Environmentalism and Authoritarian Nationalism: A Reappraisal of the Turkish Modern State between 1930s-1940s

This paper explores the connections between environmentalism and nationalism in the making of the Turkish modern state between 1930s and 1940s. Despite a vast body of literature on nationalism, scholars largely neglected its strong relations with environmentalism in this period. As such, the period marks the beginning of a certain environmental consciousness in Turkey. The borrowing of ideas from fascist Italy and Nazi Germany triggered the development of nationalism and authoritarianism via forestry and shaped the relationship between ideas of nature and nationalism. The nationalist arguments mainly revealed itself around the discussions of the “forest question” (orman davası) and the concept of the “green ideal” (yeşil ideal). For example, the common arguments on forests usually begin with classifying them as “national wealth”, and the wrongdoings against them as “national betrayal”. Under these conditions, the “love of forest” equalized with the “love of nation” and “love of country”. Therefore, this early environmentalism constituted an important part of the authoritarian nationalism of the 1930s and 1940s. This study examines the newspapers, journals, speeches of major political figures, booklets of forestry associations, and legislative records to construct a narrative of the relationship between environmental issues and nationalist ideologies in the early Republican period. I argue that the environmental issues used by a certain group of nationalist elites constituted and important part of the making of the Turkish authoritarian nationalist state. Moreover, the idea of nature that was related to nationalism and was rested on a fascist “green” ideology helps us to situate the early environmentalism in Turkey into a global context.


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Citation Formats
S. Dursun, “Environmentalism and Authoritarian Nationalism: A Reappraisal of the Turkish Modern State between 1930s-1940s,” presented at the 2017 Annual Conference Understanding Turkey: Vision, Revision, and the Future, (28 - 29 Nisan 2017), Stanford, CA, Amerika Birleşik Devletleri, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/75530.