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Lecture | Leiden University Nationalism Network

Nation and Empire: The case of Turkey and Iran

Monday 27 May 2024
Leiden University Nationalism Network events
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Although the age of empire seems to be gone for good, imperial tendencies seem to be on the rise in the current world. Think, for instance, of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine or China’s attempt to expand its control over the South China Sea by creating new artificial islands. Imperial ambitions of middle powers, such as Turkey are commonly overlooked in global politics, but offers a fascinating case in understanding the intimate nexus between imperialism and nationalism. Currently, the Erdoğan government looks back nostalgically on Turkey’s imperial past, which it presents as a source of national pride. Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in the Middle East, notably in Syria and Libya, suggests extraterritorial objectives. Iran is similarly understood to expand its regional influence through alliances along what it calls the axis of resistance. This involvement in regional conflicts also is fueled by nationalism. This panel aims to shed light on the element of nationalism in the regional engagements of both Turkey and Iran, two former regional empires, and their potential consequences for the wider region.


Alp Yenen is university lecturer for modern Turkish history and culture at Leiden University. His research interests lie in the history of Turkey and the Middle East in international affairs from the end of the Ottoman Empire to the end of the Cold War. He recently published A Hundred Years of Republican Turkey: A History in a Hundred Fragments, co-edited with Erik-Jan Zürcher (Leiden University Press, 2023).

Maaike Warnaar is university lecturer for modern Iranian history and culture at Leiden University. Her research interests lie in the history of Iran and its relations to the West, with a particular focus on the late Pahlavi era (1941-1979). She recently published Onze vriend op de pauwentroon: Nederland en de laatste sjah van Iran (Amsterdam University Press, 2023).

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The meeting will be held on campus, in Lipsius 1.48, but will also be streamed via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 630 1932 8149 Passcode: x9G7Y.&j

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