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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In other words, as religion increasingly became ''public'' (Casanova 1994), secular state ideology underwent privatization. In this study I trace the much neglected second set of changes. I analyze how secular state ideology, politics, ...
... intellectuals argued that the oppressive reforms of the Turkish state were creating a secular public ideology and ritual not e√ectively integrated with beliefs and practices of domestic life, ethnic identity, or religious belief.
... the freedom of religious expression.12 In a circumstance in which Kemalist Turks could locate modernity neither in the present or future of Turkey nor in the present of Europe, they sought it in the single-party regime of the 1930s.
... o≈cials to secularize the country by placing religion under the strict supervision and control of the state (Toprak 1981; ... of Muslim rule such as the o≈ce of the caliph, religious orders, lodges, tombs, and religious schools.
Kemalist cadres attempted to replace the Islamic religion with a civil religion organized around new rites and rules ... On the other hand, it aimed to create a homogenous society deprived of class conflicts and ethnic and religious ...
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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