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Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks
Jenny White

One of's Best International Relations Books in the Best Books on the Middle East category for 2012

Hardcover | 2012 | $70.00 / £48.95 | ISBN: 9780691155173
264 pp. | 6 x 9 | 13 halftones. | SHOPPING CART

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Jenny White
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(Todays Zaman)
(photo by Bethany Versoy)

Turkey has leapt to international prominence as an economic and political powerhouse under its elected Muslim government, and is looked on by many as a model for other Muslim countries in the wake of the Arab Spring. This book reveals how Turkish national identity and the meanings of Islam and secularism have undergone radical changes in today's Turkey, and asks whether the Turkish model should be viewed as a success story or cautionary tale.

Jenny White shows how Turkey's Muslim elites have mounted a powerful political and economic challenge to the country's secularists, developing an alternative definition of the nation based on a nostalgic revival of Turkey's Ottoman past. These Muslim nationalists have pushed aside the Republican ideal of a nation defined by purity of blood, language, and culture. They see no contradiction in pious Muslims running a secular state, and increasingly express their Muslim identity through participation in economic networks and a lifestyle of Islamic fashion and leisure. For many younger Turks, religious and national identities, like commodities, have become objects of choice and forms of personal expression.

This provocative book traces how Muslim nationalists blur the line between the secular and the Islamic, supporting globalization and political liberalism, yet remaining mired in authoritarianism, intolerance, and cultural norms hostile to minorities and women.

Jenny White is associate professor of anthropology at Boston University. She is the author of Islamist Mobilization in Turkey and Money Makes Us Relatives: Women’s Labor in Urban Turkey.


"[P]iercing and original analysis . . ."--Economist

"[A]deeply insightful book. . . . [T]he writing is . . . clear and straightforward, and the book is chock-full of rich tidbits from Turkish society. . . . Filled with insight, Muslim Nationalism and the New Turks is sure to become a leading text for those looking to read the Turkish tea leaves . . ."--David Lepeska, National

"[T]his is a good book worth reading by those concerned with Turkey and broader issues of democratic transitions in the Muslim world."--Hurriyet Daily News

"Even for those already familiar with contemporary Turkey, this sometimes disturbing book will be an eye opener"--.John Waterbury, Foreign Affairs

"This anthropological work is grounded in a deep knowledge of Turkey, nourished by White's successive long stays and periods of fieldwork in the country; yet it is also a judicious compilation of key secondary sources."--Clémence Scalbert-Yucel, Times Higher Education

"Jenny White has provided readers with insightful and nuanced access to the complexities of Turkish society and a first look at a newly emerging class of individualist Muslim nationalists."--Zeynep Kosereisoglu, Muftah

"In this multilayered, theoretically sophisticated, and analytically rich examination of the contradictions and convergences found in contemporary expressions of 'Turkishness,' especially with respect to Muslim and secular forms of nationalisms, White offers an interpretation that reinforces Barth's emphasis on pluralism, choice, and negotiation, while also demonstrating greater understanding and synthesis of the constraints of gender, class, ethnicity, and religion."--Choice

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Table of Contents:

Illustrations xi
Abbreviations xiii
Acknowledgments xv

Chapter 1 Introduction 1
Chapter 2 Islam and the Nation 24
Chapter 3 The Republic of Fear 54
Chapter 4 The Missionary and the Headscarf 80
Chapter 5 No Mixing 102
Chapter 6 Sex and the Nation: Veiled Identity 136
Chapter 7 Choice and Community: The Girl with Blue Hair 163
Chapter 8 Conclusion 181

Notes 197
References 217
Index 229

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    File created: 3/10/2015

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