Propaganda or Cultural Diplomacy? Tarabya Cultural Academy

    • EUPE_BRUGES_2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Firdevs Bulut, University College London, UK


    This paper debates the Tarabya Cultural Academy, a culture and art institution initiated in 2011 by the then foreign ministers of the Federal Republic of Germany and Turkey. Its original purpose was to bring German and Turkish publics together, and create understanding between the two states. The academy offers artist training, hosts artists from Germany in Turkey, while at the same time offering scholarships. Due to the deep historical connections between Germany and Turkey, which is caused by the migrant worker flow from Turkey to Germany in 1960s to 1980s, this academy is a significant opportunity for both parties to further their dialogue. Although this historical connection is immense and it resulted in the fact that Turkish diaspora is the biggest in numbers in Germany, relations between Germany and Turkey has been strained over the course of the last 4 to 5 years. While bringing together Turkish and German artists in Istanbul or Berlin, and creating dialogue between them, the academy also produces work and engages in a discourse that can be considered as pure propaganda by the Turkish public; and it has recently caused controversy in Turkish media. This paper will therefore debate Tarabya Cultural Academy, its artistic work and the blurred line between cultural diplomacy and propaganda in this context, focusing on specific artwork that has been created over the last two years (2016 – 2018).