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Order and Compromise: Government Practices in Turkey from the Late

Ottoman Empire to the Early 21st Century

Social, Economic and Political


Studies of the Middle East and
Asia (sepsmea)
(founding editor: c. a. o. van nieuwenhuijze)

Editor
Dale F. Eickelman
Advisory Board
Fariba Adelkhah (SciencesPo/ceri, Paris)
Roger Owen (Harvard University)
Armando Salvatore (McGill University)

VOLUME 113

The titles published in this series are listed at brill.com/seps

Order and Compromise:


Government Practices in Turkey
from the Late Ottoman Empire to
the Early 21st Century
Edited by

Marc Aymes
Benjamin Gourisse
lise Massicard

LEIDEN | BOSTON

Cover illustration: Photograph from the Babakanlk Cumhuriyet Arivi number bca 490.0.1/1171.113.01.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Order and compromise : government practices in Turkey / from the Late Ottoman Empire to the Early 21st
Century / edited by Marc Aymes, Benjamin Gourisse, Elise Massicard.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-90-04-28979-6 (hardback : alk. paper) -- ISBN 978-90-04-28985-7 (e-book) 1. Turkey--Politics and
government--20th century. I. Aymes, Marc.
DR576.O74 2015
320.9561--dc23
2014047559

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Contents
List of Tables and Figuresvii
List of Abbreviationsviii
List of Contributorsxi
Introductory Notexiii
1 Order and Compromise
The Concrete Realities of Public Action in Turkey and the Ottoman
Empire1
Benjamin Gourisse
2 Defective Agency25
Marc Aymes
3 Is It Time to Stop Speaking about Ottoman Modernisation?45
Olivier Bouquet
4 The Linguist and the Politician
The Trk Dil Kurumu and the Field of Power in the 193040s68
Emmanuel Szurek
5 An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?
The Administration of the Teaching of Islam in Single-Party
Turkey97
Nathalie Clayer
6 The Military Seize the Law
The Drafting of the 1961 Constitution121
Nicolas Camelio
7 Institutional Cooperation and Substitution
The Ottoman Police and Justice System at the Turn of the 19th
and 20th Centuries146
Nomi Lvy Aksu
8 The State without the Public
Some Conjectures about the Administration for Collective Housing
(toki)169
Jean-Franois Prouse

vi

CONTENTS

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy in the Southeastern Anatolia


Region192
Muriel Girard and Clmence Scalbert Ycel

10

European Policies to Support Civil Society


Embodying a Form of Public Action219
Claire Visier

11

The Incomplete Civil Servant?


The Figure of the Neighbourhood Headman (Muhtar)256
lise Massicard

12

Military Domination by Donations291


Anouck Gabriela Crte-Real Pinto

13

Womens Shelters as State Institutions317


Berna Ekal

14

The Socialisation of Those Called up for Training in the Love of the


Motherland as Part of Military Service in Turkey333
Smbl Kaya

15

Officialdom and the Woman Who was Meant to be Dead


The Ethnography of an Exfoliation362
Benot Fliche

16

Deceptive Agency376
Marc Aymes

Bibliography389
Index427

List of Tables and Figures


Tables
6.1 Composition of the 1960 Constitutional Committee144
12.1 The war over religious donations between institutions299
12.2 Main contributors to Hrriyets national campaign and total of all
donations312
15.1 Records of birth, 19481960, family K366

Figures
7.1 The Galatasaray police station and detention centre157
8.1 Official tok report showing the organic bond between the Prime Minister and
toki 176
11.1 Door of a muhtarlk270
11.2 The premises of four muhtarlks combined around a caf at the foot of Galata
Tower275
11.3 Writing at the entrance to a mosque referring to the poverty certificate
provided by the muhtar278
15.1 Pages from the register of birth, deaths, marriages. Family K366
16.1 Establishing a fact of state: squares and title blocks387

List of Abbreviations
akp
Adalet ve Kalknma Partisi, Justice and Development Party
anap
Anavatan Partisi, Motherland Party
a..
Anonim irket, public limited company
bdp
Bar ve Demokrasi Partisi, Peace and Democracy Party
etuc
European Trade Union Confederation
chf
Cumhuriyet Halk Frkas, Republican Peoples Party
chp
Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, Republican Peoples Party
atom ok amal toplum merkezleri, Multi-Purpose Community Centres
ekl 
evre ve Kltr Deerlerini Koruma ve Tantma Vakf, Foundation for the
Protection and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage
dib
Diyanet leri Bakanl, Directorate of Religious Affairs
dis k 
Trkiye Devrimci i Sendikalar Konfederasyonu, Confederation of
Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey
dp
Demokrat Partisi, Democrat Party
dpt
Devlet Planlama Tekilat, State Planning Organisation
dtso 
Diyarbakr Ticaret ve Sanayi Odas, Chamber of Commerce and Industry
in Diyarbakr
eu
European Union
gabb 
Gneydou Anadolu Blgesi Belediyeleri Birlii, Union of Southeast
Anatolia Region Municipalities
gap
Gneydou Anadolu Projesi, Southeastern Anatolia Project
gap-bki 
Gneydou Anadolu Projesi Blge Kalknma daresi Tekilat,
Southeastern Anatolia Project-Regional Development Administration
gyo
Gayri Menkul Yatrm Ortakl, Real Estate Investment Trust
gyoder 
Gayrimenkul Yatrm Ortakl Dernei, Association of Real Estate and
Real Estate Investment Companies
Hak- 
Trkiye Hak i Sendikalar Konfederasyounu, Confederation of Turkish
Real Trade Unions
ib da-c 
slami Byk Dou Aknclar Cephesi, Great Eastern Islamic Raiders
Front
ie tt 
stanbul Elektrik Tramvay ve Tnel letme Genel Mdrl, Istanbul
Electricity, Tramway, and Tunnel General Management
in der 
stanbul naatlar Dernei, Association of Istanbul Construction
Companies
is ki
stanbul Su ve Kanalizasyon letmesi, Istanbul Drains and Water Board
ipa
Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance
it mgt 
slam Toplumu Milli Gr Tekilat, National View Organisation of
Muslim Community

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

ix

kesk 
Kamu Emekileri Sendikalar Konfederasyonu, Confederation of Public
Workers Unions
ki t
Kamu ktisadi Teebbsleri, public economic enterprises
kmgp 
Kltrel Miras Gelitirme Program, Cultural Heritage Development
Programme
ksgm 
Kadn Stats Genel Mdrl, Directorate General on the Status of
Women
makid er 
Mardin Kadn Eitim ve stihdam Dernei, Association to Support
Professional Training for Women
mbk
Milli Birlik Komitesi, National Unity Committee
mgk
Milli Gvenlik Kurumu, National Security Council
Milliyeti Hareket Partisi, Nationalist Action Party
mhp
mkp
Maoist Komnnist Partisi, Maoist Communist Party
msi a d 
Mstakil Sanayc ve adamlar Dernei, Independent Industrialists and
Businessmens Association
ngo
non-governmental organisation
pkk
Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan, Kurdistan Workers Party
undp
United Nations Development Programme
rgo
Real Governmental Organisation
rp
Refah Partisi, Welfare Party
Republican Peoples Party (see chf, chp)
rpp
rtk
Radyo Televizyon st Kurulu, Radio and Television Supreme Council
shek 
Sosyal Hizmetler ve ocuk Esirgeme Kurumu, Administration of Social
Services and Child Protection
sodes
Sosyal Destek Program, Social Support Programme
sp
Saadet Partisi, Felicity Party
urkav 
anlurfa li Kltr Eitim Sanat ve Aratrma Vakf, Foundation for
Research, Art, Education, and Culture of anlurfa Province
sydtf 
Sosyal Yardmlama ve Dayanmay Tevik Fonu, Social Aid and Solidarity
Encouragement Fund
tbmm
Trkiye Byk Millet Meclisi, Grand National Assembly of Turkey
tdk
Trk Dil Kurumu, Turkish Language Institute
tdtc
Trk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti, Society for the Study of the Turkish Language
tema 
Trkiye Erozyonla Mcadele, Aalandrma ve Doal Varlklar Koruma
Vakf, Turkish Foundation for Combating Soil Erosion, for Reforestation
and the Protection of Natural Habitats
thk
Trk Hava Kurumu, Turkish Airforce Corporation
Trkiye Halk Kurtulu Ordusu, Peoples Liberation Army of Turkey
thko
tkv
Trkiye Kalknma Vakf, Turkish Development Foundation
tii k p 
Trkiye htilalc i Kyl Partisi, Revolutionary Workers and Peasants
Party of Turkey

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

tkp
Trkiye Komnist Partisi, Communist Party of Turkey
tkp/ml 
Trkiye Komnist Partisi/Marksist-Leninist, Marxist-Leninist Communist
Party of Turkey
tlm
Training in the love of the motherland
toki
Toplu Konut daresi, Administration for Collective Housing
trt 
Trkiye Radyo ve Televizyon Kurumu, Turkish Radio and Television
Corporation
tsk
Trk Silahl Kuvvetleri, Turkish Armed Forces
tskmev 
Trk Silahl Kuvvetleri Mehmetik Vakf, Mehmetik Foundation of the
Turkish Armed Forces
ti k
Trkiye statistik Kurumu, Turkish Institute of Statistics
Trk- 
Trkiye i Sendikalar Konfederasyonu, Confederation of Turkish Trade
Unions
tsi a d 
Trk Sanayc ve adamlar Dernei, Turkish Industry and Business
Association
tskon 
Trkiye adamlar ve Sanayiciler Konfederasyonu, Turkish Confederation
of Businessmen and Industrialists
uli
Urban Land Institute
unesco United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
unfpa
United Nations Population Fund
unicef United Nations International Childrens Emergency Fund
un
United Nations
upo
Unidentified political object
ydk
Yksek Denetim Kurumu, Supreme Supervisory Board
yk
Yksek retim Kurulu, High Council of Education
ysk
Yksek Seim Kurulu, High Electoral Board

List of Contributors
Marc Aymes
is a permanent research fellow in history at the Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique, France.
Olivier Bouquet
is a professor in history at Paris Diderot (Paris 7) University, France, and at
Galatasaray University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Nicolas Camelio
is a PhD candidate in History at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences
Sociales, Paris, France.
Nathalie Clayer
is a senior research fellow in history at the Centre National de la Recherche
Scientifique, and a professor at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences
Sociales, Paris, France.
Anouck Gabriela Corte-Real Pinto
is a postdoctoral fellow at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales,
Paris, France.
Berna Ekal
is a PhD candidate in sociology at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences
Sociales, Paris, France.
Benot Fliche
is a permanent research fellow in anthropology at the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique, France.
Muriel Girard
is an associate professor at the Ecole Nationale Suprieure dArchitecture de
Marseille, France.
Benjamin Gourisse
holds a PhD in political science (Pantheon-Sorbonne University, Paris, France,
2010) and is an associate professor at Paris Dauphine University.

xii

LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Smbl Kaya
is a postdoctoral fellow at the cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales,
Paris, France.
Nomi Lvy Aksu
is an assistant professor in history at Boazii University, Istanbul, Turkey.
lise Massicard
is a permanent research fellow in sociology at the Centre National de la
Recherche Scientifique, France.
Jean-Franois Prouse
is an associate professor in geography at Toulouse-Le Mirail University, France,
and currently the director of the Institut Franais dtudes Anatoliennes,
Istanbul, Turkey.
Clmence Scalbert Ycel
is a lecturer in ethnopolitics at the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and
currently on research leave at the Institut Franais dtudes Anatoliennes,
Istanbul, Turkey.
Emmanuel Szurek
is a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University, United States.
Claire Visier
is an associate professor in political science at Rennes 1 University, France, and
currently a Marie Curie fellow at Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Introductory Note
This book draws on the results of a joint research project financed by the
French Agence Nationale de la Recherche for the period 20082012, and coordinated by lise Massicard. While TransTur was used as a code name, the
full title of the programme actually read as follows: Ordonner et transiger :
modalits de gouvernement et dadministration en Turquie et dans lEmpire
ottoman, du XIXme sicle nos jours. The title of the present volume is an
attempt at rendering this wording into English.
Fieldwork funded through the TransTur programme resulted in the
publication of numerous individual articles as well as joint publications (see
Bibliography below). Several workshops were also hosted within the TransTur
framework. Further details on the programme, as well as the full text of its initial position paper, are available on its website: http://transtur.hypotheses.org
(accessed 9 October 2014).
The present volume was first published in French under the title LArt de
ltat en Turquie. Arrangements de laction publique de la fin de lEmpire ottoman
nos jours (Paris, Karthala, 2013). Chapters 11 and 14 were translated into
English by Katharine Throssell. Chapter 13 was written directly in English. All
other chapters were translated into English by Adrian Morfee, who also carried
out (unless otherwise noted) the translation of original quotations in French.
All chapters were revised by the authors prior to the English publication.
M.A., B.G. and .M.

chapter 1

Order and Compromise

The Concrete Realities of Public Action in Turkey


and the Ottoman Empire
Benjamin Gourisse
The Turkish state tends to be described as a unitary whole that is able to impose
its order and regulations on society. According to this interpretation the state
is a sovereign body clearly differentiated from the rest of society and largely
impermeable to social demands.1 It is viewed as the main or indeed sole actor
in a process aiming to bring about the modernisation and westernisation of
society. This conception influences how sociological and historical research
into public action is conducted, and frequently the sole indicators used to
study public policy are speeches, official texts (mainly legislation), and institutional changes. However the concrete realities of how public action is actually
carried are but rarely studied.
In order to appraise this dominant approach the team working on the
TransTur2 programme decided to develop a sociological reading of the
methods of government and administration in Turkey, thereby offering a new
understanding of Turkish public action from a socio-historical perspective.
This led us to abandon the predominant analytical perspective and, rather
than conducting static analysis of the state (as found in the majority of existing
studies), to instead focus on the ways of governing and administering. We have
thus adopted an open vision of public action as based essentially on interaction, and have shifted our focus away from solely state institutions3 to take into
account other kinds of actors involved at various levels and in various ways,
including users and citizens.

1 Studies of social movements in contemporary Turkey show that demands tend not to be
granted when conducted using open public means (demonstrations, petitions, etc), and
instead emphasise the importance of informal transactions See Gilles Dorronsoro (ed.), La
Turquie conteste. Rgime scuritaire et mobilisations sociales en Turquie, Paris, cnrs
Editions, 2005.
2 See Introductory Note above.
3 Patrick Hassenteufel, Les groupes dintrt dans laction publique: ltat en interaction,
Pouvoirs, no. 74, 1995, pp. 155168.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_002

Gourisse

The founding hypothesis of the present work is therefore based on the idea
that institutions need to be analysed as arenas of social relations, and hence
public action as resulting from these relations. All chapters here therefore
apprehend statecraft as resulting from the interactions of the various agents
involved in producing and implementing it. The authors view the exchanges
between individuals, groups and institutions, officials and citizens, the public
sector and civil society as being of critical importance, and reveal the concrete
ways in which public action is carried out, as well as reconstituting the space
in which it is produced so as to understand its social underpinnings. This work
therefore provides a relational analysis of state spheres and social forces, with
the aim of characterising the various forms taken by the society-state dialectic
in action over time and across the territory.
This introduction starts by presenting the ways in which the state and public action in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire have traditionally been analysed,
as well as the reasons for which the TransTur programme broke with the
theoretical presupposition on which such analysis are founded. It then places
the results obtained into perspective before putting forward a few generalisations indicating the main advances made by the team.

The Transcendental StateState Domination and Modernisation


in the Ottoman Empire and during the Republic

There are two broad traditions of analysis in historical and sociological works
devoted to studying the state in the late Ottoman Empire and in Turkey. The
first tradition posits that the state dominates society (without really subjecting
this idea to critical enquiry), leading to analyses that tend focus on the historical, political, economic, and social reasons behind this domination. The second tradition draws on theories of modernisation, adopting the idea that the
modern Turkish state came into being as a result of westernised elites carrying
out a series of borrowings. Both traditions view state and society as a dichotomy, and tend to ignore the multiple transactions, adjustments, arrangements,
and exchanges making up public action.

State Domination of Society
Numerous analyses of the state see Turkey as an instance of a strong state differentiated from society,4 and imposing its order and regulations on the
4 For discussion of the idea of differentiation, see Pierre Birnbaum, Laction de ltat.
Diffrenciation et dedifferentiation, in Madeleine Grawitz and Jean Leca (eds.), Trait de
science politique, vol. 3: Laction politique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1985, p. 666.

Order And Compromise

peripheries it dominates.5 It is this conception of the strong state which predominates in the comparative literature. The upshot is that the state is conceived of as a body rather than as a field, as an arbiter and not an arena, as an
actor and not as one of the issues at stake in social interplay. Thus the centre/
periphery divide that Metin Heper and erif Mardin view as the faultline running through the Ottoman and Turkish political systems may be interpreted
in these terms. According to Heper [t]he Turkish Republic seems to have
inherited from the Ottoman Empire a strong state and a weak civil society.6
This conception of the state as a unified body strongly differentiated from
society involves taking it as an actor dominating social relations and able to
impose its regulations on an amorphous, non-organised society. The state
monopoly over economic resourcesover the land during the Empire and
then over the means of exchange and production up until the 1980sthus
leads Metin Heper to describe it as a transcendental state,7 and to endow it
with considerable autonomy. He asserts that the state was distinctly separated from society in the Ottoman-Turkish context.8 From the same perspective erif Mardin puts forward a negative reading of Turkish and Ottoman
social configurations, and argues that they never knew the mechanisms he
identifies as crucial in the constitution of the modern western state,9 namely
a series of confrontations leading to compromises with what may be called the
forces of periphery: the feudal nobility, the cities, the burghers and later, industrial labour.10 In the words of Heper, [t]he opening-up of the system in that
polity brought face to face neither different socio-economic groups nor a central authority and rather intransigent estates but a dominating state and a not
5

6
7

8
9

10

See in particular erif Mardin, Power, Civil Society and Culture in the Ottoman Empire,
Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 11, no. 3, 1969, pp. 258281; Ergun zbudun,
Social Change and Political Participation in Turkey, Princeton, nj, Princeton University
Press, 1976; Ali Kazancgil, Ergun zbudun, Atatrk: Founder of a Modern State, London,
Hurst and Company, 1981.
Metin Heper, The State Tradition in Turkey, Beverley, The Eothen Press, 1985, p. 16.
M. Heper, The Strong State and Democracy: The Turkish Case in Comparative and
Historical Perspective, in Shmuel N. Eisenstadt (ed.), Democracy and Modernity:
International Colloquium on the Centenary of David Ben-Gurion, Leiden and New York/
Jerusalem, E.J. Brill/The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1992, pp. 142164.
Metin Heper, The State, Religion and Pluralism: The Turkish Case in Comparative
Perspective, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 18, no. 1, 1991, p. 46.
The critical reading of the works by Mardin and Heper about civil society, see Ali Rza
Gngen and afak Erten, Approaches of erif Mardin and Metin Heper on State and Civil
Society in Turkey, Journal of Historical Studies, no. 3, 2005, pp. 114.
erif Mardin, Center-Periphery Relations: A Key to Turkish Politics? Daedalus, no. 102,
1973, p. 170.

Gourisse

well-organized periphery.11 The power relationship between the dominant


centre and fragmented periphery is said to explain the absence of any tradition of multiple confrontations as a way of resolving conflicts.12 One of the
principles of analysis in the works by these authors consists in viewing the
interests and authority of the state as being antithetical to those of social elites.
It is in these terms that Kazancgil and zbudun analyse the shift from the
Empire to the Republic, asserting that [t]he Young Turks and Kemalists []
were the heirs to the old patrimonial tradition which assumed the dominance
of the state over civil society and reserved the monopoly of legitimacy and
authority to state elites, at the expense of social and economic elites.13 But this
conception is based on a restrictive vision of what the state is, as well as by a
methodological choice to only observe the state from the top down, as it transpires in its archives and official texts, which it must be admitted are particularly rich and numerous.
If observed from the centre, the formation of the Ottoman state would
indeed appear to correspond to the affirmation of the pre-eminence of the
Sultans power over the social forces likely to contest its authority. However
as Marc Aymes has observed in reference to the 19th century, it is not certain that the history of the Ottoman Empire at this period, as seen from the
province, be the sole preserve of a (state) centre imposing its rule. What is
needed, in fact, is to go beyond the limits of Ottoman history conceived
uniquely in the terms of the administrators. Ottoman governmentality is
not simply a matter of the framework of administrative compromises, but
also mobilises other registers of social relations, other experiences, and
other expectations.14 The large number of transactions between social
forces and state officials has given rise to numerous works, particularly
about the Ottoman period.15 Certain authors such as Albert Hourani16 and

11
12
13
14
15

16

M. Heper, The State Tradition in Turkey, p. 16.


Ibid., p. 149.
A. Kazancgil, E. zbudun, Atatrk, p. 48.
M. Aymes, Provincialiser lempire: Chypre et la Mditerrane ottomane au XIXe sicle,
Annales. Histoire, sciences sociales, vol. 62, no. 6, 2007, p. 1328.
Karl Barbir, From Pasha to Efendi: The Assimilation of Ottomans into Damascene
Society, 15161783, International Journal of Turkish Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 19791980, pp.
6883; Karen Barkey, Bandits and Bureaucrats: The Ottoman Route to State Centralization,
Ithaca, ny, Cornell University Press, 1994.
Albert Hourani, Ottoman Reforms and the Politics of Notables, in William R. Polk and
Richard L. Chambers (eds.), Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East: The Nineteenth
Century, Chicago, il/London, The University of Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 4168.

Order And Compromise

Philip Khoury17 have developed the politics of notables paradigm, underlining the key role played by social elites in the everyday functioning of the
Ottoman regime. They examine the role played by social elites as intermediaries between the government and the population, and show the social reasons underpinning the legitimisation of the state. Though there are far
fewer works of this sort devoted to the Republican period, this observation
holds good for the Republic too. It is true that in the first decades of the
Republic the concentration of resources within the hands of the state meant
that it continued to be the place of accumulation par excellence.18 Public
institutions were the essential way of gaining access to social, economic,
and political resources, and they were taken over by social forces wishing to
take part in the redistribution of public resources. Nevertheless the control
exerted by public institutions over the distribution of resources, rather than
resulting in the constitution of a dominant, autonomous state, would
appear to have encouraged initiatives to influence public intervention and
thus benefit from it.
The state has never been entirely closed off, neither during the Ottoman
Empire nor the Turkish Republic. State officials (administrators, provincial
governors, controllers, inspectors, and so on) only represent the visible part of
the various state/society configurations. This lead to the question of the interdependency, alliances, and transactions binding institutions and state personnel to economic, religious, and social elites for example, as well as to citizens
and users.

The Modernisation Paradigm
Another set of studies seeks to analyse the rationalisation of the state since the
late Ottoman Empire by importing the norms and institutions found in
European states. Viewing the constitution of a modern state as resulting from
a clean break with the traditional practices of oriental despotism and carried
out thanks to the determination of a westernised elite, such studies draw on
the paradigm of modernisation. Feroz Ahmad thus asserts that the Kemalists
wanted to see Turkey transformed into a modern nation state which, in the
words of Mustafa Kemal (Atatrk), would live as an advanced and civilised
nation in the midst of contemporary civilisation. Such a nation would have to
be secular and rational, emphasising science and modern education in order
17
18

Philip S. Khoury, The urban notables paradigm revisited, Revue du monde musulman et
de la Mditerrane, no. 5556, 1990, pp. 215228.
Until the 1980s the Turkish economy was largely managed and organised via a series of
five-year plans.

Gourisse

to create a modern industrial economy.19 This perpetuates the mythology of


the Turkish state as originating in Mustafa Kemals modernising political
will20a recurrent fantasy of the official historiography of the Republicand
initiated in his long speech (Nutuk) delivered from 15 to 20 October 1927. It is
said that he invented modern Turkey21 by building a nation-state22 on the
ruins of the Ottoman Empire. This is said to have led to the constitution of a
state sphere endowed with a rational-legal administrative directorate able to
bring about the top-down modernisation of society.23 According to this conception the continued existence of the state is assured by the stability of its
administrative personnel who are considered as autonomous and external to
social conflicts.
This sort of analysis runs up against obstacles inherent to its underlying
premises, since state actors are attributed with the effectiveness they claim to
possess, something which is not subjected to critical enquiry. They adopt a
state way of thinking [by applying] to the state the thought categories produced and guaranteed by the state.24 Such readings naturalise the states domination of society as they restricting themselves to studying the speeches,
norms, and imposed rules, and fail to conduct concrete analysis of the multifarious interactions making up government and administrative practices. They
are state-centric, being concerned purely with the claimed effects of action by
the centre. Furthermore, these approaches tend to consider any observable
specificities of concrete government practice as being indicative of a discre
pancy in relation to an imported norm. Such analyses therefore pay but little
attention to the concrete processes of state reform, even though these bring
with them their own dynamics, as we shall see. Lastly, as shown in Olivier
Bouquets chapter, the idea of modernisation is still the axiological principle for
analysing social changes affecting the late Ottoman Empire. Downstream this
permeates the political sociology of contemporary Turkey for it is intimately

19
20
21
22

23
24

Feroz Ahmad, The Making of Modern Turkey, London, Routledge, 1993, p. 53.
Walter F. Weiker, The Modernization of Turkey: From Ataturk to the Present Day, New York,
ny/London, Holmes and Meir Publishers, 1981.
Paul Dumont, Mustafa Kemal invente la Turquie moderne, Paris, Complexe, 2006 [1983].
See for example Leslie L. Roos Jr and Noralou P. Roos, Managers of Modernization:
Organizations and Elites in Turkey (19501969), Cambridge, ma, Harvard University Press,
1971; Aylin zman, Law, Ideology and Modernization in Turkey: Kemalist Legal Reforms
in Perspective, Social and Legal Studies, vol. 19, no. 1, 2010, pp. 6784.
P. Dumont, Mustafa Kemal invente la Turquie moderne, p. 169.
Pierre Bourdieu, Esprits dtat. Gense et structure du champ bureaucratique, Actes de
la Recherche en Sciences Sociales, no. 9697, 1993, p. 101.

Order And Compromise

bound up with the representation of a society that can only change under the
impetus of the overarching state. Bouquet argues that the studies into the
reform period (Tanzimat) conducted by theoreticians of Ottoman modernisation are in fact based on a fairly simple doxa that takes the modernisation of
institutions as the precondition for the emergence of modern Turkey. This conception is based on three subjacent ideas: no modernisation without westernisation; modernisation relates primarily to institutions; and no positive social
change is possible without modernisation by the state. Olivier Bouquet shows
that this pragmatic approach needs to be replaced by a more sociological form
of enquiry which is attentive to the social and intellectual trajectories of the
nineteenth-century Ottoman reformers. Such an approach provides the method
ological tools for conducting a historical sociology of state arenas.

Towards an Analysis of the Interpenetration of State and Society
Given the above, how can we analyse the phenomenon of public action in Turkey
in new terms? What is needed is to place state actors in their specific political
and social contexts, in contact with the populations they seek to administer and
govern, as Joel Migdal and adepts of the state-in-society approach have done.
Several historians of the Ottoman Empire have already followed this line of
enquiry. Work by Suraiya Faroqhi has shown that the Sultans subjects did not
passively submit to decisions taken by the Porte, and that as early as the 16th and
17th centuries they implemented policy initiatives (resistance, circumvention,
and agreements) enabling them to extend their room for manoeuvre.25 Reat
Kasaba, in a study devoted to social changes in the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century and in a similar vein to Migdals work, has shown how the
Tanzimat reforms enabled state institutions to accommodate parts of the population, particularly non-Muslim social groups that had settled in the port towns

25

Suraiya Faroqhi, Political Initiatives From the Bottom Up in the Sixteenth- and
Seventeenth-Century Ottoman Empire: Some Evidence for Their Existence, in Hans
Georg Majer (ed.), Osmanistiche Studien zur Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte: In
Memoriam Vanco Boskov, Wiesbaden, Otto Harrasowitz, 1986, pp. 2433; Political
Tensions in the Anatolian Countryside around 1600: An Attempt at Interpretation, in J.-L.
Bacqu-Gramont et al. (eds.), Trkische Mizsellen: Robert Anhegger Festschrift, Istanbul,
Divit, 1987, pp. 116130; Political Activity among Ottoman Taxpayers and the Problem of
Sultanic Legitimation (15701650), Journal of the Economic and Social History of the
Orient, no. 35, 1992, pp. 139. In a similar vein is the work recently published by Antonis
Anastasopoulos (ed.), Political Initiatives From the Bottom up in the Ottoman Empire
[Proceedings of the Halcyon Days in Crete VII, 911 January 2009], Rethymno, Crete
University Press, 2012.

