Cultural Diversity and Official Ideology in Post-Cold War Turkey: Towards a Multicultural Integration?

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UNU Insitute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies
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UNU-CRIS Working Papers
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This paper shows to what extent the political implications of “culture wars” in post-Cold War Turkey have been influential on a full consolidation of Turkish democracy. In particular, I will reconsider the relationship between cultural diversity and official ideology in a Muslim context, by examining the identity claims of Islamic and Kurdish movements to new rights and the resistance of Turkey’s official ideology, Kemalism. The main argument is that the official homogenized and monolithic notion of Turkish culture that expresses the “secular” and “national” way of life surrounding politics has set limits to the process of Turkish democratization. It is also argued that during the last decade the struggle between Kemalist, Islamic and Kurdish groups occurred in a form of political battlefield in which the Kemalist- state elite, Islamic opposition and Kurdish separatism has maintained conflict-ridden discourses for the sake of their own politico-cultural agendas. In fact such an analysis seems necessary to shed some lights on the consistency of ‘Turkish model’ that after the September 11 terrorist attacks Turkey received this title due to its secular, democratic and Muslim characters. Here an examination of the relationship between Turkish modernism and Turkish nationalism on the one hand and Islamic-religious and Kurdish-ethnic movements in terms of politics of culture gains outmost importance.

culture; Kemalism; Islamism; Kurdish nationalism; cultural diversity.