Each year, the Trudeau Centre for Peace, Conflict and Justice offers three fellowships to exceptional doctoral students from Uof T’s Department of Political Science, whose research relates to issues of peace, conflict and justice.

Photo of Gözde Böcü

Gözde Böcü

This year, Gözde Böcü is one of the three recipients of the Trudeau Centre Fellowship in Peace, Conflict and Justice. Gözde is a PhD candidate at the Department of Political Science specializing in comparative politics and international relations, and her research focus lies in transnational immigrant populations, or diasporas—specifically investigating the influence of authoritarian regimes on diaspora communities from a comparative perspective.

Gözde credits her international upbringing and education in inspiring her research focus in comparative politics. Originally from Turkey, Gözde grew up in Berlin, Germany and completed her master’s degree at the Humboldt University, before coming to Canada to pursue her PhD at the University of Toronto. She explains that her background allowed her “to see, observe and understand how societies function in different kinds of contexts. Living in Turkey, a country situated between the Middle East and Europe, that has experienced high levels of political violence and conflict around political identities in the past. And then coming to Germany and seeing the transformation of Germany as a migrant receiving state, and how that has impacted societal cohesion and politics. And then coming to Canada and seeing the best practice model on how to become a multicultural society that is welcoming and peaceful avoiding political conflict.”

Gözde’s passion for defending democracy and opposing authoritarianism guides her work on the global reach of autocracies: “I’m deeply concerned with issues such as transntional repression and human rights abuses at large, and in particular, with the safety of the most vulnerable parts of society, which are often refugees and exiles. People who don’t have official status in their host countries, and who may still be persecuted by authoritarian home countries that intimidate, harass and repress opponents.”

For Gözde, authoritarian reach across borders should be considered an issue that affects everyone, regardless of the country or community to which they belong. “In a world where democracy is in decline, and under constant threat, I believe that we have to understand better the way authoritarian states reach into our communities. And by communities, I don’t only mean transnational immigrant communities, but anyone concerned with the future of democratic citizenship, because it happens around us and it can affect our rights and freedoms as citizens.”

On November 5th, Gözde presented her research in a seminar to PCJ students. She highlighted her research regarding diaspora populations while also imparting the philosophy behind studying unconventional subjects: “I want to situate diasporas and diaspora mobilization within international relations and comparative politics, trying to teach the students that there are different levels of analysis and approaches when studying transnational issues. And, indeed, justifying that it is important that we study things that fall between the cracks. Just because they fall between the cracks doesn’t mean that they don’t matter.”

When asked what advice she would give to current undergraduate students, Gözde resolutely responded with “think broadly, be eclectic.” She encouraged students to pursue disparate interests and combine their studies in unconventional ways. “Discovery requires creativity, and  creativity requires you to think broadly. I think that’s what makes interdisciplinary approaches so valuable.”