Article/journal, Harney Program

Transnational Mobilization of Future Generations by Non-Democratic Home States

Turkey’s Diaspora Youth Between Empowerment and Co-optation

While many aspects of state-diaspora relations have been explored, the role that youth play in state-led diaspora outreach remains under-researched in the literature. Democratic and non-democratic states alike, however, actively target diaspora youth for a variety of reasons. In this article, we explore how and why a non-democratic state like Turkey engages with its perceived diaspora youth by focusing on the AKP regimes’ recent engagement within its European diasporas as a case study. We argue that the AKP regime has proactively bolstered transnational youth engagement policies over the last decade with the goal of creating a loyal diaspora that will serve the regime in the long run. We show that selected diaspora youth are not only empowered, but also co-opted and mobilized by the regime to ensure continued influence in the diaspora—ultimately to incorporate them into authoritarian consolidation efforts back home and to turn them into assets that lobby host country governments.