Workshop – Call for Papers The making of cultural policies in Turkey and the post-ottoman spaces. Circulations, territories, and actors

Institut Français d’Études Anatoliennes & Galatasaray Üniversitesi, Istanbul

 16-17 April 2015

The implementation of public policies for culture is closely related to the construction and consolidation of nation-states (Poirrier 2011). In Turkey too, the young Republic’s first actions in the realm of culture were dictated by the imperative of national construction against the outside environment and inside turmoil both perceived as hostile. Thanks to a strong centralisation, supported locally by the governorates offices, the people houses, etc., the construction and diffusion of a national culture has gone hand in hand with the negation of the non Turco-Muslims identities and the minimisation – or folklorisation – of regional and local specificities (for e.g. Ada & Ince 2009; Öztürkmen). In Turkey as elsewhere (Thiesse 2001), exchanges and circulations played an important role in the construction of national culture and the way of conceiving the role of culture and cultural policies (for e.g. Işiksel & Szurek 2014). This is well illustrated for example in the transformation of Ottoman cultural institutions in republican one, with a firmly Western repertory (Kataoğlu 2009).
Today, the debates on cultural policy are renewed in the context of globalisation or of the negotiations for Turkey’s adhesion to the European Union. These debates take place not only within public institutions but also within the private sector and associative world. With the economic liberalisation from 1980 onwards, state institutions progressively (and partly) withdraw from the cultural sector (Polo & Üstel 2014). This is shown for example by the greater opening towards private actors. In parallel, culture has now a great economic dimension and is more and more used as a tool of development, of growth, or of tourism. The initiatives aiming to encourage ‘democratization’, ‘cultural diversity’, or the localisation of cultural policies also go hand in hand with. One witnesses a diversification of actors involved
in the making of cultural policies (private, associative, international); one also witnesses the circulation of objects, ideas, instruments, or practices and modes of action, bringing together new stakes for culture and cultural policies.
This workshop takes place in the framework of the research project “Trans-Acting Matters: Areas and Eras of a (Post-)Ottoman Globalization” (ANR-12-GLOB-003). In this workshop on the making of cultural policies we wish to question the ways in which the circulations participate in the construction of cultural policies in Turkey today as well as to rethink the earlier cultural policies and actions from the late Ottoman Empire onwards. The workshop aims to rethink the co-production of cultural policies, of their spaces and territories, as well as the plurality of the conceptions of culture carried by cultural policies.
Thinking about trans-acting and trans-action, we aim to take into account in the study of the making of cultural policies in Turkey the multiple forms and uses of circulations. Considering the exchanges beyond the one-way diffusion, the importation, and the imposition, it also brings further the interrogations on the concepts of “Westernization” as “Europeanization”. Focusing on trans-acting is also a way of deconstructing the operations of transfer of policies (Dumoulin and Saurruger 2010) and to question the “models” of cultural policies, the “best practices”, the phenomena of cultural co-operations, or of translations.

1. The co-production of cultural policies

Trans-acting is first heard as an “acting together”. The workshop will focus on the phenomena of hybridity (Abélès 2008, Appadurai 1996), of connections, and associations of various actors (Callon & Latour 1981) which co-produce original forms of cultural policies. The workshop will also pay attention to the resistances and to the places and moments where connections and associations are not made or do not work.

The workshop will focus on the trans-acting actors: how are the tools, the instruments, the individuals, the language, or the ideas that circulate “trans-making” the cultural policies? The workshop will be interested in all the actors involved in the establishment of a cultural action/policy, whether coming from the public sphere (Ministry of Culture and Tourism and dependent agencies, local Directorate, prefectures, municipalities, Türkiye Sanat Kurumu ; Döner Sermaye İşletmesi Merkez Müdürlüğü), the private’s one (families, banks, SALT,
galleries, businesses, publishing houses), associations and foundations (İstanbul Kültür Sanat Vakfı; Anadolu Kültür, local associations; etc.); whether they are collective or individual actors; based in Turkey or abroad.
The workshop will pay attention to the instruments of action and public policies and to their circulations, uses, adaptations, or transformations. The project, the agency, tangible and virtual tools such as Internet, translations (including manuals, guidebooks, or booklets), co- operations, are example of such instruments. The workshop will also focus on moments of trans-action such as festivals, seminars, professionals training, etc.

2. The Conceptions and Uses of Culture

Such focus on the co-production of cultural policies also lead to the study of the impact of trans-action on the conceptions of culture. How do the circulations participate to the redefinition of the conception of culture? The workshop aims to discuss how cultural actions and cultural policies re-define, transform, or reproduce the conceptions and uses of culture. Culture is not used only for national identity construction; it is not limited to a “high culture”. Various forms and uses of culture have taken shape: culture as entertainment, culture for tourism, culture for democratization and cultural diversity, culture for economic or territorial and local development, culture as a mode of governance (Karaca, 2009). How are these conceptions of culture brought together? How do they coexist or hybridize? Where and when?

