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Gendered projects of national identity formation: The case of Turkey

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The consolidation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 took place in opposition to multiple 'others' - that is, multiple ideologies with alternative models of modernity and state formation. An important aspect of the resulting negotiations was their gendered nature. This article explores the multiplicity of subject-positions made available to women using the nationalist literary production of the first half of the twentieth century. By linking literary production with the official discourse, it argues that blurring the distinction between public and private discourses can better capture the gendered character of the nationalist discourse. The analysis details the common denominators between articulations about women's bodies and familial ties, and the building of a nationalist discourse. In these works, typologies of mothers, fathers, daughters, step and adopted ones, and those female figures seen as threats to these families tallied with the ongoing attempts to popularise a particular imagining of the nation. The desired unity of the republic, figuring in these roles, seemed to depend on controlling, taming and erasing a variety of designated identities and ideologies.

Keywords: Turkey; gender; literature; nationalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of International Relations, Koc University, Istanbul, Turkey

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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