A back­lash among the Ana­to­lian pop­u­la­tion

Turkish Review - - REVIEWS BOOKS & REPORTS - VARAK KET­SE­MA­NIAN,

In the midst of the tur­moil in the Mid­dle East, “Where is Turkey Headed?” is a lin­ger­ing ques­tion, the an­swer to which re­mains blurry as so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal fac­tors fluc­tu­ate, bring­ing about a shift in the power bal­ance of the re­gion. In an at­tempt to gauge the seis­mic trans­for­ma­tions wit­nessed in Turkey through­out the past few decades, Rainer Her­mann’s book “Where is Turkey Headed? Cul­ture Bat­tles in Turkey” looks into the dy­nam­ics of so­cial change from the broad per­spec­tive of a Ger­man jour­nal­ist who lived in İstanbul for nearly 20 years. With a panoramic view of the his­tory of the Turk­ish Repub­lic as well as a back­ground of the Ot­toman ex­pe­ri­ence, Her­mann ar­gues that the driv­ing force for this change has its roots in the very so­ci­ety that has dis­cov­ered its cul­tural, re­li­gious, and eth­nic di­ver­sity and is push­ing back against om­nipo­tent gov­ern­ment con­trol. Di­vid­ing his work into three main sec­tions, Her­mann an­a­lyzes the var­i­ous fronts of the cul­tural changes in Turkey, ex­plain­ing the way in which they are mod­i­fy­ing the os­si­fied po­lit­i­cal and so­cial mech­a­nisms of the Ke­mal­ist doc­trine. The book is an ef­fort to jux­ta­pose the var­i­ous el­e­ments of Turk­ish so­ci­ety in an at­tempt to as­sess the de­vel­op­ing but os­cil­lat­ing re­la­tion­ships among them.

In the first chap­ter of the book, “The Found­ing Ax­ioms of the Repub­lic of Turkey and How they are Chal­lenged,” Her­mann an­a­lyzes the var­i­ous con­stituents of the Turk­ish elite -- the mil­i­tary and the Repub­li­can Peo­ple’s Party (CHP) -- who con­sider them­selves the guardians of the coun­try’s in­tegrity against do­mes­tic and for­eign foes as well as the pro­tec­tors of Turk­ish na­tional se­cu­rity. In this re­spect, Her­mann pro­vides a his­tor­i­cal back­ground for the emer­gence of the Ke­mal­ist creed, the six doc­trines of which -pop­ulism, re­pub­li­can­ism, sec­u­lar­ism, re­formism, na­tion­al­ism, and statism -ad­um­brated the po­lit­i­cal and so­cial plat­forms of the rul­ing elite. Two as­pects, amongst oth­ers, form the bulk of this chap­ter; an em­pha­sis is put on the his­tory of the mil­i­tary coups and in­sti­tu­tions of vi­o­lence in Turkey, with the Turk­ish gen­er­als act­ing as the power bro­kers polic­ing the or­tho­dox up­bring­ing of Turk­ish so­ci­ety. Her­mann ar­gues that this not only dic­tated a ho­mo­ge­neous iden­tity to all Turk­ish cit­i­zens but also brought a so­cial and ge­o­graph­i­cal strat­i­fi­ca­tion to the coun­try. Be­ing at odds, the gap is widened be­tween the cen­ter and the pe­riph­eries, the in­hab­i­tants of which are re­garded as “black” (siyah Türk) and hence lower-class Turks. Ho­mog­e­niz­ing in this way the stan­dards by which a per­son could be a “real” Turk, Her­mann ex­pli­cates how the Ke­mal­ist elite failed to rec­og­nize the di­verse cul­tures, eth­nic­i­ties and even re­li­gions of the var­i­ous com­po­nents of Turk­ish so­ci­ety.

Ac­cord­ing to the au­thor, the

THE BOOK IS AN EF­FORT TO JUX­TA­POSE THE VAR­I­OUS EL­E­MENTS OF TURK­ISH SO­CI­ETY IN AN AT­TEMPT TO AS­SESS THE RE­LA­TION­SHIPS AMONG THEM

Rainer Her­mann, “Where is Turkey Headed? Cul­ture Bat­tles in Turkey,” (Clifton: Blue Dome Press, 2014), 316 pp. ISBN: 9781935295211

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