7:00 PM – 8:15 PM MW
As the 21st century becomes more and more a century of clashes between religion-based identities and ideologies, many see similarities to the religious clashes of the earlier times. In the hope of finding constructive ways of responding to today’s religiously motivated violence, some look to the past for inspiration. This course will historicize and contextualize the early 20th century secular revolution in Turkey. Through a variety of materials ranging from historical and literary sources to contemporary media, we will attempt to interpret it within the much larger context of the so-called “Islamic world.”
After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, a state built on Islam, a Turkish military, cultural, and political genius named Mustafa Kemal (later to be named Atatürk, “Father of the Turks”) tried to confine religion to personal conscience. Many today denounce his vision and policy as a violation of human and religious rights. Others find in it a protection of religious beliefs and values from the exploitations of ideologies. With 120,000 mosques in Turkey, Islam is certainly free to flourish under Atatürk’s policies (at least as far as the Sunni majority is concerned). In its original form, Atatürk’s vision was based not on dogmas but rather on self-questioning and progress, and it is this progressive nature of Atatürkism that distinguished Turkey from other countries with a majority Muslim population.