Land use, peasants and the republic: debates on land reform in Turkey, 1923-1945 /

Thesis Type: Doctorate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences, Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Turkey

Approval Date: 2014

Thesis Language: English

Student: Safiye Yelda Kaya



This dissertation examines debates over land reform in the single-party period of the Republic of Turkey. It commences with a lengthy background discussion of tenurial relations in Ottoman and early Republican Anatolia. This part builds on secondary literature and revolves around the question as to whether commercialization of agricultural production altered patterns of land use and ownership in Anatolia. Therefore, the discussion starts off from nineteenth-century when Ottoman countryside was integrated to world markets through exportation of agricultural produce. Having shown the extent of land concentration and expropriation in nineteenth-century Anatolia, the present study proceeds to the Republican era and explores the evolution of tenurial relations from 1923 to 1945. Land reform is a scarcely studied subject in Turkey. Almost all scholarly studies on the subject are underlain by a common historical narrative which traces the development of a Kemalist land reform scheme through a series of key historical moments. These moments are deportation and land distribution laws enacted in the aftermath of Sheikh Said Rebellion, Settlement Law, land law bills of 1937-1935, constitutional amendment of 1937 and, finally, Law for Providing Land to Farmers of 1945. The present study examines all these moments with an eye to understanding why Kemalists sanctioned intervention in property relations on land. It also argues that the common/conventional narrative excludes certain crucial developments like 1930s’ wheat purchase scheme and wartime policies of procurement. This dissertation aims to fill the gap by situating Kemalists’ land reform attempts in the context of overall agricultural policies.