Nationalism, transnationals and contested images of Turkey in Austria

Strasser S.

EUROPEAN SOCIETIES, vol.10, no.2, pp.177-195, 2008 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2008
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/14616690701835261
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.177-195
  • Keywords: EU enlargement, orientalism, cultural essentialism, transnationality, Turkey, Austria, STATE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


As 'Eurobarometer' surveys indicate, European populations are increasingly sceptical about further EU enlargement, especially as far as Turkey is concerned. Austria's rejection of negotiations with Turkey has been remarkable. While the Austrian government has been in line with European council resolutions, policy makers of different parties have reiterated their claim for alternatives to full membership for Turkey. Furthermore, opinion polls have shown that the Austrian population's refusal of Turkey is above EU average. Embedded in the popular arguments why Turkey should stay outside the EU, we find what Ralf Grillo has called 'cultural anxiety': essentialist views of 'our' and 'their' culture cause fears about a fast growing and predominantly Muslim population that would flow into EU labour markets and threaten 'us', in particular 'our' democracy, equality and human rights. Against this backdrop my interest will neither be focused on a further analysis of whether Turkey is sufficiently prepared for EU accession nor on the European Union's absorption capacity. In this paper I will rather focus on the emergence of hegemonic and counter-hegemonic cultural practices of selfing and othering in order to better understand the extensive refusal of Turkey's EU accession in Austria.