Gourisse

that were at the time undergoing rapid economic expansion and in contact with
European countries.26 Kasabas work, though based on the debatable view that
the modernisation of the Ottoman political and administrative system was due
to the most westernised segments of the population, nevertheless shows that
the way the state chooses to formulate and implement political reforms arises in
reaction to certain social forces formulating demands it is obliged to take into
account if it is to continue exerting its authority. What emerges from studies
looking at the mediations by which state and extra-state actors compete and
reach agreement27 is that the protagonists of official arenas are very frequently
just one set of players amongst others in the social and political competition,
exposed to the unexpected effects of their hegemonic ambitions,28 and not the
dominant actors that certain state-centric research has sought to describe.
It is also necessary to move away from a zero-sum model, and appreciate that
interactions between state sectors and social groups may very well result in
both parties being strengthened (or weakened). Thus work by Ariel Salzmann
on the institution (introduced in 1695) of long-term tax concessions (malikne)
underlines the important role tax farming played in the evolution of the
Ottoman provincial administrative system.29 This way of delegating territorial
management and tax farming to private individuals thus strengthened the position of the social and economic elites who enjoyed sufficient resources to obtain
these leases, but it also provided the Treasury with sizeable regular advance
payments. Without any formal expansion of the Istanbul bureaucracy the new
contract bound a workforce to the state, at the same time as it enabled the state
to extend its power of fiscal patronage. Furthermore, throughout the 18th century, the parties who had entered into malikne frequently called on Istanbul to
arbitrate whenever their right to administer the zones in question was called
into dispute, denouncing any attempts by other local households to interfere.30
26

27
28

29
30

Reat Kasaba, A Time and a Place for the Nonstate: Social Change in the Ottoman Empire
during the Long Nineteenth Century, in Joel S. Migdal, Atul Kohli and Vivienne Shue
(eds.), State, Power and Social Forces: Domination and Transformation in the Third World,
Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 1994, pp. 207230.
For discussion of the Turkish case see in particular Yael Navaro-Yashin, Faces of the State:
Secularism and Public Life in Turkey, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 2002.
Timothy Mitchell, The Limits of the State, American Political Science Review, vol. 85, 1991,
pp. 7796; Veena Das, Deborah Poole, State and its Margins: Comparative Ethnographies,
in Veena Das and Deborah Poole (eds.), Anthropology in the Margins of the State, Santa Fe,
New Mexico, School of American Research Press, 2004.
Ariel Salzmann, Tocqueville in the Ottoman Empire. Rival Paths to the Modern State,
Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2004, pp. 8788.
Ibid., p. 144.

Order And Compromise

The imperial administration skilfully used these concession contracts to divide


those social forces susceptible to acquire the means to contest its authority.
To this extent the institution of malikne amounted to a way of mutually reinforcing state structures and regional notables as it generated areas of mutual
interest. It is thus in terms of interdependencies, agreements, and collusion, as
well as competition, resistance, and circumvention that the interpenetration
between the state entity and its environment needs to be conceived of. Rather
than a state-in-society, the imperial system thus constitutes a feedback loop
between societies [] and institutions, operating in a rhizomatic fashion.31
The historian Kemal Karpat takes such a course, identifying two power
groups that came into being during the Ottoman Empire, with the political stability of the country being guaranteed by the coalition between them.32
He argues that one of these two groups existed at the national level, controlled
the government and had monopoly over all means of violence. The other, at the
local and provincial levels, had no means of physical power but controlled the
economic and social life of the various localities.33 Karpat argues that this
second group gradually acquired positions of economic and social importance
during the Empire, before losing governmental political support during the
Republic.34 This analysis has the advantage of suggesting the existence of fluctuating agreements between participants scattered across different sectors and
regions, and occupying positions both within and without state arenas. The two
groups he identifies in this way would appear never to overlap however.
This idea of the externality of social and state elites, as well as the commonly accepted idea that the state deliberately destroyed traditional structures
during the Republic, may be examined in the light of works by Michael Meeker.
Rather than dissociating social elites and state personnel, Meeker speaks of a
nonofficial state society.35 He deconstructs the power relationships and interdependencies binding local elites and state officials36 from the post-classical

31
32
33
34
35
36

Jean-Franois Bayart, Ltat en Afrique. La politique du ventre, Paris, Fayard, 2006, pp.
272273.
Kemal Karpat, Society, Economics, and Politics in Contemporary Turkey, World Politics,
vol. 17, no. 1, 1964, pp. 5074.
Ibid., p. 51.
Ibid., p. 52.
Michael E. Meeker, A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity, Berkeley
and Los Angeles, ca/London, University of California Press, 2002, p. xxi.
Local elites at the head of large followings had always had a close relationship with state
officials of the central government, even if not always according to the terms that the latter would have wished to impose upon the former, ibid., p. 32.

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Ottoman period onwards, and describes how a regional social oligarchy of


imperial origin37 developed within public institutions or through contact
with them. He argues that from the second half of the 18th century onwards
state representatives built up a web of multiple transactions with local elites.38
Meeker suggests that when measures were adopted to reinforce central government in the 19th century, these local elites were able to adapt and take on
new positions within the provincial and central state system. Thus during the
1830s and 1840s they adjusted to the shift from the post-classical imperial system to the westernised imperial system of the Tanzimat; then during the 1920s
and 1930s they managed to occupy positions within the institutions of the
young Republic: that led to the rise of a state society that was able to accommodate itself, first to the reformed state system of the later Empire, and then
to reformed state system of the early Republic.39 Meekers research shows
how local Anatolian elites penetrated the state system as the Ottoman state
extended its control over the provinces. It further suggests that what enabled
the protagonists in official arenas to obtain recognition for the authority they
laid claim to was in fact their socialisation.40 This suggests we should be careful not to overestimate the extent to which the collapse of the Empire and the
proclamation of the Republic constitutes a clean break, and instead underlines
the historical continuity of initiatives seeking to occupy the provincial and
central institutions of the Empire and then of the Republic.
And so far from the idea of some dichotomy between the state and social,
economic, and religious elites, what is needed is to consider that it is these
regional social oligarchies which negotiated and oversaw the incorporation
of territories within the fold of the state,41 whilst at the same time putting into
place tactics to penetrate the central and provincial state system. Thus the
imperial administration offered possibilities for local notables to form al
liances or oppose the representatives of the state so as to entrench their positions of economic and social domination. They sought to thereby ensure their
control over provincial resources. State representatives frequently needed to
37
38
39
40

41

Ibid., p. xxi.
Ibid.
Ibid.
The notion of a state socialisation (Fr. socialisation de lEtat) is borrowed from Luc
Sindjoun, who observes that at the same time as the state in the process of political integration colonises society via various strategies to locally export central power, it is in turn
influenced by the society informing the structures fostering hegemony, L. Sindjoun,
Ltat ailleurs. Entre noyau dur et case vide, Paris, Economica, 2002, p. 5.
J.-F. Bayart, Ltat en Afrique, p. 272.

Order And Compromise

11

accommodate the interests of the social elites and negotiate with them for
their hegemony to be recognised.42 These elites were generally comprised of
landowners (aa) who ran their own estates and had managed to acquire the
requisite resources to protect themselves from the interference of central government and stand up to the provincial governor, for instance, thanks to the
men-at-arms at their disposal. As for officials in the provinces, it was by firmly
anchoring themselves within local society that they managed to earn recognition for their legitimacy. Jane Hathaway has analysed the strategies used by
social elites and imperial civil servants in Cairo and observed how ambitious
local personalities sought to win favours from the imperial central government
by joining households made up of imperial civil servants who, for their part,
sought to penetrate the households of leading local figures by placing their
clients within them.43 These two-way initiatives resulted in a provincial
Ottoman state system that she sees as amounting to an administrative hybrid.
By analysing kinship networks within the state, these studies sketch out the
forms of interpenetration between the state and society during the Empire.
And so it would seem that social elites and state officials do not comprise
two different political systems, but are instead different parts within a single
governmental structure,44 revealing the interpenetration between public and
private interests and lack of differentiation between the two. And this means
we need to relinquish any vision of their relations based on terms of strict
opposition or externality.
Government used local elites to exert power at a distance and domesticate
the populations during the Republican period as well. Recent work has shown
how public institutions and local societies were intertwined, especially during
the single-party period. These works partially undermine the idea of the systematic imposition of a new order by the Kemalist party-state. This for instance
is the perspective adopted by Murat Metinsoy in analysing the large number of
reports drawn up by mps seeking to inform central administrations of the
demands and sources of discontent amongst the population in their wards
Contrary to interpretations which see these reports as instruments of social
engineering conducted by the Republican state, he shows that they were in
fact a means for the state and single party to make up for its fragile hegemony
by enquiring into the populations opinions and demands. Given the lack of
direct participation by citizens, these reports acted as a means of mediation,
42
43
44

M. Meeker, A Nation of Empire.


Jane Hathaway, The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdals,
Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 24.
M. Meeker, A Nation of Empire, p. 256.

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whose existence leads Metinsoy to consider the Republican state as a flexible


authoritarian regime firmly embedded in society.45
Following on from these works we have sought to take the by now classical
criticism against there being a dichotomy between civil society and the state
and apply it to the Turkish case,46 as we feel that its implications have not as
yet been fully integrated in our fields of study. Our works have enabled us to
identify networks of actors comprising notables, tribal and family groups, associations (professional, cultural, and so on), trade unions, political parties, and
civil servants. Observation of these networks shows how necessary it is to dispel any binary vision of state and society. The history of the Ottoman Empire
and Turkish Republic therefore shows fluctuating configurations in the interpenetration and overlap between the political and economic, bureaucratic
and party political, and legal and illegal state sectors.47 Far from the image of a
strong state clearly differentiated from society, what we can actually see are
common interests and multiple positions meaning the state is in fact a set of
positions to be conquered, where these positions offer the possibility of accumulating resources that can be converted in other arenas. Rather than being
45

46

47

Murat Metinsoy, Fragile Hegemony, Flexible Authoritarianism, and Governing from


Below: Politicians Reports in Early Republican Turkey, International Journal of Middle
East Studies, vol. 43, no. 4, 2011, pp. 699719. See too Yiit Akn, Reconsidering State, Party
and Society in Early Republican Turkey: Politics of Petitioning, International Journal of
Middle East Studies, vol. 39, no. 3, 2007, pp. 435457; Catherine Alexander, Personal States:
Making Connections Between People and Bureaucracy in Turkey, Oxford/New York, Oxford
University Press, 2002.
Bernard Lacroix, Ordre politique et ordre social. Objectivisme, objectivation et analyse
politique, in M. Grawitz and J. Leca (eds.), Trait de science politique, vol. 1: La science
politique, science sociale, lordre politique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1985,
pp. 469565; Victor Azarya, Reordering State-Society Relations. Incorporation and
Disengagement, in Donald Rothschild and Naomi Chazan (eds.), The Precarious Balance:
State and Society in Africa, Boulder, co, Westview Press, 1988; Joel S. Migdal, Strong
Societies and Weak States, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1988; J.S. Migdal,
A. Kohli and V. Shue (eds.), State, Power and Social Forces; P. Bourdieu, Esprits dtat;
L. Sindjoun, Ltat ailleurs; J.-F. Bayart, Ltat en Afrique; Jean-Yves Dormagen, Logiques du
fascisme. Ltat totalitaire en Italie, Paris, Fayard, 2008.
These overlaps are in no way specific to Turkey. For a localised study of the interpenetration of traditional and state sectors in Cameroon, see P. Geschiere and P. Konings (eds.),
Itinraires daccumulation au Cameroun. On the relations between the economic, political, and administrative spheres see Philippe Haman, Patrons et milieux daffaires
franais dans larne politique et lectorale (XIXeXXe sicles): quelle historiographie?
Politix, no. 84, 2008, pp. 3559; Batrice Hibou, Nous ne prendrons jamais le maquis.
Entrepreneurs et politique en Tunisie, Politix, no. 84, 2008, pp. 115141.

Order And Compromise

13

an autonomous bureaucratic organisation, the Turkish state may best be seen


as a field of power, and it needs to be analysed as such if we are to understand
the ways public policy operates in the country.
From the above-mentioned studies we have also concluded that we need
to work with a long periodisation. In order to better understand the many
different forms of intervention and their variations, we have examined how
public action has been negotiated, brokered and adjusted from the 19th-century
administrative reorganisation of the Empire onwards (in the so-called Tanzimat
period). The transactions that we can observe reveal some unexpected continuities. By examining the transformations in the way public action arrangements
are brokered it is possible to move beyond the classical chronology of great
political and historical breaks (the proclamation of the Republic in 1923, the
shift to a multi-party system 1945, the adoption of a neo-liberal agenda in the
1980s, Europeanisation since 2002, and so on)a chronology which is often
considered as also applying to methods of government and administration.
The perspective adopted here goes some way to undermining the widespread
idea that the proclamation of the Republic led to a clean break in methods of
government, for transactions between official arenas and social elites continued in fact to play a central role, even though the protagonists involved changed
to a certain extentbut only to a certain extent. The perspective adopted
therefore enables us to better understand the dynamics of continuity and
change in methods of government and administration.

Public Action Adjustments and Arrangements

All chapters in this work examine the concrete ways in which public action has
been carried out in the late Ottoman Empire and in Turkey. They analyse the
multiple transactions and arrangements which occur in brokering decisions
and their subsequent implementation. By refusing to take public and private
interests as necessarily competing or antagonistic they all seek to shift analysis
away from questions relating to the forms of state domination of society or its
current withdrawal. It is to our mind necessary to conceive conjointly of the
phenomena of public-private sector mediation and articulation. Our work
therefore seeks to analyse the configurations formed by interactions between
state officials and agents in the social sectors thereby according each with due
initiative, as well as making it possible to account for the whole range of observable arrangements. They analyse the lack of differentiation between interests as
well as the strategies employed by social actors to circumvent, appropriate, or
subvert public action. They thereby contribute to our understanding of the

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modes of coproduction and appropriation of public intervention in Turkey


and the Ottoman Empire.

The Coproduction of Public Action
The way public action programmes are drawn up and implemented is based on
a whole series of transactions between the protagonists operating in official
arenas and the members of the sector targeted by government. This is also true
with regard to the single-party period (19231945), as shown by Nathalie Clayer
and Emmanuel Szurek in relation to two major reforms from that period.48
Clayer observes that the secularisation policy conducted by the regime was not
dictated from on high and imposed in authoritarian manner, but was instead
related to multiple initiatives by both institutional and non-institutional actors
in the religious field. The new religious institutions put in place by the regime
were thus not mere instruments of power, but rather forums for the negotiation
and coproduction of public action by actors in the religious field and the public
authorities. This sort of phenomenon may also be observed in other sectors, as
Emmanuel Szurek shows in the chapter devoted to the Language Revolution
(Dil Devrimi) and the body that played a crucial role in it, the Turkish Language
Institute (Trk Dil Kurumu). By reincorporating all those involved in the
Kemalist regimes language policy, Szurek reveals the power relations, rivalries,
and cooperation between men of letters, politicians, and the single party in the
drawing up of public action in Kemalist Turkey. He shows how these numerous
protagonists took part in the drawing up of reforms and helped build up the
knowledge needed by the government. Thus contrary to analyses postulating
the externality of modernising bureaucratic elites and the traditional social
elites subject to reforms, these studies reveal the constant process of exchange
between social agents and protagonists within official arenas. In all cases public institutions do not so much impose themselves as come to arrangements
with other social forces they are seeking to channel or mobilise.
In a sovereign domain such as policing the observable transactions between
official protagonists and social forces relate to the delegation of powers. The
formal and informal mechanisms by which institutions in charge of public
action certify private actors (groups of notables as well as economic, tribal, and
criminal groups) may be regularly observed from the time of the Empire
onwards. In her chapter about the role played by the police in arbitration and
48

Alexandros Lamprou also analyses these sorts of transactions in his work on the Peoples
Houses (Halkevleri): Between Central State and Local Society. The Peoples Houses
Institution and the Domestication of Reform in Turkey (19321951), unpublished PhD
thesis, Leiden University, 2009.

Order And Compromise

15

judicial procedures in the second half of the 19th century, Nomi Lvy Aksu
analyses ways in which the police institution came to be involved in the resolution of everyday conflicts alongside many other actors (judges, religious leaders notables, etc.). But whilst this arose from their official attributions, it was
primarily due to their growing integration with urban populations. Rather
than seeking to put an end to sporadic violence the police managed to impose
itself in towns by drawing on the help of paid hoodlums, organised gangs, and
militia capable of enforcing order. By analysing the way a specific sector of
public action (policing) is structured and the interactions between public and
civilian actors operating in towns, Noemi Lvy Aksus work contributes to an
examination of the historicity of collusion between official arenas and social
forces. As of the late 19th-century, in the period when the Empire was undergoing administrative reorganisation and public authority was being redeployed
in towns, public institutions implemented policing policies by relying on civilian relays. These phenomena were not limited to towns. They are also observable in late 19th-century Southeast Anatolia when Sultan Abdlhamid II
formed tribal regiments, or Hamidiye, which made certain Kurdish tribes allies
of the state, which delegated certain of its prerogatives to them.49 In the 1980s,
when the war against the pkk was intensifying, the public authorities once
again drew on civilian support, setting up village militias in the Kurdish regions
to bolster the counter-insurgency strategies used by the Turkish state. These
village protectors (ky korucusu) were placed under the authority of the
Ministry of the Interior, paid using public funds, and were provided with arms
and uniforms.50 There is thus a degree of continuity in the way sovereign powers are delegated to private individuals. A diachronic perspective shows there
are periods of relative centralisation of violencethe single-party period
(19231946) being one of themand others in which the state renounced its
monopoly over physical violence due to protests by social groups with sufficient means to stand up to the security forcessuch as the second half of the
1970s when radical armed groups managed to wrest control from the public
authorities over certain parts of their territory.51
49

50
51

Gilles Dorronsoro, Les politiques ottomane et rpublicaine au Kurdistan partir de la


comparaison des milices Hamidiye et korucu: modles institutionnels, retribalisation et
dynamique des conflits, European Journal of Turkish Studies, no. 5, 2006, Power, Ideology,
KnowledgeDeconstructing Kurdish Studies, url: http://ejts.revues.org/778 (accessed 15
October 2013), 1; Janet Klein, The Margins of Empire: Kurdish Militias in the Ottoman
Tribal Zone, Stanford, ca, Stanford University Press, 2011.
G. Dorronsoro, Les politiques ottomane et rpublicaine, 9.
Benjamin Gourisse, La Violence politique en Turquie. Ltat en jeu (19751980), Paris, Karthala,
2014. lise Massicard has shown how in the 1980s and 1990s security institutions used

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One of the most remarkable characteristics of these transactions, and perhaps the most decisive, is the central part played by political parties in a discontinuous fashion since the proclamation of the Republic. The political
parties have managed to establish themselves as essential partners for social
coalitions demanding access to public resources and the drawing up of sectorspecific policies. During the single-party period this influence is only somewhat surprising given the extent to which state and party dovetailed. However
the existence of illegal plunder practices, which became institutionalised as of
the first change in governing party in 1950, endowed government parties with
extensive capacity to influence the administrations activities. The parties in
power control nominations and promotions within the public sector, and
therefore have an effective way of rewarding supporters, as well as a means of
ensuring the support of an administration won over to their course.52 Each
change in governing party is accompanied by public sector purges seeking to
marginalise members nominated by previous governments and likely to disrupt actions of the new government. By so doing the parties replace the laws
and regulations in place with certification and party-political means of accessing the public sector.53
The uses made of state arenas thus reveal a complex intersection of social,
political, and administrative spheres. Thus even during times of greater restrictions, such as those attendant on military rule, the drawing up and implementation of reforms involve numerous transactions between social and political
forces. The chapter by Nicolas Camelio is particularly informative on this
point. He shows how military officers involved in the 1960 coup lost control of

52

53

reconverted right-wing militants and militia members as their armed wing to carry out the
dirty work in the special war against the pkk: Gangs in Uniform in Turkey: Politics at the
Articulation between Security Institutions and the Criminal World, in Jean-Louis Briquet
and Gilles Favarel-Garrigues (eds.), Organized Crime and States: The Hidden Face of Politics,
translated by Katharine Throssell, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010 [2008], p. 44.
These activities can take the form of clientelist transactions bringing together political
parties and local actors. See in particular Aye Gne-Ayata, Class and Clientelism in the
Republican Peoples Party in Andrew Finkel and Nukhet Sirman (eds.), Turkish State,
Turkish Society, London/New York, Routledge, 1990, pp. 159183; Ergun zbudun, Turkey:
The Politics of Clientelism, in Samuel Eisenstadt and Ren Lemarchand (eds.), Political
Clientelism, Patronage and Development, Beverly Hills, ca, Sage, 1981; Horst Unbehaun,
Klientelismus und politische Partizipation in der lndlichen Trkei. Der Kreis Data
19231992, Hamburg, Schriften des Deutschen Orient-Instituts, 1994.
B. Gourisse, Participation lectorale, pntration de ltat et violence arme dans la crise
politique turque de la seconde moiti des annes 1970. Contribution lanalyse des crises
politiques longues, Politix, no. 98, 2012, pp. 171193.

Order And Compromise

17

the constitutional process since they delegated work on drawing up the constitution to legal professionals. This initiative enabled the political parties
especially the Republican Peoples Party (chp) which was particularly wellestablished in academiato influence the process even though they did not
have direct access to decision-making positions.
Coalitions between interests are also observable with regard to actors in
the economic field. There have been strong links historically between governments and economic circles, who as the prime beneficiaries of choices made
in economic policy are strongly involved in drawing it up. As of the 1920s the
state progressively concentrated control over the vast majority of the countrys means of production and exchange. A national bourgeoisie emerged,
selected by the party in power. It benefited from what amounted to a virtual
nationalisation of the economy,54 and obtained market monopolies by setting up public economic enterprises, obtaining exclusive import licences,
winning highly lucrative contracts with public enterprises to subcontract
major construction projects, and receiving loans on highly favourable terms
from the public banking sector.55 Aye Bura has argued that interest groups
from the world of industry (employers organisations, Chambers of commerce, and so on) have been extremely vocal in expressing the will of big
business to take part in the policy process,56 and this has been instrumental
in their growing influence over the drawing up and implementation of economic policy. Since the 1980s transformations to the countrys economic policy due to the adoption of neoliberal principles (the withdrawal of the state,
privatisation, the reduction and rationalisation of public expenditure, reforms
to the state, new public management, and so on) have resulted in the reconfiguration of how public institutions and economic groups interact. The use
of private operators to implement sector-specific policies has been seen as
indicative of the withdrawal of the state and of its weakening in the face of
the neoliberal rationales behind reforms to public action (the redeployment
of public-private and national-international partnerships, project-based
methods of government, and so on). This hypothesis of the withdrawal of the
54

55
56

Zafer Toprak, Trkiyede Ekonomi ve Toplum (19081950). Milli IktisatMilli Burjuvazi


[Economy and society in Turkey (19081950). National economy, national bourgeoisie],
Istanbul, Tarih Vakf Yurt Yaynlar, 1995.
evket Pamuk, Political Economy of Industrialization in Turkey, merip Reports, 93,
January 1981, p. 26.
Aye Bura, State and Business in Modern Turkey: A Comparative Study, Albany, ny, State
University of New York Press, 1994. See too Zafer Toprak, Trkiyede Milli ktisat [National
economy in Turkey], Istanbul, Doan Kitap, 2012.

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state is however highly debatable if one starts with the hypothesis that public
and private interests are not necessarily competing or antagonistic.57 It would
appear that proximity to the government, that is to say the parties in power, is
a constant feature in strategies for economic accumulation. According to
Aye Bura these mechanisms seem to have been instrumental in the impressive growth performance of new business groups close to the akp [Justice and
Development Party] government, or affiliated with the faith-based Glen
movement, which has entered the big business scene through a new wave of
state-supported capital accumulation.58 It is possible to detect the ways in
which public and private, and economic and political interests have been
aligned, and so we need to examine the effect this has on the way public
action is carried out today. In his chapter about the Administration for
Collective Housing (Toplu Konut daresi, tok), Jean-Franois Prouse offers a
certain number of pointers. Rejecting the idea of a zero-sum game between
private and public interest he analyses how tok has become the main actor
in public-private cooperation in the construction sector by taking control
over the transfer of the public lands to the private market. He therefore examines the many contemporary forms in which public and private interests can
become entangled, in the context of the restructuring of the state. He talks of
institutions that are home to many individuals with a mixed professional
background [] who circulate and act within two previously distinct spheres
they thereby bring into constant contact, if such a distinction still makes any
sense that is. The phenomenon is thus as much one of the privatisation of
the state as it is the expansion of the state into the private sector, due to the
extremely heterogeneous structure of development projects, the backgrounds
of the people working for tok, and the tangled web of institutions involved.
By refusing to naturalise interests that could be divided along the lines of the
public/private origin of their representatives, Prouse reveals how fruitful it
can be to focus on the cooperation and coalitions of public/private interests,
as this helps explain the processes which arise from adopting neoliberal
principles for public action.
These observations lead us to consider the various sorts of economic and
administrative institutions involved in contemporary reforms to public action
as forums where public and private interests connect and are undifferentiated.
The number of such hybrid institutions has multiplied with the eu accession
57
58

Mine Eder, Retreating State? Political Economy of Welfare Regime Change in Turkey,
Middle East Law and Governance, vol. 2, no. 2, 2010, pp. 152184.
Aye Bura and Osman Savakan, Politics and Class: The Turkish Business Environment
in the Neoliberal Age, New Perspectives on Turkey, no. 46, 2012, p. 38.

Order And Compromise

19

process. In order to comply with the eus partnership principle Ankara has set
up development agencies (kalknma ajanslar)59 at the regional level, whose
governing boards include elected civil society organisations. Employers
confederations, trade unions, human rights organisations, as well as local
authorities such as municipalities are recognised as legitimate members of
public action networks, and use this new position to reinforce their presence
within their respective sectors.60 The chapter by Clmence Scalbert Ycel and
Muriel Girard examining contemporary public heritage action in Southeast
Anatolia shows how these transformations create new openings for social
actors in the coproduction of public action programmes and categories.
New eu governance instruments are appropriated and transformed by local
actors. The Civil Society Dialogue programme studied by Claire Visier shows
for instance how these instruments are used in many different ways by participants. The Turkish trade unions, though taking part in the European programme, used it as an arena for competition, representation, and mobilisation.
Claire Visiers work shows how trade union initiatives and opposing interests
transform the eu governance instruments as they are appropriated: the trade
union organisations are not just recipients of eu governance transfers
(by instrumentssuch as the Projectwhich are imposed on local actors),
but also producers of a localised form via their appropriation of the instrument and the usages they make of it.
Several of the chapters in this volume thus show how the initiatives and
influences of social forces feed continuously into the way public policy is
drawn up and carried out. The conduct of public affairs is subject to multiple
usages by social actors capable of intervening in its elaboration and implementation, but who also use it in diverging ways for alternative purposes. Observing
the everyday arrangements and give-and-take affecting public action thus furthers our understanding of its how it is legitimised and the conditions required
for it to be effective.
59

60

. Massicard, Rgionalisme impossible, rgionalisation improbable. La gestion territoriale en Turquie lheure du rapprochement avec lUnion europenne, Revue dtudes comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 3, no. 39, 2008, pp. 171203.
Links between the ruling akp party and the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and
Industrialists (Trkiye adamlar ve Sanayiciler Konfederasyonu, tskon), which was set
up in 2005, reveal the intermeshing of positions of power and accumulation within
Agencies. tskon supports the economic policies put in place by the akp government
and has managed to obtain decision-making positions in most of the Development
Agencies. This has enabled it to attract a growing number of companies either looking to
benefit from the subsidies granted by the Agencies or else win their calls for tender.

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The Appropriation and Transformation of PolicyRun-of-the-mill


Interactions between the Administration and the Public
In addition to the question of the coproduction of public action, studying the
everyday interaction between practitioners working for administrations (official agents and civil servants on the one hand, and direct or indirect users and
beneficiaries on the other) sheds new light on everyday concrete methods of
administration and government. In their everyday face-to-face contact with
street-level bureaucrats people targeted by public action display considerable
initiative in their use of dodges and ruses and other ways of getting around the
rules so as to influence administrative procedures.61 Rather than seeing such
phenomena as anomalies or transgressions in the everyday conduct of public
action, several of the chapters here take this observation as a way of enquiring
into the occasions, forms, and sectors affected by these compromises and
arrangements.
lise Massicards chapter about the figure of the neighbourhood headman
(muhtar), an elected official, provides an analysis of this dialectic. She shows
how certain administrative roles do not partake in a socially disembodied and
differentiated bureaucratic class but are in fact a matter of acting as institutionalised intermediaries linking up different social and institutional orders.
The way in which the muhtar is designated (by election) and his social and
geographical proximity to the inhabitants means that they act as a figure of
intermediation. These politico-administrative roles, which first emerged with
the bureaucratisation of the Empire and still exist today, could be viewed as
resulting from an incomplete process of rationalising institutions and granting
them autonomy. However, by refusing to consider this incomplete rationalisation as an anomaly or indicating that some intentional process of rationalisation has failed to be fully carried through, and by viewing the (geographical,
social, and relational) proximity with the population as an integral part of the
role of the muhtar, Massicards analysis of the interpenetration of administrative, political, and social spheres privileges the hypothesis that this is the norm.
This allows the outlines to emerge of a state that is susceptible to appropriation
and even, perhaps, expropriationthat is to say its being used for alternative
ends by social forces wishing to influence, invest, or subvert it.
Historically speaking the increasing number of areas of government
intervention has regularly given rise to different ways in which populations
appropriate new institutions. The forgers of the second half of the 19th century

61

M. Lipsky, Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, New


York, Russell Sage Foundation, 1980.

