The Vicissitudes of Folk Narratives in Republican Turkey: The "People," National Pedagogy, and Grotesque Laughter


ARCHIV ORIENTALNI, vol.83, no.1, pp.31-52, 2015 (Journal Indexed in AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 83 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2015
  • Title of Journal : ARCHIV ORIENTALNI
  • Page Numbers: pp.31-52


The article examines the attempts to modernize folk narratives in Turkey, with a special emphasis on the ones characterized by grotesque imagery, including shadow theatre and Keloglan tales. During the 1930s, the early Republican regime launched a project aimed at employing folk narratives in the service of its Kemalist national pedagogy. This study argues that the transposition of humorous folk narratives was bound to fail because of the incongruity between the "cheerful folk word" and the "dismal official word." The study also analyzes the later adaptations of Keloglan tales and transfigurations of Keloglan, and argues that they followed the early Republican project insofar as ideological discourses speak in and through them. It asserts that despite all attempts to suppress the grotesque elements of the folk tradition of laughter, these have permeated into modern popular culture.