Anti-Westernism on the European Periphery: The Meaning of Soviet-Turkish Convergence in the 1930s

SLAVIC REVIEW 72.1 (2013)

Abstract: A number of recent comparative works have drawn attention to parallels and similarities between the Soviet Union and the early Turkish Republic. In this article, Samuel J. Hirst takes a firmly transnational approach to Soviet-Turkish interactions in the 1930s to demonstrate that the similarities were not merely circumstantial. The manifest ideological conflict between nationalist Turks and internationalist Bolsheviks has led many historians to dismiss Soviet-Turkish cooperation as a necessary response to geopolitics, a pragmatic alliance against the west. Hirst argues that opposition to the western-dictated international order was a coherent element in Soviet-Turkish exchanges that stretched beyond diplomacy into the economic and cultural spheres. The anti-western elements of Soviet-Turkish relations suggest that convergence was more than a case of homologous responses to similar conditions; it was part of a broader narrative that, in the Soviet case at least, continued to shape international relations beyond World War II.