Archaeology and Soft Power: cultural diplomacy between Türkiye and the UK

Hosted by Contemporary Turkish Studies and the European Institute

Online and in-person public event (Alumni Theatre, New Academic Building)


Emeritus Professor Stephen Mitchell

Emeritus Professor Stephen Mitchell

Sir David Logan

Sir David Logan

Professor Tuna Şare Ağtürk

Professor Tuna Şare Ağtürk


Professor Yaprak Gürsoy

Professor Yaprak Gürsoy

Join us for this event, co-organised with the British Institute at Ankara (BIAA), that will explore linkages between archaeology, soft power and international relations.

The significance of archaeology as a tool of cultural diplomacy will be examined through the example of Anglo-Turkish Relations since the 1940s.  The seminar will consider the positive influence of archaeology, as well as potential controversies involving excavations, recovery, and exhibition of artifacts by international scholars in foreign territories.  The questions that will be addressed include the following: How do institutions, such as the BIAA and British International Research Institutes (BIRI), contribute to soft power, development of bilateral relations and cultural exchanges; what are the current trends and future prospects of archaeology in Türkiye; what are the recent discussions involving the restitution of archaeological artifacts?

Meet our speakers and chair

Stephen Mitchell is an Emeritus Professor of classics and ancient history. He was the Leverhulme Professor of Hellenistic Culture from 2002 in 2011, and is a Fellow of the British Academy. He has served three terms as Honorary Secretary of the BIAA and served as the chair from 2016 to 2021.  During this period, he was co-organiser of the BIAA’s, From Enemies to Allies project, which explored the Turkish-British relationship at a political and diplomatic level from 1914 to 1960. Most of his world-leading and published work has been concerned with Asia Minor in antiquity, explored through texts, inscriptions and archaeology, with a particular emphasis on religious and cultural history.

Sir David Logan was British Ambassador to Turkey from 1997-2001. He also served in Turkey from 1965-1970. For most of his career, he specialised in east-west relations and in defence policy. He served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassies in Moscow and Washington. In London, his appointments included Assistant Under Secretary of State for Central and Eastern European Affairs, and subsequently for Defence Policy. Since retirement from the FCO, he has been Director of the Centre for Studies in Security and Diplomacy at Birmingham University, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, and Chair of the British Institute at Ankara. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and holds an Honorary Doctorate at Birmingham University

Tuna Şare Ağtürk (@TunaSareAgturk) is a Marie Curie Research Fellow at the Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford and an Associate Professor of Classical Art and Archaeology at Çanakkale Onsekiz Mart University in Türkiye. Her main research interests are ancient Greek and Roman art and the archaeology of Asia Minor. Her research in the ancient Roman city of Nicomedia has brought to light one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of recent years in Asia Minor, a new monument of Roman power. She has published on ancient dress and identity, cross-cultural interactions and material hybridity in Asia Minor, ancient polychromy, archaeomusicology, monuments of the Roman imperial cult, Tetrarchic imagery, and Classical reception in Türkiye.

Yaprak Gürsoy (@ygursoy) is Professor and Chair of Contemporary Turkish Studies at LSE. She has worked on Anglo-Turkish relations and Turkish perceptions of the UK. Her related publications include Reconsidering Britain’s Soft Power: Lessons from the Perceptions of the Turkish Political EliteCambridge Review of International Relations and Emotions and Narratives of the Spirit of Gallipoli: Turkey’s Collective Identity and Status in International RelationsBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

More about this event

Contemporary Turkish Studies focuses on the politics and economy of Turkey and its relations with the rest of Europe. The programme aims to promote a deeper understanding of contemporary Turkey through unterdisciplinary and critical research, teaching and related public activities.

The LSE European Institute (@LSEEI) is a centre for research and graduate teaching on the processes of integration and fragmentation within Europe. In the most recent national Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) the Institute was ranked first for research in its sector.

The British Institute at Ankara (@BIAATweet) is one of the eight British International Research Institutes (BIRI) supported by the British Academy. Established as the British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara in 1947, the BIAA supports, enables and encourages research in Turkey and the Black Sea region in a wide range of fields including archaeology, ancient and modern history, heritage management, social sciences and contemporary issues in public policy and political sciences. Among its objectives are to encourage and facilitate collaborative research with other UK institutions and with scholars and institutions in Turkey and the Black Sea region, as well as to maintain a centre of research excellence in Ankara.

*Header image: Embracing co-emperors, Diocletian and Maximian, 290 AD © Nicomedia-Çukurbağ Archaeological Project, Kocaeli Archaeology Museum, İzmit, Türkiye

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