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Manipulating the Personal Journeys of Identity: Westernization and the Ottoman and Republican understandings of gender in Turkey.

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Introduction

MANIPULATING THE PERSONAL JOURNEYS OF IDENTITY: WESTERNIZATION AND THE OTTOMAN AND REPUBLICAN UNDERSTANDINGS OF GENDER IN TURKEY A Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of Georgetown University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Communication, Culture, and Technology By Deniz Oktem, B.A. Washington, DC April 19, 2002 iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction.........................................................................1 Chapter I...........................................................................18 Chapter II..........................................................................27 Chapter III.........................................................................46 Chapter IV.........................................................................83 Chapter V........................................................................110 Conclusion.......................................................................132 Works Cited.....................................................................148 1 Introduction Western-oriented modernism has greatly affected the formation of individual identities and gender relations around the world. This paper will focus on the construction of identity, gender and gender relations within the discourse of Westernization and modernization during the late-Ottoman Empire and early Republican Turkey. It attempts to show how social, political, and cultural institutions shape citizen identity and how redefinitions of them affect identity, gender, and gender roles in society. Examining the Pertev Bey series of three novels by M�nevver Aya�l� as primary source and some other various cultural and historical texts of the late-Ottoman and early Republican period in Turkey, this paper aims to search for the terms under which new forms of femininity and masculinity were constructed, especially within the private space of the family and in public debates, during the early twentieth century, which in turn changed gender relations to a great extent. The Western dominated concept of modernization has played an important role in the relationship of the West with non-Western countries. The transformation of non-Western countries in response to the requirements set by the criteria and standards of the West has resulted in a variety of social, political, economical and cultural changes. Modernization has placed the responsibility on the non-West to aspire to the ideals of this movement in order to be considered as part of the network of the "progressing" countries. The effects of modernization have been influential on the formation of personal and social identities. ...read more.

Middle

The dichotomies of East and West involved the binary of spiritualism and materialism as mentioned earlier on in this chapter when clarifying the use of two generalized concepts. Religion becomes one of the points of comparison and contrast between civilizations of East and West. Kad�o�lu says; "The literary currents of the late nineteenth century...grappled with the question of constructing a modern national identity...while they tried to portray the compatibility of Islam with modernity...The prevailing idea of the times was to adopt the 'good' aspects of the West...rejecting its 'bad' aspects such as its culture and religion." (9-10) Republican reforms, however, aimed at constructing a national identity based on secularism. Their reforms prompted a "dismantling of religion" (Kad�o�lu, 9), which Aya�l� severely criticizes in her narrative when referring to the Republican regime and its representatives. Now, having set the framework for the "balanced" and therefore "correct" form of Westernization and the significance attributed to religion, it is possible to turn to the specific examples in the novel concerning the reflection of this ideology of the period and the novelist herself. The Role of Religion in the Novels 74 Selmin and Berrin, as representatives of Ottoman but Westernized females, serve as tools for Aya�l� to point out the necessity of attachment to religion to reach a perfect individual growth. Karanfil Kalfa is more than happy to teach Selmin how to use the tesbih 11and what to read as prayers when she herself asks her for help on this issue. Aya�l�'s tone in the replies of the Kalfa shows her approval of the religious instruction Selmin is able to get from the kalfa who enthusiastically responds with the exclamation "Of course, fine." (I: 50) She teaches Selmin a chapter from the Quran that in her opinion is the only thing one can have hanging above one's bed. (I: 50) Aya�l� says; "So, on this night, in this way, Pertev Bey's oldest daughter, only after reaching the age of nineteen, learned the Surah Ihlas 12from the governess of Arab origin." ...read more.

Conclusion

The research for this paper has not come across studies done on how the rural areas have responded to the influence of the West, as most of the sources in Ottoman history on the movement of Westernization reflect the response of the urban areas. Further studies on the rural regions in Turkey might provide an understanding of how the social divisions in society might be bridged, as the lack of information on this issue prevents a clear perception of the gap between the rural and urban areas in the country. The multiple forms of identities existent in Turkey are dependent to a certain extent on the differences between the rural and urban areas, both of which have been influenced by Westernization in different ways. In order to explore the manipulation of the personal journeys of identity in current Turkey, it is significant to study both the Ottoman and the Republican history and to recognize the multiple forces that have affected the evolution of the Ottoman/Anatolian/Republican Turkish identity throughout history. One important fact needs to be kept in mind when studying both the urban and the rural areas, which is the sheer number of competing value-laden components for personal identity for the Turkish individual of today. The ambiguity surrounding the framework of the "Turkishness" prevents the clear definition of the personal journey undertaken by a Turk in the twenty first century, as the Ottoman/Western/Republican/Anatolian characteristics intermingling with each other have complicated the understanding of individual identities. Multiple assumptions, ironies, contradictions and oppositions as well as similarities surrounding 147 the categorizations of identities have strongly influenced each other shaping the individual and national self of Turkey. Aya�l�'s emphasis on "balanced Westernization" seems to be a good option for Turkey to use in dealing with those multiple categories. However, whether individuals will take advantage of such a solution remains to be seen, as the social and political divisions between identities based to a great extent on religion or secularism have displayed a longstanding resistance to the formation of a mutual understanding and cooperation. ...read more.

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