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‘East’ and ‘West’ in contemporary Turkey: threads of a new universalism

Dalacoura, Katerina ORCID: 0000-0001-5024-7528 (2017) ‘East’ and ‘West’ in contemporary Turkey: threads of a new universalism. Third World Quarterly, 38 (9). pp. 2066-2081. ISSN 0143-6597

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Identification Number: 10.1080/01436597.2017.1315301


The tired old civilisational categories of ‘East’ and ‘West’, loosely identified with ‘Islam’ and ‘modernity’, are alive and well, nowhere more so than in contemporary Turkey. The Justice Development Party (AKP) currently in government employs them assiduously to political advantage but they have a long history, having defined the parameters of societal identity and political discourse throughout the history of the Turkish Republic. The paper takes the strength of the categories as its starting point but moves beyond them by asking if discourses, narratives and identities, individual and collective, exist in Turkey which question, overcome and ultimately undermine the categories of ‘East’ and ‘West’. The paper starts by investigating the evolution of ideas about East and West since the late Ottoman period and accepts that they are still dominant. However, since the 1980s in particular, they are being undermined in a de facto way by cultural developments in literature and music, new trends in historiography and novel ways of relating to the past. In some ways in contemporary Turkey, the paper concludes, culture trumps the inherently essentialist idea of ‘civilisation’ and Turkish society is ahead of its political and intellectual elites.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 Southseries Inc.
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2017 10:49
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 02:32
Projects: MD150005
Funders: British Academy

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