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A distinctive aspect of the Islamist movement in Turkey is the variety of characteristics and motivations of its followers. Social class, profession, educational level, age, and gender all condition what people want to get out of their participation in the movement, and how they go about getting it. These differentiations often remain unremarked in conventional analyses that situate a political or cultural Islam opposite an equally undifferentiated secular Kemalism, or that focus on the structure and ideology of the organizations and institutions that represent them. Kemalist and Islamist are self-ascriptive terms referring to groups of people reactively polarized around certain issues. Kemalism and Islamism each provide the other with an oppositional social model that, while it does not need to actually exist in fact, legitimates the idealized characteristics of one by demonizing the perceived opposite characteristics of the other. The iconic Kemalist position combines a kind of authoritarian democracy with a Westernized secular lifestyle. Kemalists are concerned to safeguard laicism and its guarantees of free choice of lifestyle, particularly for women, but limited choice in the realms of religion and ethnicity. Elite Kemalists have tried to control the direction of Turkish society through authoritarian state institutions : the government, judiciary, and the educational system. THE POLITICAL ECONOMY OF CULTURE 1 The lifestyle, behavioral practices, and ideological positions that generally are associated with Kemalism and Islamism, however, have a broad distribution in society and overlap these categorical boundaries . A clear Kemalist-Islamist divide is also challenged by the continual emergence of hybrid forms under the influence of globalization and the market in goods and ideas: university students wearing both jeans and head scarves, commercialized Islamist fashion, leftists writing for Islamist magazines, Islamists supporting the introduction of Valentine’s Day into Turkish society,1 and neo-Ottoman nostalgia infecting Islamist and secularist alike. While Ataturk attempted to isolate the Republic from its Ottoman past, the 1980s and 1990s saw a widespread nostalgia for things Ottoman. Ottoman objects and references to Ottoman history served as markers of elite status among Woman in conventional rural dress. 30 · The Political Economy of Culture the old secular elite and the nouveaux riches. But the most pervasive neo-Ottomanism, the engagement of Ottoman objects, practices, and history in the legitimation of new social forms, was practiced by the Islamists. Cultural practices and references act as dividing lines in Turkish society, although the boundaries are by no means clear. Attributions of cultural difference obscure other, more categorical differences, like those of social class. One thing Kemalists and Islamists have in common is a reluctance to recognize the role of socioeconomic class in what they perceive to be the division of society into Kemalist and Islamist camps. Instead, each side focuses on the cultural practices believed to characterize the other. For instance, self-defined Kemalists imagine themselves to be “modern,” liberal, secular, and individualistic. They imagine Islamists to be “traditional,” authoritarian, patriarchal, religiously fanatic, and collectivist. These characteristics also are attributed, in an equally undifferentiated manner, to rural populations and residents of the squatter areas that have grown up around Turkey’s major cities—for instance in what some secular Istanbul urbanites have called the “Other Istanbul” (Öteki Istanbul ). Each side imagines itself to be free of the characteristics of the other. These same differentiations are made between lower-class and middle-class lifestyles. However, this link with social class remains unacknowledged, as does the overlap of these characteristics in practice . One consequence of this reluctance to admit to certain cultural practices that are associated with the “Other Istanbul” is that political practices based on social networks, and, thus, the power of vernacular politics, become unavailable to Kemalist-inspired parties determined to be “modern.” They are available to the Islamist movement because it situates its organization and message within local cultural practices. Islam can be used to buttress and channel these practices. The source and content of the Kemalist and Islamist categories and their transformation, internal differentiations, and overlap must be sought in the economic and political history of the Turkish Republic. Early Republican reforms and the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk laid the ground for Kemalism, as both ideology and lifestyle. Meanwhile, Islam has played a political role in opposition movements and support for political parties. It has also remained a powerful part of people’s lives. Kemalists and Islamists have a complicated relationship to Islam; this complexity is reflected in the varieties of political expression of Islam. The Political Economy of Culture · 31 I begin below with...


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