Order And Compromise

21

studied in this volume by Marc Aymes used state mechanisms for their own
purposes, yet the very fact of taking over such mechanisms proved that they
recognised them as such. Aymes argues the forgers appropriation of the powers to give material form and to officiate attests to both the desires and criticisms for which the state may be the locus, the reason, or even the actor.
Furthermore, the activity of forgers produced knock-on effects on the formalisation of official documents (certificates, passports, letters of appointment,
etc.), thus having an impact [] on the arts of acting and governing. As a
reaction to falsification, documents became increasingly depersonalised,
with easily identifiable authenticating signs (seals, stamps, and so on), but
where these signs were also easily reproducible. The activity of forgers, if taken
as a form of participation in the production and transformation of the instruments of government, offers an insight into the initiatives populations may
take in their everyday contact with the administration. Nomi Lvy-Aksu provides a supplementary illustration of this fact by studying the conditions in
which the modern police emerged in the Ottoman Empire in the second half
of the 19th century. She shows that the emergence of this new actor for maintaining order in towns generated friction and overlaps with the powers of
existing institutions, especially judicial institutions. Whilst the lack of clearcut definition in their respective spheres of competence encouraged arbitrary
behaviour by the regime, it also offered the population room for manoeuvre
as people could choose which institution to approach and use institutional
rivalry to their own advantage.
The room for manoeuvre available to populations may be analysed as a dilution in the authority of public bodies. However they may just as easily be analysed as a pre-condition for acquiring legitimacy with the public. The chapters
by Benot Fliche and Berna Ekal show that what makes state mechanisms and
institutions effective is deep insertion into society. They present a convincing
case for relinquishing any idea of the unilateral deployment of public action,
and in favour of placing action by protagonists from state arenas within the
interactions binding them to societies. Fliche applies this argument to the
means used to identify populations by analysing the case of a woman called
Sati who, though she had been declared dead under her maiden name, was
after her marriage identified under her married name by numerous public
institutions (the tax authorities in particular). Because her pre-marital civil
status had disappeared from official documents after her marriage, the authorities were no longer able to authenticate that she was indeed the daughter of
her deceased father. Since it had no means of confirming the family origins of
the woman claiming to be Sati, the authorities had to make do with the testimony and declarations of family members to be able to rule on the case and

22

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justify its decision. This shows the extent to which the liberty individuals and
civil servants take with administrative registration procedures endows them
with room for manoeuvre in their direct relations with each other, as well as
giving rise to multiple usages which can take the form of abuses and/or falsifications. Furthermore, whilst the adjudicatory processes necessitated by the
failure of registers of births, deaths, and marriages to provide authentication
can give rise to arbitrary practice by street level bureaucrats and hence unequal
treatment of the public,62 this lack of precision also enables the authorities to
be flexible and adapt to local contexts.63 Analysing the concrete forms in which
public action is carried out thus involves situating officials within a sphere of
political, social (family, religious, etc.), and institutional constraints and relations. The sociology of public action has shown that in many instances streetlevel bureaucrats, confronted on a daily basis with how to translate public
policy into concrete action in the field, have to take decisions for situations not
explicitly foreseen by laws or regulations.64 The analysis of identificatory practices put forward by Benot Fliche further shows that officials integrate social
values and norms (in this instance family ones) within their daily practice,
thereby reinforcing these values and norms since they are used as principles
guiding their professional practice. In such cases officials share the publics
popular representations of parentage and gender relations, which influence
the way the authorities identify married women, resulting in their family origins being effaced from official registers. Similarly, Berna Ekal brings to light
the ambiguities in public gender policy by analysing the power relations that
may be observed in womens shelters, which first opened in the 1990s. On the
basis of an ethnographic study of municipal shelters she deciphers the usage
of the concept of family in these institutions, both as a norm for social control
and as a matrix for intimacy. She shows that the norms organising live within
62
63

64

Tony Evans and John Harris, Street Level Bureaucracy, Social Work and the (Exaggerated)
Death of Discretion, British Journal of Social Work, vol. 34, no. 6, 2004, pp. 871895.
Marie Cartier, Les Facteurs et leurs tournes. Un service public au quotidien, Paris, La
Dcouverte, 2003; Vincent Dubois, The Bureaucrat and the Poor: Encounters in French
Welfare Offices, translated by Jean-Yves Bart, Burlington, vt, Ashgate, 2010; Yasmine Siblot,
Faire valoir ses droits au quotidien. Les services publics dans les quartiers populaires, Paris,
Presses de Sciences Po, 2006.
Peter Blau, The Dynamics of Bureaucracy: A Study of Interpersonal Relations in Two
Government Agencies, Chicago, il/London, University of Chicago Press, 1955; Vincent
Dubois, Le rle des street-level bureaucrats dans la conduite de laction publique en
France, in Jean-Michel Eymeri-Douzans and Geert Bouckaert (eds.), La France et ses
administrations. Un tat des savoirs, Brussels, Bruylant-De Boeck, forthcoming; Michael
Lipsky, Street-Level Bureaucracy.

Order And Compromise

23

the institution are borrowed by staff from the family sphere. These shelters do
not propose any values going against those of the families from which the
women in the shelter came. On the contrary, it is by reproducing the way of life
and the power relationships within families that they manage to domesticate
their residents. Ekal provides a concrete illustration of the socialisation of population management. To this extent the public authorities do not impose some
disembodied overarching order on the public, but instead have to adjust to
them. For that matter it can be useful as Smbl Kaya suggests to relativise the
effects of institutional action on the socialisation and domestication of populations. The frameworks put in place by the Army to bring about the political
socialisation of conscripts during their military service are only partially successful. The training in the love for the motherland (Yurt Sevgisi Eitimi) she
studies is conceived by the Army to perform the political socialisation of the
male population and their families. But Kaya shows that the effects are limited
and depend both on the prior political socialisation of individuals and their
degree of politicisation prior to being conscripted into the Army.
The ambivalent effects with regards to the legitimisation of institutions and
their insertion within society are particularly clear in the chapter by Anouck
Gabriela Corte-Real Pinto, and this despite the fact that it analyses the sovereign domain of military activity. By moving into the space charities operate in
and encouraging the practice of patriotic donations from the 1990s onwards,
the military institution has brought about the everydaylifization of its hold
over society. Moving into the space of religious donations means that the
military can play on patriotic and religious registers to bring about the financial and political mobilisation of the population. These donations to military
foundations act as certificates of patriotism and are a way of signifying ones
adherence and conformity to the patriotic consensus the Army claims to
embody. They thereby partake in diverse strategies of social distinction for
donors. They may also be a way of asserting ones feminism, and for large
economic groups it may act as a strategy to facilitate business dealings with
the Army. Yet military domination is so common and widespread that it can
give way to forces of daily life and thereby expose itself to subversion and
contestation even. Corte-Real Pinto argues that recent judicial developments
in certain sectors of the Army, accusations of the misuse of assets, malpractices, and claims of clandestine financial operations are indicative of the
way that military domination is being questioned as a result of the social and
economic exposure of the Army.
Claims to hegemony thus expose state institutions to unexpected effects.
And so institutions everywhere adjust to the social forces they are seeking to
manage or mobilise, rather than imposing themselves upon these forces. Their

24

Gourisse

protagonists are caught up in a series of transactions with populations, offering room for manoeuvre in multiple areas, leading to co-optive and collusive
practices in certain domains, and ways of avoiding them in others.
Conclusion
And so what transpires after these reflections is that public action and institutions are in fact subject to repeated and indeed continual negotiations. Instead
of using some dichotomy between state order and social order, which never
really manages to counter the naturalisation of the two entities involvedbe
it used as is normally the case to analyse state domination of society or, more
rarely, to understand the intermeshing of these two sphereswe need rather
to analyse the fluctuating forms of the state/society dialectic. It is by observing
the places, occasions, forms, and actors involved in these processes that the
papers in this study have chosen to analyse the adjustments and arrangements
affecting public action in Turkey. They show how the non-differentiation and
pooling of public and private interests are phenomena affecting the full
breadth of the social and political orders, which are also affected by the multiple ways people use public action.
Finally, our results help to reassess the predominant chronologies used to
analyse Turkish policy. By choosing to cover a period that opens with the
administrative reforms the Empire underwent in the 19th century, our work
brings to light previously hidden regularities as well as the multiple adjustments and arrangements involved in drawing up and implementing reforms.
They thus provide a sociological basis for analysing the processes of change
and continuity in public action since the end of the Ottoman Empire.

chapter 2

Defective Agency
Marc Aymes
The best-kept secret in the practice of area studies was the fact that
nobody ever questioned the directional tyranny that names as east the
place we go study. But where is it that we really start from, where is the
place that enunciates this itinerary?1
It is Europe that has fabricated the state.2

Historicity at Work: Welcome to the TransTur Agency

How did we get to where we are? It is four years now since the strange research
body known by its acronym TransTur first saw the light of day. Since then
it has been afflicted by an underlying doubtan archaeological and archaic
doubt, evenrelating to the traces made by history on our collective research
project. And there is an equally acute reciprocal doubtwhat traces does our
project leave on history? More exactly, what is at issue here is the notion of
historicity. For notwithstanding the specific daily concerns each of us have
individually, the fact of presuming the existence of some accepted disciplinary
foundation for historyand thereby establishing the substance behind the
substantive noun3necessarily involves an act of intellectual violence, which
the move from history to historicity aims to dodge.
But what do we mean by historicity? The first point to make is that the
notion covers a large field of meanings. It signifies that claims to descriptive
1 Harry D. Harootunian, Postcolonialitys Unconscious/Area Studies Desire, in Masao
Miyoshi and H.D. Harootunian (eds.), Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies, Durham,
nc/London, Duke University Press, 2002, p. 151.
2 Wolfgang Reinhard, Geschichte der Staatsgewalt, Mnich, C.H. Beck, 1999, p. 15, opening sentence to the general introduction of the book: Europa hat den Staat erfunden. The translation used here endeavours to capture the ironic overtones of the verb erfinden (confirmed
later on in the work on p. 18), which combines the notions of inventing, fabricating, and
confabulating.
3 Jacques Bouveresse, Langage ordinaire et philosophie, Langages, no. 21, 1971: Philosophie du
langage, p. 44.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_003

26

Aymes

and prescriptive validity of discourse about human action be subject to the


contingencies of their origins and historical course (more generally taken in
the phylogenetic sense and more rarely ontogenetic sense of the term).4 It
refers more specifically to the structure making up being-in-the-world, rooted
in the temporisation activities of the past, the present, and the future. It calls
for an exploration of the relationships between practices and historical time
and the ways in which these relationships transpire in the present time
ofaction.5 Above and beyond the didacticism of taking historicity as a way of
classifying into regimes, we thereby expose ourselves to the magnetism
ofGeschichtlichkeitof history as becoming, as the invasions, struggles, acts
of plunder, disguises, and ruses that are forever at work in the world of spoken and willed things.6 And so the question is, in short: how may we apprehend historicity at work?7 Without being at the root of the scientific discourse
of the project, this concern has nevertheless profoundly influenced it. Let us
see if we can tease out its various inflections and so state what the Articles of
the TransTur Agency might be.
Article One reads as follows:
[1] Numerous questions of concern to Ottomanists have not been pursued in relation to Republican Turkey []. This relative separation
between the two academic traditions has prevented the question of the
rupture in the modes of government of the Empire and the Republic
from being tackled head-on.8

4 Carl F. Gethmann, Geschichtlichkeit, in Jrgen Mittelstrass (ed.), Enzyklopdie Philosophie


und Wissenschaftstheorie, Stuttgart/Weimar, J.B. Metzler, 1995, vol. 1, p. 752: die Gebundenheit
deskriptiver und prskriptiver Geltungsansprche menschlichen Redens und Handelns an
die Kontingenz ihrer historischen Entstehung und Entwicklung (meist phylogenetisch,
seltener ontogenetisch verstanden).
5 Pascale Laborier and Danny Trom (eds.), Historicits de laction publique, Paris, Presses
Universitaires de France, 2003, p. 12.
6 Michel Foucault, Nietzsche, la gnalogie, la morale, in Hommage Jean Hyppolite, Paris,
Presses Universitaires de France, 1971, p. 145.
7 Cf. Claude Lefort, Socit sans histoire et historicit, in Les Formes de lhistoire. Essais
danthropologie politique, Paris, Gallimard, 1978 [1952], p. 40.
8 lise Massicard et al., Ordonner et transiger: modalits de gouvernement et dadministration
en Turquie et dans lEmpire ottoman, du XIXe sicle nos jours [detailed presentation of the
Transtur project submitted to the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche], 2008, available online at: http://transtur.hypotheses.org/31 (accessed 8 October 2014); as for the following quotation.

Defective Agency

27

In other words it is our role to give certain questions renewed currency by


applying them to an expanded field of study.
In parallel to this are reflections with a similar logical structure, this time
relating to where TransTur is positioned in its area. Hence Article Two:
[2] We therefore take as our starting point the observation that there is a
major discrepancy between the accumulated knowledge and ways of
conceiving of modes of government in Turkey on the one hand, and the
contributions of the sociology of the state, political social history, and the
sociology of public actions on the other. Our goal is thus to draw on these
instruments so as to move beyond the idea of Turkey as a strong, monolithic, and autonomous state.
Thus in the same way as historians of the Ottoman period have produced studies that could benefit researchers working on the contemporary period, the
political social sciences can provide theoretical ideas that could usefully be
taken up for research into Turkey.
A common pattern thus emerges about the expectations governing the project.
There are chronotopic differentials affecting our questions and accumulated
knowledge. These arise from the gap separating the distant Ottoman past and
the recent (or present-day) times of Turkey, as well as from that between the urbs
as illuminated by theory and the murky orbs of further-off and still largely
unstudied fields of research. The omnipresent character of this dual difference
has been a commonplace of Middle East Studies ever since the field was first
staked out in the 1950s (and thus before advances in critical theory transformed
it into an obsession). It is the basis of the observation by Harry Harootunian
(amongst others) quoted as an epigraph above. A similar concern has inspired
thought amongst some scholars about the need to no longer see areas as
exceptional.9 But such a concern is not restricted purely to exotic lands for:
the equally fundamental connection between the intransitive and the
transitive needs to be articulated here. Or to put it differently, research
9 See Christian Coulon, Lexotisme peut-il tre banal? Lexprience de Politique africaine,
Politique africaine, vol. 65, 1997, pp. 7795. Cf. Michel Camau (ed.), Voies et moyens dune
banalisation dune aire culturelle: approches du politique dans le monde arabe et musulman, round table no. 1 at the 5th Congress of the Association franaise de science politique,
Aix-en-Provence, 2326 April 1996; Mounia Bennani-Chrabi and Olivier Fillieule, Appel
dair(e), in eadem (eds.), Rsistances et protestations dans les socits musulmanes, Paris,
Presses de Sciences-Po, 2003, pp. 1742.

28

Aymes

centres studying cultural areas [Fr. aires culturelles] need as a matter of


principle to be based on this articulation, being both singular in their
choice of a historical and cultural space, and multidisciplinary via the
whole raft of different forms of knowledge they generate, meaning they
are hence associated with generalist disciplines.10
The sense of unease attributed to areas can therefore be generalised. Better
still, there are other structurally similar instances of it to be found in other
parts of the history of knowledge. With regard to the chronological aspect, the
time lag mirrors that highlighted by Michel de Certeau in his analysis of the
Encyclopdie as an ethnologisation of the arts in contrast to the sciences: [a]
temporal handicap separates the various kinds of know-how from their gradual
elucidation by epistemologically superior sciences.11 As a topological counterpoint, in contrast with the scientific institutions which have established their
specific place, the mixed sciences called human (still) come across as uncertain reconnaissance missions in the direction of frontier regions, and their
discourse as accounts of expeditions that tend to make assimilableif not
thinkableand determine the frontiers of the dark regions of violence, superstition, and otherness.12
And so welcome to the TransTur Agency. Your mission, should you
choose to accept it, is to work to establish the differentials identified above
and so, via a potent combination of transports and transfers, reduce them in
the future.

Was the Subject Inscribed in History?


In human societies there is no political power without domination.
But nobody wants to be ordered aroundeven though there are many
examples of situations in which people accept domination. If we look
from a historical point of view at most of the societies we know of, we can
observe that the political structure is unstable. I am not talking of nonhistorical societiesprimitive societies. Their history is nothing like

10

11
12

Yves Chevrier, La traverse des sciences de lhomme: aires culturelles, humanits et sciences sociales, in Thierry Sanjuan (ed.), Carnets de terrain. Pratique gographique et aires
culturelles, Paris, LHarmattan, 2008, p. 49.
Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Rendall, Berkeley,
ca, University of California Press, 1984, p. 67.
Ibid., p. 6.

Defective Agency

29

ours. But all societies belonging to our tradition have experienced instability and revolution.13
The recurrent pattern of chronotopic differentials can give rise to many different variations, one of the foremost of which is the question of historicisation.
We can perhaps start our discussion with the pithy reminder to beware of
historians without theory or theoreticians without history.14 This chiasmus
may also be read as an exhortation: I am not suggesting that the historical sciences should disappear in favour of theory, but that they use theory whilst
remaining true to themselves.15 This is the age-old dilemma, the double requirement of historicisation, for it does not relate only to data but to the subject of
historiography too.16 In other words it determines both the researcher and his
relationship to the object.17 In short, the procedures of categorisation and
historicisation partake in the same question of reflexivity.18 And hence the
question:
how are we to reconcile ex post theorisation and the indigenous categorisations of the actors of the time? And working in the opposite direction,

13

14
15
16

17

18

M. Foucault, Dits et crits III. 19761979, D. Defert and F. Ewald with J. Lagrange (eds.), Paris,
Gallimard, 1994, p. 804: Foucault examine la raison dtat, interview with Millicent
Dillon, Campus Report, Year 12, no. 6, 24 October 1979, pp. 56.
Christophe Charle, Histoire sociale et sociologie: un itinraire, Bulletin de la Socit
dhistoire moderne et contemporaine, no. 34, 1999, p. 15.
Paul Veyne, LInventaire des diffrences. Leon inaugurale au Collge de France, Paris, Seuil,
1976, p. 30.
Pierre Bourdieu, Sur les rapports entre la sociologie et lhistoire en Allemagne et en
France. Entretien avec Lutz Raphael, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, no. 106
107, 1995, p. 117. Compare Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a
Socially Symbolic Act, Ithaca, ny, Cornell University Press, 1981, p. ix: as the traditional
dialectic teaches us, the historicizing operation can follow two distinct paths, which only
ultimately meet in the same place: the path of the object and the path of the subject, the
historical origins of the things themselves and that more intangible historicity of the concepts and categories by which we attempt to understand those things.
Michael Werner and Batrice Zimmerman, Penser lhistoire croise: entre empirie et
rflexivit, in eadem (eds.), De la comparaison lhistoire croise, Paris, Seuil, 2004, p. 36.
Hence their definition of historicisation that goes against the monism of the context:
historicising means articulating the fundamental given of reflexivity and the multiple
temporalities which enter into the construction of the object as soon as it is envisaged as
a production situated in time and space (ibid.).
Ibid., p. 10 (in the introduction to the collection).

30

Aymes

are we entitled to dehistoricise certain concepts and turn them into what
virtually amount to trans-period universals?19
Though the operation described here lies at the intersection of the transfers
identified in Articles One and Two above (between the historical and the contemporary on the one hand, and between categories and singularities on the
other), it is not however identical to either of them. Nor is it the necessarily
case that it follows automatically from them.
Our initial project had nothing to say on this matter. But it soon became
clear just how acute and nagging a problem it was. In a working document
circulated amongst our group in spring 2010 (entitled Voyages TransTur),
Emmanuel Szurek highlighted the need to singularise (rather than generalise)
period by period. And Nicolas Camelio stated:
it seems to me that our analysis fails to sufficiently integrate diachronicity and the veritable ruptures affecting the Turkish-Ottoman state. []
[O]ur attempt to harmonise our language has instead resulted in our
adopting the language of the political sciences about the state. It would
appear that this does not suit all of us and [] perhaps we should start
instead with the indigenous words, rather than sweeping them away in
the name of practices to which they do not seem to correspond.20
This interpretation of the historicisation imperative is however open to
debate. We have just as frequently encouraged each other to pursue an opposite process of cross-fertilisation in which history needs to use the human
sciences and enrich them.21 That is the main thrust of Paul Veynes call for
sociological history which does not limit itself to recounting nor even understanding, but which structures its material by drawing on the conceptualisations of the human sciences, or as they are also known the moral and political
19

C. Charle, Histoire sociale et sociologie, p. 14. And he adds that: Personally I have
endeavoured to resolve these difficulties of slippage between the universal and the particular, the historical and the transhistorical, the national and transnational, indigenous
notions and fixed notions, and emerging concepts and established concepts, by using
typographical and linguistic subterfuges (ibid., p. 15, italics added).
20 Voyages TransTur, unpublished working paper in French, 2010, p. 13, p. 5, and p. 7
respectively.
21 Jean-Franois Bayart, Comparer en France. Petit essai dautobiographie disciplinaire,
Politix, no. 83, 2008, p. 209. Cf. Charles Tilly, Historical Historical Analysis of Political
Processes, in Jonathan H. Turner (ed.), Handbook of Sociological Theory, New York,
Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2001, pp. 567588.

Defective Agency

31

sciences.22 It is here too that we find the ambiguity of what could be termed
a historicist reduction which would consist in starting from universals as they
are given and seeing how history modulates or modifies them, or finally establishes their non-validity. Historicism starts with a universal and then gradually
whittles it down, as it were, through history.23 Sociological history on the one
hand, and the historicist mill on the otherdoes our attempted operation to
give new currency to certain issues enable us to choose between the two of
them? Here in any case comes TransTurs Article Three:
[3] It remains to be ascertained which are the most appropriate terms to
synchronise ways of thinking deriving from the social sciences on the
one hand, and the prior historical context in which our studies are rooted
on the other.24
Significantly, we have met most frequently over the past four years for a seminar called Historical sociology of the state in Turkey since the Tanzimat.25
The first point to make perhaps is that the expression historical sociology
sums up the key idea put forward above (in Article One)the need to draw on
the historical and historiographic depth of what we are seeking to analyse.
But this choice of phrasing alters the thrust of the question: what experience of
history are we in fact trying to speak of? We have already quoted from Paul
Veynes manifesto for sociological historya wording which in fact turns out
to be interchangeable with historical sociology.26 Under the terms of the
22
23

24

25

26

P. Veyne, LInventaire, pp. 78 (quoted by J.-F. Bayart, Comparer, p. 210) (italics added).
M. Foucault, Naissance de la biopolitique. Cours au Collge de France. 19781979, ed. M.
Senellart, supervised by F. Ewald and A. Fontana, Paris, Gallimard/Seuil, 2004, p. 5 (lecture
given 10 January 1979).
If I choose to speak here of synchronisation it is so as to tie this in with the questions
referred to above. This choice however presents the inconvenience of limiting the debate
to the temporal domain. Elsewhere it would make better sense to speak of concordance or
symbolisation.
A description and the annual programmes of the seminar are available online on the
www.ehess.fr website (pages consulted on 1 February 2012). Fair number of questions
addressed in this text were initially discussed at the seminar of 9 March 2011. I wish here
to thank the participants, and especially Benjamin Gourisse and E. Szurek.
P. Veyne, LInventaire, p. 8. The two appellations socio-history historical sociology would
appear to be equally interchangeable here, as already indicated by the quotation given
above (in Article Two). The essential thing, as it were, is in the syntagmatic design (which
makes history and sociology co-present within it) rather than in the syntactic grid (which
requires to use substantive or predicative forms alternatively). For further discussion of

32

Aymes

historiographic operation designated thereby the expression historical sociology, the subject itself does not partake in history but is inscribed within it
and this in a way which implies it would be possible to extract it from history
and subsequently re-inscribe it should one so wish.27 Which takes us back to
the dilemma of historicisation.28
What do we inscribe (or not inscribe) in history, and how? This is still a
problematic question for us. Our recourse to historical sociology is indicative
of our attempt to replace a substantivised history that can function independentlydrawing on meaning, necessity, and design as and when necessarywith a predicative historicity activated by forces other than its own.
That which Brecht called an art of historicisation: an art which breaks the continuity of narrations, extracts the differences and, by rearranging these differences, re-establishes the essentially critical value of all historicity.29 We will

27

28

29

this subject, see in particular the papers by Renaud Payre and Nicolas Mariot in the collection published by the latter and Franois Buton, Pratiques et mthodes de la socio-histoire, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 2009. See too the perspective provided by P.
Laborier and D. Trom (eds.), Historicits, pp. 611. For further background discussion, see
Grard Noiriel, Pour une approche subjectiviste du social, Annales. Histoire, sciences
sociales, vol. 44, no. 6, 1989, pp. 14351459.
P. Veyne, Writing History: Essay on Epistemology, Manchester, Manchester University
Press, 1984 [1971], p. 10, modified translation: It is not absolutely impossible a priori for
the historian to imitate the physicist and to extract from a human fact an invariable,
which, being abstract, is eternal and will be valid in all future concrete cases []. We shall
see later why that operation cannot be realized, and we shall also see that its impossibility
comes from the nature of causality in history, and not from the individualised character
of human events (italics added).
It is worth noting that when some of the people organising the seminar moved to Istanbul
in 2010 it underwent a change of name, where it became Governing and administering in
Turkey since the Tanzimat. It could be useful here to go over the evolution of the distinction between governing and administering as set out by Igor Moullier (Administration,
in Olivier Christin (ed.), Dictionnaire des concepts nomades en sciences humaines, Paris,
Mtaili, 2010, p. 39). And to quote (ibid., p. 46) the version of the Cours dorganisation
sociale by Pierre-Louis Roederer (1793): the administration is the agency which provides
ministratcitizens with those services or assistance due to individuals by the public
realm; the government is that which inspects, directs, and operates the administration.
Georges Didi-Huberman, Quand les images prennent position. Lil de lhistoire, 1, Paris,
ditions de Minuit, 2009, p. 68, italics in the original. This operation is the Copernican revolution that Walter Benjamin sought to bring about, and which several of his exegetes seek to
carry forward: Susan Buck-Morss, The Dialectics of Seeing. Walter Benjamin and the Arcades
project, Cambridge, ma, mit Press, 1989; G. Didi-Huberman, Devant le temps. Histoire de lart
et anachronisme des images, Paris, ditions de Minuit, 2000. Cf. Philippe Corcuff, Analyse
politique, histoire et pluralisation des modles dhistoricit. lments dpistmologie reflexive, Revue franaise de science politique, vol. 61, no. 6, 2011, pp. 11231143.

Defective Agency

33

return to the idea of criticism in a few pages. But for the moment let us retain
especially the idea of historicity as an energy expended ad hoc, and thus also
where appropriate as something expendable. A key word has emerged in our
common vocabulary to condense this duplicity into a single termthat of discharge. It captures both the expenditure of energy and the suspension of it.
For a discharge can be a matter of being sidelined, assigned to a dead-end
post, being an agent with no real function, removed from the field of action.
Ottomans called this sort of interruption to a career an azl.30 The person discharged (mazl) was suspended for several months or years, indefinitely
awaiting to be re-assigned somewhere.31 It is not certain that it was necessarily
a sanction or a matter of being laid off, but rather one of a number of strategies
to manage positions, ambitions, and career movements (especially when there
were comparatively few posts, such as in legal and judicial hierarchy (ilmiye)
in the 18th century).32 It was also perhaps a way of weeding out provincial clientelism, since the need to apply for a new post entailed going and residing in
the capital. In any case, being discharged meant being placed on the shelf for
a varying period of time.
But there is also a second sort of discharge, a release of energybe it libidinal, electric, seminal, or whatever. It is often not known that in addition to its
administrative meaning given above, azl can also mean practicing onanism
as a conjugal fraud.33 This is the shameful facet of the state, a seedbed of frustrated vocations, failed affiliations, and wasted semen. And it is also here that
an increasingly important issue for our research group could be found, in the
devolution of numerous state (or more generally public) functions to private actors.34
In short, the term discharge seeks to describe a double movementreferring on the one hand to the agency transmitted to those who grant themselves
(either with consent or by force) the authority to govern , and on the other
indicating the piling up on the scrap heap due to defects or mishaps. But
30
31

32

33
34

Cf. Sir James W. Redhouse, A Turkish and English Lexicon, Istanbul, A.H. Boyajian, 1890,
p. 1298: a dismissing or removing from office.
One possible translation of mazliyet is availability. However, having said that it is
interesting to note that according to certain dictionaries compiled at the turn of the
20th century an alternative meaning of the Ottoman term is destitution (Diran Klkian,
Dictionnaire turc-franais, Constantinople, Mihran, 1911, p. 1193).
Madeline C. Zilfi, Elite Circulation in the Ottoman Empire: Great Mollas of the Eighteenth
Century, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, vol. 26, no. 3, 1983,
pp. 318364.
J. Redhouse, A Turkish and English Lexicon, p. 1298.
See Jean-Franois Prouses contribution to this volume, The State Without the Public:
Some Conjectures about the Administration for Collective Housing (toki ).

