Mustafa Doğacan SÜMER

Burdur Mehmet Akif Ersoy Üniversitesi, Fen Edebiyat Fakültesi, Sosyoloji Bölümü, Burdur/Türkiye.

Keywords: Attila Ilhan, Cultural Imperialism, National Culture, Globalization, Modernization, Intellectual.


This study examines Attila Ilhan’s analysis of cultural imperialism. The fundamental questions addressed in this study revolve around the role of the phenomenon of cultural imperialism in Ilhan’s intellectual world and the themes through which he engages in the discussion on this subject. Based on these questions, an evaluation is conducted regarding Ilhan’s columns and books. Writing on the issue of building a national culture in Türkiye throughout his intellectual life, Ilhan sees the biggest obstacle in this construction process as cultural imperialism. For this reason, the subject of cultural imperialism is one of the fundamental issues upon which he thinks and discusses. Ilhan’s analysis of cultural imperialism is structured around four key themes: globalization, national culture, modernization, and intellectualism. Interpreting the process of globalization as a new nomenclature of the world imperialist system, Ilhan makes an analysis based on the fact that this system has its sovereigns and the exploited. The first point Attila Ilhan emphasizes, whether on the subject of cultural imperialism or in other areas of cultural debates, is the value of societies’ unique cultural accumulations in social life. It is central to his analysis that all societies have specific historical and social conditions. Conducting a comparative analysis of cultural imperialism among societies, Ilhan examines at Türkiye’s position against Western culture. He discerns two contrasting cultural legacies -the Western cultural heritage and Türkiye’s own cultural heritage- marked by significant disparities. According to Ilhan, being oblivious to Türkiye’s cultural heritage and, conversely, assimilating with Western culture constitutes the initial step in comprehending cultural imperialism. According to him, cultural imperialism in the specific context of Türkiye is the outcome of a mindset that forgets the true goal of modernization and mistakenly perceives the goal as westernization. Ilhan argues that due to this mentality, contempt for one’s own cultural world emerged among individuals and that individuals were isolated from the cultural life of the society in which they lived and became transmitters of another culture. Based on this, he states that the underestimation of cultural resources in Türkiye leads to cultural imperialism. Within Ilhan’s conceptual framework, national culture corresponds to a cultural world that needs to be defended, preserved and developed. He advocates for the protection of national culture against external, aggressions defining this aggression as the cultural dimension of imperialism, namely cultural imperialism. He puts forward the solution as reaching the national culture synthesis. Therefore, Attila Ilhan’s thoughts constructed with different dimensions such as globalization, national culture, modernization and intellectualism make an important contribution to the literature on cultural imperialism. In this respect, he fills a significant void in Turkish intellectual life..