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From Alliance of Civilizations to Branding the Nation: Turkish Studies, Image Wars and Politics of Comparison in an Age of Neoliberalism

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In 2005, the United Nations launched the Alliance of Civilizations initiative, co-sponsored by the Spanish and Turkish governments, to address issues raised by “Clash of Civilizations” discourses in the aftermath of 9/11. In 2006, a series of “rebranding” initiatives were launched during the World Economic Forum meetings to repair the image of the Middle East and to propose Turkey as a “bridge between civilizations.” In this process, certain categories (e.g. civilization and the East/West) have informed the terms of relevance in these projects. This article engages these initiatives as politics of comparison—that is, comparison as a state-sponsored project to (re)position a state in a world order and to secure power. Such projects of comparison are important factors to consider the politics of positioning a nation state, and the categories that inform such alignments. In that light, this essay addresses the implications of such political projects for the production of knowledge in general, the dynamics of “relevance” related to Turkish Studies in the USA in particular.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University, New York, NY, USA

Publication date: October 2, 2014

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