34

Aymes

having stated this, what can we deduce from it about the art of historicising
under discussion? What does discharge signify for the issue of historicity? We
encounter here the same double-edged meaning, for it refers both to the power
to control what is inscribed in history, and to the possible suspension or failure
of this inscription. And so we can now move on to Article Four:
[4] It does not follow from the fact that historicisation presupposes predicationthat is to say the attribution of singularity to a subjectthat we
should therefore speak only in terms of predicates. We need to grant ourselves discharges from historicity.
And this issue of historicity discharges is reminiscent of the postulated separation held to once (and still recently?) exist between peoples with and without history. The interesting point to note here is how the idea of the state
played a leading role in this sort of historicity for the happy few. There was at
bottom a logical equivalence between being deprived of history and lacking a
state, as Pierre Clastres argues:
Primitive societies are societies without a state. This factual judgment,
accurate in itself, actually hides an opinion, a value judgment that immediately throws doubt on the possibility of constituting political anthropology as a strict science. What the statement says, in fact, is that primitive
societies are missing somethingthe statethat is essential to them, as it
is to any other society: our own, for instance. Consequently, those societies
are incomplete; they are not quite true societiesthey are not civilized
their existence continues to suffer the painful experience of a lackthe
lack of a statewhich, try as they may, they will never make up. Whether
clearly stated or not, that is what comes through in the explorers chronicles and the work of researchers alike: society is inconceivable without the
state; the state is the destiny of every society. One detects an ethnocentric
bias in this approach; more often than not it is unconscious, and so the
more firmly anchored. Its immediate, spontaneous reference, while perhaps not the best known, is in any case the most familiar. In effect, each
one of us carries within himself, internalized like the believers faith, the
certitude that society exists for the state. How, then, can one conceive of
the very existence of primitive societies if not as the rejects of universal
history, anachronistic relics of a remote stage that everywhere else has
been transcended? Here one recognizes ethnocentrisms other face, the
complementary conviction that history is a one-way progression, that

Defective Agency

35

every society is condemned to enter into that history and pass through
the stages which lead from savagery to civilization.35
The state inaugurates history by writing it, history inaugurates the state by
inscribing it within itself. Claude Lefort offers the following paraphrase of this
Hegelian idea: universal History does not cover the empirical course of
Humanity. History in the strict sense of the word only emerges with the state,
when social existence takes shape under the effect of this instance conferring
public expression and awareness on its elements. Only then does the permanence of meaning arise.36 And this equivalence continues to occur, recently
taking an archival turn: the clearest manifestation of the particular form of
social organisation commonly called the state is perhaps the existence of
archives, as three historians of the French and Iberian Ancien Rgime have
argued.37 And as the outline argument for a recent collective research project
put it, building the idea of an archive implies not only the transformation of
textual material into a document, and thus a source for history, but also
involves the setting upin the first place by the stateof a system for gathering what the archives are statutorily comprised of.38 The idea of the state as
both that which supports and that which is subservient to history is perpetuated via the question of whatand what notto include in the archives.
Equally, however, the notion of historicity can also serve to express the
questioning of the historiographic competence of the actors: it is important
not to overlook the desire of actors to take part in history, to make history, and
sometimes to be embodied in the institution.39 In light of this, a supplementary course for inscribing (oneself or somebody/something else) in history can
proceed either from making do with or from doing without (or from a combination of the two)but in any case from a way of accommodating and
adapting to a lack: what we call desire. This brings out the political dimension

35
36
37

38

39

Pierre Clastres, Society against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology, translated by
Robert Hurley and Abe Stein, New York, Zone Books, 2007 [1974], p. 159.
C. Lefort, Socit sans histoire et historicit, p. 30.
Robert Descimon, Jean-Frdric Schaub and Bernard Vincent (eds.), Les Figures de
ladministrateur. Institutions, rseaux, pouvoirs en Espagne, en France et au Portugal
16e19e sicles, Paris, ditions de lehess, 1997, p. 14.
Christine Jungen, Archiver au Moyen-Orient [Detailed presentation of the ARCHIMO
project submitted to the Agence nationale de la recherche], 2007. Cf. C. Jungen and Jihane
Sfeir (eds.), Archiver au Moyen-Orient, Paris, Karthala, forthcoming.
Frdric Audren et al., Temps, histoire et historicit: un point de vue historien, in
P. Laborier, D. Trom (eds.), Historicits, p. 520.

36

Aymes

of historicity, of the city in history, meaning that historyabove and beyond


the narrative or the disciplinemay be identified both with the possibility
that subjects in general make history up and with a figure of thought which at
a given moment imposes a dominant meaning and sense to historicity as a
general framework for apprehending objects.40 Apprehendthat is to say to
take hold of and understand so as to better fashion them in another form.
The question thus becomes that of the links between history and the desire
for the state.41 Does it imply that the state could be an object of desire? A subject of desire(s)? Here we run up against an enigmatic element which cannot
be resolved by simply analysing economic, institutional, and cultural relationships. There is a sort of gigantic, irrepressible unquenchable thirst forcing us to
turn to the state. We might speak of a desire for the state.42 It may be objected
that such a postulate is not reasonable. Quite sothe point is to underline
how the way the social sciences have rationalised the state in terms of need(s),
resources, and negotiations fails to tell the whole story. We need to envisage
overlaying this with the specular relation of recognition that invests public
affairs with both an affective force and a degree of reflexivity.43 Such a hypothesis enables us to roll out once again the whole host of various and diverse
mimeticisms traditionally attendant upon the second Orient.44 And this
relates too to the way we speak of the state.45
40

41

42

43

44
45

Jacques Rancire, Les mots de lhistoire du cinma [interview with Antoine de Baecque],
Cahiers du cinma, no. 496, 1995, p. 52; id., Les Noms de lhistoire. Essai de potique du
savoir, Paris, Seuil, 1992, p. 198 (italics added).
On this point see too Batrice Hibou, Anatomie politique de la domination, Paris, La
Dcouverte, 2011, Chapter 3, Dsir dtat et dispositifs de contrle, pp. 79114. Cf. Ben
Kafka, The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork, New York, Zone Books,
2012, Chapter 3.
M. Foucault, Dits et crits III, p. 617: Mthodologie pour la connaissance du monde: comment se dbarrasser du marxisme, interview with Takaaki Yoshimoto, 25 April 1978
(translated by Ryji Nakamura), Umi, July 1978, pp. 302328. Quoted by B. Hibou, Anatomie
politique, p. 264.
Cf. Yael Navaro-Yashin, Affect in the Civil Service: A Study of a Modern State-System,
Postcolonial Studies, vol. 9, no. 3, 2006, pp. 281294; and id, Make-Believe Papers, legal
forms, and the counterfeit: affective interactions between documents and people in
Britain and Cyprus, Anthropological Theory, vol. 7, no. 1, 2007, pp. 7996.
Franois Pouillon and Jean-Claude Vatin (eds.), After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on
Western Agency and Eastern Re-appropriations, Leiden, Brill, 2014.
Cf. M. Aymes, Dissipation de ltat: limpens des institutions ottomanes, paper presented as part of workshop Servir ltat en Turquie. La rationalisation des institutions en
question, Paris, ehess/anr TransTur, 5 December 2008, url: http://halshs.archivesouvertes.fr/halshs-00723285 (consulted on 7 February 2013).

Defective Agency

37

We Do Not Have the Right Locutions


How can we change the systemor alternativelyhow can we restructure it on a different level, without changing space and without creating
a new world, a new heaven, a new earth? Better still, how can we retain
certain names and make them become different, without thereby ceasing to designate a specific space? In other words, what will mark the passage, the transformation of a cultural system into another system which
is at the same time in continuity with the first and in a state of rupture?
How can a topography be preserved, at a time when the topic which is
necessarily connected to it must change?46

Notions (and perhaps concepts) are at the heart of our discussions, and most
of our time is taken up discussing their definitions, the alterations we make
them undergo, and the shifts they bring about in our analyses. An instance of
this is the earlier discussion of the notion of discharge. And so we often run
through the various words for and the words used in.47 But we are in danger
here of downplaying the difference between what is said (the nonc) and the
act of saying it (the nonciation).48 Hence, and in contrast with our work on
notions, it is important to emphasise how the locution (the phrasing) functions. The locution I have taken as my starting point is one that concerns all
of usthe partitive ~ of state and its variant ~ of the state. And it is equally

46
47

48

Louis Marin, The Semiotics of the Passion Narrative: Topics and Figures, translated by
Alfred M. Johnson, Pittsburgh, pa, Pickwick Press, 1980, pp. 78 (modified translation).
Such as Franois Georgeon and tienne Copeaux (eds.), Les Mots du politique de lEmpire
ottoman la Turquie kmaliste. Documents de travail, Paris, Centre dhistoire du domaine
turc, 1999.
Tzvetan Todorov, nonciation, in Oswald Ducrot and T. Todorov, Dictionnaire encyclopdique des sciences du langage, Paris, Seuil, 1972, p. 405 (italics added): Language production may be considered either as a succession of sentences, identified without reference to
any particular appearance of these sentences (they may be said, transcribed in different
hands, printed, etc.), or as an act in which these sentences occur, and are assumed by a
particular speaker in specific temporal and spatial circumstances. This opposition is that
between the nonc and the discourse situation, sometimes called the nonciation. See the
use advocated by Jean-Franois Bayart for this analytical framework (taking his inspiration
in particular from the work of Mikhal Bakhtine and Michel de Certeau) to analyse how
subordinate social groups accede to the political realm and thus underline the incompleteness and ambivalence of political structures and systems: Lnonciation du politique, Revue franaise de science politique, vol. 35, no. 3, 1985, pp. 353354.

38

Aymes

important to enquire into what it describes (its reference) as to how it operates


(its performance).
Here are two instances of it. The first is literal, whereas the second may be
said to be topical where that is understood as an occurrence where the meaning of the phrase ~ of state is not denoted literally but rather connoted by
extension in expressions which redeploy the symbolical division into state
and other spheres. Let us first look at the literal usages:
the exchange of ornamental gold coins of widespread monetary value
in the imperial countries, and more particularly in Anatolia, amounts for
the Threshold of Felicity [i.e. Istanbul] alone to the estimated sum of two
hundred thousand pounds annually; of this total, thirty-four thousand
are imported from Austria, and some from other countries, and most of
them are manufactured by the corporation of jewellers, almost all of
whom are Armenians resident at the Threshold of Felicity; and these
coins are fraudulently stamped and struck with the illustrious monogram
[of the sultan]. It is in all respects contrary to the rights and interests of
the state [var. of state] to leave the right to manufacture and use the
imperial monogram and official stamp in the hands of inhabitants of the
country or of foreigners, in particular Armenians; given that the aforementioned gold coins do not correspond to their carat, this is a cause of
great harm to the population. It is therefore considered that the manufacture of ornamental coins should be entrusted and confined to the
Mint or else, once the illustrious monogram and stamp be struck by the
said Mint, the manufacture should for its part be conceded as a monopoly to an Ottoman company: in addition to making it possible to preserve
the rights of the state [var. of state] and safeguard the population, the
state would thus collect a permanent revenue of thirty to forty thousand
pounds per annum.49
49

Ottoman Archives of the Prime Ministers Office (hereinafter boa), y.prk.bk. 48/56
(30 Cemzl-evvel 1314 [6 November 1896]), note on blank sheet of paper, dated and
signed The secretary [your] servant Sad: Memlik-i hnede ve bil-hssa Antolde
mazhar- revc-i klli olan znet altnlarn yalz Dersadetde sarf idilen miqdr
senev iki yz bi lrlq tahmn idilmekde olub bunu otuz qrq bi lrl
Avusturydan ve bir qsm memlik-i sireden idhl ve qsm- uzma ise Dersadetde
hemn ummiyetle Ermen olan quymc esnf tarafndan iml idilmekde ve zerlerine shte olaraq tur-y arr ile tam zarb olunmaqdadr tur- hqn ile tam-y
resm iml istimli haqqn efrd- ahli ve ecnib ve b huss Ermenler elinde
biraqlmas huqq menfi-i devlete bil-vch muyir ve mezkr altnlar ayrca
olan ihtilfndan toly ahli pek ziyde mutazarrr oldndan ve znet altnlar
imlini meskkt idresine havle ve hasr yhd tur-y arra ile

Defective Agency

39

Here is the topical version:


the governmental agent Osmn Efendi is suspected by the investigative
committee of the district court of the Threshold of Felicity of having produced fake documents in the exercise of his functions; his case having
been brought the judgement before the bureau of criminal affairs of
Qale-i sultniyye [anakkale], the person in question together with the
material of the case was transferred to the administrative assembly [of the
district]; a telegram has already been sent to the Council of State, and sent
on to the office of the Prosecutor General for Appeals, asking whether or
not another enquiry interrogation needs to be carried out, or whether the
indictment could be considered to be legally robust and thus proceed to
the regulatory procedures. As set out in the memorandum drawn up by
the glorious presidency of the Council of State, it is not admissible that the
aforementioned be judged on the basis of the records of the judicial interrogator and verdict of the investigative committee, for judicial procedures
cannot have any effect on administrative procedures [var. of state]; the
necessary procedures stipulated in the regulations on judging official
agents, assuming they were not followed previously, must be carried out
and the affair transferred to the interrogation bureau of the administrative
assembly; an enquiry interrogation needs to be carried out so that the
proofs and clues gathered by the judicial system be included in the case;
the verdict pronounced must be based on the situation and the type of
offence proven; in the event where the observed deeds might appear to
be criminal or should there be an objection to the verdict, then the case
material would need to be transmitted to the investigative committee
and, after having handed over the record, proceed to trial.50

50

tams yine idre-i mezkrece zarb idilmek zere emr-i imlini inhisr sretiyle bir
irket-i osmniyyeye havlesi sretlerinde huqq- devlet muhfaza ve ahli zarardan
viqye idilmi olmaqla berber devlet in bu yzden senev otuz qrq bi lr
derecesinde dim bir vridt hsil olaca alalm idg[].
boa, dh.mkt. 1663/26, draft of an order addressed to the mutasarrflq of B (7 Safer 1307
[3 October 1889]): cr-y memriyet esnsnda shte sened tanzminden tolay Dersadet istnf mahkemesi heyet-i ithmiyyesinden ithm olunaraq muhkemesi Qale-i
sultniyye cez diresine havle olunmu olan reji memrlarndan Osmn Efendi ile
evrqn mezkr dire tarafndan meclis-i idreye tevd qlnm oldndan bahisle
yeiden tahqqt- istintqiyye icr ve ithm-nmeni quvvet-i qnniyyeyi hiz add olunaraq mumelt- nizmiyye f olunub olunmamas istznna dir kede olunub r-y
devlete tevd qlnan telrf-nme-i vllar temyz mddei-i ummligine it olunduqda
mumelt- adliyyeni mumelt- mlkiyyeye tesri olamayacagna nazaren mmaileyh

40

Aymes

I shall take these as default documentsin other words I shall not right away
overlay my reading with attempts to explain and interpret them with regard to
their specific circumstances, but rather take them as the field for developing
general ideas about the difference being discussed here between notions and
locutions.
What is a locution? It is both a way of expressing oneself and a speech act, a
group of words making up a fixed syntagm, and thereby invested with the
grammatical and semantic value of a single word.51 A notion is a free-floating
term without any pre-established links, and the links are only subsequently
established in the light of the context of its nonc. A locution, on the other
hand, automatically establishes the field of gravity of a syntagm, constituting
an a priori relation that is activated prior to the intervention of context, and
established independently of the contingent circumstances of this context.
Under these conditions what is the order of precedence between a locution
and the notions that go to make it up? Does a locution annul the signifying
power of the notions, with the relational dimension being privileged, as it
were, over the terminological dimension? In this instance, does the locution ~
of state enable us to approach the state without having to apprehend and
conceive of it?52 Such questions bring along a large number of implicit questions in their wakethus for example: Is it always necessary to clearly establish the nature of the parts before seeking to understand the whole? Could the
value of a proposition be understood without having scrutinised its syntactic
units? Does the analysis of the terms of a relationship already amounts to a
partial explanation of it? There are numerous sociologists, ecologists, and doctors, who would not view the answers to such questions as in any way selfevident. However heteroclite their reasons might be (arising from holism,

51
52

haqqnda adliye mstantqyla heyet-i ithmiyye tarafndan virilmi olan qarr-nme ile
mabata zerine muhkeme icrs ayr- ciz bulunmu olmala evvel emirde memrn
muhkemesi nizm-nmesi mcebince mumelt- lzme icr olunmam ise badel-f
meclis-i idre mstantqligine havle-i keyfiyetle cihet-i adliyyece cem idilmis olan edille
emrt dah nazar- tedqqe alnmaq zere tahqqt- istintqiyye icr ve tebeyyn idecek
hle ve nev-i crme gre qarr-nme tanzm idilmek ve hareket-i vqie cinyet derecesinde
grldigi vey qarar-nmeye itir vuqbuld sretde evrq- mteferriesi ahvlen heyeti ithmiyyeye tevd ile mabata virildikden sora muhkemeye mbderet olunmaq iqti
idecegini savb- vllarna ir r-y devlet riyset-i cellesinden b tezkire ifde qlnm
olmala aa gre f-y mumele-i lzmeye himmet buyrulmas bbnda.
See the definition by the Oxford English Dictionary, which may be consulted at http://
oxforddictionaries.com/definition/locution?q=locution (consulted on 8 June 2012).
This is the translation from the French of Olivier Bouquets locution, during the
TransTur workshop held in Paris on 29 and 30 March 2010.

Defective Agency

41

interactionism, or pragmatism), they are all interested in activities rather than


individuals. In this respect, a locution does enable us to push our ideas beyond
the point where its constitutive notions would appear to prevent us going any
further. In so saying, I am arguing that notions are not autonomous. Witness
their propensity to shift category and meaning (culture being turned into cultural, and nation into national) or undergo other changes (with identity
being lodged in identification, and empire in imperialism). Each time it is a
signal that the repressed relational dimension is resurfacing in the notional
dimension. This is where the whole issue of what locutions perform resides:
rather than concealing the topological concern of the part within the whole,
and vice versa, it dwells on the problematic architecture of this perilous
metonymy itself.
The fact is that the determiner relations existing between the elements
making up the locution are rarely univocal. With regard to the official Ottoman
language (known as qalemiyye), its syntax is based on the Persian principle of
nominal annexation (izfet). This principle gives no formal indication stipulating whether the determination it sets up is singular or generic in nature. This
duplicity is no longer found in the modern Turkish version, where state
employee (devlet memuru) is immediately and unambiguously distinct from
employee of the state (devletin memuru). But as far as the Ottoman izfet is
concerned, the task of the translator remains enmeshed in uncertainty, and
the variant is indispensable.
We have to go along with this shortcoming in partitive locutions. What qualifies what, and how? That is the question. And this is precisely the problematic
value of the locution. Thus when we say ~ of state or ~ of the state, the question is shifted away from the notion of state and concentrated instead on the
link binding it to what is (syntactically) consecutive to it. Will it be a genealogical relationship (of interest to archaeologists of knowledge)? Should we instead
be looking for a process, the driving forcewhat gives rise to the state? May
we deduce its species or genus, or some other classificatory ideal type?
Whatever options we retain, the locution introduces an equation of public
authority, with the unknown element symbolised here as a tilde.
The best-known example is the reference to reasons of state.53 But this
locution amounts to seeking to explain the state, and to that end invoking a
principle of motivation and justification: is that the best way to conceive of our
53

Cf. M. Foucault, Security, Territory, Population: Lectures at the Collge de France, 19771978,
translated by Graham Burchell, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2007 [2004]; Yves-Charles
Zarka (ed.), Raison et draison dtat. Thoriciens et thories de la raison dtat aux XVIe et
XVIIe sicles, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1994.

42

Aymes

relation (as scholars) to the influence of the state? It might be just as appropriate to take exactly the opposite approach, one patterned on the model of the
work to rule: rather than having recourse to the form of reason that orders without allowing too much room for compromise, we could allow for a critical proliferation to emerge.54
I would therefore suggest as a first definition of criticism the following general characterisation: the art of not being overly governed.55 Here we encounter the principle of not like that, not for that, not like them that calls forth the
anarchist issue of society against the state. This calls to mind Pierre-Joseph
Proudhons famous diatribe on what it means to be governed:
To be GOVERNED is to be watched over, inspected, spied upon, directed,
law driven, regulated, docketed, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled,
assessed, weighed, censored, commanded, by creatures who have neither
the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so To be GOVERNED is
to be at every operation, at every transaction, at every movement, noted,
registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed,
licensed, authorized, apostilled, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of
the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed,
exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at
the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined,
despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and,
to crown it all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonoured. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality!56

54

55

56

Work to rule plays an essential role in James C. Scotts introductory argument: Seeing Like
a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, New Haven,
cn, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 6.
M. Foucault, Quest-ce que la critique? [Critique et Aufklrung], Bulletin de la Socit
franaise de philosophie, 84th year, no. 2, AprilJune 1990, p. 38 (as for the following
quotation).
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, translated by John Beverley Robinson, London, Freedom Press, 1923 [1848], republ. Mineola,
ny, Dover Publications, 2004, p. 294 (modified translation). It is worth noting that this
speculative plan, intellectual plan of the Revolution concludes in the need to dissolve
Government into an economic body, also called the industrial organisation, i.e. society
without authority (ibid., pp. 2, 283, and 277 respectively).

Defective Agency

43

Hence this enthusiastic critical proliferation explains why there is but a short
step from the art of not being overly governed to that of not letting yourself
be governed at all, and how as part of the same process you end up defining the
critical move as the art of not being governed full stop.57 And should a member of the audience be surprised at these variations in formulation then one
may well endeavour to be more specificbut in vain, as uncertainty remains:
I would not refer to something which would be a fundamental anarchism,
which would be like some original freedom that was by nature absolutely
recalcitrant to any governmentalisation. That is not what I have said, but
that does not mean to say that I absolutely rule it out. [] [B]ecause I wonderif we wish to explore this dimension of criticism, will we not find
ourselves taking as the basis of the critical attitude something which
would either be the historical practice of rebellion, the non-acceptation
of a real government, on the one hand, or, on the other hand, the individual experience of refusing all forms of governmentality?58
And so it will be said that everything is based on the double constraint of putting historicity to work: taking action is one thing, taking critical distance is
another, yet both partake in the same experience of history.
But on this basis it would be simplistic to merely prescribe anarchy against
the state. Why not instead work with the hypothesis of an anarchy of state?
Might it not be the case that the state creates and contains niches and habitats
for forces which challenge and question it? Or better still, might it not secrete
some such principle? That is precisely one of the major characteristics of the
way power was expressed under Stalinism, which could hardly be suspected
of harbouring anarchist sympathies in theory, as demonstrated by Alain Blum
and Martine Mespoulet:
the absence of any clear, logical, and intelligible message from the principal political leaders heading the administration explains in part the failure to build a coherent Stalinist state. This lack of coherence has a
somewhat counterintuitive consequence: it results in the emergence of
57

58

M. Foucault, Quest-ce que la critique?, p. 43. Cf. J. Scott, The Art of Not Being Governed:
An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia, New Haven, cn/London, Yale University
Press, 2009 (given the absence of any explicit reference to Foucault, the citational effect
may be pure coincidence).
M. Foucault, Quest-ce que la critique? p. 59, in response to a question from Jean-Louis
Bruch during the debate that followed the presentation by the author (italics added).

44

Aymes

temporary areas of freedom in which the administrators can position


themselves for as long as no limits are imposed. At these moments they
develop the tools which correspond to their own ideas, for they often have
political projects which differ from those of the people in government.59
Let us not make too many presumptions about the formal and practical protocols with which to perform the historicisation of such an analysis. The key
thing first of all is to define, with a view to making the most of possible historicity discharges, those fields where criticism, and perhaps even self-criticism,
could possibly have been produced (if not expressed). To envisage that, on a
number of counts, criticism of the state is also criticism of state. To search the
state for the times and places where it is found wanting.
59

Alain Blum and Martine Mespoulet, LAnarchie bureaucratique: statistique et pouvoir sous
Staline, Paris, La Dcouverte, 2003, p. 346. See below Nathalie Clayers chapter further
reference to this work.

chapter 3

Is It Time to Stop Speaking about Ottoman


Modernisation?
Olivier Bouquet
In 1940 Tanzimat I came out.1 This collection of articles was brought out to mark
the centenary of the inaugural Ottoman reform act, the 1839 Glhne edict.
They compared the leading figures of the Tanzimat (Reforms) to the founding
fathers of the Republic, emphasising the continuity in the historical experiences
of the Empire and the Turkish nation. For Ottomanists, this offered a way of
building a tomb for Atatrks that did not conform to the Republican ideology of
the momentof erecting a different statue, no longer that of the demiurge
ofthe new Turkey but instead of the last man of the Reforms. The work offers a
rich overview.2 The historiographical framework put forward by the contributors was extensively taken up by Ottomanists after the Second World War. It
presented the reforms as a process of modernisation or westernisation carried
out by enlightened actors. It amounted to a new institutionalist school, one that
was strong enough to dominate Turkish academic historiography for the next
half-century. This school comprised such historians as smail Hakk Uzunarl
whose works on the central, religious, and naval institutions acted as a model
for the following generations. The publication of general overviews in Great
Britain and the United States during the 1950s and early 1960s acted as a vital
relay for these perspectives. Bernard Lewis saw the Ottoman Empire as the
matrix for the emergence of modern Turkey; Sir Hamilton Gibb and Harold
Bowen emphasised the Islamic foundations of the Ottoman state3; Niyazi
Berkes, Roderic Davison, and erif Mardin presented the Ottoman Empire

1 Istanbul, Maarif Matbaas.


2 I am grateful to Marc Aymes for having reminded me of how decisively important this work
is. I also wish to thank him along with Benjamin Gourisse and lise Massicard for their useful
suggestions and corrections to this chapter.
3 Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 2nd ed., London, Oxford University Press,
1968 [1961]; Hamilton A.R. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the West: A Study of
the Impact of Western Civilization on Moslem Culture in the Near East, Oxford, Oxford
University Press, vol. 1, 1950, vol. 2, 1957.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_004

46

Bouquet

during its final centuries as the locus for a major opposition and cultural bifurcation between the artisans of modernity turned towards western influences and
the defenders of Islamic tradition.4
In the 1960s and 1970s the key subject in Ottoman studies was precisely that
which other better-known fields of study were then neglectingthe state,
study of which was divided into three distinct historic periods: a classical
period (13001600) characterised according to Halil nalck by the constitution and consolidation of central institutions5; the decline of the Empire
(16001789) corresponding to the devolution of power to autonomous provincial forces; the beginnings of modernity and the time of reforms under the
aegis of bureaucrats and then westernised military officers (17891922). And
then inversely, at the time when the state was once again becoming a favourite subject of historical and political study in the 1980s, Ottoman historians
moved on to other areas of enquiry. Monographs about the central administration were now superseded by explorations of more provincial forms of
authority (and especially the ayans of the 18th century) and by studies of the
structures and usages of imperial power. Researchers tended to be more
drawn towards the history of demography, monetary history, the history of
social groups, and the study of Sufi brotherhoods. Sources which had previously been seen as clearly secondary suddenly came to the forechronicles,
probate records, endowment deeds. At the same time, researchers who had
studied in the 1980s and 1990s had boldly turned their backs on the theories of
their predecessors.6
4 Niyazi Berkes, The Development of Secularism in Turkey, Montreal, McGill University Press,
1964; erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization of
Turkish Political Ideas, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1962; Roderic H. Davison,
Reform in the Ottoman Empire 18561876, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1963;
Stanford J. Shaw and Ezel Kural Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey,
vol. 2: Reform, Revolution, and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 18081975, Cambridge/New
York, Cambridge University Press, 1977.
5 Hall nalcik, The Ottoman Empire, The Classical Age, 13001600, London, Weidenfeld and
Nicholson, 1973.
6 Edhem Eldem, Lcrit funraire ottoman: cration, reproduction, transmission, Revue du
monde musulman et de la Mditerrane, no. 7576, 1995, pp. 65; Hasan Kayal, Arabs and
Young Turks. Ottomanism, Arabism and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 19081918, Berkeley,
ca, University of California Press, 1997; Sibel Bozdoan and Reat Kasaba (eds.), Rethinking
Modernity and National Identity in Turkey, Seattle, wa/London, University of Washington
Press, 1997; Benjamin Fortna, Imperial Classroom. Islam, the State, and Education in the
Late Ottoman Empire, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 142; Shirine Hamadeh,

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

47

Since then, however, the term modernisation has been widely taken up
once again, though admittedly more by the history of techniques, sciences,
and communications than as part of a functional analysis of institutions
(tekilat).7 It is now coupled to the notion of modernity taken as an agent of
social change and as part of a modified chronological framework in which the
Early Modern Ottomans (14531839) were replaced by the Modern Ottomans
(18391922).8 But as was the case during the preceding decades, modernisation
is still taken as the axiomatic principle for apprehending social change in the
late Ottoman Empire. It also feeds into political sociology of modern Turkey,
and is intimately bound up with the representation of a society in which
change can only be brought about by the overarching state.9
It is this link that I wish to examine here. I will endeavour to understand why
the reforms have been described by theoreticians of Ottoman modernisation
as a complex conceptual product, combining American institutionalism, neoWeberianism, and developmentalism, as well as why this has been fused into

Ottoman Expressions of Early Modernity and the Inevitable Question of Westernization,


The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol. 63, no. 1, 2004, pp. 3251.
7 Selcuk A. Somel, The Modernization of Public Education in the Ottoman Empire, 18391908:
Islamization, Autocracy and Discipline, Leiden/Boston/Kln, Brill, 2001; Kemal H. Karpat,
Ifta and Kaza: The Ilmiye State and Modernism in Turkey, 18201960, in Colin Imber and
Keiko Kiyotaki (eds.), Frontiers of Ottoman Studies: State Province and the West, London/
New-York, i.b. Tauris, 2005, vol. 1, pp. 2542; Odile Moreau, Les ressources scientifiques
de lOccident au service de la modernisation de larme ottomane (fin XIXe-dbut XXe
sicle), Revue du monde musulman et de la Mditerrane, no. 101102, 2003, pp. 5167;
Enes Kabak, Sauver lEmpire: modernisation, positivisme et formation de la culture
politique des Jeunes Turcs (18951908), unpublished PhD thesis, Paris, Paris I-Sorbonne
University, 2006; Tuncay Zorlu, Innovation and Empire in Turkey: Sultan Selim III and the
Modernization of the Ottoman Navy, London/New-York, i.b. Tauris, 2008; Berrak Burak,
Modernization, Science and Engineering in the Early Nineteenth Century Ottoman
Empire, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 44, no. 1, 2008, pp. 6983; Carter V. Findley, Turkey,
Islam, Nationalism, and Modernity: A History, 17892007, New Haven, ct, Yale University
Press, 2010.
8 Virginia H. Aksan and Daniel Goffman (eds.), The Early Modern Ottomans: Remapping the
Empire, Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
9 This theme is examined in the outline argument for the TransTur programme from
which this volume originates: lise Massicard et al., Ordonner et transiger: modalits
de gouvernement et dadministration en Turquie et dans lEmpire ottoman, du XIXe sicle
nos jours, 2008, available online at: http://transtur.hypotheses.org/31 (accessed
8 October 2014).

