Turkish Politics

Seminar in Turkish Politics

Dr. Behlül Özkan

The “idea of Turkey” emerged only after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War

One.  Prior to that, the Turks thought of themselves principally as Ottomans, people who had

a dynastic loyalty. Until the summer of 1918, they expected to retain the Ottoman Empire and

maintain a multi-ethnic, multi-religious state dominated by the faith of Islam. Elements of a

Turkish nationalism had begun to emerge during the late 19th century as a response to the

nationalisms in Europe and within the Empire among the Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians,

Armenians, Albanians, and Arabs, but the tendency among the Turks was restricted to a

minority of intellectuals who expressed it in their writing; there was no political

manifestation. There was no geographical conception of “Turkey” either for the Ottomans did

not emerge from a homeland as did other imperial peoples – the Greeks, the Romans, the

British, the Dutch, etc. – peoples who could retreat to their homelands when their empires

disintegrated. The Ottomans had nowhere to go except to Anatolia, contested territory they

were fighting to retain at the end of the empire, territory that was contested by others,

namely the Greeks and Armenians.

The “national struggle” was both a fight against the Greeks and the Armenians for

territory, and against the Sultan‟s Palace for the kind of Turkey that would be created if the

nationalists or the Palace won; the nationalists and the Sultan had two totally different

ideas of “Turkey.” Even after the nationalist victory in 1922 there was a bitter debate about

the kind of Turkey that they ought “to make.” Mustafa Kemal had rivals who had a very

different vision of the new Turkey. They were defeated by 1926 and the Kemalists took

charge and became the architects for the next few years. But the vision of Turkey kept

changing over the years as the character of society and its ruling class changed. That has

been the case to the present day and Turkey is still in the process of being “remade.”

The seminar is organized chronologically beginning with the constitutional revolution of

1908 when the process of rethinking about Ottoman state and society was activated. That

had a great impact, both negative and positive, about how republican Turkey should be

created after the war. It will conclude with a discussion of contemporary Turkey and the

attempts being made to remold it by secularists and Islamists in the light of accession to the

European Union.


For each class, all students will be expected to prepare a brief synopsis of the readings. Class

attendance and participation will be an important part of the student’s grade. There will be a

midterm and final exam. Students will also write a term paper based on newspaper archives.

Midterm: %20

Final: %40

Paper: %40

Program of the Course

Required books:

Throughout the course of the semester, participants will read significant portions of the

books listed below.

–         Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan: The Making of a National Homeland in Turkey. Yale University Press: New Haven, 2012.

–         Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey. Verso: London, 1987.

Week 1:

a) Introduction

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 1-15.

– Bertrand Badie. “The Impact of the French Revolution on Muslim Societies: Evidence and Ambiguities.” International Social Science Journal 41 (1989).

b) Imperial Vatan

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 16-55.

– Bernard Lewis. “Watan.” Journal of Contemporary History 26, no.3/4 (Sept. 1991): 523-533.

– Bernard Lewis. Muslim Discovery of Europe. New York: W. W. Norton&Company, 1982: 17-89.

Week 2

a) Ottoman Patriotism

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 56-76.

– Selim Deringil, “The Invention of Tradition as Public Image in the Late Ottoman Empire, 1808 to 1908.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 35, no.1 (January 1993): 3-29.

– Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey. London, 1987: 49-91.

b) Between Ottomanism, Islamism and pan-Turkism

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 76-102.

– Ali Kazancıgil. “The Ottoman-Turkish State and Kemalism.” In Atatürk: Founder

of a Modern State, eds. Ali Kazancıgil and Ergun Özbudun. London: Hurst Company, 1981: 37-56.

– Feroz Ahmad. “War and Society under the Young Turks, 1908-1918”, Review (Fernand Braudel Center) vol.xi, no.2, Spring 1988, 265-86.

Week 3

a) Imagining Anatolia as a National Vatan

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 102-145.

– Bernard Lewis. The Emergence of Modern Turkey. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002: 323-361.

– Feroz Ahmad. The Making of Modern Turkey, 31-52.

b) The Success of the Nationalist Movement and the Kemalists

– Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey, 91-117.

Week 4:

a) Multi-party Politics and the Cold War

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 146-186.

– Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey, 117-141.

– Melvyn P. Leffler, “Strategy, Diplomacy, and the Cold War: The United States,

– Turkey, and NATO, 1945-1952,” The Journal of American History 71 (March 1985): 807-825.

b)  Representation of the Soviet Union as a Threat and the Korean War

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 187-194.

– Necmettin Sadak, “Turkey Faces the Soviets,” Foreign Affairs (1949): 449-61.

– George McGhee, “Turkey Joins the West,” Foreign Affairs (1952): 617-30.

– Eylem Yılmaz and Pınar Bilgin, “Constructing Turkey’s ‘Western’ Identity During the Cold War: Discourses of the Intellectuals of Statecraft,”  International Journal: Canadian Institute of International of Affairs 61 (Winter 2005-2006): 39-59.

– Cameron S. Brown. “The One Coalition They Craved to Join: Turkey in the Korean War.” Review of International Studies Association 34, (2008): 89-108.

– John M. VanderLippe. “Forgotten Brigade of the Forgotten War: Turkey’s Participation in the Korean War.”  Middle Eastern Studies 36, no. 1 (January 2000): 92-102.

Week 5:

1960 and 1971 Military Interventions and Ideological Politics

– Behlül Özkan. From the Abode of Islam to the Turkish Vatan, 194-214.

Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey, 141-165.

Week 6:

a) 1980 Military Intervention and Political Restructuring

– Caglar Keyder. State and Class in Turkey, 165-223.

– Sencer Ayata. “Patronage, Party, and State: the Politicization of Islam in Turkey.” Middle East Journal, 50, (Winter 1996), 40-56.

– Ayse Bugra. “Class, Culture, and State: an Analysis of Interest Representation by Two Turkish business Associations.” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 30 (November 1998)

b) Turkish Politics in the Age of Globalization

– Mümtaz Soysal, “The Future of Turkish Foreign Policy,” in The Future of Turkish Foreign Policy, eds. Lenore G. Martin and Dimitris Keridis (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 37-46.

– Pınar  Bilgin, “Turkey’s Changing Security Discourses: The Challenge of Globalization,” in European Journal of Political Research 44 (2005): 175-201.