Imagi-nation of gendered nationalism : the represantation of women as gendered national subjects in Ottoman-Turkish novels (1908-1938)
Küçükalioğlu, Elif Gözdaşoğlu
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The relation between gender and nationalism has been a controversial issue since the 1980’s when the feminist analyses have brought to light different ways in which women are implicated in nationalist projects. Although the feminist literature contains several insights about the significance and implications of women’s symbolic role in nationalist projects, the representation of women as gendered national subjects in cultural productions is not fully examined. The starting point for this study has been Anderson’s definition of nation as an imagined community according to which individuals imagine that they belong to same national collectivity in their minds. Even though Anderson talks about the member of the imagined community as gender free subject, it is obvious that each and every member of this community is imagined either as a male or a female subject. Being a female or male subject, in turn, affects the form of belonging to the imagined community. In this study, I examine the claim that gendered imagination determines the symbolic roles and meanings attributed to the membership of a collective identity, that is the nation. In order to understand the ongoing production of gendered nation in Anderson’s sense which is mainly realized in cultural domain, novels play a significant role in terms of representing the imagined boundaries and functioning as mediums through which cultural difference is expressed. As it is mentioned, the link between national formation and the novel is not accidental. The novel can be used as a place where different and conflicting problems are debated through the representation of some imaginary figures. The aim of this study is to examine the making of women as gendered national subjects in the novels in the preRepublican (Ottoman-Turkish) and early Republican period (1908-1938) by focusing on women’s images and to analyze the formation of gendered national identity. By examining women’s images in the novels, my objective is to identify some of the specific features of Turkish nationalism.