48

Bouquet

a fairly simple doxa (the modernisation of institutions is the necessary precondition for the emergence of modern Turkey), that can be broken down
into three parts: no modernisation without westernisationthe two terms
generally being employed interchangeably from the 1950s to the 1980s; modernisation is primarily an affair of institutions; no positive social change without modernisation by the state.10 In order to do so I will combine two levels of
thought which differ in nature: I will offer an overview of the issue of modernisation as it is treated in a specific historiographical corpus, and by drawing on the political sciences I will scrutinise Ottomanist ways of thinking of
modernisation. Combining these two levels will lead me to assess whether in
the current state of research it is still appropriate to take modernisation as an
operative framework for apprehending Ottoman political society. I will be
arguing that if we are to speak in terms of modern/isation/ity/ism, then it
would be preferable to encourage an approach that is sociological rather than
paradigmatic and one that is better suited to understanding 19th- and 20thcentury homo ottomanicus, and thereby his relationship to modernity. As part
of this I will be suggesting that we need to think of the sociogenetic frameworks of state functionaries at a more individual level than hitherto, based on
comparing their acquired and assigned statuses and the way they transpire
depending upon the functions assumed and the spaces within which they
find themselves.

10

N. Berkes, The Development, p. 29, 52, 74; . Mardin, Genesis, p. 170; Metin Heper, Atatrk
and the Civil Bureaucracy, in Jacob M. Landau (ed.), Atatrk and the Modernization of
Turkey, Leiden/New York, E.J. Brill, 1984, p. 89; S. Shaw, Between Old and New. The Ottoman
Empire under Sultan Selim III, 17891807, Cambridge, ma, Harvard University Press, 1971,
p. 180; Rifaat Abou-El-Haj, Formation of the Modern State: The Ottoman Empire, Sixteenth
to Eighteenth Centuries, Albany, ny, State University of New York Press, 1991, p. 68; L. Carl
Brown, The Surest Path: The Political Treatise of a Nineteenth Century Muslim Statesman,
Cambridge, ma, Harvard Middle Eastern Monograph Series, 1967, p. 35; Enver Ziya Karal,
Obstacles rencontrs pendant le mouvement de modernisation de lEmpire ottoman, in
Jean-Louis Bacqu-Grammont and Paul Dumont (eds.), conomie et socits dans lEmpire
Ottoman ( fin XVIIIe-dbut du XXe sicle), Paris, cnrs ditions, 1983, pp. 1112; Osman
Okyar, A New Look at the Recent Political Social and Economic Historiography of the
Tanzimat, in ibid., p. 43; A. Hourani, The Changing Face of the Fertile Crescent in the
XVIIIth Century, Studia Islamica, 8 (1957), pp. 89122; Engin D. Akarl, The Problems of
External Pressures, Power Struggles, and Budgetary Deficits in Ottoman Politics under
Abdlhamid II (18761909): Origins and Solutions, unpublished PhD dissertation,
Princeton University, 1976, pp. 110.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

49

The Impact of the West11


The vanquished always wants to imitate the victor
in his distinctive mark(s), his dress, his occupation,
and all his other conditions and customs. The reason for this is that the
soul always sees perfection in the person who is superior to it and to
whom it is subservient. It considers him perfect, either because the
respect it has for him impresses it, or because it erroneously assumes that
its own subservience to him is not due to the nature of defeat but to the
perfection of the victor. If that erroneous assumption fixes itself in the
soul, it becomes a firm belief. The soul, then, adopts all the manners of
the victor and assimilates itself to him. This, then, is imitation.12

As of the late 18th century the Ottoman elites, including some high-ranking
members of the ulema class, looked towards western Europe for inspiration for
reform.13 Dignitaries (scientific experts and special envoys) who travelled to
Europe discovered wondrous marvels, and went back to preach the word that
slowly percolated through the social body.14 They were not at all like European
diplomats and observers who were limited by their inability to look behind
the elaborate official facade to non-official realities:
Outside the realm of official business, there was very little personal contact or even communication between Europeans and Muslims. Most of
11
12
13

14

B. Lewis, The Emergence, p. 40.


Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah. An Introduction to History, translated by Franz Rosenthal,
3 vols., New York, Pantheon Books, 1958, vol. 1, p. 299.
A. Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1983 [1962],
p. 103; Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 17001922, Cambridge/New York, Cambridge
University Press, 2000, p. 6.
Ahmet Hamdi Tanpnar, Ondokuzuncu Asr Trk Edebiyat Tarihi [History of nineteenthcentury Turkish literature], vol. 1, Istanbul, stanbul niversitesi Edebiyat Fakltesi
Yaynevi, 1949, p. 86; D. Quataert, The Age of Reforms, 18121914, in Halil nalck and
Donald Quataert (eds.), An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 13001914,
Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 1997, vol. 2, p. 765; Ercmend Kuran,
Avrupada Osmanl kamet Eliliklerinin Kuruluu ve lk Siyasi Faaliyetleri, 17931821 [The
foundation and first political activities of permanent Ottoman embassies in Europe],
Ankara, Trk Kltrn Aratrma Enstits, 1968; R. Davison, Halil erif Paa: The
Influence of Paris and the West on an Ottoman Diplomat, Osmanl Aratrmalar, vol. VI,
1986, pp. 161173.

50

Bouquet

the insights about the nature of Ottoman society that Europeans gained
were, at best, second hand and, since they came through non-Muslims
living under Ottoman rule, distorted, to boot.15
It was as if the way things were in Europe were easier to understand than
Ottoman complexities, with the prime instigator of the Tanzimat reforms,
Mustafa Reshid Pasha (18001858), being said to have accurately perceived the
nature and the particularities of the European western model.16 It was just the
same for an earlier figure presented as emblematic of the impact of the West,
Azmi Efendi, who was named Ambassador to Prussia in 17911792. His mission
report (sefaretname) offers a description of what he could observe in the country: the organisation into separate ministries, the system of salaries and ranks,
and the absence of corruption all made a strong impression on him.17
The historian Carter Findley draws on these various examples to put forward
a Weberian reading of Ottoman reform as seen through the prism of the modernisation theories developed by Shmuel Eisenstadt.18 To this end he uses the
account of Azmi Efendi to emphasise the distance between a professionalised
European model and a traditional Ottoman model: the Prussian administrative
system is so clear, being one of rational legalismand hence eminently positive from the Weberian perspective adopted by C. Findleythat even a laborious mind such as that of a novice Ottoman diplomat automatically transcribes
it in obvious terms.19
It seems to me that such an account is open to the objection that period
accounts are made to fit in too neatly with the discourse of the historians.20 In
15

16
17

18
19
20

Norman Itzkowitz, Mehmed Raghib Pasha: The Making of an Ottoman Grand Vizir,
unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1959, p. 1; cf. S. Shaw, Between Old and
New, p. 191.
Bayram Kodaman, Les Ambassades de Moustapha Rechid Pacha Paris, Ankara, Trk
Tarih Kurumu, 1991.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire. The Sublime Porte, 17891922,
Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1980, p. 119; Faik Reit Unat, Osmanl Sefirleri ve
Sefaretnameleri [Ottoman Ambassadors and Their Embassy Accounts], Ankara, Trk
Tarih Kurumu Basmevi, 1992 (3rd ed.), p. 152; Sadk Rifat Pasha also presents on returning
from his embassies a portrait of a stable administration run by honest civil servants
(N.Berkes, The Development, p. 131). For a further list of Ottoman representatives and their
sefaretnames, see Azmi Ssl, Un Aperu sur les ambassadeurs ottomans et leurs sefaretname, Tarih Aratrmalar Dergisi. 198182, vol. XIV, 1983, pp. 233260.
Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, Some Observations on the Dynamics of Traditions, Comparative
Studies in Society and History, vol. 11, 1969, pp. 451475.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 119.
See R. Abou-El-Haj, Formation of the Modern State, p. 22.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

51

a man who has spent in all eleven months in Prussia (no doubt mainly in
receptions rather than with civil servants),21 Findley detects the formation of a
concept of bureaucratic professionalism foreign to the world from which he
issues.22 This does not prevent Findley from viewing the reformists adoption
of a mode of development presented here as universal as conterminous to the
modernising conceptualisation conducted by historians a century and a half
later. He thereby projects his own analysis onto their intellectual toolkit:
Obviously unable to verbalize their problems in terms of such modern
concepts as integration into a Europe-centred world system, activism, or
movement away from a traditionalistic order toward a system of rationallegalism, contemporary Ottomans were nonetheless beginning to formulate essential elements of what modern observers understand by such
concepts.23
It is as if European modern observers of the late 18th century had been able
to verbalise in rational-legal terms an evolution described by Max Weber in the
early 20th century. Whilst Quentin Skinner has established that in the modern
period ideas did exist which were not for all that clearly formulated concepts
for people of the time, specific textual analysis still needs to be conducted to
identify where the notions employed by the reformers intersect (or otherwise)
with Weberian concepts.24 Not only does C. Findley fail to perform such a task,
in the meantime European historiography has substantially reassessed the
extent to which late 18th-century administrations were rational and unified:
Jrgen Kocka in particular has pointed out how in Germany the introduction of
a civil service was both a recent and an incomplete phenomenon.25 Howard
Brown has shown that the French administration was far removed from
the idea that observers of the period had of it, and that it was characterised by the
complete and deliberate absence of any protected status for its employees, the
general usage of privilege and recommendation, and the remarkable instability
21
22
23
24
25

F.R. Unat, Osmanl Sefirleri, pp. 151152; S. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 191.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 11.
Ibid., p. 119.
Quentin Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, Cambridge/New York,
Cambridge University Press, 1978.
Jrgen Kocka, Die Angestellten in der deutschen Geschichte 18501980: vom Privatbeamten
zum angestellten Arbeitnehmer, Gttingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1981; here quoted
after the books French translation, Histoire dun groupe social : les employs en Allemagne,
18501980, translated by Grard Gabert, Paris, ditions de lehess, 1989, p. 110.

52

Bouquet

of high-ranking and subaltern civil servants, something which was not,


however, incompatible with the rarity of systematic purges26in short, by
everything Ottomanists have described as specific traits of the Sultans administration. Hence what had been considered as Ottoman perceptions of late
18th-century and early 19th-century European characteristics are, in fact,
a priori projections of theories devised by 20th-century historians on the basis
of what they thought these characteristics were. Since these realities are of a
different historical nature, it is time to move beyond the theories they inspired.

The Ottoman Myth of the Cave


My love is deeper for what my fathers built,
Than the bold fronts of Roman palaces,
Deeper for good slate than hard marble.27

It is said that the experience of travelling to Europe gave rise to a firm belief in
the desirability of reform. Going to Europe amounted to a emerging from Platos
cave.28 The Ottoman is said to have been particularly predisposed to western
Enlightenment, due to his awareness of imperial decline and the trauma
inflicted by successive defeats of the state.29 Being converted to the West operated almost like a form of grace, and those who underwent it became wholehearted reformers.30 It is true that their experiences differed. It is true that
Tahtawi, Khayr al-Din, and Bustani (who were all fascinated by the West) did
not develop exactly the same sort of political thought.31 It is true that the extent
of their liberal ideology depended upon their individual predispositions:
26
27
28
29

30
31

Howard G. Brown, War, Revolution and the Bureaucratic State: Politics and Army Admini
stration in France 17911799, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995.
Joachim du Bellay, Heureux qui comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage, in Les Regrets, 1558.
Amounting to leaving the closed cultural circle of the pre-westernised Ottoman Empire
(E.Z. Karal, Obstacles rencontrs, p. 11).
B. Kodaman, Les Ambassades, p. 27; The ambassadors reports [such as those of Seyyid
Mustafa and Mahmud Raif or Mustafa Sami and Sadk Rifat in the following generations]
show that they were eager to learn about the countries to which they were assigned and that
they were not at all negatively disposed towards European life. On the contrary, the dominant
note was that of admiration (N. Berkes, The Development., p. 77; see also pp. 33, 7880).
Edhem Eldem, Quelques lettres dOsman Hamdi Bey son pre lors de son sjour en Irak
(18681870), Anatolia Moderna, vol. 1, 1991, pp. 115136, 122.
A. Hourani, Arabic Thought.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

53

Some were Army officers trained in the new schools, conversant with
European languages and acquainted with a modern technique. But there
were others, trained in another way, and who in the event were to have
greater influence: the young diplomats and diplomatic interpreters.32
But western ideology, based on the model of revelation, is supposed to be operative upon all those who were exposed to it: no du Bellay amongst the Ottomans,
no regret or feeling of exile when exposed to the splendours of European capitals. And yet, if we take other historiographies into account then we may see
things differently. If we refer in particular to studies devoted to religious reform
in 16th-century Europe, then it transpires that the question of ideological support was a complex one, and that the E. Le Roy Laduries schema according to
which a plowman was a papist and a carder a Huguenot is in fact problematic.33
What is there to say about a form of Ottoman social history which presents young
diplomats as thoroughgoing westerners and old Army officers or men of religion
as hardened stick-in-the-muds? Whilst the diplomat of the contemporary period
was expected to absorb European culture, in accordance with the espionage tradition of the modern period,34 and to observe everything and to note everything,35 his mission was not to identify with what he saw. When Hodja Agop, an
interpreter in the retinue of Ambassador Mustafa Reshid Pasha in Paris, took
advantage of a European tour to develop his ideas about silk farming and learn
new techniques, writing a treaty on the subject to act as the basis for its development in Bursa, he was indeed advancing the cause of modernisation.36 But does

32
33

34

35

36

Ibid., p. 43.
Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Les Paysans du Languedoc, Paris, S.E.V.P.E.N., 1966; Didier
Boisson, La place et le rle des protestants dans les villes franaises, in Jean-Pierre
Poussou (ed.), Les Socits urbaines au XVIIe sicle: Angleterre, France, Espagne, Paris,
Presses de lUniversit Paris-Sorbonne, 2007, pp. 225226.
Victor L. Mnage, The Mission of an Ottoman Secret Agent in France in 1486, The Journal
of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, no. 34, 1965, pp. 112132; Susan
Skilliter, The Sultans Messenger, Gabriel Defrens: An Ottoman Master-Spy of the
Sixteenth Century, Wiener Zeitschrift fr die Kunde des Morgenlandes, vol. 68, 1976,
pp. 4760.
S. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 190; Abdurrahman eref, Tarih Konumalar (Tarih
Musahabeleri) [Conversations in history], Eref Erefolu (ed.), Istanbul, Kavram
Yaynlar, 1978, pp. 7576; B. Kodaman, Les Ambassades, p. 73.
Richard L. Chambers, Ahmed Cevdet Paa: The Formative Years of an Ottoman
Transitional, unpublished PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 1968, p. 102.

54

Bouquet

that mean that he was entirely free from formalism and the bonds of tradition,
as H. Inalck says of Mustafa Reshid Pasha?37
When a scholar such as Albert Hourani posits the relationship to western
alterity as a process that colours the Ottoman subject, this overlooks the fact that
time spent in Paris or London could in certain cases give rise to a particularly
problematic process of identity reconfiguration. Whilst it is true that Hourani
altered his ideas here, it was only to recognise that he had accorded too much
importance to European influences in comparison to the weight of Ottoman tradition in his work identifying an emergent political society. In no event did he
discuss the impact of these influences on the mental constructs of those elites in
contact with the great European capitals.38 Both for him and for the other historians mentioned above, the reformers were converted to (borrowing from Nobert
Elias) a western dynamic. Their attachment to the civilisation process that the
Ottomans needed to embark on was grounded less in any form of self-constraint
than in a deep and sincere belief in the need to reform the imperial state.

The Sincerity of Belief in Reform

There is no doubt about the commitment of the reformersall believed in the


necessity of change.39 Feroz Ahmad describes Mustafa Reshid Pasha, Fuad
Pasha, and Ali Pasha as the habitual powerful trio (to adopt the expression
used by Halide Edib in her memoirs), as convinced Westerners,40 around
whom the reforming government was organised. Reshid Pasha is quite simply
said to have been devoted exclusively to the secular interest of the state.41 But
it is known that there were several conflicts amongst this triumvirate about the
nature of reforms to be implemented, particularly in relation to the budget, that
opposed Mustafa Reshid to Ali and Fuad.42 Nevertheless, numerous historians
37

38
39
40
41
42

Halil nalck, The Nature of Traditional Society. Turkey, in Robert E. Ward and Dankwart
A. Rustow (eds.), Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey, Princeton, nj, Princeton
University Press, 1964, p. 55.
A. Hourani, How Should We Write the History of the Middle East?, International Journal
of Middle East Studies, vol. 23, 1991, p. 128.
R. Davison, Reform, pp. 5, 37; Metin Heper, The State Tradition in Turkey, Hull, Eothen
Press, 1985, p. 44; B. Kodaman, Les Ambassades, pp. 2629.
Feroz Ahmad, The Late Ottoman Empire, in Marian Kent (ed.), The Great Powers and the
End of the Ottoman Empire, London, Frank Cass, 1984, pp. 530, 6.
H. nalck, The Nature of the Traditional Society, p. 55.
Halide Edib [Advar], Memoirs of Halid Edib, London, John Murray, 1926, p. 243; See also
R. Davison, Reform, p. 81.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

55

have taken up similar ideas of a close-knit, enlightened elite: the reforming


group (R. Davison, A. Hourani), the reforming pashas (R. Chambers), Mustafa
Reshid and his friends as leaders of the modernist segment (C. Findley), an
enlightened bureaucratic group (. Ortayl), the small group of experts led by
li Pasha (. Mardin), a small clique of bureaucrats (B. Masters).43 All these
descriptive categories take the reforms as the opus proprium of a few Tanzimat
ministers.
This joint rule is said to have been inspired by a profound and sincere belief
in reform, aimed at bringing about greater integration into the international
diplomatic and political system, explains F. Ahmad, even though on the previous page he presents the fate of the Empire as sealed: [i]ts chances of survival
now seemed to many observers very small.44 There are two possibilities here:
either the bureaucrats did not share the belief in the ineluctable collapse of
the Empire as held by those observers with whom they were in regular contact,
in which case the strength and generality Ahmad attributes to this conviction
needs to be attenuated; or else these statesmen were particularly illogical and
undertook reforms knowing that the cause was doomed to failure. The best
way to resolve this dilemma would be to determine what the political intentions of the reformers were. The problem is that political sociology informs
us that institutions do not amount to the product of the enlightened intentions of a few individual actors.45 In any case, Ottomanists would be hardpushed to decipher the nature of their intentions.
Whilst Stanford Shaw admits as much, this does not prevent him from doing
just this, going so far as to state that the reformers programmes were well
intended.46 Selim Deringil for his part compares them to the French physiocrats:
43

44
45
46

R.L. Chambers, The Civil Bureaucracy (Turkey), in R.E. Ward and D.A. Rustow (eds.),
Political Modernization, pp. 301327, 302; id., Ahmed Cevdet Paa, p. 16; C. Findley,
Bureaucratic Reform, pp. 153, 158, 166; lber Ortayl, Tanzimat Devrinde Osmanl Mahall
dareleri (18401880) [Ottoman Local Administrative Bodies during the Tanzimat],
Ankara, Trk Tarih Kurumu, 2000, p. 16; id., Tanzimatdan Cumhuriyete Yerel Ynetim
Gelenei [The Tradition of Local Administration from the Tanzimat Until the Republic],
Istanbul, Hil Yaynlar, 1985, p. 19; . Mardin, Genesis, p. 113; K. Karpat, The Transformation
of the Ottoman State, 17891908, International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 3, 1972,
p. 259; Abdurrahman eref, Tarih Konumalar, p. 73; B. Masters, Christians and Jews,
p. 135; R. Davison, Reform, p. 64; A. Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 67.
F. Ahmad, The Late Ottoman Empire, p. 5.
Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell (eds.), The New Institutionalism in Organizational
Analysis, Chicago, il/London, Chicago University Press, 1991.
S. Shaw, Some Aspects of the Aims and Achievements of the Nineteenth Century
Ottoman Reformers, in W.R. Polk, R.L. Chambers (eds.), Beginnings of Modernization,

56

Bouquet

a contented people engaged in peaceful pursuits which would allow them,


and the state, prosperity.47 This observation makes sense in light of what is
known about the policies (particularly in relation to education and science)
that were implemented by the men of the Tanzimat. But on what could S.
Deringil base his argument when referring to a shared intentionality common
to all the reformers, who are only defined in relation to this intentionality? As
for C. Findley, he finds the spirit of sacrifice shown by the Sultans servants
almost moving: we could cite a long series of often dramatic incidents in
which Ottoman statesmen and their republican successors have risked their
careers and sometimes their lives for the sake of this ideal.48
Not only does Findley give Grand Vizier Yusuf Kmil Pasha (18081876) as
his sole example of this long series, he does not explain how this commitment was related to the factional interest accorded by the reformers to their
undertaking.49 As observed above, for Findley the history of reforms sees the
emergence of a rational-legal form of political domination. But for Weber the
rational nature of this domination is grounded in the belief individuals have
in the legality of the approved legislation.50 So if C. Findley wishes to examine
the hypothesis of legal domination, how can he do so without also examining
the belief of those enacting legislationthe reformersin the legality of that
legislation? Whilst he does indeed say that this rational-legal model failed to
wholly establish itself, how can he not envisage that one reason accounting for
this failure might have been lukewarm belief in reform? Studies have shown
for that matter that constitutional theories could be defended opportunistically rather than out of any deep-stated belief, and that they are of less use in
explaining the pace, scale, and nature of bureaucratic progress than in understanding factional struggles between elites.51

47
48
49
50

51

pp. 2939; Sultan Abdlhamid II: Last Man of the Tanzimat, in Tanzimatn 150. Yldnm
Uluslararas Sempozyumu (Bildiriler) 2527 Aralk 1989 [Proceedings of the International
Symposium Held for the 150th Anniversary of the Tanzimat, 2527 December 1989],
Ankara, Milli Ktphane Matbaas, 1991, pp. 179197.
Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the
Ottoman Empire. 18761909, London/New York, i.b. Tauris, 1998, p. 20.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 163.
Id., Factional Rivalry in Ottoman Istanbul: The Fall of Pertev Paa, 1837, Journal of Turkish
Studies, vol. 10, 1986, pp. 127134.
For a criticism of theories that take institutions as the result of positive actions
carried out by purposeful individuals, see P. DiMaggio and W. Powell (eds.), The New
Institutionalism.
H.G. Brown, War, Revolution.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

57

The only scholar to put forward a different point of view is . Mardin, when
he considers the intended usage of the main sources on which the thesis of
reforming sincerity is based.52 He points out that the Tanzimat architects did
not leave any theoretical writings justifying their operative ideals.53 Of course,
the genre was not a common one in the 19th century. We have at our disposal
abundant material made up of memoranda and reform projects, but far fewer
writings in which statesman discuss their experiences or offer their own point
of view.54 Only a few discuss the link between the need to believe in change
and the possibility of reform.55 One exception to this is Tunuslu Hayreddin
Pasha, Prime Minister in Tunisia under the Regency of Muhammad al-Sadiq
Bey (18591882) and Grand Vizier during the reign of Abdlhamid II. Both in
Tunis and in Istanbul he defended his belief that reducing state debt should be
based not only on reducing expenditure, but also on pursuing a policy of economic development and better administrative functioning. He was concerned
about preserving the independence of the peoples of the Ummah and their
governments from European powers, and his writings put forward a body of
political thought steeped in his reading of both Enlightenment writers and
Arab political authors. In his outline of what amounts to one of the earliest
models of Muslim constitutionalism, respectful both of sharia rules and the
principle of the balance of powers, he considers that good government cannot
exist without good civil servants who love and sincerely approve of the system
of institutions.56 But what the author is putting forward is a reflection on the
52
53
54

55

56

. Mardin, Genesis, p. 134, on the question of the sincerity of the Young Ottomans political
beliefs.
Ibid., p. 169.
See the various documents published by M. Cavit Baysun, Mustafa Reid Paann Siyas
Yazlar [Mustafa Reshid Pashas Political Writings], .. Ed. Fak. Tarih Dergisi, vol. CXI, no. 15,
1960; id., Cevdet Paann kodraya Memriyetine id Vesikalar [Documents Concerning
Cevdet Pashas Appointment to Shkodr], stanbul niversitesi Edebiyat Fakltesi Tarih
Dergisi, vol. XVII, no. 22, 1967, pp. 181193 and following issues. See also R. Davison, The
Beginning of Published Biographies of Ottoman Statesmen: The Case of Midhat Paa, in
Hans Georg Majer and Raoul Motika (eds.), Trkische Wirtschafts und Sozialgeschichte von
1071 bis 1920. Akten des IV. Internationalen Kongress, Wiesbaden, 1995, pp. 5979.
Notably the writings of Sadk Rifat Pasha (Mntehabat-i sr), the political testament of
Ali Pasha (La revue de Paris, vol. XVII, no. 7, 1910, pp. 505524, and vol. XVII, no. 9, 1910,
pp. 105124); See also Fuat And and Sphan And (eds.), Sadrazam Ali Paa, Hayat,
Zaman ve Siyas Vasiyetnamesi [The Grand Vizier Ali Pasha: His Life, Time and Political
Testament], Istanbul, Eren, 2000.
Magali Morsy (ed.), Khayr ed-Din : Essai sur les rformes ncessaires aux tats musulmans,
Aix-en-Provence, Edisud, 1987, p. 138.

58

Bouquet

nature of political changeit is a constitutional manifesto for European


readersrather than a sincere presentation of his own beliefs.
We also have some texts Mustafa Reshid Pasha wrote for Europeans as well
as memoranda detailing his private conversations, in particular with the British
Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston.57 But these texts are diplomatic exercises following a logic and rhetoric in which Mustafa Reshid Pasha excelled. As for the
accounts of Europeans, they are tricky to exploit.58 Above all they are dubious
about the reforming zeal of the bureaucrats.59 Using official Ottoman texts
would be even less appropriate. Let us take the example of the 1839 Glhne
imperial edict. It was long presented as reflecting the political ideas of Mustafa
Reshid.60 But not only was he not the only person behind the text,61 this edict
also bears the mark of intellectuals associated with the Naqshbandi brotherhood networks.62 And this means that many questions remain unanswered:
was it the case that the ambitions of the reform men, as they expressed it at
least, if not as described by historians, were as imbued with the ideology of
progress as the Egyptian reformers of the 19th-century were (if we are to believe
G. Alleaume)?63 Did the Ottomans attach value to their new institutions?
The way to respond to this question is perhaps to look for other historical
experiences, in imperial Russia for example. In Anna Karenina Tolstoy offers an
account of a major debate in Russian society on the usefulness of new local
institutionsthe Zemtvain a dialogue between Konstantin Lenin and
Sergei Ivanovitch Koznyshev, with the former observing that: our district selfgovernment and all the rest of itits just like the birch branches we stick in
the ground on Trinity Day, for instance, to look like a copse which has grown up
of itself in Europe, and I cant gush over these birch branches and believe in
them. In his response Koznyshev defends the value he feels ought to be
attached to institutions if they are to produce any effects: Its only those peoples that have an intuitive sense of whats of importance and significance in
their institutions, and know how to value them, that have a future before
57
58
59
60
61
62
63

. Mardin, Genesis, p. 111.


