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.
At the turn of the twenty-first century, nostalgia privatizes and, by doing so, commodifies images and concepts once seen as public and thus nonmarketable by previous capitalists around the world. Nostalgia plays another specific role ...
After all, the strength of the Turkish Republic was founded in part on its defeat of the European occupying forces after World War I. At first sight, such a nostalgic vision of modernity looks like a complex irony, an unexpected ...
The Ottomans introduced the first measures of modernization in the eighteenth century following the weakening of the empire by its European enemies, the Habsburgs and Romanovs.14 After a major defeat by the Russians in 1774, ...
Many Kemalist intellectuals and citizens have suggested that things began to turn wrong for Turkey much earlier; particularly in 1950, when the Democrat Party won the first free elections. Starting from this period, the Turkish state ...
Thus nostalgia for the first ten years of the republic became meaningful at a time when its foundational principles came under threat. The seventy- ifth anniversary celebrations in 1998 organized by civil society organizations depicted ...
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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