An Anatomy of Nationhood and the Question of Assimilation: Debates on Turkishness Revisited
By Serhun Al
Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 83-101
Scholars have primarily debated the anatomy of Turkishness within the framework of an ethnic versus civic dichotomy. Arguing that such an approach would be inconclusive and less explanatory, this article approaches Turkishness from a singularity/plurality framework. First, the article emphasizes the singular nature of Turkishness – defined as monolithic nationhood – in the early Republican years that rejected any alternative identity approaches other than the definition of the state elites. Second, the article argues that the homogenization of the nation by the new state targeted those who considered themselves Turks as well, especially those who did not fit the ‘ideal’ or ‘imagined’ Turk (i.e. Muslim but secular, urban, and Western). The final section analyses the persistence and change in the monolithic nationhood in Turkey throughout the twentieth century and considers the implications of the state’s recent identity policies on the meaning of Turkishness.
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