JEAN MONNET CHAIR COAWARE – GUEST LECTURE
29 May 2021, Istanbul 29 Mayıs University, Zoom Webinar
The Narratives of Turkish Model & the Arab Spring in European Media
Dr. Oğuzhan Göksel, Assistant Professor at Istanbul 29 Mayıs University
Moderator: Oğuzhan Barçın, Assistant to the Jean Monnet Chair, Master’s Student in PolSci.
On 29 May 2021, the fourteenth Jean Monnet Chair event was a webinar by Dr. Oğuzhan Göksel from Faculty of Economics, Marmara University with the title of “The Narratives of Turkish Model & the Arab Spring in European Media”.
The 2011 Arab uprisings were initially hailed by many observers in the Western world as the harbinger of a “modern” Middle East. Finally, it was believed, the hegemony of corrupt autocrats and the prolonged “dark age” of the Arab world were coming to an end. In the context of this narrative, the so-called Turkish model gained popularity as a potential guide for the modernization of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
This study criticizes much of this literature on the Arab uprisings, arguing that the excessive enthusiasm shown by Western mainstream media and governments toward the promotion of the Turkish model reveals the limits of their understanding of the complexities of MENA societies and polities. In order to develop a generalizable understanding of modernization in the MENA region, the Eurocentrism of mainstream literature needs to be replaced with more flexible frameworks such as Post-Colonialism, Multiple Modernities Paradigm, and the Uneven and Combined Development Theory.
In the context of this narrative, the so-called Turkish Model gained popularity as a potential guide for the modernization of the Middle East and North Africa region. In order to develop a generalizable understanding of modernization in the MENA region and beyond, Dr. Goksel underlined that the Eurocentrism of mainstream literature needs to be replaced with more flexible frameworks such as Post-Colonialsim, Multiple Modernities Paradigm and the Uneven and Combined Development Theory.
According to Dr. Goksel, Turkish Model has been defined and offered by Western observers as a suitable guide for the MENA: Moderate Islamism, Capitalist free-market economics, Democratization, Westernization. The political context behind the Western promotion of the Turkish model to the MENA is hardly romantic and idealist, because it is actually caused by a pragmatic outlook that is concerned with protecting Western interests as much as possible.
The AK Party experience of Turkey has been offered as evidence that Islamist rule could be compatible with Western modernity and, therefore, be seen as legitimate by major global actors: the US and the EU. In that sense, Dr. Goksel pointed out that the “Turkish Model” namely more sympathetic way to make sure the MENA reaches the point of Western modernity. Turkish model applied as a smoke screen in this context.
This study has argued that the 2011 uprisings in the MENA did not only challenge authoritarianism at the national level but also constituted a broad anti-systemic revolt – in the manner of the 1968 left-wing youth revolts – that posed a significant challenge to the neoliberal market-oriented global modernity designed by Western actors such as the USA and the EU.
Eurocentric narratives such as the globalization thesis and the Turkish model assume the globalization discourse based on capitalist and democratic modernity, but it is not known if the MENA societies desire this direction.
In order to develop a generalizable understanding of modernization in the MENA region and beyond, the Eurocentrism of mainstream literature needs to be replaced with more flexible frameworks such as the ones developed in recent years by the proponents of post-colonialism, the multiple modernities paradigm, and the uneven and combined development theory.