Paper Example on Turkish Modernity and Political Islam

Published: 2021-08-17
1598 words
6 pages
14 min to read
Carnegie Mellon University
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Carter Findley came up with a comprehensive account of economy, history, domestic, policy, foreign, politics, ideology, society, and culture from the previous two decades of 18th to the 21st century in the Republic of Turkey and Ottoman Empire  (Findley). The emphasis on ideology, society, and culture is particularly aligned to the Republican period. Findleys account is an ambitious monograph that at the end of each chapter, there is extensive coverage of novels regarding the subject matter like Ahmet Midhat, Namik Kemal, Oldham Kemal, Hamdi Tanpinar, Adalet Agaouglu, and Orhan Pamuk. All these accounts form the basis of this paper. The chapters are subdivided into sections that further cover on the subject of politics, culture, and society. The reason given by Findley regarding this specific arrangement of the monograph is that writers of imaginative literaturesurpass scholars in conveying what it was like to live through tumultuous times (p.341). Consequentially, the book ends with a chapter that draws upon Snow, a novel written by Pamuk.

It is difficult not to come into terms with the ideas portrayed by Findleys on matters concerning ideology, culture, and society since his ideal format of the history-cum-social helps a variety of readers to quickly grasp the dynamic changes of the community through many historical periods. Carter argues that the message has been lost in translation of the several accounts since authors seem to dig deeper and offer too much information that a reader cannot fully comprehend. The overall evident argument of Findley is that in the entire Republican and the late Ottoman periods two significant currents clashed: the Islamic conservative current which brought about "scientific materialism" of the other current dubbed as the radical secular one. However, the radical secular current was the first one that tried to salvage Ottoman Empire and later on helped the Republican to be at par with the contemporary civilization (Findley). The three high points in the Islamic period were the religious awakenings that were brought into motion by Fethullah Gulen, Khalid al-Naqshbandi, and Sa'id Nursi. Nevertheless, Carter points out that at crucial moments, the two currents could become starkly antagonistic (p.18). The two currents as Findley continues to argue interacted in a way that was complex and continually in the change to shape the development of Turkey and its previous Empire. The three major innovators of Islamic religion as mentioned earlier are said to have had a great impact on globalization and localization in ancient and modern times.

Findley Carter is keen throughout the account to stand his ground by challenging the understandings of Turkish history and Ottoman Empire. He does this by basing his book on personal views and research. Additionally, he also uses the knowledge acquired from Turkish and Ottoman historical studies which are up-to-date. For instance, the late empire is widely known as sick man of Europe by many people who have read the accounts and are conversant with its history. Despite the already spread perception of the empire, Carter puts emphasis the unpredictable and unstable change of thought and several reform processes which came before and during the period that the phrase "sick man" was invented (the process period was during Tanzimat). Findley says the dynamism of reform processes was demarcated by a shift of power to the bureaucracy from the palace. The shift of power took place without the emergence of reforms. Findley keeps with his thesis by arguing that the Islamic content of both Young empire of Ottoman and Tanzimat was bigger than the proponents of unavoidable secular modernity. The disparities between the two big currents were based on pace and the method or root at which change and modernity were dealt with rather than opposing or supporting it. Therefore, the reading of the accounts complicates the details and information that were put down by historians. Instead of supporting the historical records, Findley challenges the knowledge used to record the events of globalization and localization. Findley uses Pamuk severally to illustrate his arguments about scholars and fiction writers. Moreover, he wonders whether a writer like Pamuk exceeds other scholars in reviewing their times even though the book Snow employs culturally appropriate manner in discerning historical knowledge.

