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The generous exclusion of Ottoman-Islamic Europe : British press advocacy of Turkish EU membership

Bryce, Derek (2009) The generous exclusion of Ottoman-Islamic Europe : British press advocacy of Turkish EU membership. Culture and Religion, 10 (3). pp. 297-315. ISSN 1475-5610

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Abstract

This article explores commentary in UK newspapers which, while sympathetic to the notion of Turkish EU membership, still deploys a discourse that remains exclusionary where assumptions of Turkey's intrinsic cultural and civilisational 'Europeanness' are concerned. Turkish member- ship is advocated as a sort of strategic supplement to a historical ontology of 'Europe' proceeding from a grand narrative of Latin Christendom - Reformation - Enlightenment - Modernity (adorned with the selective appropriation of Classical antiquity), superimposed upon a wider historico- cultural and religious milieu. Membership is supported on the basis that Turkey is an exceptional case, considered on the instrumental grounds of guaranteeing Turkish secular democracy within the context of EU institutions while presenting an 'example' to the wider Islamic 'world'. Support for membership does not proceed from assumptions that Turkey may possess an existing, intrinsic, historically locatable European 'right', implied by the extension of the EU into Ottoman successor states in south-eastern Europe as well as Cyprus. The potential for the deployment of this latter discourse to support Turkish membership from an assumed a priori cultural and historical European belonging is explored.