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  • Eigensinnige Musterschüler: Ländliche Entwicklung und internationales Expertenwissen in der Türkei (1947–1980) [Headstrong model students: Rural development and international expert knowledge in Turkey (1947–1980)] by Heinrich Hartmann
  • Juri Auderset (bio)
Eigensinnige Musterschüler: Ländliche Entwicklung und internationales Expertenwissen in der Türkei (1947–1980) [Headstrong model students: Rural development and international expert knowledge in Turkey (1947–1980)] By Heinrich Hartmann. Frankfurt a. Main: Campus, 2020. Pp. 460.

In March 1924, the American philosopher John Dewey was invited to travel through Turkey in order to study its system of education and suggest pedagogical improvements. After traveling two months through Istanbul, Ankara, and Bursa with occasional visits to the Turkish countryside, Dewey presented his progressive pedagogical vision of education as the central instrument to foster a democratic civil society and integrate the rural population into a modern secular nation-state. However, Dewey's suggestions tended to address education in rural areas as a universal problem of modernizing societies, paying scant attention to the local cultural systems in which his educational ideas should take root.

The tensions between universalism and particularism, international expert knowledge and local idiosyncrasies, lie at the heart of Heinrich Hartmann's book on postwar rural modernization in Turkey. Therefore, Dewey's sojourn in Turkey may serve aptly to introduce this excellent study. From the mid-1920s on, and especially after World War II, the Anatolian village had become a laboratory for rural modernization schemes that aroused the interest of many international observers devoted to the [End Page 268] economic and social development of Turkish society. In the postwar years, Turkey became an object of developmental policies shaped not only by the Turkish government, but by international organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Population Council, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The mission of reforming and modernizing the countryside encompassed scientific research, planning schemes, and political interventions that included the motorization of agriculture, educational reform, population statistics, studies in rural sociology, and the improvement of public health care and family planning. Yet, as Hartmann convincingly explains, the Anatolian village was far from a simple "drawing board" at the disposal of international experts and Turkish government agencies. Hartmann portrays the village as a complex social space where planning schemes and techniques of social engineering—designed by international scientific experts but dependent on transcultural brokers—interacted with the cultural, social, economic, and political logics of the villages in often incalculable and unforeseen ways. As a result, the modernizers began to adapt their views in light of ambivalent experiences on the ground, and the villagers learned how to deal with international experts and their impositions. Thus, Hartmann avoids the statist pitfall of portraying expert-driven modernizing schemes up against an allegedly traditional and risk-averse rural population; instead, he shows how the complexities of these encounters and the changing alliances between scientific experts, representatives of international development organizations, state agencies, local elites, and the rural population became a driving force of social and epistemic change in Turkey's postwar development policies.

Hartmann traces this transnational history of circulating knowledge about rural modernization chronologically. After a short sketch of state-led modernization and international scientific expertise in the 1920s and 1930s, Hartmann focuses on the role of international expert knowledge in Turkish rural development policies in the context of the Cold War. Under the auspices of the Marshall Plan, Turkey was imagined as the breadbasket of industrialized Western Europe. This vision necessitated, at least in the eyes of the modernizers, the transformation of Turkish peasants into entrepreneurial farmers using motorized technologies instead of animal power, replacing labor with capital. With the expiration of the Marshall Plan and a shift in U.S. geostrategic interests, the OECD became the driving force in efforts to establish a coordinated rural modernization policy in Turkey in the early 1960s. In this context, Turkey appeared less as a Cold War strategic partner than as an economically dependent recipient of international aid—and a laboratory for Western development policies. This shift went hand in hand with epistemic changes, as scientific experts no longer focused solely...


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pp. 268-270
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