S. Shaw, Between Old and New, p. 191.
Frederick Millingen (Osman-Seify-Bey), La Turquie sous le rgne dAbdul-Aziz, Paris, 1968,
p. 192.
B. Lewis, The Emergence, p. 107; R. Davison, Reform, p. 38: it was Reids creation.
Seil Akgn, The Emergence of Tanzimat in the Ottoman Empire, OTAM (Ankara
niversitesi Osmanl Tarihi Aratrma ve Uygulama Merkezi Dergisi), no. 2, 1991, p. 2.
Butrus Abu-Manneh, The Islamic Roots of the Glhane Rescript, Die Welt des Islams, vol.
34, no. 2, 1994, pp. 173203.
Ghislaine Alleaume, La naissance du fonctionnaire, Peuples mditerranens, no. 4142,
19871988, pp. 6788.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

59

themits only those peoples that one can truly call historical.64 It seems to
me that this is also an issue for the Ottoman equivalent of the Zemstva, namely
the provincial administrative councils (meclis-i idare) that took place at more
or less the same time. lber Ortayl has sketched out a comparison of their
respective election mechanisms.65 These councils have been extensively studied for their mode of operation and composition. But to my knowledge no
study has been published on the way they were perceived by those sitting on
them. Why should anyone have paid any attention to this until now? Historians
simply drew on a constant foundational and entrenched opposition between
the partisans of received tradition on the one hand, and the champions of
imported modernity on the other.

Ottoman Tradition/Western Modernity

According to the historians referred to above what characterised the Tanzimat


reformer was a certain knowledge of the modern world and a belief that the
Empire had either to join it or else disappear.66 Whoever met these criteria was
a modernist, and whoever did not was traditionalist. In the same way as western
influence in 19th-century Russia is said to have opposed Slavophiles and westernisers, it is said to have divided the Ottoman world into reformers and traditionalists.67 This turns Ottoman political history into a series of victories of the
reformers over the traditionalists, with the 1807 revolution following on from
setting up of the Nizam-i cedid,68 the suppression of the Janissaries in 1826,69
64

65
66
67
68
69

Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, translated by Constance Garnett, Adelaide, eBooks@adelaide,


2012,url:http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/t/tolstoy/leo/t65a/complete.html(accessed
10 September 2013). Mark von Hagen confirms how difficult it was to set up this system
(The Russian Empire, in Karen Barkey and M. von Hagen (eds.), After Empire. Multiethnic
Societies and Nation-Building. The Soviet Union and the Russian, Ottoman, and Habsburg
Empires, Boulder, co, Westview Press, 1997, p. 70).
. Ortayl, Tanzimattan Cumhuriyete Yerel Ynetimi, p. 24.
A. Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 43.
Erik Jan Zrcher, Turkey: A Modern History, London, I.B. Tauris, 1997, p. 6.
H. nalck, The Nature of Traditional Society, p. 51: In brief, the population of Istanbul was,
as our analyst says, split into two camps, partisans of the New Order, and its enemies.
The Janissaries enjoyed the support of the majority of the reactionary and fanatical population (B. Kodaman, Les Ambassades, p. 4); as he destroyed this central repository of military
power of the traditional order, Mahmud II embarked on a great programme of reforms; in
them he laid down the main lines along which later Turkish reformers, in the nineteenth and
so some extent even in the twentieth century, were to follow (B. Lewis, The Emergence, p. 80).

60

Bouquet

the establishment of the Constitution in 1876.70 It establishes a form of determinism in which belonging to a status group governs ideological commitment71: all those in the civil bureaucracy (mlkiye) were necessarily in favour
of reform, whilst all those in the ulema class (ilmiye) were opposed to it. It is a
watershed running through the entire political structure, materialising notably
in a cultural bifurcation.72 This divide does not shift over the course of the
periodN. Berkes does not envisage the possibility that the emergence of
new currents could cause pro-reformers to shift towards the conservative
fringes of the ideological spectrum.73 Whilst Berkes does give room within his
analysis to the breakthrough of the Young Ottomans and subsequently the
Young Turks, he describes them as radical reformers whose radicalism placed
them off the political map, rather than perceiving them as part of an initial
reformist/traditionalist dichotomy they were instrumental in reshaping.
His model of interpretation has thus been criticised, with Engin Akarl disputing the idea that the political elites were separated into two exclusive groups,
with the Westernizers, modernizers, reformers, secularizers on the one hand,
and the islamicists [sic], traditionalists, conservatives, religious reactionaries
on the other. R. Chambers has shown how some individuals such as Ahmed
Cevdet could not be placed either on one side or the other of the divide.74
Equally, Uriel Heyd has established that high-ranking members of the ulema
class supported commitment to reform in the reign of Mahmud II.75 Other
Ottomanists have gone further still, declaring outright that the tradition/
modernity opposition does not provide a valid framework for understanding
the evolutions in contemporary society.76
According to . Mardin, various conceptions of reform coexisted within
groups such as the Young Ottomans, giving rise to at least four categories of
70
71
72
73
74
75

76

R. Chambers, The Civil Bureaucracy, p. 302.


N. Berkes, The Development, p. 4.
Ibid., p. 109.
Ibid., p. 52.
R. Chambers, Ahmed Cevdet Paa, p. 1.
Uriel Heyd, The Ottoman Ulema and Westernization in the Time of Selim III and
Mahmud II, in Studies in Islamic History and Civilization, Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 1961,
pp. 6396.
E. Akarl, The Problems of External Pressures, p. 2; Ruth Roded, Tradition and Change
in the Late Ottoman Period: the Urban Notables of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama,
18761918, unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Denver, 1984, p. 1; Edhem Eldem,
Istanbul: From Imperial to Peripheralized Capital, in E. Eldem, Daniel Goffman and
Bruce Masters (eds.), The Ottoman City Between East and West. Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul,
Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 198, 200201.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

61

reformers, with this diversity being the source of the paradox in their formation and the failure of their project.77 Yet it was a close-knit group made up of
very small number of individuals, characterised by a community of thought, a
comparable rejection of Alis and Fuads mode of government, and a similar
place within the elite.78 As a point of comparison, think of the diverse currents
of thought running throughout the bureaucratic body as a whole, which was
far less close-knit and less ideologically and socially homogenous. It is thus no
longer a matter of taking the modernising elites as an organised group of
enlightened and sincere political actors. It would be better, in my opinion, to
shift the analysis of modernity towards another field of observationthat of
sociogenesis, seeking to observe as closely as possible the individual mechanisms of modernity, the role plays, and the relationships individuals had with
their assigned and acquired statuses.

Homo Ottomanicus
Choosing a scale of terms in this way such that attitudes blur into a hazy
cloud of dots from which only the most trenchant attitudes diverge
collaborationism, on the one hand, armed resistance on the other[]
amounts to privileging a judgemental posture based on simplistic binary
pigeonholing (collaborator or member of the Resistance? guilty or innocent?) over a desire to understand. By definition, this posture is unable to
handle the complexity of successive loyalties (moving from the Vichy
regime to resistance) or, worse still, simultaneous loyalties (playing a double
game) and it becomes lost in the inextricable arithmetic of redemption.79

Historians who take up the modernist/traditionalist typification do not only


apply it to the domain of ideas and opinions to develop post hoc rationalisations
of a range of behaviours or to analyse the modes of interaction between the various actors concerned. They also use it to define social being in its entirety, on the
basis of the objectification of a single segment of the selfthe presence of a
piano or of central heating in a pashas residence means this pasha was a thoroughgoing reformist, his knowledge of the French language predisposed him to
77
78
79

. Mardin, Genesis, pp. 7880.


R. Davison, Reform, pp. 188189.
Marc Olivier Baruch, Ngocier la contrainte. Les administrateurs polytechniciens face
loccupant, in Marc Olivier Baruch and Vincent Guigueno (eds.), Le Choix des X. Lcole
polytechnique et les polytechniciens 19391945, Paris, Fayard, 2000, pp. 97144, 106.

62

Bouquet

subscribe wholeheartedly to importing European institutions as models lock,


stock, and barrel.80 As Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann put it, such an
approach leads to the reification of roles and identitiesin other words a total
identification between the individual and his socially determined typification,
the individual being apprehended as this type and nothing else.81 Max Scheler
describes it as a Gesinnung (moral intention of a being), used at the individual
level (to designate the set of actions of an individual) and collectively (to explain
political and social events as shaped by the group of reformers):
As spectators we have a global image of the others, with such-and-such a
one coming across as noble, such-and-such a one as vulgar. But the
Gesinnung, if we suppose it to correspond to the moral character [],
never emerges totally and univocally. It is defined as an impulse, love, or
will, tending towards a certain hierarchy of values. But you can never
reach a final impulse and analysing ends is in essence an indefinite
undertaking. Moral intention as we can conceive it, and which differs
both from motives and motivations in implying an appreciation, cannot
be perfectly understood. And in the same way as the subject as a whole or
in his free decisions is not given to the spontaneous intuition of the
observer or the patient reconstruction of the historian [], the moral
quality is beyond motives and motivations.82
In other words the actions of the reformists cannot be interpreted solely in
the light of some global intention motivating them (awareness of decline, belief
in the necessity of reform). In the century in which Victor Hugo and other
European intellectuals were covering extensive areas of ideological space
within the course of their lifetime, adhering to the most complex sets of ideas,

80

81
82

In C. Findleys view brahim Hakk Pasha incarnates full modernity. Everything he does is
modern: Ibrahim Hakk Paa: New Ideas, New Roles, a New Man (Ottoman Civil Offi
cialdom. A Social History, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1989, p. 195). For discussion of the Westernisation of material culture, see . Mardin, Super Westernization in
Urban Life in the Ottoman Empire in the Last Quarter of the Nineteenth Century, in
Peter Benedict, Erol Trmertekin and Fatma Mansur (eds.), Turkey: Geographic and
Political Perspectives, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1974, pp. 403446. On demography and family practices, see Cem Behar, Alan Duben, Istanbul Households: Marriage, Family and Fertility.
18801940, Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the
Sociology of Knowledge, Garden City, ny, Doubleday, 1966, pp. 106107.
Raymond Aron, Introduction la philosophie de lhistoire. Essai sur les limites de lobjectivit
historique, Paris, Gallimard, 1981 [1938], p. 190.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

63

the Ottomans are said to have avoided any comparable form of mobilisation.
We return again to the issue of graceon coming back from his first trip to
Paris Mustafa Reshid is said to have been wholly formed ideologically.83 And yet
Ada Shissler has shown that intellectuals do not follow this sort of trajectory,
that the personality of the nationalist Ahmet Aaolu (18691939) was formed
via the various spheres in which he found himself: Azeri Shiite culture, Muslim
reformism, the ideas of the Russian intelligentsia in the 1880s, Ernest Renans
positivism, and Turkish nationalism all continually fed into and influenced his
political thought.84 In the same way, ought we not to envisage the possibility
that Ottoman reformers experienced successive and even simultaneous loyalties to contemporary ideologies? Could we not emphasise that whilst these ideologies may have been viewed as antithetical by regimes, by western diplomats,
and by the reformists themselves, they were not necessarily considered this way
by the men who considered and included them within their modes of action?
After all, the Ottomans frequented places within social and political space in
different respects,85 as actors who had to change role each time they moved from
one stage play to the next. If they were careful to display constant sincerity in
their adherence to reform, I do not see why they should not have secretly, within
their own conscience, modulated the extent of their commitment depending
upon their appreciation of each role they assumed.86 If the truth be told, the
problem of the modernist/traditionalist typification is that it neglects the set of
stylistic variations arising from the production of behaviour suited to the positions,87 the possibility of a given state functionary taking his distance from the
role, irrespective of the position that he would wish to adopt as a modernist or
traditionalist within a specific field.88 This at least is what is suggested by research
in the political sciences studying the room for manoeuvre state functionaries
have in carrying out their functions and in applying binding sets of rules.89
83
84
85
86

87
88
89

B. Kodaman, Les Ambassades.


Ada H. Shissler, Between Two Empires: Ahmet Aaolu and the New Turkey, London/New
York, i.b. Tauris, 2003.
Luc Boltanski, Lespace positionnel. Multiplicit des positions institutionnelles et habitus de classe, Revue franaise de sociologie, vol. XIV, 1973, pp. 326, 9.
Erving Goffman, Role Distance, in Encounters: Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction,
Indianapolis, in, Bobbs-Merrill, 1966, p. 90; P. Berger and T. Luckmann dwell on the same
idea: such a typification leaves no room for the subjective distance that each individual
may establish between oneself and ones role play (The Social Construction, pp. 106107).
L. Boltanski, Lespace positionnel, p. 16.
E. Goffman, Role Distance, p. 90.
Bernard Lacroix and Jacques Lagroye (eds.), Le Prsident de la Rpublique. Usages et genses
dune institution, Paris, Presses de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1992; Jay
Rowell, Le Totalitarisme au concret : les politiques du logement en rda, Paris, Economica, 2006.

64

Bouquet

In modern societies the individual has firstly an assigned status, one received
at birth. For the Ottomans someone was for example the son of a notable, the
son of an alim, the son of a military officer. But he also had acquired statuses,
that is to say ones which changed over time.90 In other words, if a pasha was
defined as such by the state, he could also belong to other institutions: family,
religious community, brotherhood, and so on. But as each institution confers a
different status on the individual and expects him to play a particular role, and
as there are possible distortions between current and latent statuses, there
exists the possibility of conflict between all these various roles, and of sanctions should the individual not manage to harmonise the roles associated with
a given status into a coherent whole.
Let us take the case of Constantin Musurus Pasha (18071891), the ambassador to London from 1851 to 1885. As a brilliant diplomat who enjoyed the
recognition of his peers, he was the Ottoman embodiment of the civil servant,
obeying a rational-legal mode in the exercise of his functions. Musurus was a
modern man, but not in the way in which Ottomanist historiography presents
him, that is to say as the reforming, anti-traditionalist statesman par excellence,
ideally situated on the upper levels of the modernity scale thanks to all his various attributes (as a diplomat, a neo-Phanariot, a francophone, a lover of the
classics and close acquaintance of leading western figures).91 If he was a modern man it is more in the sense that he knew how to intervene, act, and communicate at various scales, manipulate several networks at the same time, pass
from one world to another with ease, and sometimes even without appearing
to be aware of it, talking as readily to Samiot villagers as to British ambassadors, equally at home leafing through the European press as deciphering classical epigraphs, writing in Greek to his father-in-law and in French when
requesting instructions from his superiors.92 It is this ability to move within
different worlds which, in my opinion, characterises the modernity of the
Ottomans, both in the use they made of it and in the limits they encountered.
90
91

92

Ralph Linton, The Cultural Background of Personality, New York, D. Appleton, 1945.
R. Davison, Halil erif Paa, Ottoman Diplomat, p. 221; C. Findley, Ottoman Civil
Officialdom, p. 131; . Mardin, Super Westernization; R. Davison, Westernized Education
in the Ottoman Empire, The Middle East Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, 1961, pp. 289301; Benjamin
Fortna, Islamic Morality in Late Ottoman Secular Schools, International Journal of
Middle East Studies, vol. 32, no. 3, 2000, pp. 369393.
On the modernity of Musurus, see Olivier Bouquet, Un Rum aux pays des Hellnes.
Constantin Musurus, premier reprsentant permanent de la Sublime Porte Athnes
(18401848), in Nathalie Clayer and Tassos Anastassiadis (eds.), Society and Politics in
South-Eastern Europe during the 19th Century, Athnes, Alpha Bank, 2012, pp. 337370.

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

65

In the way that Musurus went to Istanbul at the unexpected request of the
sovereign,93 remained there for many a long month without having the slightest idea of the fate in store for him, he was in his ancient Ottoman civility a true
pasha of the Sultan obedient to traditional domination, whilst at the same
time his status as a diplomat94and Greek Orthodox diplomat to boot
makes him an emblematic figure of administrative modernity. The same is true
of his son tienne, even though he was educated in the most advanced
European schools, trained in the social graces of polite London society, and
perfectly abreast of the political and scientific theories of his time. For the classical historiography of reform he was a modern man through and through. And
yet he was also the archetypal servant submitted to the whims of Sultanic tradition, since on 25 November 1884, when posted as ambassador to Rome, he
was summoned instantly back to Istanbul. He duly went and six months later
was still in the Ottoman capital. He did not know what to do and was consumed with worry lest he be relegated to a subaltern position. He wrote to his
father who knew nothing of what was planned for his future. He was unable to
obtain an audience at the Chancery of the Sultan. The only information he had
came from rumours circulating about him. He did not know if he should still
consider himself to be occupying his post or not. In June he finally learned that
he had been appointed to sit on the Commission of Public Works.95
And so this one man found himself torn between various worlds, various
statuses that he sought to link up over the course of his career. Equally a pasha
with an ethnic belonging, possibly a commitment to a brotherhood, a family
situation, a Masonic commitment, and a local identity could find himself with
a number of statuses that he was not always able to combine into an overall
social system, in an Ottoman society hit by the globalisation of trade, the emergence of new social professional categories, and the emergence of ideologies
of political protest.96
93

94
95
96

By order of His Majesty the Sultan, you shall pack your bags within two or three days, and
you shall without delay leave London for Constantinople (Musurus Archives, Gennadios
Library, Athens, 10/238, Nevres Pasha to Musurus Pasha, 30 August 1862). No explanation
was given for this order.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 126.
Musurus Archives, Gennadios Library, Athens, 14/54, 14/55, 14/57, 14/58, 14/63, 14/64.
One example: Halide Edib underlines the difficulty her father experienced in being polygamous whilst being open to new practices and ideas: And father too was suffering in more
than a way. As a man of liberal and modern ideas, his marriage was very unfavorably regarded
by his friends, especially by Hakk Bey, to whose opinion he attached the greatest importance (H.E. [Advar], Memoirs, p. 145). The Hakk Bey in question was the future Grand Vizier
brahim Hakk Pasha whose resolutely westernised practices are emphasised by C. Findley.

66

Bouquet

Conclusion
It strikes me that such an approach examining the identity construction of
state functionaries has a part to play in a political sociology of the Ottoman
reforms. Adopting such an approach does not oblige us to leave wholly to one
side the theories of modernisation developed by Ottomanists of the previous
century. It encourages us to approach institutions less as the result of reforming intentions and beliefs and instead see them as the product of sociogenesis
involving actors in varying relationships to modernity. I would also add that
comparing the Ottomans assigned and acquired statuses would enable us to
reformulate our analysis of identity construction, and better understand why
an individual such as Yusuf Akura became one of the founders of Turkish
nationalism even though he was not of Anatolian origin, why an individual
such as Moiz Cohen, a Jew from Salonica, Turkified his name to become Tekin
Alp, and why notables from the Arab provinces in the early 20th century were
able at one and the same time to be committed to defending Ottomanism,
promoting the history of Arab peoples, and in defending Palestine against
what they perceived as a process of Zionist colonisation.97
Such an approach would enable us to dispel what may be called the ethnic/
denominational determinism of Ottoman modernity, in which being Armenian,
Greek, or an Istanbul Jew means being invariably Westernist in cultural orientation,98 being more favourably predisposed to western culture than if you are
a Muslim from Antep. What happens to this understanding of the differential
relationship to modernity on the basis of ethnic and urban belonging if the
Muslim from Antep also happens to be a leading notable from the Cenan family? What happens to it if the Antep Muslim presents those attributes of
modernity generally conferred by historians on urban minorities, if he speaks
four languages including French and English, if his general cultural is particularly vast, if he has studied law, political economy, and geography?99 Is he really
so much closer to some Muslim peasant from Antep than to a member of a
leading family of Istanbul Armenians, to the point where the first two are seen
as traditionalists and the third as modernists?
In the same way as the late Donald Quataert criticised a certain form of institutional determinism with regard to social positions in his study of professional
categories in the closing decades of the Ottoman period, Edhem Eldem wishes
97
98
99

Ibid.
C. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, p. 207 (italics added).
I am referring here to Mehmed Kadri Pasha (Archives of the Prime Ministers Office in
Istanbul, Sicill-i Ahval 1/12).

Is It Time To Stop Speaking About Ottoman Modernisation?

67

to do away with what he identifies as an ethnic/denominational determinism


with regard to modernity. He proposes paying greater attention to the involvement of Muslims in the constitution of a middle-class generally described as
made up entirely of modernist minority segments.100 But his criticism does not
prevent him in turn from grounding his study of Ottoman society on categories
whose effect he is seeking to combat, but which ultimately reintroduce a form
of counter-determinism which is of limited help for the form of social history he
envisages. For my part, I believe it would be better to replace the classificatory
enterprises generally deployed with a sociogenesis of state functionaries viewed
with regard to their roles and to their functions. It is this approach which will
enable Ottomanist historians to contribute to the political sociology of Turkey
as it is envisaged in this book.
100 D. Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, p. 141; Edhem Eldem, Istanbul 19031918: A
Quantitative Analysis of a Bourgeoisie, Boazii Journal, vol. 11, no. 12, 1997, pp. 5398.

chapter 4

The Linguist and the Politician

The Trk Dil Kurumu and the Field of Power in the 193040s
Emmanuel Szurek
We will spare no effort in purifying our language of foreign rules and
words, in making written language closer to spoken language, and in
Turkifying the language usages of the state and of the sciences.1
The way the upper echelons of political society fix linguistic propriety is a well
studied historical dynamic and is frequently interpreted in terms of lengthening chains of interdependence, bureaucratic rationalisation, and nationalisation of societies.2 This study seeks to draw a precise portrait of the organisation
in charge of purifying and nationalising language during the 1930s and
1940s in Turkey. The Trk Dil Kurumu was set up in Ankara in July 1932 as a
private association, but was from the outset entrusted with a task which fell
squarely within the category of the state monopoly on legitimate symbolic violence.3 It is worth pointing out that the name of this organisation underwent
a form of linguistic purification itself, being initially called Trk Dili Tetkik
Cemiyeti (Society for the Study of the Turkish Language) before this was
changed to Trk Dil Kurumu (Turkish Language Institute, hereafter tdk) in
October 1935.4 This etymological purification (with the Arabic words being

1 tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultaynca Kabul Edilen Trk Dil Kurumu Ana Tz ve alma
Program [General Regulations and Work Programme of the tdk adopted by the Fourth
Congress of Turkish Linguistics], Ankara, [s.n.], 1942, p. 19.
2 Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process, translated by Edmund Jephcott, New York, Urizen Books,
1978; Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, translated by Gino Raymond and
Matthew Adamson, Cambridge, Polity Press, 1991 [1982]; Grard Noiriel, tat, nation et immigration. Vers une histoire du pouvoir, Paris, Gallimard, 2005.
3 In Pierre Bourdieus modification of Max Webers definition of the state: Esprits dtat.
Gense et structure du champ bureaucratique, in id., Raisons pratiques. Sur la thorie de
laction, Paris, Seuil, 1994, p. 109.
4 Different acronyms will be used depending on whether we are referring to the period 1932
1934 (tdtc), the period 19351951 (tdk), or to the entire period (in which case tdk is used
too). In 1934 and 1935 the organisation was briefly called the Trk Dili Aratrma Kurumu
(Turkish Language Research Institute).

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_005

The Linguist And The Politician

69

replaced by Turkish words) is, as we shall see, far more than a simple change in
the associations name, reflecting instead the kaleidoscopic nature of a political entity that cannot be pinned down using the standard categories of sociological understanding.5
The legal ambiguities surrounding the status of the tdk partakes in the context of what Hamit Bozarslan has called third-stage Kemalism,6 operative in
the period 1931-1945, and characterised firstly by the ever greater dedifferentiation between the state administration and the Republican Peoples Party
(Cumhuriyet Halk Frkas, hereafter chf),7 and secondly by the increasing subjugation of intellectual and civic life to the issues as defined and laid down by
the regime.8 The reintroduction of a multi-party system in Turkey therefore
marks the formal terminus ad quem of this study: between 1946 and 1951 the
Trk Dil Kurumu was gradually stripped of its various attributions that the
political authorities had to all intents and purposes conferred on it, and it went
back to being a straightforward cultural associationwhich, on paper at least,
it had never ceased to be.
One of the original formulations meant to guide the collective research carried out under the aegis of TransTur was the the increasing number of areas
of government intervention.9 It would be convenient to define the tdk as a
sort of para- or peri-state entity, operating in a grey area somewhere on the
edge of the field of sovereignty. But such a metaphor clearly brings with it an
5 I wish to thank Marc Aymes, William Blair, Benjamin Gourisse, and Francisco Roa
Bastos.
6 Hamit Bozarslan, Kemalism, Westernization and Anti-liberalism, in Hans-Lukas Kieser
(ed.), Turkey Beyond Nationalism: Towards Post-Nationalist Identities, London, I.B. Tauris,
2006, p. 33; Mete Tunay, Trkiye Cumhuriyetinde Tek Parti Ynetiminin Kurulmas. 19231931
[The Founding of the Single-Party Regime in the Republic of Turkey. 1923-1931], Istanbul,
Tarih Vakf, 2005 [1981], pp. 318331.
7 Pierre Birnbaum, Laction de ltat: diffrenciation et ddiffrenciation, in Madeleine
Grawitz and Jean Leca (eds.), Trait de science politique, vol. 3: Laction politique, Paris, Presses
Universitaires de France, 1985, pp. 643682.
8 Franois Georgeon, Les Foyers Turcs lpoque kmaliste. 19231931, Des Ottomans aux
Turcs. Naissance dune nation, Istanbul, Isis, 1995, p. 107; Sefa imek, Bir deolojik Seferberlik
Deneyimi: Halkevleri 19321951 [An Experiment in Ideological Mobilisation. The Peoples
Houses, 1932-1951], Istanbul, Boazii niversitesi Yaynevi, 2002, pp. 11ff., 36, 92.
9 lise Massicard et al., Ordonner et transiger: modalits de gouvernement et dadministration
en Turquie et dans lEmpire ottoman, du XIXe sicle nos jours [detailed presentation of the
TransTur project submitted to the French Agence Nationale de la Recherche], 2008, available online at: http://transtur.hypotheses.org/31 (accessed 8 October 2014).

70

Szurek

objectivist bias, leading to a cohesive, organic representation of the state as


some kind of rising tide or diastolic pulse progressively colonising language
reified in turn and assimilated to something like the non-state.10 Furthermore,
the gradualist metaphor of a conquering centre and subjected periphery tells
us little about the heart of the problemwhat acting as the state means for a
regime that presents itself as statist.11
The political supervision of language material needs to be taken as bureaucratic experimentation rather than as some linear dynamic, and so rather than
being viewed diachronically it needs to be seen within the contemporary context of the adoption of contradictory roles. That is why it is worth adopting a
micro-historical and relational approach here focussing on the actual practices
employed by the tdk in its interactions with different categories of individual
and institutional actors. It is hoped that teasing apart the various threads of a
single organisation in this way will enable us to detect at least a part of the
social and institutional rationales shaping the field of power in single-party
Turkey.12 In other terms, rather than providing a chronological account of
events this study will adopt a morphological and genealogical approach. The
tdk was a flexible and multifaceted arena which, whilst a private association
from a legal point of view, displayed at one same time the clubbiness of a learned
society, the cultural activism of a patriotic committee, the propaganda techniques of a revolutionary workshop, the administrative ethos of ministerial
procedures, and even the solemnity of the domaine prsidentiel. As a first step,
using the generic category of a grouping should keep us from going off on a
wrong track.13

10

11
12

13

Bernard Lacroix, Ordre politique et ordre social. Objectivisme, objectivation et analyse


politique, in M. Grawitz and J. Leca (eds.), Trait de science politique, vol. 1: La science
politique, science sociale, lordre politique, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1985,
p. 523; Vincent Dubois, Comment la langue devient une affaire dtat. La dfense de la
langue franaise au milieu des annes 1960, in Jacques Lagroye (ed.), La Politisation, Paris,
Belin, 2003, pp. 461474.
As of the Third Congress of May 1931 statism (devletilik) was one of the Six Arrows or
major principles that were meant to guide the behaviour of the Republican Peoples Party.
Pierre Bourdieu, Champ du pouvoir et division du travail de domination. Texte manuscrit indit ayant servi de support de cours au Collge de France, 19851986, Actes de la
recherche en sciences sociales, 190, 2011, pp. 126139.
Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretative Sociology, G. Roth and
C. Wittich (eds.), Berkeley and Los Angeles, ca/London, University of California Press, 1978
[1922].

The Linguist And The Politician

71

The Language Revolution: A Brief Synopsis


The language used in single-party Turkeyor at least the official written language,
that is to say bureaucratic, journalistic, and school Turkishwas largely purged
of its Arabic and Persian elements, and this with regard to its grammar (I), its
alphabet (II), and its lexicon (III).
I. Over the course of the 1920s the use of Arabic (Semitic) and Persian
(Indo-European) structures disappeared in favour of a syntax based solely on
Turkish agglutinative structures, in what was the culmination of a natural
evolution in Turkish grammar which had been going on since the 1860s.
II. The authoritarian reform known as the Alphabet Revolution (19281930)
was the first genuine act of linguistic interventionism by the Kemalists, and
within nineteen months Arabic letters had disappeared from the public
sphere and from publications. The script used by literate Ottomans was
replaced by a Latin-based transcription called the Turkish alphabet.
III. But the most far-reaching aspect of Kemalist language intervention was lexical, occurring in the 1930s and 1940s with the massive proscription of words
of Arabic or Persian etymology and the production of an alternative lexicon
of neologisms referred to as pure Turkish (ztrke). Between 1932 and 1935
experts from the tdtc expunged a large number of current words of Arabic
or Persian etymology from the official norm. In order to make up for the
gaps left by the banished terms they went minutely through the written
tradition and, more importantly, carried out vast surveys of dialects. These
lexicographical campaigns enabled them to resuscitate terms discovered in
Turkic literatures and to generalise the use of words from such-and-such an
Anatolian dialect (and also, to a lesser extent, those of Rumelia, Azerbaijan,
and western Turkestan). Most importantly the roots and suffixes thus collected gave rise to intense neological activity, with the etymons being used as
the raw material with which Kemalist linguists built a neo-Turkish vocabulary. Lastly, as of 1937, they worked to forge technical, scientific, and philosophical terms to replace the learned terminologies of Ottoman scholars.

