Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010

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Crisis in National Identity and Secularism in Turkey (199) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Middle East Studies, METU (Turkey)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Recep Boztemur

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

The panel aims to critically discuss the formation of Turkish national identity and Turkishness considering the historical continuities and ruptures. The main focus is to elaborate the process of change in national identity from the early stages of the establishment of national identity to contemporary Turkey where national identity became subject of debate due to internal dynamics, changes in the understanding of modern law, the process of the integration of Turkey into the EU and the dynamics of globalization. The panel will also analyze the development of secularism in Turkey with a special emphasis on counter-secularist movements. The link between secularism and democracy will be critically elaborated. The panel also aims to shed light on the debate over various understandings of secularism and different forms of secularity. The participants of the panel think that this debate which focuses particularly on Turkey will provide new perspectives to the contemporary crises of national identity and secularism with respect to the increasing ethnic conflicts and religious movements experienced by many modern-states in a globalizing world.

Chair: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samet Bagce (Department of Philosophy, Middle East Technical University)

Paper presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Recep Boztemur (Department of History, Middle East Technical University), “The Formation of ‘Turkish’ History and National Identity in Modern Turkey”
The formation of national identity in modern Turkey is a multi-dimensional process that extends from c1900s to c1930s and, that includes the establishment of modern education, creation of a modern political organization and the formation of a national economy. The understanding of history and the construction of a national outlook appeared not only as a result of the politics of Turkishness of the political powers of the period, but also as the unintended consequences of historical developments of the age. This paper analyzes the dichotomies of the creation of a national understanding of history in a multi-national empire in the beginning of the 20th century on the one hand, and the development of a national politics by the military and civilian elites that basically trained within the ideology of Ottomanism. The paper will also examine the formation of nationalism and national state in the early Republic, and discuss the basic tenets of Turkish national identity in the 1930s.

Paper presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Ceylan Tokluoglu (Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University), “Ziya Gökalp and Formation of Turkism during the Early Republican Period”
One of the well-known founders of Turkish nationalism during the early Republican period is Ziya Gökalp. Gökalp’s ideology of Turkism (or Turkification) is accepted by many as the most important source shaping the official ideology developed during the 1920s by the Turkish state-builders. Parallel to the on-going process of challenging the definition and content of Turkism in Turkey, Gökalp’s ideology of Turkism also became part of the hotly debated Turkish national identity. Gökalp’s ideology of Turkism is now subject to different interpretations. While some claim that his Turkism is purely based on Turkish ethnicity (exclusive), others claim it offers equal citizenship to all ethnic groups who live in Turkey (inclusive). This paper discusses Gökalp’s ideology of Turkism with reference to two questions: Does Gökalp offer loyalty to the Turkish state or to Turkish culture? How does he differentiate the nation from the society and from the state?

Paper presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Aysegül Aydingün (Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University), “Crisis in National Identity and Ethnic Conflict in Contemporary Turkey”
This paper aims to emphasize the widespread misuse of the term nation in the light of Renan’s understanding of nation. This misuse is one of the main sources for national identity crisis in Turkey as it is in many other countries. Having based on terminological misuse and considering the sociological and historical data, the paper will elaborate on the reasons of this misuse and possibility of developing a more inclusive understanding of national identity that will increase the capability of different ethnic identities and loyalties to coexist in a single state. Can such a national identity be possible by replacing the classical understanding of nation and nationalism with another form of attachment to the state, being in line with the contemporary understandings of democracy and human rights?

Paper presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Erdogan Yildirim (Department of Sociology, Middle East Technical University), “Democracy in Crisis: Clashes between Turkish Secularism and Religious Politics”
This paper will focus on the clashes between the secularists and counter-secularists in Turkey. It is argued that when the pro-Islamic political party AKP (Justice and Development Party) came to power in 2002, there had been several attempts to ‘reinterpret’ the principle of secularism. Based on a relatively large support obtained in the elections, the AKP had to come to grips with the basic institutions of the Republic such as the judiciary and the military. The paper will critically evaluate the mechanisms used by AKP aiming at legitimizing its policies and the reactions and claims of the Judiciary and the Military. The AKP government tries to legitimize its own position basically on two grounds: a. the superiority of the political over the legal (as it claims to be the representative of the ‘national will’ on the authority of national elections), b. its being progressive within the context of a globalizing world in contrast to the now reactive secularist (and even nationalist-protective) tendencies. Yet, the clashes between the secularists and the counter-ones in Turkey are enforcing the country to make critical decisions about the role of law and the nature of democracy which is already under threat coming from the uncontrollable and unavoidable global integration.

Paper presenter: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Samet Bagce (Middle East Technical University -Department of Philosophy, Turkey), “An epistemological assessment of the recent discussions considering crisis in national identity and secularism in Turkey”

Constructing a national identity requires the construction of an epistemology based upon the new and desired definition of subject/actor as the one engaging in obtaining knowledge. This manifests itself in the function on the one hand that the new subject will be projected as to shape the future and on the other hand, to construct the life in the present and to ground itself as an historical entity in the past.

On the basis of the general epistemological framework provided above, I would like to consider how the “Turkish history” was formed along the axis of the development of Turkish identity including Ziya Gokalp’s studies in the early Turkish Republic, as well as how the national identity constructed and transformed until now has become the subject matter of some challenges motivated by the ethnic conflicts and clashes between secularists and counter-secularists in the present time.