Modern Friendship: The "New Turkey" and Soviet Cultural Diplomacy, 1933-1934
Zajicek, Taylor Craig
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In the interwar period, the Soviet Union and Turkey embarked on an unprecedented partnership, characterized by high profile economic, diplomatic, and cultural exchanges. The enthusiasm of these interactions surprised contemporaneous foreign observers and contemporary scholars alike, who underscored the ideological untenability and superficiality of the relationship. In contrast, this thesis seeks to demonstrate that Soviet-Turkish relations were a multidimensional affair, by exploring the public discourse produced by its Soviet participants. That is, how did Soviet commentators portray the Kemalist "new Turkey," and articulate and celebrate their interrelationship? Why did Soviet discourse endorse Turkish modernity--widely, effusively, and at considerable costs? Who were the primary audiences of this message? This thesis concentrates on a particularly lively moment of interaction: the 1933 Soviet delegation to Ankara's 10th anniversary celebrations and the film it inspired, Sergei Iutkevich's Ankara--Heart of Turkey (Ankara--Serdtse Turtsii, Türkiye'nin Kalbi--Ankara). Drawing on the historiography of the interwar conjuncture, Russian Orientalism, and Soviet cultural diplomacy, this thesis argues that the Soviet emphasis on the "new Turkey's" modernity (notably void of Marxist-Leninist overtones) created a neutral discursive space for furthering their geopolitical concerns, without exacerbating ideological incompatibilities. Secondly, the Soviet Union's endorsement of the Kemalist project must be understood as an extension of Soviet cultural diplomacy: the campaign to broadcast and propagate its own scientific, industrial, and cinematic accomplishments. By linking the Soviet and Turkish legacies--and their shared modernization experiences--Soviet observers advertised the Soviet Union as an alternative model to the Western-capitalist order, and established themselves as longtime sympathizers, witnesses, sponsors, and "friends" of the "new Turkey."