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Cambridge Interfaith Programme


Neo-Ottomanism: From an imperial model for co-existence to a call for Muslim internationalism

Dr Aslı Iğsız (New York University)

Thursday 13 October, 12:45pm


A religious civilizationist tool for identification, Neo-Ottomanism has changed its scope since the AKP first won the elections in 2002. In the first decade of the new millennium, the party had a façade of conservative liberal multiculturalism which proposed an imperial model of coexistence. Different institutions supported this initiative, including the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, as well as the European Union. To them, at least at the time, Turkey represented an opportunity to build an “alliance” of civilizations: rather than asking why it is that conflicts are being discussed in terms of “civilizational” differences and clashes, the United Nations, for example, in 2005 launched a new initiative called the Alliance of Civilizations.

As the AKP gradually established itself as the hegemonic power in Turkey, neo-Ottomanism has been reshaped, dropping its liberal aspects along the way. Neo-Ottomanist discourse has increasingly turned into an articulation of power for the “Islamic civilization,” past and present. Indeed, the “narrative that reconfigures Turkey’s culture as an Islamic civilization via a particular interpretation of Ottoman heritage is the very backbone of neo-Ottomanism.” During the second decade of the new millennium, neo-Ottomanism developed into an imperialist aspiration to lead Muslims throughout the world and was articulated in terms of the rise of Islamic civilization. A glorious Ottoman past is reconfigured with the notion of the conquest at its heart and weaponized to mobilize Muslims around the world with claims to replace the “declining Western civilization” with the new, rising, and all-powerful Islamic civilization. In this context, even Islamophobia and xenophobia are instrumentalized to promote civilizationism and mobilized in the form of a Muslim internationalism.

All are welcome. Advance sign-up is required to attend via Zoom. A light lunch will be available for onsite attendees prior to this talk (from 12:15pm in the Selwyn Room).

For further information, please see

Thursday, 13 October, 2022 - 12:45 to 14:00
Event location: 
Lightfoot Room, Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge

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