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Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey

Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey: A Hermeneutic Reconsideration

Andrew Davison
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Secularism and Revivalism in Turkey
    Book Description:

    In this new interpretation of the modernization and secularization of Turkey, Andrew Davison demonstrates the usefulness of hermeneutics in political analysis. A hermeneutic approach, he argues, illuminates the complex relations between religion and politics in post-Ottoman Turkey and, more broadly, between politics and matters of culture, tradition, national identity, and conscience in the modern world.Led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a modernist Turkish elite in the 1920s wrested political power from an empire in which Islam had exercised great political, social, and cultural power. Atatürk instituted policies designed to end Islamic power by secularizing politics and the state. Through the lens of hermeneutics, this book examines the ideas and policies of the secularizers and those who contested the process. Davison reinterprets the founding principles and practices of a modern, secular Turkey and closely reexamines the crucial ideas of the Turkish nationalist thinker Ziya Gökalp, who laid the conceptual groundwork for Turkey's Westernization experience. The application of hermeneutics, the author finds, remedies the methodological shortcomings of Western political analysts and provides a better understanding of the processes of secularization in Turkey as well as elsewhere in the modern world.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14412-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    The apparent resurgence and efficacy of religious thought and practices in contemporary politics continue to baffle those interested in the politics of secularization. Even as political inquirers seek to incorporate the so-called religious variable into explanations of contemporary politics—on questions of reproductive rights or school curricula in the United States, divorce in Ireland, the Rushdie decree, or the religiously conceived social justice and democratizing movements throughout the world—many social scientists consider it odd that we are still questioning the relation between religion and politics, an issue that many believed was settled long ago. Did not some of the...

  5. Chapter 1 Interpreting Alternative Modernities
    (pp. 18-50)

    The resurgence of theopolitics at the end of the twentieth century has provoked widespread reconsideration of a shared belief in modern political studies, namely, that the outcomes of modern political history will be secular. The reconsideration, however, has elicited no consensus on how we might proceed or on how we should understand modernity. What does a recognition that we live in modernity require of us to understand the relation between religion and politics?

    In this chapter, I argue that there are multiple possibilities for modernity and secularism, and that to understand these possibilities we must reflect on aspects of our...

  6. Chapter 2 The Interpretive Commitment in Political Science
    (pp. 51-89)

    Because Gadamer’s hermeneutics “explores how understanding occurs at all—not how it should be regulated in order to function more rigorously or effectively,” it would be unwise to consider his insights as rigid methodological guides for human inquiry. Indeed, one of Gadamer’s principal contributions to discussions in the philosophy of political inquiry is that understanding is not and cannot be wholly governed by method.¹ Although this view is not stated forcefully in the writings of theorists of interpretive political inquiry whose ideas I explore here, I see it as an essential part of the interpretive commitment in political science to...

  7. Chapter 3 Secularization and Modernization in Turkey: Interpreting the Ideas of Ziya Gökalp
    (pp. 90-133)

    For the intellectual elite in the Young Turk movement, the last days of the Ottoman Empire were “‘a time of revolution’ when old values were being pulled down and new ones were being invented.” The promulgation of a distinct “Turkish” national identity by the Young Turks brought a “certain newness(yenilik)” to the “quality of a Turk(Türklük)” In this context of conceptual innovation and change, and beyond the immediate practical-political problem of how best to secure failing Ottoman political and economic structures, the foremost minds of the day tried to give substance to this newness. They asked what has...

  8. Chapter 4 Interpreting Turkey’s Secular Model
    (pp. 134-188)

    The hermeneutic imperative has recently gained wider currency in comparative political studies. In a new study calledRethinking Middle East Politics,Simon Bromley endorses Geoffrey Hawthorne’s version of this imperative that “to grasp the politics of any Third World country and thereby to make illuminating comparisons between the politics of several is to understand how those in power (and those who seek it) have framed the common ambition to capture and define social and political space and economically to develop; how they (or their predecessors) have framed constitutions and formal institutions to realize these ends; and the ways in which,...

  9. Conclusion: Toward a Critical, Comparative, Secular Hermeneutics
    (pp. 189-196)

    The purpose of this study has been to make sense of perplexity about contemporary theopolitics by establishing the indispensability of the hermeneutic approach to explaining modern political possibilities. By indispensable, I mean that an account of the concepts that constitute political life is a necessary condition of any claim to have understood or explained it. I have scrutinized the unifying claim of hermeneutics in political inquiry, what an account should look like with regard to various dimensions of politics, and how the hermeneutic approach can contribute to broader critical, comparative interests in the study of modern politics. I have also...

    (pp. 197-204)
    Mahmut Esat
  11. Notes
    (pp. 205-242)
  12. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 243-264)
  13. Index
    (pp. 265-270)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 271-271)