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The International Politics of Turkish National Identity Formation

The International Politics of Turkish National Identity Formation
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The Turkish society and state have been subjected to significant and complex social,
economic and political transformations since the Justice and Development Party (AKP)
came to power in 2002. These seismic and puzzling changes also projected themselves
in the national self-perception and foreign affairs of the Turkish nation-state. Turkish
foreign policy (TFP) has gradually deviated from its traditional trajectory and has
displayed a salient change in certain international issues and areas. In order to make
sense of the transformation in Turkey’s external state actions, this thesis aims to provide
an account of the discursive transformation of the Turkish national self-image. It
responds to the question of ‘how’ the discursive (re-) formation of the Turkish national
identity took place between 2002 and 2017, and made certain paradigmatic changes in
the field of foreign policy ‘conceivable’. Turkey’s political relations with the Kurdistan
Regional Government, the European Union and Egypt within the given time span are
employed as case studies.
This study has two main theoretical and empirical objectives designed to make original
contributions to International Relations (IR) and TFP literatures with a theory-driven
perspective. Firstly, the thesis proposes a ‘modular’ post-structural constructivist
approach. It invokes nationalism and discourse theories and embeds them in an IR
framework in order to theorise the national identity-international relations nexus.
Secondly, this research combines analysis of AKP discourses on Turkish national
identity with historical/institutional analysis of TFP. Even in the most constructivist IR
works on Turkey, scrutiny of national identity narratives appears to be lacking. Rather
than scrutinising the identity transformation process, change (mostly and simply from
‘pro-Western to pro-Islamic’) is accepted as an axiomatic assumption before applying
an identity-driven analysis to TFP. This study gives equal empirical weight to national
identity construction and international relations aspects, allowing the reader to follow
both analyses separately and shedding light on the interplay between them.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:international relations theory; nationalism studies; discourse theory; Turkish foreign policy; national identity; hegemony
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Dec 2018 08:04

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