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Writing ReligionThe Making of Turkish Alevi Islam$
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Markus Dressler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969401

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969401.001.0001

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Entering the Gaze of the Nationalists

Entering the Gaze of the Nationalists

(p.113) 3 Entering the Gaze of the Nationalists
Writing Religion

Markus Dressler

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the role that the Kızılbaş-Alevis played in the context of late Ottoman and early Kemalist social engineering and the nationalist goal of creating an ethnically and religiously homogeneous society. It makes clear that the question of the national signification of the Alevis in both ethnic/national and religious/cultural terms was since the late Young Turk period highly contested. What eventually turned out to become the dominant discourse about Alevi (and Bektashi) difference, namely its embeddedness in Turkish culture and an ambivalence about its position at the margins of Islam, was strongly impacted by nationalist politics of ethno-religious homogenization, which was directed against the Kurds, and the religious difference of the Kızılbaş-Alevis, respectively. This dynamic is exemplified in the work of Turkish nationalist writer-activists such as Baha Said, whose publications contributed significantly to the idea of Alevism being essentially a Turkish phenomenon.

Keywords:   Baha Said, Bektashis, homogenization politics, Kızılbaş-Alevis, Kemalists, Kurds, nation-building, social engineering, Turkish culture, Young Turks

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