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Turkish nationalism and the evolutionary idea (1923–1938)


Nations and Nationalism

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["\nAbstract\nThis paper sheds light on the role of evolutionary ideas in the making of Turkish nationalism during the Kemalist era (1923–1938). By so doing, it aims to challenge some of the dominant historiographical viewpoints as to the nature of Turkish nationalism. One is related to the Kemalist elites' predisposition towards the so‐called “scientism” seen as one of the bases for nationalism. We intend to turn upside–down the relation between the Kemalists' use of science and Turkish nationalism. Second, we problematize the “culturalist” origins of Turkish nationalism arguing that the seemingly “culturalist” reflections of the time were, indeed, materialist formulations based on the science of the times. We discuss in this respect the Kemalist elites' use of evolutionary ideas. By synthesizing the ways in which these elites employed evolutionary ideas in the fields of history, language, geography, anthropology, biology, eugenics, and pedagogy, we aim to understand the specific nature of Turkish nationalism before 1945. This secular nationalism conceived culture as having materialist bases and differed fundamentally from the culturalist varieties of Turkish nationalism coloured by Islam in the post‐1945 era. Furthermore, the paper empirically enriches the complex and entangled story of evolutionary ideas in the early Turkish Republic.\n", "Nations and Nationalism, Volume 26, Issue 3, Page 743-758, July 2020. "]