Humanist perception of culture and history in the 1938-1950 period of republican Turkey

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

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

Approval Date: 2011

Thesis Language: English

Student: Müslüm Kavut



Through this thesis, the perception of humanist culture and history in the Early Republican Turkey is examined in the context of the process of building national identity. The main assumption of this study is that humanism that ascends to being the main axe of official cultural policies and predominant cultural and intellectual movement of the period between 1938 and 1950 provide basis for building of national imagined community through its historical and territorial emphasis as a “civilizationist nationalist” fabrication. Humanism is a project of a “returning to essence” which is cultural and civilization-based. Besides, it constructs national identity and culture with a Westernist-universalist approach. The perception of humanism is brought to agenda within the framework of some ruptures and continuities which in the sphere of nationalism and cultural policies. In this sense, it means construction of a “new imagination” complying with the requirements and priorities of the new regime with v its political and cultural tendencies. Therefore, humanism not only reinforced the emphasis of Turkish History Thesis on Anatolia but also ceases the Central Asianist and ethnicist tendencies of Turkish History Thesis. Therefore, as the territorial basis of the national identity, it embraces cultural heritage of Anatolia including the Classical and Byzantium Ages. In this way, humanism is forged as a patriotism that underlines western civilization and territorial bonds. In this thesis, the perception of humanism is analyzed from a viewpoint of the interactions of culture and politics. In this respect, perception of humanism addressed within a binary perspective. While art, philology and translation are in the first part, history and archaeology studies are in the second part. In this sense, it is presented three prominent intellectuals which are concerned with numerous fields of the perception of humanism: Hasan-Âli Yücel, Hilmi Ziya Ülken and Arif Müfit Mansel. At this point, the dissertation elaborates how these intellectuals reconstitute the relations among the categories like peculiarity, nativity, civilization and universality. Furthermore, while analyzing, it indicates that the contradictions and semantic shifts are located in the definitions and characterizations of these humanist intellectuals, especially concerned about West and nationality.