What is the “work” of neoliberal legal technologies in the global south? What do the processes of their transplantation to and appropriation in the semi-peripheries of the global political economy tell us about the sociopolitical context that made these technologies possible? This article approaches these questions from an unusual angle, focusing on the passing of competition and antitrust laws and the establishment of a Competition Authority in Turkey alongside the story of a fictional institute called The Clock Setting Institute in Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar's novel of the same name. Arguing that Tanpınar's story, and the modernization parody it constructs, offers significant insights that help bring to light otherwise invisible dimensions of neoliberal state reforms, the author discusses how neoliberalism and its technologies are translated into a language of modernization and appropriated as tools in the service of civilizing the nation, in Turkey and in the global south. This translation—and transformation—not only shows how an otherwise alien legal and economic technology takes root by being translated into the local lingua of statehood in Turkey but also highlights a remarkable continuity between the practices of the modernizing state and the neoliberal state. According to this article, the real work of neoliberal technologies, competition law, and economics consists of importing and mobilizing the “scientific” (economic) tools of representing the economic reality “out there.” Such representations, similar to what clocks do for the concept of time in Tanpinar's novel, end up in fact producing what is “out there.”

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