Formation of authoritarian secularism in Turkey: Ramadans in the early republican era, 1923-1938
Turan, Sevgi Adak (2004) Formation of authoritarian secularism in Turkey: Ramadans in the early republican era, 1923-1938. [Thesis]
The aim of this study, which was inspired by François Georgeon's study of Ramadans in the late Ottoman Empire, is to analyze Ramadans in the early Republican era. By decoding the official attitude towards Ramadans, this research tries to discover to what extent the Kemalist regime regulated and transformed Ramadan, with which purposes and mechanisms it did so, and whether or not this process entailed a significant change in the publicness and socialness of Ramadan. Based on these analyses, this study attempts to answer the following question: What can be derived from the particular case of Republican Ramadans about the broader project of Kemalist secularization and about the conceptual framework of Kemalist authoritarian secularism? In addition, from a comparative perspective, it also aims to supplement the discussion on continuity and/or change between Ottoman and Republican periods. Lastly, this study tries to make a contribution to the debate on whether Republican secularization was a solid, determined project or a gradual process. The primary source of this study is the content and discourse analysis of the newspaper Hakimiyeti Milliye. In addition, the Prime Ministry Republican Archives (Başbakanlık Cumhuriyet Arşivi) were also scrutinized. The main texts of Ottoman/Republican history were reviewed and some recent analyses, both theoretical and historical, also included to reflect the contemporary discussions on Republican secularism. Based on the study of Republican Ramadans, it can be argued that the Kemalist regime regulated Ramadan and tried to transform its crucial position in the social and religious life of society. At the same time, it used the functional aspects of the Ramadan atmosphere and kept it under control in order to prevent it from being used as a possible means of social opposition or religious revival. While the Republican period exhibits similarities with the 1908 era in this sense, the former became much more authoritarian in its policies. The official attitude towards Ramadan changed gradually in response to particular problems that the new regime faced. Through an examination of Republican Ramadans, this thesis offers four main pillars in the way to conceptualize Kemalist authoritarian secularism: Diminishing the visibility of Islam; total control over the religious sphere, including limiting people's religiosity; a claim to true Islam; and nationalisation of Islam.
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