Cultural Transformations

Covering our readings from Ozyurek, White, and Gole, elaborate on the relationship between secularism and political/cultural Islam in Turkey. How do these two groups (secularists vs. Islamists) define each other against their counterparts? What is distinct about them? Do you think they share any common assumptions or discourses via their relationship to the state, history of Turkey, city, gender, militarism, or “the West” (and “the Rest”)? What is their relation to “modernity,” and therefore the defining assumptions of Orientalism? Why is political or cultural Islam in Turkey is as modern as secularism (or not)? Carefully analyze these political and cultural discourses of Islamist and secularist interpretations of Turkish history/present through detailed references to Said and Hall’s texts on Orientalism and the “West and the Rest.”

Turkey is the only secular democracy amongst Muslim nations.   Secularism was first established in the Turkey Republic in 1923. The backgrounds of secular went as far back as when the Ottoman Empire began to become modern. The democracy of Turkey is about half a century old.   Since 1946, Turkey has been struggling to “consolidate its democracy” (Toprak 2005:27). Today, Turkey is moving closer to a non-secular rule.   It is becoming more cultural and Islamic. Although Turkey is still secular, practicing religion has become easier now in institutions like universities. Before, women in Turkey were not allowed to wear scarfs and dress islamically to school but now they are able to.
Secularism defined is the principle of separate government institutions. In other words, it means to separate religion from the state. Secularism in Turkey or Muslim countries refers to the ideology of promoting the secular political and social values in contrast to Islamism. During the Ottoman rule, Islamic law was the basis of political rule.   The role of Islam in the Ottoman civilization and politics was responsible for the failure of modernity for Mustafa...