Turkey as a Model for the Mediterranean? Revealing Discursive Continuities with Europe’s Imperial Past

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Abstract

This article critically engages with the discourse on “Turkey as a model country” for the Muslim world which became popular in Europe and the West after 9/11 and the Iraq War and later during the Arab uprisings. It argues that this discourse was not an ad hoc formulation developed in response to the imminent geopolitical challenges faced by Europe and the West, but that it reflects deeper legacies of colonialism and neo-orientalism produced in Europe’s own history with the Mediterranean. It demonstrates these legacies by pointing to the discursive continuities in the European representations of Turkey in the context of the abolition of the Caliphate by the Turkish Republic in 1924 and the Arab uprisings. By conducting a critical discourse analysis of the coverage of the abolition of the Caliphate in the French and British press and of a European Parliament debate on Turkey in the wake of the Arab Spring, the article shows the resilience of colonial and neo-orientalist assumptions on the relationship between Islam and democracy over time, and warns against their effects on the (re)inscription of a cultural hierarchy between Europe and the Islamic world as well as on the trajectory of democracy beyond Europe.

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APA

Aydın-Düzgit, S., Rumelili, B., & Gülmez, S. B. (2020). Turkey as a Model for the Mediterranean? Revealing Discursive Continuities with Europe’s Imperial Past. Interventions, 22(6), 741–762. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369801X.2020.1749700

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