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Becoming Turkish

Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923-1945

by Hale Yilmaz

Publication Year: 2013

“Becoming Turkish” seeks to provide a better understanding of the modernist nation-building processes in post-Ottoman Turkey through a rare perspective in the field that stresses the social and cultural dimensions and everyday negotiations that occurred during the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. Employing an interdisciplinary approach and drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including new archival evidence and oral histories, Yilmaz’s work delineates several specific examples of how individuals become Turkish citizens. She examines how Republican reforms were implemented and how they effected social and cultural change. By focusing on four specific areas of the state’s attempt to produce a new “Turk” and a modern Turkish nation (men’s clothing, women’s dress, language, and celebrations), she shows how individuals and communities received, reacted to, negotiated, and experienced reforms in their everyday lives. While the emphasis of the book is on the Turkish experience specifically, “Becoming Turkish” offers rich insights into similar processes throughout the Middle East and in other Islamic and colonial contexts which will arguably become more relevant every day.

Published by: Syracuse University Press


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pp. 1-1

Front Flap, Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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pp. 2-6


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

This book would not have been possible without the generous support of many individuals and institutions since I first began work on this project as a doctoral dissertation at the University of Utah more than a decade ago. It is a pleasure to have an opportunity to recognize at least some of the assistance I have received in the course of the research and writing of this book. ...

A Note on Spelling and Pronunciation

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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-21

In 1923 the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed, following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and a War of Liberation against Greece and other victorious Entente Powers. The proclamation of the Republic was accompanied by a sweeping series of modernizing reforms covering all aspects of life. ...

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1. Dressing the Nation’s Citizens: Men’s Clothing Reforms in the Early Republic

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pp. 22-77

The clothing of urban and upper class Ottoman men went through a significant transformation in the nineteenth century. As modernization spread from the military, legal, administrative, and political to the social and cultural spheres, Ottoman elites began to adopt European habits, manners, and ways of life. ...

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2. Women, Politics, and the Culture of Dress in the Making of a New Turkish Nation

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pp. 78-138

As with many late modernizers, the new Turkish state specifically emphasized visible aspects of modernity and national identity, such as architecture and dress. Dress was an important symbol of civility and modernity. It was also accorded a transformative function. It would help create modern and secular citizens. ...

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3. Language: A New Turkish Script for a New and Literate Turkish Nation

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pp. 139-178

Language is an important aspect of both individual and collective identities. In Turkey, as in many other countries from the Soviet Union to Israel and Iran, it became a crucial site of the new state’s nationalizing, secularizing, and modernizing policies. The language policies of the early Republican state ranged from the formation of the Linguistic Society, ...

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4. Celebrating National Holidays

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pp. 179-219

National celebrations have been important instruments of political socialization, legitimacy, and mobilization in Turkey. Yet Turkish historians have rarely studied the culture of national celebrations in Republican Turkey, nor have they examined closely the emergence and functioning of that culture in the early decades of the Republic.1 ...

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pp. 220-226

Turkish historians continue to debate exactly when the Turkish nation came into being, or when the Turkish nation-building process finalized—not in the sense of state-building, but in terms of when the various members of the national community finally identified themselves with the nation. ...

Notes References Index

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pp. 227-228


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pp. 229-294


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pp. 295-318


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pp. 319-328

About the Author, Back Flap, Back Cover

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pp. 349-352

E-ISBN-13: 9780815652229
E-ISBN-10: 0815652224
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633174
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633173

Page Count: 328
Illustrations: 26 black and white
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867741333
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Becoming Turkish

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Turkish language -- Political aspects -- History -- 20th century.
  • Clothing and dress -- Political aspects -- Turkey -- History -- 20th century.
  • National characteristics, Turkish.
  • Kemalism.
  • Nationalism -- Turkey -- History -- 20th century.
  • Turkey -- Politics and government -- 1918-1960.
  • Turkish language -- Orthography and spelling.
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