The phrase ‘New Turkey’ has gained wide currency in Turkish politics and media. The Justice and Development Party (AKP) leadership and supporters use the phrase to describe the transition from ‘secularist’ Turkey to the one in which Islam plays a larger role in national identity, politics, and foreign policy. The opponents of AKP use the term to describe its recent authoritarian moves based on social polarisation and discrimination, decreasing transparency, weakening rule of law, increasing corruption, and fading press freedoms. The critics accuse the AKP of using religion opportunistically to justify its competitive authoritarianism that gained momentum during the last few years. The recent political contestation point to deeper debates on what a Turkish nation is and should be, and has implications for political institutions and their transformation. A careful examination of the political discourses and institutions of ‘Kemalist Turkey’ and ‘New Turkey’ reveals a common theme: both projects imagine a state that would impose a vision of homogenous nation in which pluralism is considered as a threat to the state and nation. The political discourses and institutions that constituted the basis of this shared vision are critically analysed in Behlül Özkan’s From the Adobe of Islam to the Turkish Vatan and Ahmet T. Kuru and Alfred Stepan’s edited volume, Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey. While Özkan traces the evolution of the idea of homeland and territorial national identity in Turkey, Kuru and Stepan analyse the historical roots, functioning, and transformation of the political institutions through which the state homogenises the nation.
Behlül Özkan, From the Adobe of Islam to the Turkish Vatan: The Making of a National Homeland in Turkey, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT., 2012
Ahmet T. Kuru and Alfred Stepan, editors, Democracy, Islam, and Secularism in Turkey, Columbia University Press, New York, 2012