The "Turkish Humanism Project" in the early Republican period

Serezli, Güneş Altınbaş
This dissertation aims at analyzing the debates among intellectuals concerning humanism, and concurrently designed “Turkish Humanism Project” during the nation/identity-building process in the early decades of Turkey’s Republican Era. During İnönü Era (1938-1950), the nationalism and westernization of Atatürk’s reforms turned into an uncompromising secularism, and consequently humanist culture and “humanism” became the quasi-formal ideology of the state. In order to spread the newly designed cultural policy, then unnamed “Turkish Humanism Project” was developed. The present dissertation starts with debates on humanism among those intellectuals who were influential over the decision of the state to support humanist culture. Following that, it analyzes the three pillars of the project, namely, Greek and Latin lessons in high school curriculum, establishment of the Translation Office, and opening of the Village Institutes, respectively. In the dissertation, the emergence of humanism in the country is discussed in an historical perspective. Moreover, the general understanding of both the intellectuals and the state of humanism as a solution to the problems faced in cultural and national identity-building process and in westernization movement is demonstrated. As that perception evolved into another perception that humanism was now the cure to all kinds of problems in the society, humanism was charged with tasks too burdensome for such a project to accomplish. This evolution is also demonstrated in the dissertation. The failure of all three pillars of Turkish Humanism Project is attributed not only to the political turmoil during the period but also to the inability of country’s intellectuals to conceptualize any phenomena in question as well as their turning the project into a “utopian romanticism” in the course of time. Nevertheless, the most important factor behind the failure is defined as the rejection by then existing social structure of a concept to alien Turkish national-being, imposed on the society. While the dissertation aims at revealing the intellectual map of the early Republican intellectuals, it also attempts at making an inventory of the debates about “humanism”, and hence modestly contributes to the existing relevant literature which is insufficient and at times inaccurate.


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Citation Formats
G. A. Serezli, “The “Turkish Humanism Project” in the early Republican period,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2006.