Paradoxes of a cold war sufi woman: Sâmiha Ayverdi between Islam, nationalism, and modernity
Widely recognized by nationalists, Islamists and conservatives as the heroine of the Turkish Right in the twentieth century, Sâmiha Ayverdi influenced the renaissance of right-wing politics in Turkey as an important leader of the Rifaî order, a prolific author, an unyielding anti-communist, and finally as an institution-builder for right-wing causes. This article focuses on the apparent paradoxes in Ayverdi's long career, such as her modernist interpretation of Islam, her relationship with her sufi master, preference for memoirs, and her unabashed elitism. Such characteristics defy clichés associated with the stereotypical conservative/nationalist/ Islamist intellectual in Cold War Turkey. Our in-depth study of Ayverdi's works thus reveals the complexity of right-wing identities, and the fact that our protagonist is an outspoken woman intellectual also adds an important twist to the story.