Finally, I analyse the discourse of Istanbul institutional actors to illustrate how Istanbul is framed as an emerging regional art centre.
Soft power theory can be understood as a concept that was developed to reduce the complexity of transnational cultural interactions for state strategy and corporate interests.
Then I would like to thank the EJTS editorial board as well as the two anonymous referees for their comments and criticisms that enabled me to restructure and improve this article.
Finally, I would like to thank Kerrie Bramhall for her very thorough editing of the final version.
Although the role of civil society was stressed in Nye’s subsequent works (Nye 2004), it remains treated as a secondary factor.
Such an approach tends to disregard the potential role of powerful private actors with major economic stakes invested in the promotion of a country’s influence.Consequently, the emergence of Turkey’s art market has been a comparatively recent development: Fifty years ago, it was virtually non-existent with only a few short-lived art galleries referenced before the 1970s.The sale of late-Ottoman and early-Republican paintings by pioneer art dealers, such as Yahşi Baraz (1975) and Aydın Cumalı (1973), thereafter, started to promote a taste for collecting.Nye (1990) coined the term “soft power” to analyse the reconfiguration of American presence in the world following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the bipolar order, which had been at the forefront of US military strategy for the past four decades.Rather than resulting in the predicted decline of power, Nye argued that a variety of tools were available to the US to maintain their influence.Secondly, Nye’s theory supposes that promoters of a state’s influence have the capacity to mobilise cultural organisations to further their goals.This may be true in the case of cultural centres with organic links to the state, for example, the Yunus Emre cultural centres.Nye’s theory marked an effort to expand the notion of power by differentiating between its various processes (coercion, inducement, agenda-setting, and attraction), and defining the role of “soft” tools such as television, cinema, political discourse and cultural centres.While Nye’s approach has been widely applied to the analysis of Turkey’s new geopolitical context, two limitations can be perceived.The contemporary arts sector has been analysed as a complex system of actors participating in the construction of a hierarchy of reputation (Moulin 2000; Thornton 2012; Heinich 2014).However, the process of construction has not been geographically neutral in its effects, resulting in the unequal distribution of symbolic power (Quemin 2006).