Commensuration, performativity, and the reform of statistics in Turkey

by BRIAN SILVERSTEIN

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Turkey's application to join the European Union, while currently a distant prospect, has nonetheless required the Turkish state to learn new things about the country in light of new norms and to use new formats and methodologies. The reform of its statistics is a key mechanism through which this transformation is taking place. A focus of intensive reforms is agricultural statistics, and these reforms have had an impact on farmers’ practices and livelihoods. The attempt to measure agriculture in new ways in Turkey is changing it through a logic of performativity. It is in and through this performativity that important work of institutional commensuration between Turkey and the EU is happening, illustrating the technopolitical nature of reform in many parts of the world.

An elderly farmer heads to his family's fields on his tractor in western Turkey. Farmers are an aging demographic group in the country.
An elderly farmer heads to his family's fields on his tractor in western Turkey. Farmers are an aging demographic group in the country. (Brian Silverstein)