Are We Captives of History?
One of the most central questions in European politics today is the complex relationship between Turkey and the European Union. To understand better the controversies and ambiguities that arise by this issue, it is necessary to go back in history. In 1529 and 1683, the conquering armies of the Ottoman Empire appeared at the gates of Vienna, threatening to overrun central Europe. But in recent years, Turkey, with its 70 million mostly Muslim inhabitants, has been seeking closer integration with Western Europe, knocking at the door of Brussels. The ensuing debates on possible Turkish membership into the European Union frequently evoke attitudes seemingly conditioned by an historical memory of one form or another, often originating centuries ago. The essays in this volume examine the assumptions, images, and stereotypes developed about the 'Other' through the long historical relationship, focusing especially on European images of 'the Turk.' The essays also explore the interaction of the two parties at different times and in different geographical locations. Chronologically, they range from the origins of the 'East/West controversy' in classical times, to the present question concerning the future relationship of Turkey and Europe. This volume provides a valuable source of knowledge for those interested in the persistence, as well as in the transformation, of basic notions through history, and in seeking a deeper understanding of how present day attitudes and arguments are related to historical memory.
Publication Date: 7/2/2007