Past Event

Turkey and Europe: Contested Identities in History

April 3, 2018
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
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International Affairs Building, 420 W. 118 St., New York, NY 10027 Lindsay Rogers Room, 7th Floor

Senem Aydın-Düzgit, Associate Professor of International Relations, Sabancı University

Tsveta Petrova, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Turkey’s and Europe’s perceptions of each other play a key role in shaping their relations at present. Recent public discourses in Europe often characterize Turkish and European identities as dichotomous and in opposition. However, this assessment is based on a fixed and static understanding of identity which does not take into account how multi-layered and changing identities are and thus do not do justice to the complex, fluid and contested evolution of the intimate and emotionally charged relationship between Turkey and Europe. Starting with the Ottoman Empire’s attempts to associate itself with “European civilization” in the nineteenth century, this presentation will analyze mutual identity representations in Turkey and Europe during select cultural encounters, such as Sultan Abdulaziz’s visit to Europe and the Paris World Fair in 1866, a Turkish woman’s victory in the Miss Universe competition in 1932, and the release of the movie Midnight Express in 1978, by drawing from a variety of sources including the memoirs of diplomats, literary texts, travel journals, newspaper/journal articles and political speeches. By outlining important pathways and turning points in changing conceptions of civilization in the past, it will seek to generate scenarios for future understandings.

Co-sponsored by The European Institute and The Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies