Call for Papers

5th Annual European Symposium on Turkey:
The Concept of Culture and its Politicization in Turkey and the Diaspora

November 29-30, 2019

Deadline for submissions: June 12, 2019

Even though in its core the emergence of ‘Modern Turkey’ could be considered a cultural revolution, some discourses on culture as well as fundamental transformations in the field of culture can arguably be traced back to the late Ottoman period. This symposium inquires the ways in which the concept of culture and the idea of its homogeneity featured in late Ottoman and Turkish discourses. It seeks to unearth the methods culture was and is used as a tool for implementing and legitimizing a political project. Yet, the imposition of, for example, the humanist cultural project in the 1930s and 40s never was all-encompassing nor uncontested by members of the multiethnic and -religious society. Even in today’s Turkey in which the implementation of a new political regime has had massive repercussions for the functioning of institutions and the relationship between state and society, the state still failed to gain an all-inclusive control in cultural realm and “pockets of resistance” continue to exist.

Culture is understood as a highly contested resource, yet, something which is continuously in process and hence not fixed. Culture serves as the field for affirming hegemonic discourse but also as a space to create and perform resistance strategies. For that, culture is not an exclusive term which only applies to high culture, it also includes all sorts of mundane and everyday practices, performances and expressions.

The meeting will investigate and discuss the various forms of “cultural engineering” through history, the different discourses on culture and the numerous practices of articulating, performing and producing culture as well as cultural identities/resources – be it in line with or against the cultural policy of the state. Turkey’s official cultural policies aimed at Turkish citizens living abroad will also be a focus of the symposium.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

●    Literature, Theatre, Cinema, Visual Arts, Music
●    Emerging “traditional” arts and the folklorization of tradition
●    Culture and civil society
●    Minority cultures / Minoritization of cultures
●    Subcultures
●    Culture and heritage
●    Dichotomies between nature/culture, urban/provincial cultures, high/low culture
●    Culture and memory
●    Culture and politics / Culturalization of politics
●    Transnational cultures
●    Gender and culture

We welcome contributions from all disciplines of the humanities and social sciences (both quantitative and qualitative) and encourage interdisciplinary and comparative work in collaborative form.  

Abstract submission:

Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words along with a brief academic CV. Abstracts should include a research question and information about data/empirical material, methodology and expected/preliminary findings. Selected papers will be published in a special issue of a peer reviewed journal.

The language of the symposium is English.

Abstracts and CVs should be submitted via email to:


Selected participants are eligible for the funding of flight tickets (plus local public transportation) and accommodation. Flight tickets will be reimbursed up to 300 Euros. (For co-authored papers, funding will be available for one of the presenters.)

The event is being co-organized by the Consortium for European Symposia on Turkey (CEST). CEST is committed to the study of modern Turkey by bringing together the expertise of leading European research institutions. It convenes annual high-quality academic events that create new ways of engaging with the study of Turkey and make this field more accessible to the debates in the social sciences. It, in particular, aims at creating platforms of networking and visibility particularly for younger academics. CEST is supported by Stiftung Mercator (

Deadlines and dates:

Call posted: 15 March  
Deadline for submissions: 12 June
Decisions announced: 15 July
Papers submitted: 15 November
Symposium: 29 November to 30 November

Questions can be directed to Ayşe Dilsiz Hartmuth at


This event is a collaboration of Consortium for European Symposia on Turkey (CEST), Network Turkey, University of Vienna, Stiftung Mercator and University of Naples "L'Orientale".