To save content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about saving content to .
To save content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about saving to your Kindle.
Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
In late 2008, the New York Times’ Turkey correspondent took a boat tour along the Bosporus with historian Murat Belge. “History can be slippery in Turkey,” the Times told its readers.1 Over fish and rakı, Belge elaborated, “We have a very unhealthy relationship with our history … It’s basically a collection of lies.”
Chapter 4 examines the Kemalist appropriation of Ottoman history, beginning at the moment the empire itself ceased to exist and building up to the 1953 quincentennial of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. From the 1930s, Turkish historians used a narrative of fatal decline to not only justify Kemalist reforms but also facilitate the selective incorporation of the Empire’s triumphs into Turkish nationalist history. By 1953, the Kemalist appropriation of the Ottoman past had reached a point where it was possible to celebrate Fatih Sultan Mehmet II as a secular, pro-Western sultan who laid the groundwork for Turkey’s membership in NATO.
Chapter 2 addresses the diverse ways American diplomats employed their ideas of modernization when crafting policy and propaganda for Turkey. While Americans’ general understanding of what it meant to be modern remained consistently democratic, it was sufficiently malleable that it could accommodate contradictory conclusions about Turkish democracy as US interests shifted. State Department documents also reveal how American ideas about modernity were, with the cooperation of the Turkish government, consciously transformed into propaganda aimed both at encouraging Turkish modernization and advertising America’s modernity.
Turkey held its first democratic elections in 1950 and joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952. These dramatic domestic and international developments facilitated an equally dramatic reinterpretation of the country’s imagined past and its anticipated future. Under the influence of electoral politics and Cold War competition, Turkish politicians, intellectuals, and voters articulated a distinct vision of mid-century modernity, at once aspirationally liberal, proudly nationalistic, rationally pious, and appropriately prosperous. They optimistically asserted, with the enthusiastic agreement of many foreign observers, that Turkey was on the verge of transcending its notorious clichés by finally reconciling religion and secularism, tradition and modernity, and, of course, East and West.
Chapter 5 explores the visual and rhetorical styles through which Ottoman history was modernized. Faced with enduring Western Orientalism, Turkish authors, architects, and illustrators took a number of distinct stylistic steps to celebrate their history while presenting their relationship to it as an unequivocally modern one. The explosion of popular history magazines and historical novels during the 1950s provided a forum in which the act of reading about the past could itself become a performance of modernity. Whether blending popular history with pulp fiction or encouraging Turkish citizens to approach their country from the perspective of Western tourists, Turkish authors pioneered approaches to re-appropriating their own past that remain popular today.
Chapter 3 explores the ways mid-century writers used art, history, travel, and gender to articulate a vision of Turkish identity that claimed to synthesize Western Modernity and Eastern tradition or transcend this division entirely. While writers from rival ideological backgrounds promoted different versions of Turkish modernity, they nonetheless shared the belief that this modernity should be a synthetic one, combining the best of East and West. In citing American examples to critique European modernity or putting a modern imprimatur on radically different ideas about women’s role in society, these authors demonstrated how creatively Turkey’s clichés could be employed.
Chapter 6 explores how ideas about history and geography shaped Turkey’s relations with NATO and the Arab world. After joining NATO by de-emphasizing the alliance’s geographic character, Turkey went on to embrace NATO membership as proof of its European identity. Subsequently, Turkish and American officials clashed over what it meant for Turkey to be a “bridge between East and West.” During the 1950s, Turkey’s initial sympathy toward the Arab world quickly transformed into hostility as Arab nationalism took a pro-Soviet turn. As a result, Arabs who were initially seen as victims of British imperialism suddenly, in a Cold War context, became agents of Soviet imperialism instead.
Chapter 7 addresses the self-consciously modern religious revival of the 1940s and 1950s. It investigates the way government officials and conservative magazine editors promoted this revival as a part of a broader return to faith that encompassed the Christian West and offered a necessary corrective to the limits of positivist modernity. Across the ideological spectrum, they insisted Islam was fully compatible with modern thought and science, while holding very different ideas of what this meant. Their reform efforts won praise from many Western observers, who saw in the advent of modern religiosity proof that Turkey no longer needed the rigid secularism of the Kemalist era.
Chapter 1 examines the immediate aftermath of Turkey’s 1950 elections, tracing the way both of the country’s major political parties incorporated democracy into their historical narratives and modernizing ambitions. The Democratic Party (DP), for its part, sought to convince voters that democracy would enable them to more effectively realize the populist and materialist promise of Kemalist modernization. Finding itself in opposition for the first time since the country’s founding, the Republican People’s Party (CHP) sought to take credit for the advent of democracy, while also embracing democratic ideals in their criticism of the DP. In doing so, they opened an ongoing debate about which Kemalist-era reforms the Turkish people had truly accepted.
Between 1945 and 1960, the birth of a multi-party democracy and NATO membership radically transformed Turkey's foreign relations and domestic politics. As Turkish politicians, intellectuals and voters rethought their country's relationship with its past and its future to facilitate democratization, a new alliance with the United States was formed. In this book, Nicholas L. Danforth demonstrates how these transformations helped consolidate a consensus on the nature of Turkish modernity that continues to shape current political and cultural debates. He reveals the surprisingly nuanced and often paradoxical ways that both secular modernizers and their Islamist critics deployed Turkey's famous clichés about East and West, as well as tradition and modernity, to advance their agendas. By drawing on a diverse array of published and archival sources, Danforth offers a tour de force exploration of the relationship between democracy, diplomacy, modernity, Westernization, Ottoman historiography and religion in mid-century Turkey.
In its title, Uğrur Ümit Üngör's Making of Modern Turkey (2011) offers an elegant indication of how much has changed in the academic literature on Turkey since Bernard Lewis's 1961 Emergence of Modern Turkey. Lewis believed modern Turkey emerged; Üngör reminds us it was made. The cover pictures tell the rest of the story: where my copy of Lewis's book shows a bustling street scene, Üngör's boldly offers the ruins of an abandoned Armenian church. If it is an exaggeration to say that modern Turkey no longer represents the triumph of progress, but instead a systematic act of destruction, it is increasingly clear that younger historians, both Turkish and non-Turkish, have shifted their focus from what was gained with the advent of the republic to what was lost.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this to your organisation's collection.