Turkey’s relationship with Israel has been mixed since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Although Turkey was one of the first Muslim countries to recognize and initiate diplomatic relations with Israel soon after, improving bilateral relations never became a priority. During the Cold War years, the two main determinants of Turkish-Israeli relations were their status as pro-Western countries in the region and the Arab-Israel conflict, which directly and indirectly influenced Turkish foreign policy toward Israel. Efforts to improve relations during the Cold War were constantly interrupted by the Arab-Israel conflict and by Turkish public opinion regarding Israel’s regional policies. Until the restoration of full diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level following the 1992 Madrid Conference, secret diplomacy between the two countries was the norm. Attempts at forming a Turkish-Israeli alignment were short-lived during these years.
The Myth of a Long ‘Special Relationship’
Kilic Bugra Kanat
The Discovery of Ottoman Feminism
The formation of a feminist consciousness and memory in Turkey coincided with a historical period in which both social movements and academic studies proliferated. Towards the end of the 1980s, the increasing number of women's organisations and publications began to impact upon both the feminist movement and academic research in the area of women's studies. This, combined with the expansion of the civil societal realm, has resulted in many topics and issues related to women becoming part of the public discussion, thereby contributing to the development of a new feminist consciousness. This article discusses the impact of the work in the field of women's history and the ensuing discovery of an Ottoman feminism on the formation of such a feminist consciousness and memory in Turkey.
The Role of the Diyanet’s Women Preachers
Despite scholars’ tremendous interest in the dynamics of Turkish laicism, little to no attention has been paid to the actors and the practices through which Islamic morality is propagated among society every day. This article investigates the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet)’s policy that has been increasing the number of women working as preachers since 2003. To what extent and how does the employment of the Diyanet’s women preachers affect the way in which religion and Islamic public morality grow and are spread in Turkey today? What specifically is women’s contribution in this respect? Drawing on an ethnographic observation of the Diyanet’s women preachers’ activities in Istanbul mosques, the article outlines how they contribute to reshaping Turkish laicism while diffusing Islamic morality in the public space.
Pınar Melis Yelsalı Parmaksız
Modernization in Turkey started in the late Ottoman period as a social critique and took shape when the Turkish Republic was established as a modern nation-state in 1923. Women’s emancipation, which was inherent in the ideas of modernization, was one of the most important components of the Republican reforms. Subsequently, the reforms were implemented to attain women’s emancipation in a nationalist context. This article discusses the specific characteristics of the nationalist solution to gender issues in Turkey’s modernization. My argument is that the organization of political power as well as family life in Turkey rested on paternalism, meaning the father’s symbolic and actual power over others. Paternalism in Turkish modernization on the one hand provided a basis for justification of the authoritarian rule of the state and on the other hand enabled women to become modern, though the limits of their modernity were determined by the paternal authority. I focus on paternalism in the single-party years of the Republic and also discuss the current policies of the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party, AKP) rule regarding gender and modernization, to show that the concept of paternalism remains relevant to understanding the gender regime in Turkey.
A Contribution to Discussions on Piety and Ethics
Drawing on an ethnographic research in some rural communities of Trabzon, Turkey, this article provides insights about the diversity of Islamic pieties and their relations to religious norms. An exploration of everyday Islamic practices in the area demonstrates how piety can take peculiar forms within which norms are both publicly and socially upheld and yet also hollowed out. Among Muslim men of ‘the Valley’ in Trabzon, piety emerges as an aggregate of reiterative practices exterior to the pious self. Highlighting the aestheticised and ritualised state of these engagements with Islam in the Turkish context allows discussion of the relationships among practices of piety, pious subjectivities, and ethics.
Space, Time, and Text
Benjamin C. Fortna
This article addresses the interrelated changes taking place in education during the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In particular, it focuses on the ways in which schools altered their approach to space, time, and economic priorities in order to align themselves with the shifting conditions of the period. It proceeds by examining a series of tensions between the desiderata of state and society, the collective and the individual, the secular and the religious, the national and the supranational, before assessing the diverse range of responses they elicited.
Male leaders have often used women's bodies and dress as a means to regulate their access to formal politics, including to national parliaments. Through an analysis of women's activism surrounding the expansion of headscarved women's access to the parliament during the 2011 parliamentary elections in Turkey, I argue that pious women's public protests against discriminatory actions of male leaders towards headscarved women's candidacy challenged the hegemonic symbolism surrounding the headscarf as articulated by both secularist and conservative religious forces. The consequent discourse shift offered a new perspective on women's sexuality in the public arena and brought secular and pious women's rights groups, who rarely saw eye to eye with one another, closer as they realised that imposed dress codes are vehicles for their exclusion from formal politics.
The Santa Claus figure, the Christmas tree and decorations that are associated with this Christian holiday have been adopted by liberal consumers in Turkey, a Muslim country. These Turks envisage Santa Claus, in his trademark red suit, as a gift bearer on the occasion of New Year's Eve. This societal development has consolidated the cultural distance not only between the upper and lower classes but also between the established middle class and the flourishing, new conservative middle class. In protest, the religiously conservative have produced sombre 'alternative gatherings' to remind Turks of their Muslim heritage.
Jens Kreinath and Refika Sariönder
Through previous decades, the Anatolian Alevis, one of the largest religious minorities of contemporary Turkey, underwent a considerable transformation. 1 The political vacuum that emerged in 1980 after a coup detat by the Turkish military
This article discusses the historical value of Ottoman women’s periodicals published in the aftermath of the 1908 Revolution, which marked the beginning of the Constitutional Era (1908–1918). Through specific examples of women’s writings in the press, it illustrates how these periodicals can shed light on the previously unexplored aspects of this period. The article argues that women’s journals allow scholars both to recover the identities and stories of hundreds of women, which would have been lost otherwise, and to challenge the mainstream historiography, which has traditionally presented a one-dimensional portrayal of the Constitutional Era by privileging men’s voices and experiences over women’s. It demonstrates that women’s journals not only reveal a dynamic, flexible, and complex milieu, in which women could and did act as agents of both social and political change, but also signify the multifaceted transformation the Revolution of 1908 caused in Ottoman society in the early twentieth century.