Citizen Alevi in Turkey: Beyond confirmation and denial

Kocan G., ONCU A.

JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL SOCIOLOGY, vol.17, no.4, pp.464-489, 2004 (SSCI) identifier identifier


Critics of the current national citizenship models argue that, although it rests on claims to be inclusionary and universal, it can never eliminate exclusionary and particularistic practices when challenged by those identities excluded from the historical trajectory of "nation building." Turkish citizenship has been a form of anomalous amalgamation since its conception. On the one hand, the state insisted on the pre-emptive exclusion of religion and various communal cultural identities from politics, while, on other hand, it promoted a particular religious identity primarily as a means of promoting cultural and social solidarity among its citizens. Contemporary Alevi movements, representing the interests of a large minority in Turkey, provide a new source of energy for the revision of concepts of citizenship. Alevis have suffered from prejudice, and their culture has been arrested and excluded from the nation building process. They were not able to integrate into the form of national identity based on the "secular" principles that the republican state has provided as a means of promoting solidarity among citizens. What Alevis seek is a revised citizenship model in terms of a system of rights assuring the condition of neutrality among culturally diverse individuals.