Nostalgia for the Modern: State Secularism and Everyday Politics in Turkey
Duke University Press, 2006 M08 30 - 240 pages
As the twentieth century drew to a close, the unity and authority of the secularist Turkish state were challenged by the rise of political Islam and Kurdish separatism on the one hand and by the increasing demands of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank on the other. While the Turkish government had long limited Islam—the religion of the overwhelming majority of its citizens—to the private sphere, it burst into the public arena in the late 1990s, becoming part of party politics. As religion became political, symbols of Kemalism—the official ideology of the Turkish Republic founded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in 1923—spread throughout the private sphere. In Nostalgia for the Modern, Esra Özyürek analyzes the ways that Turkish citizens began to express an attachment to—and nostalgia for—the secularist, modernist, and nationalist foundations of the Turkish Republic.
Drawing on her ethnographic research in Istanbul and Ankara during the late 1990s, Özyürek describes how ordinary Turkish citizens demonstrated their affinity for Kemalism in the ways they organized their domestic space, decorated their walls, told their life stories, and interpreted political developments. She examines the recent interest in the private lives of the founding generation of the Republic, reflects on several privately organized museum exhibits about the early Republic, and considers the proliferation in homes and businesses of pictures of Atatürk, the most potent symbol of the secular Turkish state. She also explores the organization of the 1998 celebrations marking the Republic’s seventy-fifth anniversary. Özyürek’s insights into how state ideologies spread through private and personal realms of life have implications for all societies confronting the simultaneous rise of neoliberalism and politicized religion.
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... the memory of a strong, independent, self-su≈cient state and its secularist modernization project that dominated the public sphere through the past century was challenged by the rise of political Islam and Kurdish separatism, ...
In the past several years, scholars have studied privatization and taken note of emergent forms of nostalgia in postsocialist countries, usually without connecting the two phenomena to each other (Berdahl 1999; Rofel 1999; Boym 2001).
A widely held belief about nostalgia is that because modernity could not fulfill its promises for a better and freer life, people marginalized during the modernization process now look back at the past fondly.
With the vivid memory of the 1930s as a modern past utopia in which the citizens united around their state, many contemporary nationalist- modernist citizens do not recognize modernity in the European present. They are discontent with ...
Contemporary Turkish modernists experience the present as the decay of a former modernity and have chosen as their model for repetition the Turkish past of the 1930s. Furthermore they know that being part of a European present, ...
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The Public History in the Private Story
Displaying Transformations in Private Lives
The Commodification of State Iconography
Civilian Celebrations of the Turkish State
Kemalist and Islamist Versions of the Early Republic