Nationalism and religion in the textbooks of the early republican period in Turkey

Babahan, Ali
This study focuses on a detailed analysis of the relationship between nationalism and religion (Islam) in textbooks taught in Turkish education system between 1924 and 1950. It can be regarded as a re-assessment of general assumptions in the literature presuming the dominance of an authoritative secular nationalism in the textbooks of the whole early republican period. In this respect, the textbooks used at primary, middle and high school levels as part of the history, citizenship, sociology, and religion courses in this period are analyzed in terms of the relations between nationalist and religious discourses, mostly from a qualitative perspective. Accordingly, the early republican era can be divided into three sub-periods when the continuities and varieties of the discourses in textbooks are specifically considered. The dominant discourse, found in textbooks of the first sub-period between 1924 and 1931, is based on the idea that Islam and Turkishness are the two complementary components forming the basis of national identity and nationalism. Against the common view, a strictly secular nationalism is found in textbooks only in the second period between 1931 and 1939. Thus, in definition of Turkish identity and nationalism in textbooks, they did not in any way make reference to any religious belief. During the third and last sub-period between 1939 and 1950, reference to religion in textbooks has gained power once again. Hence, the strict secularism of the second sub-period is replaced with a Turkish identity in strong association with Islam similar to the first period.


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Citation Formats
A. Babahan, “Nationalism and religion in the textbooks of the early republican period in Turkey,” Ph.D. - Doctoral Program, Middle East Technical University, 2014.