When Authoritarian Regimes Talk Back to the West: The Case of Turkey

Saturday, 2 March 2024, 10:00am HKT (Fri 9pm EST) on Zoom

Rising powers such as China and Russia, with their increasing geopolitical influence, signify a shifting global landscape, challenging the traditional Western hegemony in global affairs. More recently, Turkey has joined these countries as a contender to Western domination, or at least projected itself as such. Marked by varying degrees of authoritarian rule, these states invest in globally-oriented communication initiatives to upend the Euro-American control over news, information, culture, and entertainment.

In this talk, Bilge Yesil discusses how authoritarian regimes use counter-hegemony to challenge Western critics and bolster their legitimacy on the world stage. Focusing on Turkey, Yesil analyzes the communicative activities the country has developed to position itself as a benevolent leader of Muslims and an alternative to Western political and moral leadership. Through a cultural lens, she analyzes the core ideas that shape this global messaging, including Muslim identity politics and the specter of Western imperialism. Finally, Yesil asks, what are the implications on global communication writ large when a state-sponsored communication apparatus obfuscates factual information with identitarian narratives, presents moralizing commentary as a humanist critique of the West, and essentializes East-West binaries?

BILGE YESIL is Associate Professor of Media Culture at the College of Staten Island and affiliated faculty of Middle Eastern Studies at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of Video Surveillance: Power and Privacy in Everyday Life (2009), Media in New Turkey: The Origins of an Authoritarian Neoliberal State (2016), Talking Back to the West: How Turkey Uses Counter-Hegemony to Reshape the Global Communication Order (2024), and co-editor of The Handbook of Media and Culture in the Middle East (2023). 

For enquiries: cmcr@hkbu.edu.hk

Organised by Centre for Media and Communication Research, School of Communication