MESA Banner
State-Sponsored Global Communication: How Turkey Uses Postcolonial Critique to Promote Itself as a Rising Great Power
Since the 2010s, the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) has vastly expanded its global communication apparatus to promote Turkey as a rising great power and at the same time fend off criticism coming from international media and policy circles. As a result of these intersecting motivations, it launched regional television channels in Arabic and Kurdish; set up new print, broadcast, and digital communication ventures in English; and enlisted partisan media conglomerates, think tanks and NGOs to “tell Turkey’s story” to foreign audiences. This ever-expanding global communication apparatus comprises both state-run and pro-government commercial outlets which all seek to frame Turkey as a global power that can challenge Western hegemony in international affairs and achieve pan-Islamic unity and justice for Muslims. Although they differ in their political economic structures, content and style, they all deploy a counter-hegemonic discourse that criticizes “the West” for its past and present exploitation of predominantly Muslim countries in the Global South and for the racist and Islamophobic attitudes that plague Europe and North America. While such counter-hegemonic communication may seem appealing (especially to audiences in/of the Global South), this paper argues that the AKP-sponsored outlets are, in fact, designed to advance the party’s geopolitical economic agenda and accrue power to Erdogan’s personalized regime. It demonstrates that the AKP, via these communication outlets, seeks to assemble Muslim publics and challenge Western monopoly (real or perceived) over knowledge and representations by instrumentalizing subalternity and postcolonial critique. To make this case, this paper uses discourse-historical analyses of media and communication texts (English-language news coverage, documentaries, historical television dramas, and social media campaigns) and interviews with audiences and industry professionals. It provides a critical analysis of the AKP’s global communication activities in relation to Turkey’s ambivalent relationship with “the West” and Western modernity, as well as its position among Muslim communities around the world. The paper also sheds light on why the AKP government views international media as facilitators of Western imperialism, what it does to reverse Western hegemony in news and popular culture, and how it seeks to project Turkey as a great power that is technologically on par with—and civilizationally superior to—the West.
Geographic Area
Africa (Sub-Saharan)
All Middle East
Islamic World
Sub Area