3. Spaces and territories of cultural policies

Trans-acting is also understood as “acting in a transnational space”. If the transfer involves “a location prior to the release or contact, trans-acting emphasizes the relational configuration itself as part of the action – and hence of the identification of actors” (Aymes & Gourisse).

The study of connections, hybridizations and associations will help to deconstruct the making of cultural policies in a global space of circulation. The workshop will pay attention to the plurality of spaces and scales. It will be attentive both to the ways in which sites and places are connected, and to the question of scales, their productions and interplays. The workshop will focus on the international movement of actors and international standards and norms, their adaptations and appropriations in various sites and places. For example, the workshop will pay attention to the process of “metropolization” of cultural policies or to the development of local cultural policies (for example with the adoption of the Agenda 21 for culture, with the uses by various actors of cultural policies for local development or in the making of territorial identities). It will also focus on the establishment of networks and on the
role of media and of Internet in these circulations. The workshop does not call for so-called “top-down” policies’ analysis; it rather calls for an analysis focusing on the ways the actors, the tools, and the modes of action move from one site to another and interplay; on the way these interplays co-produce cultural actions and policies. The workshop will be attentive to the various movements and circulations, not only in the direction of Turkey, but also from Turkey (for e.g. with the Yunus Emre centres, Tandem projects, and different cultural cooperations, etc.).
We invite the submission of papers that question the ways in which the circulations participate in the construction of cultural policies in Turkey today as well as to rethink the earlier cultural policies and actions from the late Ottoman Empire onwards. Submissions dealing with these issues in the countries of the ex-Ottoman Empire are also welcomed. Papers can focus for example on:
– The role of a / some specific actors in the making of cultural policies
– The study of a specific project/policy/instrument (its making, evolution, circulation, uses) or cultural action or events
– The making of cultural policy locally (actors, uses and conceptions of culture)
– The languages of policy and processes of translation


Abélès M., Anthropologie de la globalisation, Paris, Payot, Rivages, 2008.
Appadurai A., Modernity At Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.
Aymes M., Gourisse B., « Matières à transfaire. Espaces-temps d’une globalisation (post-) ottomane », Document Scientifique ANR (unpublished).
Serhan A. et Ince H. A. (ed.) Introduction to Cultural Policy in Turkey, Istanbul, Bilgi University Press, 2009.
Callon M., Latour B., « Unscrewing the big Leviathan : how actors macrostructure reality and how sociologists help them to do so » in Knorr Cetina K., and Cicourel A. (dir.) Advances in Social Theory and Methodology : Toward and integration of Micro and Macro-sociologies, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.
Dumoulin, L., Saurugger, S., « Les policy transfer studies : analyse critique et perspectives », Critique internationale, 48/3, 2010.
Işiksel G. et Szurek E. (dir.), Turcs et Français. Une histoire culturelle, 1860-1960, Paris, PUR, 2014
Karaca B., “Governance of or through culture? Cultural policy and the politics of culture in Europe”, in Focaal – Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, Vol. 2009, No.55, p. 27-40
Katoğlu M., “The Institutionalization of High Art as a Public Service in the Republican Era”, in Ada S., Ince A. (eds), Introduction to Cultural Policy in Turkey, İstanbul Bilgi University Press, 2009.
Latour B., Changer de société, refaire de la sociologie, Paris, La découverte, 2006.
Öztürkmen A., “The role of people’s houses in the making of national culture in Turkey”, in New Perspectives on Turkey, 1994, 11, p. 159-181.
Poirrier P. (dir.) (2011), Pour une histoire des politiques culturelles dans le monde. 1945-2011, Paris, La Documentation française.
Polo J-F. et Üstel F., « Les nouvelles orientations de la politique culturelle Turque : à la recherche d’un modèle conservateur alternatif ? », Pôle Sud, 41, 2014, à paraître.
Thiesse A-M., La création des identités nationales en Europe XIIIème-XXème siècles, Paris, Le Seuil, 2001.

Abstracts and proposals

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They should include the key questions, the methodology, information about the conceptual approach, and references. They have to be sent before January 15th 2015 to:
All abstracts should be submitted in English or French. The presentations will be either in English or in French. Acceptance will be notified by early February.
Selected authors will be asked to submit their complete papers by 1 April 2015. Papers shall not exceed 40.000 signs (including spaces, notes and bibliography).

Scientific and Organizing Committee

  • Muriel Girard (ENSA Marseille)
  • Cilia Martin (IFEA-Istanbul)
  • Jean-François Polo (Galatasaray Üniversitesi – Science Po Rennes)
  • Clémence Scalbert Yücel (IFEA-Istanbul & University of Exeter)
  • Füsun Üstel (Galatasaray Üniversitesi)
  • Lydia Zeghmar (IFEA-Istanbul)

Contacts :

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