The African student’s migration in Turkey : a Challenge for the Gülen Movement
Our paper will try to reintegrate the complexity of realities beyond the often vague concept of Soft Power. In this paper, we argue that the concept of Soft Power if it can be considered as a “category of practice” (used by actors in everyday settings to make sense of themselves, of their activities, of what they share with, and how they differ from, others) can not be accepted as a “category of analysis” (the ‘experience-distant categories used by social analysts’ in an academic context) . In order to do so, we will focus on a Turkish private actor’s strategy of influence: the Gülen Movement. Here we will see how the strategy of influence developed by a private actor, namely the Hizmet movement can be re-appropriated, re-interpreted by African individuals who experience their own trajectory from Africa to Turkey in this very movement. To do so, our presentation will focus on a micro-level study of the migration of African students to Turkey and amongst them on those, schooled in Istanbul, that came through the channel of the Turkish schools (part of the GM) in Africa to pursue their studies in Istanbul. Our thesis is that the migration of those African students in Turkey through the channel of the GM represents a real challenge to the Gülen movement. Indeed the movement’s strategy of “strategic ambiguity” that allows its actors to develop different discourses according to the circles of sociability they are inserting in which has been the key to its success until today, represents here an obstacle in the GM’s strategy of influence of African elites.