only talking about the political situation or economic situation, but in general. My wife and I, we are both from Istanbul, but we prefer living here, in Ankara, mostly because of Bilkent. Imagine, I’m literally commuting to my job by walking. It takes 10–12 minutes to get from my lodging to my office. It’s a very easy life. Otherwise, think about Istanbul. Every single day, it takes one hour to commute by driving. Every single member of the family is commuting to somewhere else. That’s a bit of stressful life. Instead, life at Bilkent, it is very relaxed and nice, with decent friends around and good opportunities for the family and the kids.

What projects are you working on currently?
Well, there is this project I’m working on about the counterinsurgency, counterterrorism strategies. It takes up most of my time. It focuses specifically on non-violent tactics employed by governments to counter radicalization, insurgency and terrorism, which are targeted at their constituencies. Aside from that, there’s another project that I’m very excited about. It combines two topics that are fun for me. One is my job, examining conflict processes. The other is my leisure, football. So, we are investigating whether conflict events in Turkey are somehow reflected on the pitch in football games through football players’ behaviors towards each other or referees being more aggressive towards some players.

What’s your best work?
I think it’s not up to me to say, but one of my dissertation chapters comes to mind. It was published in one of the leading journals in my field and the article found that the people could turn against the United States in response to US foreign aid instead of aid winning people’s hearts and minds. It was a good paper with unconventional findings, and it had some policy implications in it. Another was a co-authored piece that we wrote during COVID. It was not directly related to my field, but we were investigating whether some political and social identities that we embrace, might impact our decision to get vaccinated during COVID or not.

What is the coolest thing about your work?
We spend so much time thinking about the causes of different phenomena. Why did this happen? Why did we observe that? We bring so much explanation and we fight with each other to prove our argument is better. The coolest thing is that we are not only claiming it, we’re also testing which arguments are better, under which circumstances, and why?

Could you share a turning point or defining moment in your career?
When you are close to graduating, you are on the job market, and it means you are applying for many jobs in different states and sometimes in different continents. If I would have gotten a job in a different state… than I would not have ended up in Bilkent. I am glad I am here.

Instagram

Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu.

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
@ctisbilkent
Bilişim Sistemleri ve Teknolojileri Bölümü öğrencilerinin 4 yıllık eğitimleri boyunca gösterdikleri akademik ve sosyal başarıları 27. CTIS Ödül Töreni’nde değerlendirildi. Törende, 6 kategoride verilen toplam 38 ödül, sektör temsilcileri, mezunlar ve akademisyenlerin alkışları arasında sahibini buldu. #bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi @ctisbilkent
6 days ago
View on Instagram |
1/9
Ödevler, projeler, sunumlar derken yılın sonuna geldik. Hepinize finallerde başarılar dileriz. 💯✨

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Ödevler, projeler, sunumlar derken yılın sonuna geldik. Hepinize finallerde başarılar dileriz. 💯✨ #bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
6 days ago
View on Instagram |
2/9
🇹🇷 Milli Mücadele’nin 105. yılında, 19 Mayıs Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı’mız kutlu olsun. 🇹🇷

#19mayıs #19mayıs1919 #Atatürk #mustafakemalatatürk
🇹🇷 Milli Mücadele’nin 105. yılında, 19 Mayıs Atatürk’ü Anma, Gençlik ve Spor Bayramı’mız kutlu olsun. 🇹🇷 #19mayıs #19mayıs1919 #Atatürk #mustafakemalatatürk
1 week ago
View on Instagram |
3/9
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti.
Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti.
Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti.
Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti.
Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti.
Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilgisayar Mühendisliği Bölümü Bitirme Projesi Fuarı “CSFair 2024” Merkez Kampüs Spor Salonu'nda gerçekleşti. Tüm öğrencilerimizi tebrik ederiz.👏🏻 #bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
1 week ago
View on Instagram |
4/9
İster yanımızda, ister uzakta, ister anılarımızda, nerede olursa olsun, sevgisini hiç eksiltmeyen annelerimiz sadece bir gün değil her zaman özeldir. Anneler Günü kutlu olsun. 🌷🌿

#annelergünü #happymothersday #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
İster yanımızda, ister uzakta, ister anılarımızda, nerede olursa olsun, sevgisini hiç eksiltmeyen annelerimiz sadece bir gün değil her zaman özeldir. Anneler Günü kutlu olsun. 🌷🌿 #annelergünü #happymothersday #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
5/9
Bilkentliler, Bahar Koşusunda buluştu. 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♂️

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilkentliler, Bahar Koşusunda buluştu. 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♂️

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilkentliler, Bahar Koşusunda buluştu. 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♂️

#bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
Bilkentliler, Bahar Koşusunda buluştu. 🏃🏻‍♀️🏃🏻‍♂️ #bilkent #bilkentuniversity #bilkentüniversitesi
2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
6/9
Firdevs Ulus
Mühendislik Fakültesi, Endüstri Mühendisliği Bölümü öğretim öğretim üyelerinden Doç. Dr. Ulus, endüstri mühendisliği çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür.
#bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
Firdevs Ulus Mühendislik Fakültesi, Endüstri Mühendisliği Bölümü öğretim öğretim üyelerinden Doç. Dr. Ulus, endüstri mühendisliği çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür. #bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
7/9
Cüneyt Şahin
Malzeme Bilimi ve Nanoteknoloji Enstitüsü – UNAM öğretim öğretim üyelerinden Dr. Şahin, fizik çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür.
#bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
Cüneyt Şahin Malzeme Bilimi ve Nanoteknoloji Enstitüsü – UNAM öğretim öğretim üyelerinden Dr. Şahin, fizik çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür. #bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
8/9
Jonathan Payton
İnsani Bilimler ve Edebiyat Fakültesi, Felsefe Bölümü öğretim üyelerinden Dr. Öğr. Üyesi Jonathan Payton, felsefe çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür.
#bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
Jonathan Payton İnsani Bilimler ve Edebiyat Fakültesi, Felsefe Bölümü öğretim üyelerinden Dr. Öğr. Üyesi Jonathan Payton, felsefe çalışma alanında Bilim Akademisi Genç Bilim İnsanları Ödül Programı BAGEP 2024 ödülüne layık görülmüştür. #bagep #bilimakademisi #bilim #araştırma #science #research #bilkent #bilkentüniversitesi #bilkentuniversity
2 weeks ago
View on Instagram |
9/9