A Critique of Western Modernity and the Narrative about Turkey as “Model State”


Turkey has long been depicted by Western circles as a ‘model state’ for the rest of the Muslim world on account of its secular modernity, level of democracy and economic advancement. The literature about Turkey as a model-state appears to neglect or treat lightly the three interrelated themes without which this debate is bound to remain superficial. In order to expand the contours of this discussion, this study seeks to shed light on the following questions, which also point to the arguments being made: First, to what extent is the Turkish model impregnated with Western secular modernity? Second, is the stress on the Turkish model part and parcel of the overall discursive asymmetry between the West and the Rest, which involves a strong tinge of imperialism and an orientalist narrative about the “underdeveloped” / “uncivilised” Arabs or Muslims? Third, is it not proper for the literature about the model state (Turkey) to employ a new terminology such as “exemplary state” which is less ideologically-charged and more reliably oriented towards the economic, social and political performance of a given state. In the latter case, state actors, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, could likewise qualify as possible exemplary states, alongside Turkey.


Model state theory of modernization Turkish modernization laicism Eurocentrism Orientalism exemplary state