My book has been published; it has taken its hat in hand and run out into the world. And the first review is out as well, in The Economist: Click here.
Read Chapter 1
Table of Contents
Tags: Nationalism, Uncategorized // 6 Comments »
Congratulations! On my reading list.
Well done Jenny. Hope it gets translated to reach the audience it needs to reach. Meanwhile, here is my review on Goodreads: “Pivotal book for understanding that Turkey’s current internal struggle is not black and white. The various factions are delineated and well explained beyond the facile religious / secular divide that many prefer to believe is the problem. The book will prove difficult reading for anyone who prefers to believe in “us” and “them”; the two sides may share much, including a fierce nationalism and preferred gender inequality. I do hope it gets translated well and quickly. Bravo to Ms. White for a well-researched and novel work.”
Thank you all!
I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve read your interview to Today’s Zaman. For someone who boasts of having followed Turkish politics since 1970s, it is baffling to see that “Muslimhood” is the only model that you have noticed. Or the only one you deem important enough to mention. For your information, the change that Turkey has experienced in the last decade, is due to the wide range of actors, by no means all of them Islamic or Muslim. By pushing them aside, you narrow down the whole analysis only to one segment of the Turkish society, albeit an important one. This is not only shallow analysis, but also counterproductive: you push away a lot of people who are both anti-military and anti-Islamist, and who are not devout Muslims either. I have serious doubts about the usefulness and relevance of this analysis.
I have further objections to the views you expressed in your interview to TZ. First, I find it really lame that you try to relativise the AKP authoritarianism by referring to the 70s, when the ‘journalists were not imprisoned, but killed’. The problem with this reasoning is that the bar has in the meantime been set much higher than in the 70s. It is not enough simply not to kill journalists. And the AKP’s own rhetoric is about the ‘first-class democracy’. So, instead of reproaching those who criticise the AKP for their supposedly ‘short memories’, you should rejoice that the Turkish society has moved far enough to demand full-fledged democracy. Second, I find it wholly implausible when you reduce the people’s supposed search for ‘authenticity’ to Islam. First of all, when these people are looking for is not some ‘authenticity’, but spirituality. They look for spiritual fulfilment. And by no means this quest for spirituality is satisfied by mindless mechanical rituals, such as prayer or covering one’s head. Otherwise, how would you explain that so many people are resorting to the real spiritually enriching experiences, such as yoga? But of course, you have no interest in this. Instead, a woman who covers her head in her search for ‘authenticity’ is at the center of your interests, because she fits perfectly in your own preconceptions and obsessions. Besides, even if we accept your premise that these people seek for some ‘authenticity’, and not spirituality, how do you know that it is invariably Islam that they are looking for? For some, authenticity may means nationalism. For others, Kemalist secularism as understood in 1930s. You may hate this, but I have news for you: although originally a top-down ideology, Kemalist secularism has been internalised by a substantial portion of Turkish population. It’s a pity that you apparently have never tried to study this phenomenon as well, alongside ‘new Muslims’. My final objection to your analysis is your ‘kid gloves’ treatment of Fethullah Gulen. You must know by now that it is a deeply reactionary, conservative, right-wing religious-nationalist movement that is incompatible with liberal democracy and what it entails: respect for individual freedoms and pluralism. In essence, it is no different from the Christian Right in the US. Yet, for some not altogether clear reason you reserve a very kind and gentle treatment to them. What is it that makes them so different from the Christian fundamentalists whom you see as your natural opponents in the US context?
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