Civilizing process from above: culture and state in Turkey, 1923-1945

Date
2000
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İçduygu, Ahmet
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Bilkent University
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English
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Abstract

This dissertation deals with the formation of the official notion of culture during the early Republican era (1923-1945) from a historico-political perspective. This formation reflected the civilizing process from above, directed and determined by the state. The dissertation will analyze the legal and institutional bases of the discursive formation of culture by focusing on the cultural institutions of the Republic, especially the THS and the TLS. Here, the concept of culture will be examined as inherent to the state and its project, promoting the construction of an identity. The dissertation will discuss that culture in the state discourse, overlapping all expressed through civilization, denoted the modern state of mind and way of life as a high, developed category and so came to be the name of re-ordering and re-cultivating the society, taming the people and creating future-generations. Based on a hierarchical and assimilationist understanding, it was the sole means to determine the scope of the public sphere and membership to both political and cultural community. In this sense, it is inclusionary and, at the same time, exclusionary. The Kemalist notion of culture as construction has become more and more a politically contested issue, which has put its stamp on Turkish political life.

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