262S11+_22Turkey’s+Place+in+the+Europe+of+the+21st+Century_22+Murphy

262S11+_22Turkey’s+Place+in+the+Europe+of+the+21st+Century_22+Murphy

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Turkey’s Place in the Europe of the 21st Century 1 Alexander B. Murphy1 Abstract: A prominent American geographer comments on a paper in this issue devoted to Turkey’s possible, albeit problematic, membership in the European Union. In conjunction with a critique of Samuel Huntington’s thesis on the clash of civilizations, the author discusses the creative tension between the two visions of the EU as either a loose association of cooperating states or a closely knit federation (both in light of Turkey’s intended accession). Neither of these positions, he points out, addresses concerns that Turkey’s membership in the EU would unduly attenuate the idea of Europe, rendering the EU ineffective and potentially meaningless. Carl Dahlman’s (2004) study provides a thought-provoking overview of Turkey’s potential accession to the European Union (EU). He nicely highlights many of the key issues at play, and convincingly dissects both the fallacy of viewing Turkish accession in simple Huntingtonian “Clash of Civilization” terms (Huntington, 1993) and the tendency for some commentators to do exactly that. Moreover, he persuasively argues that rejection of Turkey’s bid would carry with it significant costs for Europe—not the least of which would be to invite an interpretive turn that would cast the outcome as a confirmation of Huntington’s thesis. Dahlman’s rejection of the relevance of Huntington leads him to focus attention on a set of social and geopolitical issues that are of clear importance in the Turkish accession debate. In particular, he discusses the role of migration and the changing geopolitical scene. His points clearly underscore the problem of viewing Turkey’s prospective membership in the EU simply as a civilizational challenge for Europe. Nonetheless, in the effort to distance himself from Huntington, Dahlman arguably underplays a concern that is of considerable importance in Europe today. The concern is that Turkish accession would make the EU ever more diffuse, would open the door to yet more members, and would represent a decisive victory for those who see the EU as a loose, economically coordinated group of states rather than a tight-knit federation of states, regions, and peoples. The problem in even raising this concern is that, at least superficially, it seems to resonate with the Huntington thesis. After all, to speak of the prospect of an increasingly diffuse Europe is to assume the existence of Europe as a meaningful geographical construct. Yet there is much to suggest that Europe holds a significant place in the modern European geographical imagination—albeit not necessarily in ways that are reducible to Huntington’s civilizational discourse. 1Professor of Geography and Rippey Chair in Liberal Arts and Sciences, 1251 University
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This document was uploaded on 10/27/2011 for the course GEO 262 at Rutgers.

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262S11+_22Turkey’s+Place+in+the+Europe+of+the+21st+Century_22+Murphy

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