Cemal. Talat, and Enver were three leaders that made decisions rather than consisting a CUP (Committee of Union and Progress). Findley argues that the Kemalist reforms were "the sharpest curve" in the history of Westernizing reforms. The step that Turkey took to join the European Union was simply not to the extent the Kemalist westernizing but a prolonged desire to be part of European alliances. In the accounts by Pamuk, there is an interpretation that the commercial bourgeoisie existed during the Tanzimat period that solely comprised of the minorities. Again, Pamuk records that the bureaucratic bourgeoisie was made up of the Ottoman Muslims and the fall of the Ottoman empire was the fact that the minority controlled the economic classes which led them being attracted and cuffed to the outside world by trade. These group affiliations complicate such accounts done by historians like Findley in that there is no evidence in writing such historical events. For instance, Findley disapproves of any existence of Muslim elements and non-Muslim official. Consequently, he gives evidence of such existence and even though he overdoes it, the research is thorough and agreeable. His argument about the activities that both Muslims and non-Muslims undertook regarding internal and external trade respectively offers support in that non-Muslims would have developed stronger relationships with the foreign world through trade more than real Muslims could have.

The conclusions made by historians without support or prior knowledge of subsequent events led to improper accounts. Historians in the modern times can do extensive research on the events that took place in the ancient Ottoman Empire which is not the case for the likes of Pamuk CITATION Gok06 \l 1033 (Goknar). Historians have downplayed the manufacturing of Ottoman and evidence mined from recent studies about deindustrialization and decline of the empire.

During these periods of change, there was a political disturbance in Turkey. Kar, who is a Turkish poet flee to Germany in the wake of a coup in 1980. In Germany, Kar learns a lot about religion and even makes new friends in his quest to know more about political killings that took place at the border city, Kars(Pamuk). In the course journeys that Kar embarks on, we find out that the single motif was to highlight the judicial killings and suicidal acts done by Muslim girls in Kars. During this period, Kar feels comfortable in the city of Kars and wants to stay there. However, the life of Kar and his role is deemed insignificant and out of the point by many writers. The focus should be on big groups of people that contributed to the dynamism of reforms in Turkey, and yet we read of a poet who Pamuk deems as a hero. However, the idea of staying in Kars is completely wiped by Necip, who is an Islamic student as they engage in a conversation about God. Here, Necip shows the ways of the Turkish people by saying you belong to the intelligentsia and People in the intelligentsia never believe in God but in what the Europeans do. Later when Ka returns from Kars, he is murdered on the streets of the Turkish Nation following the allegations of his betrayal of a character known as Blue. The events of betrayal are significantly omitted from Pamuk's book and are only suggested by the events that depict jealousy and pure passion. Therefore, Kars death was not due to any political action or motivation. In this regard, Pamuk complicates the understanding of Kars demise by wrapping the opposition between the radical Islamist and Westernized people into a story that bears a theme of love.

The technique used by Pamuk to explore the life of Kar and even Orhan has drawn no clear line between love and politics. Ka's inner quest entails many things including happiness which he went to search for in Kar, sexual desire, spiritual meaning, poetic inspiration and then most importantly the attempt of Kar- the estranged intellectual from Turkey, to reintegrate into the nation of his people. Kars mirrors a place of loneliness, isolation and a place where everyone is in exile. In writing of Snow, the author complicates things by giving voice to characters. The problem of presentation in the novel is presented in two ways. One is the way of portraying the difference in power positions that are unequal- which leads to a critical question of discursive authority and second as a hermeneutic question. Additionally, the characters that are said to be in Kars are presented in two ways, one during Ka and then after his death.

Ka being in exile puts him in a group of the people isolated from the Turkish community which counteracting the effect of discursive authority. At the end of the book, Pamuk deals with the problem by thematically letting the characters articulate themselves shortcomings of presentation.

In conclusion, Pamuk has a challenge of presenting the problem of his subjects, and that is the biggest challenge that writers like Findley have to encounter while trying to decipher the information written in historical accounts. Again, the analysis done by Carter is fast and comprehensive in a way that it eradicates the deep and detailed information written by Pamuk in his book, Snow.

Works Cited

Findley, Carter V. Turkey, Islam, Nationalism, and Modernity: A History, 1789-2007. Yale UP. Print.

Goknar, E. (2006). Orhan Pamuk and the" Ottoman" Theme. World Literature Today, 80(6), 34-38.

Pamuk, Orhan. Snow. Trans. M. Freely. Knopf, 2004. Print.


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