Lexicographers and language historians agree that within a few decades the
undertaking resulted in a stabilised and radically different variety of Turkish to
that which was written at the end of the Ottoman Empire, although such an
overall assessment would obviously need to be sociolinguistically nuanced.
In other words, conventional Turkish as used in Turkey today is, to a far greater

72

Szurek

extent than other national languages, a political artefactthe product of this


brief yet effective experiment in alphabetical and lexical engineering which
the Kemalists themselves called the Language Revolution.14

An Initial Failure

The tdk was not the first grouping in Turkey to be devised to reform the language. As early as August 1923 the parliamentarian Tunal Hilmi Bey tabled a
bill before the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (Trkiye Byk Millet Meclisi,
henceforth tbmm) for a law on the Turkish language (Trke Kanunu) which
already went in the direction of purging the language.15 It was rejected amidst
heated political wrangling. But in March 1926 the tbmm approved a financing
law which involved the creation of a wholly new form of institution within the
Ministry of Educationthe Dil Heyeti (Language Commission). It is important
14

15

There is an extensive bibliography on the subject. See, inter alia, Jean Deny, De la rforme
actuelle de la langue turque, En terre dIslam, 10, JulyAugust 1935, pp. 223247; Uriel
Heyd, Language Reform in Modern Turkey, Jerusalem, Israel Oriental Society, 1954; Aah
Srr Levend, Trk Dilinde Gelime ve Sadeleme Evreleri [The Stages in the Development
and Simplification of the Turkish Language], Ankara, tdk, 1972; Zeynep Korkmaz, Trk
Dilinin Tarih Ak inde Atatrk ve Dil Devrimi [Atatrk and the Language Revolution
in the Historical Development of the Turkish Language], Ankara, adtcf Yaynlar, 1995;
F. Georgeon, Des caractres arabes lalphabet latin: un pas vers lOccident? Des
Ottomans aux Turcs, Istanbul, Isis, 1995, pp. 199221; Geoffrey Lewis, The Turkish Language
Reform: A Catastrophic Success, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1999; Kmile mer,
Trkiyede Dil Planlamas: Trk Dil Devrimi [Language Planning in Turkey: The Turkish
Language Revolution], Kltr Bakanl Yay., Ankara, 2000; Birol Caymaz and Emmanuel
Szurek, La rvolution au pied de la lettre. Linvention de lalphabet turc, European
Journal of Turkish Studies, no. 6, 2007, url: http://ejts.revues.org/1363 (accessed May 10,
2012); lker Aytrk, The First Episode of Language Reform in Republican Turkey: The
Language Council from 1926 to 1931, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, third series, vol. 18,
no. 3, 2008, pp. 275293; id., Politics and Language Reform in Turkey: The Academy
Debate, Wiener Zeitschrift fr die Kunde des Morgenlandes, 98, 2008, pp. 1330; Johann
Strauss, Literacy and the Development of the Primary and Secondary Educational System;
The Role of the Alphabet and Language Reforms, Erik-Jan Zrcher (ed.)., Philologiae
Turcicae Fundamenta, IV, Turkey in the Twentieth CenturyLa Turquie au vingtime
sicle, Berlin, K. Schwarz, 2008, pp. 479516; Hale Ylmaz, Learning to Read (Again): The
Social Experiences of Turkeys 1928 Alphabet Reform, International Journal of Middle East
Studies, vol. 43, no. 4, 2011, pp. 677697; E. Szurek, Gouverner par les mots. Une histoire
linguistique de la Turquie nationaliste, unpublished PhD thesis, Paris, ehess, 2013.
A.S. Levend, Trk Dilinde, p. 391.

The Linguist And The Politician

73

not to underestimate the causal role played by the Turkology Congress, held
a few weeks earlier in Baku under the auspices of the Soviet Union, in the fact
that the language question was placed on Ankaras political agenda in March
1926. This Congress closed on a solemn appeal to the Turkic-speaking peoples
to abandon Arabic scripts: this act placed the Soviets ahead of the Turks of
Anatolia, who had also been envisaging adopting the Latin alphabet for some
time, an initiative which would have placed Turkey in the vanguard of the
intellectual and political life of peoples of the Turkish race.16
It is true that the Language Commission remained initially in a state of utter
bureaucratic somnolence. It was thus two years before it became active. In
May 1928 the Cabinet entrusted a board of nine prominent individuals with
the task of drawing up a report on whether alphabet reform would be appropriate and, if so, of conceiving a new one.17 It would appear that the role of
these independent experts was mainly a matter of lending their scholarly
backing to the decision already taken at the highest levels to adopt the Latin
script. Thus the Dil Heyeti, far from being an autonomous body, may be seen
from a legal and administrative point of view [as] an extension of the state
apparatus, taking its orders from the top.18 Yet, from a linguistic point of view,
the report it delivered to President Mustafa Kemal in early August 1928 was not
insignificant in its attempt to devise an alphabet as practical as possible, in
accordance with the phonetics of the spoken Turkish of the bourgeoisie of
Istanbul. In November the tbmm passed the law on the new alphabet. Mission
accomplished.19
The government now envisaged switching its attention to another linguistic
targetvocabulary. In December 1928 the statutes of the Commission were
altered and its recruitment pool widened. The mission of the Dil Heyeti was
henceforth to draw up a universal dictionary, basing its work on the entries in
the Petit Larousse illustr.20 Language civil servantsthe members of the
16

Joseph Castagn, Le Congrs de turkologie de Bakou, Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1926, p. 84. Two
Turkish academics were delegates at Baku: Kprlzde Mehmed Fuad and Hseyinzde
Ali.
17 It is worth pointing out that all of the founding members of the tdtc were already siting
on the Dil Heyeti in 1928: the parliamentarian and diplomat Ruen Eref, the grammarian
Ahmet Cevat, the linguist Ragp Hulsi, and the writer Yakup Kadri.
18 . Aytrk, The First Episode, p. 281. The following two paragraphs are based extensively
upon this article.
19 The issue of how this reform was actually implemented amongst the Turkish society is
treated in E. Szurek, Gouverner par les mots, Chap. V.
20 The Dictionnaire de la langue franaise by mile Littr was also used. Archives of the
Dil Heyeti at the tdk (hereinafter adh) [available online: http://tdkkitaplik.org.tr/

74

Szurek

Ankara Commission made regular progress reports to the Minister21were to


cooperate with professors from the countrys sole University in Istanbul so as
to establish the new Turkish vocabulary. But this time things went wrong.
Several factors explain why this first attempt at radical reform failed: resistance
from Istanbul academics, already alarmed by the script reform, to which most
of them were hostile; the absence of any clearly defined lexicographic methodology (most of the members of the Commission did not have any training in
linguistics); incoherencies in the instructions laid down by the various parts of
the executive, and ergo the lively disagreement between those in favour of a
radical purge of Arabic and Persian words and the far larger number in favour
of a moderate Turkification of the national language, providing scope for
retaining those foreign words which were most assimilated.
After two years of work the Commission encountered a hostile press campaign that called into question the academic validity of what it did, the competence of its members, and so by extension whether or not the public funding
granted to the Dil Heyeti by the legislative was in fact justified. The animosity
spread to the ranks of the chf parliamentarians. In July 1931 the tbmm turned
down a request by the Minister of Education Esat Bey for further funding. This
defiant vote sounded the death knell of the Dil Heyeti. An improbable parliamentary revolt at the heart of the single-party regime obliged the government
to perform a U-turn. As lker Aytrk wrote, the failure of this first attempt by
those at the heart of the state apparatus encouraged supporters of linguistic
purification to seek other ways of achieving their purpose. In many respects
the setting up of the Society for the Study of the Turkish Language, exactly one
year after the disappearance of the Language Commission, amounted to an
attempt by the bureaucracy to sidestep the single party. As an association the
tdtc would be protected from any parliamentary attack, and should it fail it
would not be possible to allege any form of government responsibility.

A Private Association

This manoeuvre could perhaps be interpreted as a tactical retreat. It being


understood that it was first and foremost a matter of legal neutralisation.
Authorised accounts place the beginnings of the tdtc at a reception at the

21

kararlar.asp?yl]: 1928002; 1929002 (accessed September 16, 2013). The archives of the Dil
Heyeti held at the Ministry of Education were rapidly transferred to the tdtc. For mention of this see Trk Dili, no. 3, July 1933, p. 5.
adh 1928003; 1929003.

The Linguist And The Politician

75

Presidents residence (suppers at ankaya were the informal yet crucial forum
for decisions about language in Turkey between the two world wars).
Apparently it was over the course of the night after the end of the first Turkish
History Congress (2 to 11 July 1932) that the President of the Republic expressed
the idea of founding a private organisation, sister to the Society for the Study
of Turkish History but devoted to studying language matters.22 And so it was
duly set up. As of 12 July four single-party parliamentariansthe linguist and
mp for anakkale Samih Rifat (as its president), the journalist and mp for
Afyon and Quaestor of the tbmm Ruen Eref (as its general secretary), the
poet and mp for Zonguldak Cell Sahir (as its treasurer) and the novelist and
mp for Manisa Yakup Kadri (as a founding member)hurried round to the
Ministry of the Interior to file the provisional statutes of the tdtc and apply
for accreditation (izinname) from the General Security Directorate (Emniyet-i
Umumiye Mdrl) in accordance with the law on associations.23
The diligence with which the Ministry granted the request of the four parliamentariansthe officially stamped papers enabling them to go ahead
arrived the very next dayshould not blind us to the fact that the tdtc was
based on the fictio iuris according to which it may be characterised firstly
purely as an associationa coming-together of willing minds, a club for amateur linguists composed of men of letters, secondary-school teachers, and
respectable civil servants.
However it was only in October 1932three months after it was founded
that the statutes of the tdtc were established, after the first Turkish Linguistic
Congress. Let us note in passing that during the debate the chemistry professor Nait Bey (already) suggested replacing the name Trk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti
with the Turkified form Trk Dilini Aratrma Dernei (Association for Research

22

23

If we are to believe the semi-official memoirs of Ruen Eref [naydn], Trk Dili Tetkik
Cemiyeti Kurulduundan lk Kurultaya Kadar Hatralar [Memoirs about the tdtc from its
founding up until the first kurultay], Hatralar IV, Btn Eserleri [Memoirs IV, Complete
Works], vol. VI, Ankara, ttk Basm Evi, 2002 [1933, 1943], pp. 658.
The freedom of association and assembly, drawn up and codified for the first time in the
Ottoman Empire in August 1909 on the basis of the model provided by the French law of
1901, is recognised in the Turkish Constitution (April 1924) and Civil Code (February
1926). However it was subject to strong restrictions after the law on maintaining public
order (takrir-i sukn) was passed, and which was in effect from March 1925 to March
1929. Tijen Dndar Sezer, Dernek Kurma zgrlnn erii ve Geliim Sreci zerine
Karlatrmal Bir nceleme [A Comparative Study of the Freedom of Association and
Assembly and Its Evolution], Dokuz Eyll niversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstits Dergisi,
vol. 10, no. 1, 2008, p. 35.

76

Szurek

into the Turkish Language).24 Article 2 of the text that was finally approved
sets out the goal of the organisation, which it defines as: bringing up to date
the beauty and riches specific to the Turkish language, and raising it up among
the languages of the world to the rank befitting its worth. It is specified that
the tdtc is to be run by a general central committee (umum merkez heyeti,
Article 5) made up of nine members elected by the general assembly (kurultay), which is to meet every other year (Articles 6, 7 and 18). Any Turkish citizen
might apply to join the tdtc, but it was the central committee of the cemiyet
(Article 9) which was to decide whether or not to admit a new member.
Throughout its existence the tdk was, technically, an association. It is
revealing that it is often referred to in French as lAssociation Linguistique
Turque (Turkish Linguistic Association).25 In January 1939 the tdks central
committee took the necessary steps to comply with the new law on associations (Cemiyetler Kanunu) passed in June 1938.26 And in 1942 its general secretary brahim Necmi Dilmen underlined once again that the members of the
tdk were volunteers: the Great Leader [Ulu nder] Atatrk, who founded our
cultural organisation, laid down the principle that the work it conducts be voluntary [hasbi]. That is why the central committee of the Trk Dil Kurumu
receives no remuneration.27
24

25

26

27

The Turkish word dernek (association) being suggested here instead of the Arabic originated term cemiyet. The motion was considered premature and was rejected. tdtc,
Birinci Trk Dili Kurultay 1932. Tezler, Mzakere Zabtlar [First Turkish Language
Congress. 1932. Theses and Proceedings], Istanbul, Devlet Matbaas, 1933, p. 437. It is
worth noting that cemiyet may designate public institutions, political organisations, companies, and learned societies: Ahmet Karaavu, Tanzimat Dnemi Osmanl Bilim
Cemiyetleri [Ottoman Learned Societies during the Period of the Tanzimat], unpublished PhD thesis, University of Ankara, 2006, p. 39.
Such as in the pages of the French-language newspaper stanbul (1934, 1935)and in the
letter inviting Jean Deny to the third kurultay (1936) sent by the charg daffaire at the
Turkish Embassy in Paris. Hamit Bozarslan, Jean Deny et le Troisime Congrs de la
langue turque (Istanbul, 1936), Turcica, no. 39, 2007, p. 221.
Archives of the tdk [available online at: http://tdkkitaplik.org.tr/kararlar.asp?yl], Karar
Defterleri [Register of decisions, hereinafter tdk/kd], 1939015. This law forbade any
organisation established on the basis of family, brotherhood, race, sex, and class, abolished the right to form trade unions, and gave government the power to shut down any
association. T. Dndar Sezer, Dernek Kurma.
tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultay 1942. Toplant Tutulgalar, Tezler [Fourth Turkish
Language Congress. 1942. Proceedings and Papers], Ankara, Aleddin Kral Basm Evi,
1943, p. 118. This statement is questionable insomuch as members of the tdk were
remunerated for their scholarly services (translations, philological studies, and various
missions).

The Linguist And The Politician

77

A Learned Society

The Society for the Study of the Turkish Language may be characterised secondly as an arena devoted to science, based on the model of the great European
learned societies and their aristocratic etiquette and propriety.28 Firstly it may
be noted that the tdtc was placed under the official tutelage of the Head of
State, referred to in the statues as its president-protector (hami reis, Article 1).
The Minister of Education for his part was the honorary president (Article 4).
These distinctions are reminiscent of the regulations of the Socit Asiatique,
in Paris, which had the duc dOrlans as its perpetual president.29 Equally
the statutes of the tdtc distinguish between honorary members (fahr za)
and corresponding members (muhabir za, Article 19), thereby taking up the
standard nomenclature of western academic co-optation30a tradition which
sprang up in the Ottoman capital when the Encmen-i Dn (The Academy of
Knowledge) was set up in 1851.31 These conventions were imitated in French
provinces throughout the 18th century and were also extensively adopted by the
great learned societies of the first half of the 19th century32to which learned
societies the Cemiyet-i lmiye-yi Osmaniye (Ottoman Society of Sciences), set up
in Constantinople in 1861, must indubitably be added.33 Under these conditions
28
29

30
31

32
33

Daniel Roche, Le Sicle des lumires en province. Acadmie et acadmiciens provinciaux,


16801789, Paris, ditions de lehess, 1989 [1978], vol. 1, pp. 202 and 207ff.
Robert Irwin, The Real Discourses of Orientalism, in Franois Pouillon and Jean-Claude
Vatin (eds.), After Orientalism: Critical Perspectives on Western Agency and Eastern
Re-appropriations, Leiden, Brill, 2014, pp. 1830.
Accademia dei Lincei in Rome (1603), Royal Society of London (1660), Acadmie des
Sciences de Paris (1666), Preuische Akademie der Wissenschaften (1700), and so on.
Which is visibly based on the model of the Acadmie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres de
Paris according to Johann Strauss, Les voies de la transmission du savoir dans un milieu
cosmopolite. Lettrs et savants Istanbul au XIXe sicle (18301860), in Floral Sanagustin
(ed.), Les Intellectuels en Orient musulman, statut et fonction, Cairo, ifao, 1998, p. 115.
On the Beikta Cemiyet-i lmiyesi (18151826) as a precursor of learned societies socia
bility in the Ottoman Empire, see A. Karaavu, Tanzimat Dnemi, pp. 47110.
Such as the Socit de gographie de Paris (1821), the Socit asiatique (1822), the Royal
Asiatic Society (1823), and the Royal Historical Society (1868).
erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization
of Turkish Political Ideas, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1962, pp. 238ff.;
A. Karaavu, Tanzimat Dnemi, p. 199; zgr Tresay, tre intellectuel la fin de lEmpire
ottoman: Ebuzziya Tevfik (1849-1913) et son temps, unpublished PhD thesis, Paris, ehess,
2008. Tresay sees the Cemiyet-i lmiye-yi Osmaniye as an arena devoted more to the
dissemination of European knowledge (with a library, reading room, and lectures) than to
the production proper of new scientific knowledge, ibid, pp. 55ff.

78

Szurek

it is hardly surprising that Dilmen, its general secretary, defined the tdk incidentally as an academy of language (dil akademisi).34
It is nevertheless the case that, if we consider the spectrum of learned
social structures, the genealogy of the tdk lies less in the world of intellectualised joy35 of the academies, Orientalist circles, and societies of
explorers of the modern period, that were characterised by a certain clubbiness, than in the serious rationalism of the more specialised circles of the
second half of the 19th century.36 In these the encyclopaedic ideal of upperclass learned circles gave way to the more austere bourgeois way of going
about things (as found in trade, the liberal professions, and the civil service)
with the tendency to differentiate, autonomise, and professionalise the scientific disciplines.37 In Turkey the founding of the Turkish Philosophical
Society in January 1928 might arguably be considered as one of the first
appearances of second phase, professionalised learned societies.38 Set up
in Istanbul by two high school teachers, Mehmet Servet [Berkin] and Hilmi
Ziya [lken]the Trk Felsefe Cemiyeti was a scientific society (ilm bir
cemiyet) where secondary school teachers, academics, and people working
34
35
36

37

38

tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultay 1942, p. 9.


D. Roche, Le Sicle, p. 392.
Such as the many Paris-based societies: the Socit dethnologie (1839), Socit de biologie (1848), Socit danthropologie (1859), Socit de linguistique (1866), Socit de physique (1873), and Socit de philosophie (1901); as well as the Deutsche Morgenlndische
Gesellschaft in Leipzig (1845), the Anthropological Society of London (1863), the Berliner
Gesellschaft fr Anthropologie (1869), and the British Historical Association (1906).
This socio-genetic distinction between upper-class learned academies and societies and specialised learned societies does of course need nuancing, depending upon the local configuration and the discipline concernedand this with a view to a comparative social history of
European learned social structures which, to my knowledge, has yet to be written. Christophe
Charle provides an outline in Les Intellectuels en Europe au xixe sicle. Essai dhistoire compare,
Paris, Seuil, 2001. See for example Annette Lewerentz, Les premires annes de la Socit
berlinoise danthropologie, dethnologie et de prhistoire et son intgration dans le paysage
scientifique berlinois, in Cline Trautmann-Waller (ed.), Quand Berlin pensait les peuples.
Anthropologie, ethnologie et psychologie (18501890), Paris, cnrs ditions, 2004, pp. 45ff.
From this perspective the Tarih-i Osman Encmeni (the Ottoman History Commission
founded in 1909), presided by the last vakanvis (official Palace historiographer)
Abdurrahman eref, could be considered as a transitional form. Whilst it clearly represented
a step towards professionalising history in the Ottoman Empire, it was still the product of
the Sultans patronage and will. Mehmet Demiryrek, Tarih-i Osman Encmeninin
Kuruluu [The Foundation of the Ottoman History Commission], Toplumsal Tarih,
no. 90, June 2001, pp. 4149.

The Linguist And The Politician

79

in public education met once a month.39 The final meeting was in the spring
of 1929. But several of its members reappeared later on the central committee of the tdtc, such as the linguist Ragp Hulsi,40 the education inspector
Hasan li, the professor smayl Hakk, and the secondary schoolteacher
Aah Srr.41
Whilst there were very few linguists and a far fewer university lecturers
than secondary school teachers, Army officers, and bureaucrats in the ranks
of the tdk, it nevertheless cultivated the forms (accessories, practices, and
rituals) characteristic of the western academic ethos. It had four sections
corresponding to four more or less autonomous sub-disciplines: linguistics
and philology, etymology, grammar and syntax, lexicology and terminologyin addition to two further sections carrying out administrative rather
than scientific tasks, the publication section and that devoted to word
research, that is to say centralising the information gathered during campaigns to collect dialects in the provinces.42 The tdk had a specialised library
with works by the great figures of international linguistics (Max Mller,
Antoine Meillet, and Jules Vendrys, for instance) alongside figures nowadays
considered more eclectic (such as Nikola Marr, James Churchward, and Hilaire
de Barenton). And like any good learned society it published a scientific bulletin, Trk Dili (The Turkish Language), of which between three and five
issues appeared each year.
Lastly the tdk financed erudite literary and philological research, such as
the first Turkish scientific edition of Turkic inscriptions in Siberia and
Central Asiaincluding the famous Orkhon steles (8th century)by a

39

40

41

42

Cf. Osman Kafadar, Trkiyede Felsefecilerin lk rgt. Trk Felsefe Cemiyeti (19281929)
[The First Organisation of Philosophers in Turkey. The Turkish Philosophical Society],
Tarih ve Toplum, no. 189, 1999, pp. 4550.
After September 1933 there are no further references in the proceedings to this former
member of the Dil Heyeti (tdk/kd 1933050). The University of Istanbul, where he acted
as professor of linguistics, published his first attack on the tdk in 1941. Cf. . Aytrk,
Politics and Language, p. 19ff.
Hasan li [Ycel] was a member of the central committee from 1932 to 1934, and then
president of the tdk from December 1938 to May 1946; smayl Hakk [Baltacolu] was a
member of the central committee from 1942 to 1949; as for Aah Srr [Levend], he sat on
the decision-making bodies of the tdk for a good quarter of a century (1949-1974), and
was its president from 1960 to 1963. Nail Tan (ed.), Kuruluun 70. Yl Dnmnde Trk Dil
Kurumu [The tdk on Its 70th Anniversary], Ankara, tdk Yaynlar, 2001.
Trk Dili, no. 3, July 1933, p. 73.

80

Szurek

professor at the Ankara Institute of Education, Hseyin Namk Orkun.43


Besim Atalay,44 who was the long-serving treasurer of the tdk from 1934
through to 1949,45 produced a transcription into Romanised Turkish of
Mahmud al-Kashgaris Turkish-Arabic dictionary. Ahmet Cevat, who for his
part headed the grammar and syntax section uninterruptedly from 1932 to
1949, spent his time translating The Odyssey and Aeschylus Agamemnon into
Turkish,46 as well as conducting research into the origins of language. Lastly,
with regard to the kurultay referred to above as the plenary assemblies of the
association, they also functioned as major symposiums of Turkish linguistics, always lasting a week or more and on two occasions taking on an international dimension (modestly in 1934 and more markedly in 1936).47 Calls for
papers, selection committees, proceedings of sessions, blackboards, delegate
badges, footnotes, bilingual editionsin short the standard repertoire of
international academic conventions was adopted in the symposiums and
resulting publications.

A Patriotic Club

The tdk may thirdly be characterised as a forum for folklore studies. Here we
encounter an additional genealogythat of the cultural clubs48 which
sprang up in the wake of the 1908 Revolution. Their members were civil
43

tdk/kd 1938022; Hseyin Namk Orkun, Eski Trk Yaztlar [Old Turkish inscriptions],
III: Istanbul, Devlet Basm Evi, 1936 and 1938; IIIIV: Istanbul, Aleddin Kral Basm Evi,
1940 and 1941.
44 Kgarl Mahmut, Divan Lgat-it Trk Tercmesi [Translation of the Divan Lgat-it
Trk], edited by Besim Atalay, Istanbul, Aleddin Kral Basm Evi, 3 vols., 19391941.
45 Besim Atalay was a teacher who went on to become a senior civil servant in the Ministry
of Education, and a parliamentarian from 1920 to 1946. Sevgi zel, Besim Atalay, Ankara,
tdk, 1983.
46 Homeros, Odsseia, I & II, translated by Ahmet Cevat Emre, Ankara, Recep Ulusolu
Basm Evi, 1941 and 1942; Aishlos, Agamemnon, translated by Ahmet Cevat Emre, Ankara,
Recep Ulusolu Basm Evi, 1943.
47 The tdks kurultays were held in 1932, 1934, and 1936 in Istanbul, and then 1942, 1945, and
1949 in Ankara. For discussion of the international impact of the 1936 kurultay see
E. Szurek, Le recteur, le professeur et le Byk nder. La thorie de la Langue-Soleil sous
lil de Jean Deny, Turcica, no. 42, 2010, pp. 279303.
48 Fsun stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete Trk Milliyetilii: Trk Ocaklar (19121931)
[Turkish Nationalism from the Empire to the Nation State: The Turkish Heaths (1912-1931)],
Istanbul, letiim, 2004 [1997], p. 71.

The Linguist And The Politician

81

servants and Army officers, and their linguistic, archaeological, and literary
activities are known to have played a notable role in the spread of Turkism and
making it widely acceptable during the second constitutional monarchy.49
This is a standard form of activism for associations and one which spread
across Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.50 Whilst the Greek Literary
Association of Constantinople (1861) was certainly not the first of its kind, it
provides an interesting case for understanding how this transnational model
took root within the Ottoman context, firstly among the non-Muslim communities in large port towns on the Eastern Mediterranean.51 The Topular Soka
premises in Pera provided members with a library and reading room. The
Association conducted diverse scientific, artistic, and educational activities in
all fields relating to the Rum language and culture from Asia Minor.52 It also
published a journal. But most importantly it was understood that its members
did not do politics.53 In other words it acted as a laboratory for cultural renewal
based on a set of actions presented as strictly apolitical. It is notable that whilst
their motivations were probably not the same, the members of Turkist associations founded in Istanbul after the 1908 Revolution also professed the same
political neutrality. Even such Turkist organisations as Trk Dernei (the
Turkish Association, December 1908), Trk Yurdu Cemiyeti (the Association
of the Turkish Country, August 1911), and the Federation of Trk Ocaklar
(the Turkish Hearths, the first of which was founded in March 1912), were
careful to assert their independence vis--vis the Unionist government.54
What was the situation with regard to the tdtc, founded seventy years after
the Greek Literary Association of Constantinople and twenty years after the
Turkist associations of the Unionist period? The tdtc was of course aligned
49

50
51
52

53
54

Paul Dumont, La revue Trk Yurdu et les musulmans de lEmpire russe. 19111914, Cahiers
du monde russe et sovitique, vol. 15, no. 34, 1974, pp. 315331; Masami Arai, Turkish
Nationalism in the Young Turk Era, Leiden/New York, E.J. Brill, 1992.
Anne-Marie Thiesse, La Cration des identits nationales. Europe, XVIIIeXXe sicle, Paris,
Seuil, 2001.
Johann Strauss describes it as a first rank learned society, without any equivalent in independent Greece, in Les voies de la transmission, p. 112.
Mropi Anastassiadou, Les dfis de lentre-deux. Les Grecs de Pra. Une communaut
ottomane lpoque des constructions nationales (1804-1923), habilitation thesis,
University of Nancy, 2009, vol. II, pp. 331343.
Orhan Trker, stanbul Rum Edebiyat Dernei (1861-1923) [The Rum Literary Association
(1861-1923)], Tarih ve Toplum, no. 175, July 1998, pp. 49.
P. Dumont, La revue Trk Yurdu, p. 317; F. Georgeon, Les Foyers Turcs, pp. 80ff.; M. Arai,
Turkish Nationalism, pp. 7ff. and 50; F. stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete, pp. 22, 52, 69ff.,
149ff.

