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Lecture Series Examines Turkish-U.S. Relations

WASHINGTON — The Albuquerque International Association is kicking off 2012 with a new lecture series aimed at informing New Mexicans about a diverse group of countries with potentially profound implications for U.S. foreign policy, business and the American public.

The association’s latest series, titled “Bubble, Bubble, Boil and Trouble: Critical Countries, Critical Issues We Do Not Understand,” opens Jan. 22 with a lecture on Turkey by Jenny White, an acclaimed author, social anthropologist and Boston University professor. Subsequent lectures in the series will explore developments in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia.

If you go
WHAT: Lecture on “The New Ottomans: Turkey’s Muslim Nationalists” by Dr. Jenny White, Boston University
WHERE: UNM Continuing Education Auditorium, 1634 University NE, Albuquerque
WHEN: 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22
COST: $15 for AIA members; $20 for nonmembers; free for students with proper ID

The lecture will be presented at the University of New Mexico’s Continuing Education Auditorium from 3 to 5 p.m.

Although past AIA series have explored such specific subjects as global corruption and terrorism, “Bubble, Bubble, Boil and Trouble” expands the series’ thematic scope, said Marina Oborotova, the association’s executive director.


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“We have chosen some of the most critical regions and countries in the world,” Oborotova said. “The idea is to bring more diversity and coverage and not center on a single theme. We believe it will be even more interesting for our audience.”

In a Journal interview, White said she hopes to use her opening lecture to explain why Turkey matters to the United States. She said it seems many Americans lump Turkey in with other Middle Eastern, predominantly Muslim countries, when it is actually unique. The country is in the midst of a fierce battle between secularist and Muslim sectors of its population, with one side accusing the other of imposing its own values and practices. Since the 1980s, a new “self-consciously” Muslim elite has mounted a powerful political and economic challenge to the traditional secular elite. White said that at the same time, the country is reconnecting to its Ottoman past, when the empire included the entire Middle East and part of Europe.

“To really understand Turkey, one has to focus on nationalism and not on Islam,” she said. “In fact, they (Turkish Muslims) will tell you Turkish Islam is superior to every other kind of Islam. They are not just out there wanting to be an equal member of the Muslim world; they want to be a leader with a global reach and position as they have had in the past.”

White said Turkey, a key American ally at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, will remain an important strategic partner.

“Turkey is one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world … and Turkey is a stabilizing factor in that region, which is where we get our oil and that is crucial to our welfare,” she said. “Turkey is also friendly to the U.S., although it is no longer kowtowing to the U.S.

“We’ll have to live with Turkey’s genuine democracy even though they may not be producing everything we want in terms of their decisions.”

Oborotova said Turkey, like the other countries featured in the new lecture series, will remain critical to U.S. foreign policy goals.

“If something goes wrong in any of these countries, there are consequences for the U.S. and they can very serious,” she said.

Other lectures in the series include:

Feb. 26: “Pakistan — Four Futures for a Troubled Relationship” by Dr. Timothy Hoyt, U.S. Naval War College.

March 23: “Saudi Arabia: A Problematic Ally?” by Dr. Toby Jones, Rutgers University.

April 21: “Egypt in Revolution” by Dr. Nathan Brown, George Washington University.

May 4: “Indonesia: Challenges to the World’s Largest Muslim Democracy” by Dr. Bill Liddle, Ohio State University. If you go