CEST Virtual + Naples 2021

Turkey and the Mediterranean: linkages, connectivities and ruptures

Virtual conference (September 2021) + Symposium in Naples/Italy (November 2021)

Poster and Infographic

Original Call for Papers

Turkey belongs to many regions, and the Mediterranean is certainly one of them. Recently, geopolitical interests in Turkey have turned, inter alia, to the eastern Mediterranean. Yet, as a geopolitical, cultural and political concept the Mediterranean has rarely been a central focus in the remit of Ottoman and Turkish

The Mediterranean remains a blurred concept open to diverging and conflicting interpretations. Studies in various disciplinary fields focus on the “White Sea”. Many of them concur with the Braudelian notion of the Mediterranean as a primeval unity, while they underemphasize the fragmentation caused by imperialism, nation-building and regional conflict, as well as by competing geopolitical narratives geared
towards regional hegemony. At the same time, however, the Mediterranean has never ceased to represent a repertoire of evocative and seductive images and to foster a collective imagery shaped by discourses in tourism, gastronomy and cultural history.

In this Symposium, we wish to resume the discussion on the Mediterranean with a particular focus on Turkey, with the aim to explore its historical, cultural and social as well as (geo-)political dimensions. In what ways does the idea of a geo-cultural space such as the Mediterranean relate to Turkey’s complex modernisation process, the creation of the Turkish nation state and the set of relations with Europe and
the Levante?

The Mediterranean understood as a space of exchanges, encourages the study of connectivities between the countries bordering its shores. With this Symposium, we aim to deepen the research on connectivities and exchanges in the basin beyond the North-South relationship and their underlying imperial and (neo)colonial policies. We also seek to explore the several connections between the Mediterranean countries and Turkey which have persisted despite the divisions created by the founding of nation states. In fact, the place of Turkey in the Mediterranean may be a point of departure for a reconceptualization of the North-South divisions that characterise its current state.

Similarly, the history of linkages, connectivities and mobility/migration brings into focus the entangled networks of economic, social and cultural relations built up by migration and transnational communities (i.e. Armenian, Greek, Jewish, Levantine and Muslim communities) that extended beyond political borders and traversed, if not reconnected, the north-south divide. Exploring these interactions promises new insights not only into the history of the Ottoman Mediterranean, but also allows for an exploration of a post-Ottoman space and identity discourses in republican Turkey.

In particular, we seek to elicit contributions in four interconnected fields of inquiry that

  • critically reconstruct the conceptualization of the Mediterranean as a space/discourse of belonging and identity narratives, of cultural and political connections, and as (geo)political space;
  • examine relevant connectivities, linkages and ruptures between Turkey and other Mediterranean countries;
  • discuss the role of networks and movements of people, both historically and in present, across the Mediterranean and in connection with Turkey;
  • engage with the recent rediscovery of the Mediterranean in Turkey’s geopolitical imagination in the context of its international relations.

We are particularly interested in contributions from Social and Cultural History, Politics and Constructivist International Relations, Diaspora and Migration Studies, and Anthropology. We strongly encourage interdisciplinary work. Comparative work about the linkages between Turkey and one or more Mediterranean country is especially encouraged.

Format of the Symposium

The Covid-19 Pandemic continues to shape the mode of our interactions, to which we need to respond creatively. We have therefore decided to convene a two-stage Symposium format with a virtual workshop in September 2021 and a face-to-face Symposium in November 2021.

The Virtual Workshop seeks to provide a space for selected participants to present the core idea of their papers in virtual panel sessions and to meet and receive feedback from peers and colleagues. The Workshop will also include a keynote presentation and a closing plenary session. Participation in all panels of the Virtual Workshop is required.

Based on the workshop discussions, the participants will then write a full academic paper, which they will submit to the conveners before the Symposium Meeting in November 2021. They will present their papers at the Symposium Meeting at Naples L’Orientale University. The conference conveners will organize a publication in the form of a special issue in a leading academic journal.

Abstract submission:

The application period is now closed.


Funding is available for junior scholars (PhD candidate, Post-Doc, early career) from Europe including Turkey. Interested senior scholars are encouraged to use funds from their own institution. Participants are eligible for the funding of flight tickets and accommodation. Flight tickets will be reimbursed up to 200 Euros. For co-authored papers, funding will be available for one presenter.

The event is being co-organized by Naples L’Orientale University and the Consortium for European Symposia on Turkey (CEST). CEST is committed to the study of modern Turkey by bringing together the expertise of leading European research institutions. CEST is supported by Stiftung Mercator (www.network-turkey.org/cest/).

Deadlines and dates:

Call posted 1 June 2021
Deadline for submissions 2 July 2021
Announcement of the jury decision 15 July 2021
Introductory meeting 1 September 2021
Virtual Workshop 24 – 25 September
Deadline for Symposium papers 5 November 2021
Symposium Meeting 25-27 November 2021

For questions, please contact Dr. Valentina Marcella at CEST2021_Naples @ unior.it

University of Naples "L'Orientale"