Massimo D'Angelo

Turkey and the international dimension of authoritarianism


Massimo is a full-time PhD student at the Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance at Loughborough University London. He is highly interested in international politics, and he has a strong cosmopolitan background.

Massimo earned a Bachelor's Degree magna cum laude in Political Science and International Relations at the University of Rome "la Sapienza". He spent his final year at the Yildiz Teknik University of Istanbul. In 2015, he became one of the 100 selected students on the first edition of "Scuola di Politiche", the School founded by Enrico Letta, former Italian Prime Minister and Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA) Science Po. The guarantors of Scuola di Politiche were the former European Commissioners, Pascal Lamy and Emma Bonino. Later on, Massimo earned a Master's degree with first-class honours in European and International Studies at the School of International Studies of Trento. In 2018, he obtained a Master's degree in Diplomacy, offered by the Italian Institute for International Politics (ISPI) of Milan.

Before moving to London, he has lived in Italy, Turkey, and Argentina. Following his memorable experience in Turkey, where he worked and studied, he has decided to centre his research on the authoritarian shift the country has taken on over the years.

PhD research description

Massimo's research is still at an early stage of development. The idea was to investigate (based on the Turkish case) whether international politics influences the ‘authoritarianisation’ (Caman, 2020) of a country. Currently, many scholars agree that a process of democratic erosion has taken place in Turkish democracy (Somer 2016). Authors have proposed several definitions to describe the new Turkish political regime and no ultimate agreement on a definition has yet been established.

In the beginning, the research started utilising Oisin Tansey's concepts of ‘international autocratic sponsorship’ and ‘promotion’ (2016), to describe the process through which international actors might have an intentional role in diffusing authoritarian models abroad. However, moving along with the research it emerged that much evidence is still missing to openly talk of intentional 'sponsorship' or 'promotion' from international actors. Thus, the decision was to look more in general at the international influence on Turkish democratic backsliding.

Currently, there are two frameworks that can be further developed: from one side, there can be a focus on the role of some international organisations (for example the European Union or the International Monetary Fund), which can have brought - as a result of unintentional consequences - to the deterioration of the Turkish path toward democratisation. For example, what have been the consequences of long-lasting negotiations for the Turkish accession to the European Union? The second framework involves the role of authoritarian actors, currently pursuing relevant interests in Turkey (China, Russia for example, but also the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation). Are these actors also aimed at exporting a political or institutional model (maybe illiberal)? In this case, other conceptual lenses can be utilised, including the intentional promotion of authoritarianism.

PhD supervisors

Massimo's research is supervised by Dr Aidan McGarry, Dr Burce Celik and Dr Ali Bilgic.

Awards, grants or scholarships received

July 2020: Massimo was received the Merit Award 2019 from the University of Trento. This is awarded to those students who have achieved remarkable results at the end of their degree.

August 2020: Regione Marche (Italy) awarded Massimo a grant to his PhD at Loughborough University London.

Papers, publications and articles

  • The Marginalisation of Turkish Women During the Erdoğan’s Era (Margins and forgotten places. Conference University of Verona 17-19 May 2021)
  • The Agreement that Never Was. The EEC-Iranian Relations During the 1970s: a Discriminatory Policy? (Going Global. Workshop on The History of EC/EU External Relations. A Jean Monnet Module on the History of European Integration, Conference 24th –25th May 2016)

Interests and activities

Massimo's main interest is politics. From 2011 till 2013, he was national representative of 'Federazione degli Studenti', an Italian student union affiliated with the Democratic Party. Massimo also loves travelling (his best trip best trip Brasil 2017), reading (I have proudly completed Infinite Jest!), watching TV series and being sociable. During the pandemic, he has also discovered a new interest in running. 

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