Abstract

In 1946, Pertev Naili Boratav established the first Department of Folk Literature in Turkey. In 1947 he was charged with discouraging nationalism and promoting leftism in his classroom. His trial, which took place the next year, marked a turning point in the development of Turkish folklore studies. He had hoped that his academic unit could systematize and professionalize folklore study in Turkey, which at the time was dominated by amateurs in the service of the semi-official cultural centers that collected and encouraged local research during the early Republican era. Taking the trial process as its center, this article situates Boratav's career within the history of Turkish folklore studies. An important moment in the international history of folkloristics, Boratav's 1948 trial raised significant issues regarding the politics of culture. Trial transcripts have never been fully available, leaving Boratav's final defense—not published until 1998—as the only comprehensive account of the overall event. Drawing upon this resource, author Arzu Öztürkmen suggests how Boratav simultaneously defended his work as properly supportive of the new nation's ideals and also sought to denationalize it—that is, he promoted folklore as a means for understanding rather than as a way to bolster political claims.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-0413
Print ISSN
0737-7037
Pages
pp. 185-216
Launched on MUSE
2005-08-23
Open Access
No
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