During the opening decades of the Cold War, US policymakers and academics used modernization theory to provide an alternative model to communism for improving living standards. As Begüm Adalet
demonstrates, Turkey was both a model case of elite-led modernization and a laboratory for development projects that could then be exported to other societies. Through her analysis of the flow of aid money and expertise between the US and Turkey, the planning of the American-funded Turkish highway network, and the development of the Turkish tourism industry, Adalet highlights how the production of social scientific knowledge is fundamentally entwined with the problems of political order: social scientific theories are produced in material space, through uncertain encounters between transnational actors and policy networks. Furthermore, her examinations of the works and career trajectories of figures like political scientist Dankwart Rustow and sociologist Daniel Lerner show how the political and ideological imperatives of US foreign policy shape social scientific knowledge production, even as the figures involved may express doubts about the feasibility of political projects and initiatives.
Hotels and Highways: The Construction of Modernization Theory in Cold War Turkey
(Stanford University Press, 2018) invites political scientists, development economists, and other social scientists involved in the study of the Global South to reflect on how geopolitical power imbalances and hegemonic projects affect the production of social scientific knowledge.