Book Chapter

The quest for cultural power: Islamism, culture and art in Turkey


While many AKP supporters have achieved significant economic and political upward mobility and the party consolidated its power to the extent of operating a de facto party-state over the past two decades, AKP officials’ and Islamists’ discontent with a perceived deprivation of cultural power has continued unabated. In recent years, this discourse of being historically bereft of cultural power has accompanied conspicuous interventionism in the field of culture through the use of the state’s ideological apparatus and economic resources. The first years of the AKP’s reign were shaped by liberal cultural policies aiming to withdraw the state (and its support) from the realm of culture and art. As the AKP consolidated its power, however, cultural policies made a U-turn toward interventionism, proactively aiming to create a conservative art field. In this chapter, we try to situate AKP officials’ and Islamists’ yearning for cultural hegemony within the general political and ideological context of contemporary Turkey. We then examine the forms in which the AKP utilized the state’s ideological apparatus and economic resources to intervene in the cultural field. Lastly, we will assert that such recent attempts to transform the field of culture from above is a historically specific phenomenon that cannot be simply grasped as yet another manifestation of a long-standing polarization between secularists and conservatives in Turkey.

Attached files


Yaren, Özgür
Karademir-Hazır, Irmak
Saraçoğlu, Cenk

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-15

All rights reserved.

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of The quest for cultural power: Islamism, culture and art in Turkey
This RADAR resource is Part of The Routledge handbook on contemporary Turkey [ISBN: 9780367209025] / edited by Joost Jongerden (Routledge, 2021).


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