How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk

How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk

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The modern nation-state of Turkey was established in 1923, but when and how did its citizens begin to identify themselves as Turks? Mustafa Kemal AtatA¼rk, Turkey's founding president, is almost universally credited with creating a Turkish national identity through his revolutionary program to qsecularizeq the former heartland of the Ottoman Empire. Yet, despite Turkey's status as the lone secular state in the Muslim Middle East, religion remains a powerful force in Turkish society, and the country today is governed by a democratically elected political party with a distinctly religious (Islamist) orientation. In this history, Gavin D. Brockett takes a fresh look at the formation of Turkish national identity, focusing on the relationship between Islam and nationalism and the process through which a qreligious national identityq emerged. Challenging the orthodoxy that AtatA¼rk and the political elite imposed a sense of national identity from the top down, Brockett examines the social and political debates in provincial newspapers from around the country. He shows that the unprecedented expansion of print media in Turkey between 1945 and 1954, which followed the end of strict, single-party authoritarian government, created a forum in which ordinary people could inject popular religious identities into the new Turkish nationalism. Brockett makes a convincing case that it was this fruitful negotiation between secular nationalism and Islama€”rather than the imposition of secularism alonea€”that created the modern Turkish national identity.110 Crucial to the creation of this new breathing space was the maturation of an institution which had begun to make its impact felt in the last years of the Ottoman Empire but which had been restricted in influence due to economic and politicalanbsp;...

Title:How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk
Author:Gavin D. Brockett
Publisher:University of Texas Press - 2011-05-01


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