82

Szurek

with the Kemalist authorities, from which it had emanated. Yet in many ways
it was heir to the tradition of patriotic committees from the beginning of the
century. Firstly because the same people were often members of both. The
poet and literature teacher Cell Sahir, a founding member of the tdtc, had
belonged to the Trk Dernei. In 1917 he took over from Yusuf Akura as the
head of Trk Yurdu, which became the organ of the Turkish Hearths, for which
he had been a member of the governing body in the 1920s.55 Ali Canip, an education inspector who was head of the philology section of the tdtc from 1934
to 1942, had been involved in the Yeni Lisn (The New Language) movement
founded in Salonika by Ziya Gkalp and mer Seyfeddin.56 The first president
of the tdtc, Samih Rifat, had come into contact with the main Turkist associations in Istanbul during the second constitutional monarchy. After the war he
sat on the central committee of the Trk Ocaklar, and was president of its
cultural commission (hars heyeti) for part of that time.57 The first general secretary of the tdtc Ruen Eref is known to have attended the kurultay of the
Turkish Hearths in 1927 and 1928.58 The parliamentarians zzet Ulvi and Besim
Atalay, elected to the tdtc central committee in 1934, had attended these
annual congresses of the Trk Ocaklar back in 1924.59 Lastly, Hasan Reit
Tankut, a civil administrator trained at the Mlkiye who sat on the tdk central
committee from 1934 to 1950 (and acted as its general secretary from 1945 to
1949), had previously been an inspector for the Trk Ocaklar.60
Various rituals that were part of the life of the tdk during the 1930s and
1940scelebrations, anniversaries, competitionscontinued to display the
55
56

57

58

59
60

brahim Alettin Gvsa, Trk Mehurlar Ansiklopedisi [Encylopaedia of famous Turks],


Istanbul, Yedign Neriyat, 1946, p. 81; F. stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete, p. 46.
And of its journal Gen Kalemler [Young Pens]. M. Arai, Turkish Nationalism, pp. 2447;
Hseyin Sadolu, Trkiyede Ulusuluk ve Dil Politikalar [Nationalism in Turkey and the
Politics of Language], Istanbul, Bilgi niversitesi Yaynlar, 2003, pp. 142ff.
Ayegl Celepolu, Trk Dil Kurumunun Kurucu Bakan Samih Rifat: Hayat ve Eserleri
[The President and Founder of the tdk Samih Rifat: His Life and Works], Ankara, tdk,
2008, pp. 41ff. It is worth noting that in 1927 Samih Rifat published a brief study and collect
of folklore with the publishing section of the Turkish Hearths: arkn Masal Analar
[Female Storytellers of the Orient], Ankara, Trk Ocaklar Merkez Heyeti Matbaas, 1927.
The old Mongol term kurultay was resuscitated in 1925 to designate the congresses and
general assemblies of the Turkish Hearths: the tdtc simply followed their example. But
the term was also used in 1926 for the Baku Congress where one sees pour la premire fois
les peuples turko-tatares se rencontrer ainsi dans un kouroulta essentiellement fraternel.
J. Castagn, Le Congrs, p. 25.
F. Georgeon, Les Foyers Turcs, p. 92. zzet lvi also stands out for his numerous folklore
articles published in the journal Trk Yurdu before the war.
F. stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete, pp. 165, 253, and 313.

The Linguist And The Politician

83

academic patriotism that had characterised cultural clubs during the second
constitutional monarchy. To give but one example, at the Peoples Institute of
Ankara at 4pm on Wednesday, 29 May 1937, the tdk celebrated the centenary
of the birth of the famous Russian linguist, ethnologist, and founding father
of Turkology Wilhelm Radloff. Various figures from academia were invited,
such as the members of the Trk Tarih Kurumu,61 Turkology teachers and
students from the University, secondary school literature teachers from the
capital, and various figures from the Ministry of Education and the single party.
A member of the Soviet embassy, on the grounds that he was a Turkologist,
finally managed to obtain an invitation. After a lecture by Hasan Reit Tankut
on the history of European Turkology, the Radloff Day (Radloff gn) was
rounded off with a buffet laid on by the Society.62

From the Turkish Hearths to the Peoples Houses: A National


Federation

It is true that this modest and intimate celebration does not do justice to the
tdk, which was also a powerful federation with several hundred branches
throughout Anatolia. We have not yet examined quite to what extent the tdtc
was the direct material and institutional heir to the Turkish Hearths (Trk
Ocaklar),63 dissolved barely one year before it was set up. We may here detect
the fourth aspect of the Societythat of a nationwide organisation. It is
worth recalling that in the 1920s the Turkish Hearths expanded considerably to
the point where they amounted to an intermediary body with about 250 provincial branches and 30,000 members across the whole of Anatolia. Up until
1926 this federation of patriotic committees was able to maintain a certain
degree of autonomy from government.64 And not without reason, as the Trk

61 The Trk Tarihi Tetkik Cemiyeti (tttc, then the Trk Tarih Kurumu, ttk) was founded in
April 1931. It is common practice to present the tdtc and tttc as sister societies (karde
cemiyetler) from 1932 onwards: see for example the address by the president of the tttc
Yusuf Akura in tdtc, Birinci Trk Dili Kurultay, pp. 434ff.
62 Archives of the Prime Ministers Office (hereinafter bca) 030.10.0.0/144.033.09; tdk/kd
1937011.
63 tienne Copeaux has already pointed out the intellectual links between the Turkish
Hearths and the tttc in Espaces et temps de la nation turque. Analyse dune historiographie nationaliste 19311993, Paris, cnrs ditions, 1997, p. 59.
64 F. Georgeon, Les Foyers Turcs, pp. 80, 101; F. stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete,
p. 402.

84

Szurek

Ocaklar amounted to an alternative nationalist movement to the line put forward by the Kemalist party. The organisation retained stronger affinities with
the pan-Turkist imaginary of the second constitutional monarchy. It assigned
a far greater place to Islamic references in defining post-Ottoman Turkishness
than that which Kemalist leaders were willing to accord to it, something that is
particularly perceptible in the open hostility of the Turkish Hearths to abandoning the Arabic script. This political discord explains why the Trk Ocaklar,
presided from 1912 by the writer Hamdullah Suphi, were increasingly seen by
the Kemalist leadership as a threat, at the precise moment when it was undertaking the final political and parliamentary purges to ensure the chf absolute
political control (19251927). But the Turkish Hearths were a private association and so another approach was acquired to bring them under control. This
is where it is important to examine the chronology of the years immediately
preceding the setting up of the tdtc in detail.
The Kemalist found an important ally to help them to achieve their ends in the
person of Reit Galip. A military doctor by training, and parliamentarian since 1925,
he was a member of the Independence Tribunals which had been reactivated for
the great trials of 1926.65 Reit Galip became known within the Turkish Hearths as
a supporter for ideological and institutional rapprochement with the chf. The
Turkish Hearths were progressively brought into line. The principle of political
convergence with the chf was approved in the spring of 1927; in the autumn the
Hearths were placed under the authority of the partys inspectors. But the final
blow came in April 1931 when the organisation was dissolved, with all of its property
going to the single party. One month later the third Congress of the chf elected
Reit Galip as president of the partys Bureau for Youth and Cultural Affairs,66
anditwas he who supervised the setting up of the single partys new cultural
organisations: the Peoples Houses (Halkevleri), the first fourteen of which
opened in February 1932barely 4 months before the creation of the tdtc
frequently in premises which had been bequeathed by the Turkish Hearths.67
From that moment on it was accepted that the Peoples Houses would be
65

66

67

A journalistic (and hagiographic) biography has been written of him: Yener Oru,
Atatrkn Fikir Fedaisi Dr. Reit Galip [Dr. Reit Galip, Atatrks intellectual fedayin],
Istanbul, Grer Yaynlar, 2007.
At this date he was already general secretary of the recently formed Society for the Study
of Turkish History (tttc). R.E. [naydn], Une contribution lhistoire de la Rvolution.
La Socit pour ltude de la Langue Turque. De sa fondation au premier Congrs, supplement to Trk Dili, no. 2, 1933, p. 11.
For discussion of all of this paragraph see F. Georgeon, Les Foyers Turcs, pp. 74105;
F. stel, mparatorluktan Ulus-Devlete, pp. 226252 and 402; S. imek, Bir deolojik
Seferberlik, pp. 72ff.

The Linguist And The Politician

85

composed of various sections, the most important of which was the Language,
History, and Literature Section (Dil, Tarih ve Edebiyat ubesi).
And then in September 1932 to the statutes of the tdtc as decided by the
first kurultay redefined the role allotted to the Language, History, and
Literature Section of the Peoples Houses, now characterised as local commissions (vilyet merkez heyetleri) of the tdtc. Thus, in practical terms,
the Peoples Houses, which were in many respects (including material ones)
the heirs to the Turkish Hearths, acted both as social supervision structures
for the single party and as local branches for the Linguistics Society. The memoirs of Ruen Eref suggest that this odd alliance, devised in high places, arose
as much from practical considerationsgiven the context of economic crisis
and the structural weakness of public fundingas it did from any strategy of
social control to subjugate cultural and associative life to the single party:
His Excellency Gazi Mustafa Kemal desired that the statutes [of the
tdtc] take into account the cooperation that the entire nation was
invited to take part in so as to solve the language problem. He recommended avoiding the supplementary costs involved in setting up special
bodies, and making use of the Republican Peoples Partys organisations
and of the Peoples Houses cultural sections [i.e. the Language, History,
and Literature Sections].
And predictably enough it was once again Reit Galip who headed operationsbefore continuing his ascent since the head of state finally appointed
him Minister of Education, barely one week before the opening of the
kurultay:
Dr. Reit Galip Bey [] was at the time a member of the general steering
committee of the rpp [the single party] and acted as head of its cultural
bureau. His Excellency the President of the Republic informed us that he
had instructed Reit Galip Bey to work with us [the Linguistics Society].
Reit Galip Bey and Cell Sahir Bey, who had since come back from
Zonguldak,68 thereforeset about drawing up the statutes. At this juncture Reit Galip Bey was appointed Minister of Public Education. But he
only left for Ankara once he had drawn up the articles relating to the
organisation of the Society.69

68
69

The first treasurer of the tdtc was the mp for Zonguldak.


R.E. [naydn], Une contribution, p. 11.

86

Szurek

The Increasing Interpenetration of the tdk and the Party

We are now in a position to appreciate to just what extent the tdtc was
devised as dependent upon the organisational arrangements put in place by
the Kemalist elites in the early 1930s. We are dealing with a sort of rhizome in
which two distinct social structures, a learned society and a political party,
interact via the provinces in ways that are more a matter of interpolation than
of juxtaposition or hierarchical insertion. It was not firmly established how
roles were to be divided up between the two organisations, and they changed
with the fluctuating power relations within the field of Kemalist power, that
can be considered as a polyarchic zone between the association, the single
party and, as we shall see, the public administration.
A letter from the general secretary of the chf sent on 24 January 1933 to the
general secretary of the tdtc is most revelatory of the process of bureaucratic
trial and error in the cooperation between the two head offices in Ankara
(of the party and the Association) within a single organisational structure:
It is written that the steering committees of the Language, History, and
Literature Sections of the Peoples Houses, which will act as the local centres for your society (cemiyetinizin vilyet merkezleri) in accordance with
the statutes of the tdtc, will be subject to your instructions with regard
to their work on linguistic material, and they will devote all their efforts
to this issue. Nevertheless please send the party a copy of the instructions
given so that our bureaus in charge of monitoring scientific undertakings
may be informed of your activities.70
Such an approach is illustrative of the degree of autonomy the tdtc had from
the single party in its decisions regarding its relationship to the Peoples
Houses, at least in the early years. But a provision in the regulations of the tdk
approved ten or so years later after the 1942 kurultay indicates that the balance
of power and hence forms of interaction between the two structures had
shifted: in the event of its dissolution the property, revenue, and debts of the
tdk shall be passed to the chf. For the first time the tdk was formally identified as a satellite of the single party.71
Nevertheless and in addition to this virtually constitutional (if fluctuating)
interpenetration between the two bodies, it is when we turn our attention to

70
71

tdk/kd 1933011.
tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultaynca, p. 16.

The Linguist And The Politician

87

the members of the tdks central committee that the full extent to which
political personnel overlap with Kemalist scientists fully transpires. What we
find is a characteristic form of functional de-specialisationand of nonspecialisation even72between scholars and politicians, leading to the notion
of an organic intelligentsia. It is hardly surprisingly given the parliamentary
background of the four founding members of the tdtc that ten of the eleven
individuals elected to the central committee after the August 1934 kurultay
were chf parliamentarians: Saffet Bey (mp for Erzincan), Besim Atalay
(Aksaray), Ahmet Cevat (anakkale), Ali Canip (Ordu), Hasan Reit (Mu),
Yakup Kadri (Manisa), Cell Sahir (Zonguldak), Refet Bey (Urfa), Naim Hzim
(Konya), and zzet Ulvi (Afyon).73 The eleventh was brahim Necmi, a literature
teacher at the Galatasaray secondary school in Istanbul and former member of
the Dil Heyeti, who replaced Cell Sahir as deputy general secretary of the tdtc
in August 1932, before becoming general secretary in December 1933, taking
over from Ruen Eref who had been appointed Ambassador to Tirana.74 Barely
one week after taking up his position in the tdtc he was promoted to the rank
of assistant inspector of education, which meant that he no longer had to fulfil
any teaching duties75; he had to wait until 1936 to benefit in turn from the use
Kemalist leaders made of parliamentary positions to win the loyalty of their
intellectual clientele (and provide them with a stipend76). At this stage all the
members of the tdks central committeewithout exceptionalso sat in the
tbmm.77 As for the central committee of 1942 it was composed of nine
72

73
74
75

76
77

The notion of de-specialisation presupposes that there are dynamics at work prior to the
division of labour and the separation into different social sectors. And here we can venture a generalisation: to what extent was the organic Kemalist intelligentsia an extension
of the structural porosity in the 19th-century Ottoman clerical tradition between the
scholarly (and cultured) world and the state bureaucracyand an exacerbation even of
this? For discussion of the separation of the intellectual field in the late Ottoman Empire,
cf. . Tresay, tre intellectuel, pp. 8084, and 495.
Trk Dili, no. 8, September 1934, p. 163.
Kzm Yeti, brahim Necmi Dilmen, Ankara, Kltr Bakanl Yay., 1989, pp. 19; tdk/kd
1933062, 1933102.
Ceren Kalfa, 1933 Yl: Planlamada Smerbank Modeline Gei [1933: The Switch to the
Model of the Smerbank in Planning], [Annotated Administrative Chronology. 1929-1939],
Ankara, Ankara niversitesi Basmevi, 2007, pp. 413-519: 513; bca 030.10.0.0/143.024.13.
E. Szurek, Le recteur, le professeur, p. 291.
tdk, nc Trk Dil Kurultaynca Kabul Edilen Trk Dil Kurumu Ana Tz ve alma
Program [General Regulations and Work Programme of the tdk adopted by the Third
Congress of Turkish Linguistics], Istanbul, Devlet Basmevi, 1936, p. 17. At that point,
brahim Necmi had been appointed professor at the University of Ankara.

88

Szurek

parliamentarians, a former parliamentarian, a university professor (smail


Hakk Baltacolu), and a retired colonel (Fuat Kseraif).

A Propaganda Workshop and Outlet

The kurultays were not just the general assemblies of an association, nor purely
scientific congresses. They were also ceremonies to the glory of the regime and
the Language Revolution. Held in the sumptuous setting of the Dolmabahe
Palace in Istanbul, the 1932, 1934, and 1936 kurultays were first and foremost
political meetings that were opened in great pomp to the strains of the
municipal band: they played the Independence March (the national anthem)
first, followed by the Kurultay March. The kurultays were both literally and
figuratively vast orchestrations directed by the tbmm president Kzm Pasha
in person. All the important figures of single-party Turkey were present, for
behind the Linguistics Association was no doubt Atatrk himself, and consequently all official Turkey,78 that is to say that the several hundred people who
attended were ministers, senior Army officers, senior civil servants, lawyers,
doctors, journalists, presidents of Chambers of commerce and industry, and
especially a very large number of parliamentarianswhich lent the kurultays
of the 1930s the somewhat singular appearance of the Kamutay on its summer
holidays.79
And so the event may be seen as a manifestation of national sovereignty,
with several dozen delegates from the Peoples Houses from all over the country in attendance, along with numerous secondary school teachers and lecturers. Out of the 714 people who attended the 1932 kurultay, Jacob Landau states
that there were 312 teachers and 40 students, i.e. exactly half the number of
people present.80 The proportion was the same in 1936.81 The presence of

78
79
80

81

E. Szurek (ed.), Jean Deny. Rapport au recteur Charlty sur le 3e kurultay de la langue
(1936), Turcica, no. 42, 2010, p. 307.
Kamutay is the purified term used to designate the Turkish Parliament.
Jacob Landau, The First Turkish Language Congress, Joshua Fishman, The Earliest Stage
of Language Planning. The First Congress Phenomenon, Berlin-New York, Mouton de
Gruyter, 1993, p. 276ff.
A list of the participants is given in tdk, nc Trk Dil Kurultay. 1936. Tezler Mzakere
Zabtlar [Third Congress of Turkish Linguistics. 1936. Papers, Discussions, Proceedings],
Istanbul, Devlet Basmevi, 1937, pp. viixxiv. The 1942 kurultay on the other hand, which
was held at the Peoples Institute in Ankara, was more like an external session of Parlia
ment than a meeting of teachers and educational personnel, with 432 parliamentarians

The Linguist And The Politician

89

people from the world of teaching was part of the general image of public education that Kemalist leaders wished to give these great nationalists gatherings,
as indicated by the description Ruen Eref gives of the Dolmabahe Palace a
few days before the opening of the first kurultay:
I crossed the great ceremonial hall, now dark and silent. Once a golden
throne had stood where the platform now was, and men with multicoloured decorations had once been where these chairs now were. At that
time the hall had acted as a mediaeval setting for a man who thought of
himself as Gods shadow. Now, with its platform and rows of chairs, it
looked like a vast classroom that in a few days would be filled up with
men from all over the country come to speak, act, vote, and decide.82
The fact that the solemn events were held on the banks of the Bosphorus
rather than in Ankara is no doubt indicative of a strategy of political intimidation directed against any clusters of linguistic conservatism amongst the cultured circles of the former Ottoman capital. Above all it is illustrative of the
symbolic sway of the Turkish Revolution in a place which had previously
been at the heart of sultanate power, as well as the personal involvement of
Mustafa Kemal in the language cause (dil davas). The Gazi, in his presidential box, never missed a session.
Each time the editors of the leading national newspapers received specific
instructions from the chf to devote their front-page articles to the event, and
arrangements were made with the relevant authorities for the sessions to be
broadcast live on the radio. An incident which occurred on the evening of the
first day of the 1932 kurultay, 26 September, is indicative the extent to which it
was a propaganda event: it turned out that the radio broadcast could not be
performed from the great ceremonial hall. Not a problem. At 11pm the Gazi
ordered that the congress be transferred to another room in the Palace. Soldiers
from the neighbouring garrison were summoned in the middle of the night to
lend a hand. Within the space of a few hours the platform, secretaries tables,
radio installations, and hundreds of chairs had been moved.83 But it was during the August 1936 kurultay that the propaganda dimension of the tdks
activities was most clearly visible. About 120 language festivals (dil bayram)
were organised all over the country to coincide with the gathering in Istanbul

82
83

making up 50% of the attendance. Cf. tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultay 1942,
pp. viiixxxix.
R.E. [naydn], Une contribution, p. 10.
Id., Trk Dili Tetkik Cemiyeti, p. 49.

90

Szurek

and act as little provincial kurultays. For three or four days, in a gigantic
operation of political synchronisation, the Peoples Houses and chf sections
were mobilised to get the entire country to march to the tune of the symposium in Istanbul. Transmitters belonging to administrations and individuals were requisitioned, tuned to the Istanbul frequency, and linked up to
loudspeakers scattered around the squares of the small towns of Anatolia so
that the gospel of Kemalist linguistics could ring out across the regions in
real time.84

An Auxiliary Organisation to the State

We have seen the predominant role played by Dr. Reit Galip in forcing the
Turkish Hearths to become Peoples Houses, and then in drawing up the statutes of the tdtc. With his appointment as Minister of Education in September
1932 he became the honorary president of the tdtc. But when Samih Rifat
died in December 1932, Galip took over as the effective president of the Society
too. Here we encounter a process of dedifferentiation, initially arising from
circumstances, between a (cultural, scientific, activist, etc.) association and
an administration, but which subsequently became the norm, as the two
following ministers also acted as tdtc president.85 A new president was not
elected until the second kurultay (in August 1934), when a mere parliamentarian, Saffet Bey, was appointed.86 Then in June 1935 when he was appointed
Minister of Education in turn, whilst continuing to act as the effective president
of the Society, the association and the state bureaucracy started being entangled again. Finally, new statutes were adopted at the August 1936 kurultay rationalising the situation: henceforth the Minister of Education was to act de jure
as the president of the organisation, which increasingly resembled a public
84

85

86

A study of these provincial festivals as a local instrument for political socialisation may be
found in E. Szurek, Dil Bayram. Une lecture somatique de la fte politique dans la
Turquie du parti unique, in Nathalie Clayer and Erdal Kaynar (eds.), Penser, agir et vivre
dans lEmpire ottoman et en Turquie. tudes runies pour Franois Georgeon, Paris/Louvain/
Walpole, ma, Peeters, 2013, pp. 497-523.
Refik (AugustOctober 1933) and Yusuf Hikmet (October 1933July 1934) presided at the
sessions of the tdtc on 19 August and 26 November 1933 respectively. tdk/kd 1933067,
1933100.
Votes were by show of hands, on the basis of a proposal by the president of the kurultay,
and were always approved unanimously.

The Linguist And The Politician

91

institution, whilst the position of honorary president was shared between the
president of the tbmm, the Prime Minister, and the Chief of Staff.87
Another indication of this shift is provided by the purification in October
1935 of the name of the tdtc, which became the tdk. This shift was not purely
etymological, and also reflected the transformation of the cemiyet (association) into a kurum (institute).88 In other words the period of tactical retreat
was over, and in the political and parliamentary context of the mid-1930s the
Kemalists no longer had any reason to fear reactionary flashbackincluding
from chf parliamentarians as had been the case in July 1931 when certain of
them had reacted against the Dil Heyeti. And the new Turkish Language
Institute was comparable in this to other establishments such as the Turkish
Geography Institute (Trk Cografya Kurumu), the Turkish Economics Institute
(Trk ktisat Kurumu) and, of course, the Turkish History Institute (Trk Tarih
Kurumu).89 It is worth adding that this new title, adopted as the theory of the
Sun-Language was being devised, is also indicative of the expanding research
fields of the organisation, and even of its epistemology, with a shift away from
an idiographic approach (the study of the Turkish language, Trk dili) towards
a nomothetic one (the investigation of language in general, dil). The Turkish
Language Institute now covered the entire spectrum of the human sciences,
from racial anthropology to psychology of peoples, taking in comparative
mythology along the way.
In addition to these legal and philological considerations, the financing of
the tdk is most illustrative of the position the organisation had within the
public sector. Whilst the first kurultay was paid for entirely by the government,
as of autumn 1932 the tdtc had its own budget. In 193334 its resources stood
at 27,290 liras, of which 92% came from the Prime Ministers office and 5%
from the chf.90 This was a very modest sum in comparison to the resources
of the Statistics Bureau, for instance, which had 180,570 liras in 193233.91
87

88
89
90
91

tdk, nc Trk Dil Kurultaynca Kabul Edilen, p. 3. In other words at this stage the
Peoples Houses officially depended both on the general secretary of the chf and the
minister of education, in a context characterised as of 1936 by the increasing dedifferentiation between the administration and the party.
As lker Aytrk has already pointed out in Politics and Language, p. 15.
That is to say the former tttc. These various institutes were all represented at the 4th
kurultay: tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultay 1942, pp. xxxx ff.
Only 2.5% came from sales of the Societys bulletin. Cf. Trk Dili, 8, September 1934,
pp. 46-49, 96. It may be recalled that the financial year starts on 1 June and ends on 31 May.
C. Kalfa, 1933 Yl, pp. 424ff.

92

Szurek

However, in 194142 the budget of the tdk rose to 115,000 liras.92 And so it is
not surprising that the tdk registers were by this period examined by the
accounting departments of the Ministry of Education, of the party, and of the
tbmm, and even by the Inspectorate of the Ministry of Finances.93 From this
point of view the tdk may be generally seen as an auxiliary organisation to the
state, in the same way as other Kemalist and pre-Kemalist associations carrying out various social and political support missions that had been farmed out
to them, such as the Federation of Sports Associations, the Child Protection
Association, the Red Crescent, the Association for Turkish Public Education,
the National Economy and Savings Association, and even the Aeronautics
League.94 This clearly indicates the authoritarian nature of the regime and is
reminiscent for instance of the role played by comparable arenas within the
cotemporaneous administrative system of Fascist Italy.95

A Government Agency

The financial arrangements described above do not tell the whole story. For the
tdk also benefited greatly from the material and especially human resources
provided by the Ministry of Education (typists, general dogsbodies,96 and so
on). For example throughout the 1930s the Societys scientific publications
came out of the Ministry of Educations quota at the State Printing Office
(Devlet Basm Evi).97 And especially departments within various ministries
were on several occasions placed at the service of the tdkto the extent
92

This is an increase of 360% within eight years, which cannot be put down to inflation
given that, for instance, its electricity and heating costs increased by only 13% over the
same period (tdk/kd 1941010).
93 tdk/kd 1939016, 1941010. It being understood that the Grand National Assembly of
Turkey (tbmm), like the executive branch, is one of the many sources of finance of the
tdk: tdk, Drdnc Trk Dil Kurultay 1942, p. 25.
94 The tdk was formally linked to all these bodies in a French-language publication of
Kemalist propaganda: author not indicated, Les associations dans la Turquie nouvelle,
Les Annales de Turquie, no. 6, November 1933, pp. 126133.
95 Jean-Yves Dormagen thus notes two typical tendencies of the Fascist period: the first []
consists in turning private structures into public bodies so as to exert political control
over them, and the second in attributing functions to these new para-state entities which,
in theory, would have been the responsibility of departmental administrations. Jean-Yves
Dormagen, Logiques du fascisme. Ltat totalitaire en Italie, Paris, Fayard, 2008, p. 45.
96 By dogsbody we are referring to the subaltern category of state servants still found in
Turkish administrations today and referred to as ayc (tea boys) or odac (errands
boys). tdk/kd 19330036.
97 tdk/kd 19330039, 19330040.

The Linguist And The Politician

93

where it is not always easy to determine exactly whether it was the private
Association or the bureaucracy of state that was the auxiliary of the other, as
observed in somewhat lyrical terms by Minister Reit Galip in his opening
speech of the first kurultay in 1932:
The Prime Minister smet Pasha has asked me to tell you officially that all
the government organisations [btn hkmet tekilt] will endeavour
to implement your decisions to the greatest possible degree. (Applause.)
And I must say, in having the pleasure and honour to carry out this task,
I believe with the greatest possible conviction that this undertaking,
devised coherently and in the same spirit by the State, the Government,
and Nation [Devlet, Hkmet ve Millet], will result in the greatest of successes in the shortest possible time, and that it will soar up on its tireless
wings towards the infinite heavens. (Applause.)98
In January 1933 the tdtc launched a vast lexicographical campaign (sz derleme seferberlii) to collect Turkish words from Anatolian vernaculars to
replace the Arabic and Persian words in the written language. This campaign
was established by a regulation of 21 November 1932 issued by the Cabinet, the
first two articles of which are worth quoting:
Article 1. A collection commission is to be set up, presided by the provincial governor in each vilayet, in order to help the Society of the Study of
the Turkish Language which is collecting Turkish words used in popular
language.
Article 2. The members of this commission shall be as follows: the
members of the provincial commissions of the Society for the Study of
the Turkish Language, the Mayor, the highest-ranking Army officer, the
vilayets Director of Education, the Director of Health and Social Services,
as well as the Heads of secondary schools, middle schools, and schools of
art, commerce, and agriculture.99
And so in fact the undertaking drew upon the full range of public energy, from
the top right down to the bottom. On 4 January 1933 the President of the
Republic paid a visit to the central committee of the tdtc to check that everything was in place now that they were on the final straight.100 The amountof
work put in by Minister Reit Galip, who presided over half of the 36 sessions
98 tdtc, Birinci Trk Dili Kurultay, pp. 15ff.
99 Trk Dili, no. 1, April 1933, p. 49.
100 tdk/kd 1933033.

94

Szurek

between January and July, indicates the degree of direct government involvement. For six months all of the levels of central government were enlisted: the
muhtars in the villages, the mayors in small towns, and the kaymakams (the
deputy provincial governors)with the valis (provincial governors) centralising operations. Schoolmasters were sent out to the villages, and a ministerial
directive exhorted them to intensify their efforts over the summer holidays.101
Agents from the Ministry of Agriculture collected terminology for plants and
wildlife.102 Over this period as a whole over 120,000 listings were sent in by the
provincial commissions to Ankara, where the tdtc centralised them, drew up
an inventory, and selected the words which were to make up the lexical body
of purified Turkish. Other initiatives, which will not be studied here, such as
an important survey conducted in the press (between March and July 1933)
were carried out with the help of the public authorities.103 Here the tdk may
be seen partly as a branch of the Ministry of Education, with which it seems to
become wholly one, and partly as a interdepartmental agency, conducting the
behaviour of other administrations, and whose task was nothing less than
regally determining the new Kemalist linguistic orthodoxy. In 1935 the two
first bilingual lexicons were publishedthat is to say from old (Ottoman) to
new (purified) Turkish, and inversely.104 In 1941 the tdk distributed a spelling guide and the Cabinet issued a decree making its use compulsory.105 But
the most important outcome of its activities was no doubt the first official dictionary of revolutionised Turkish, published in 1945.106

Epilogue: A Pious Foundation?

Let us add one further tableau to this multifaceted typology. The tdk was also
a presidential plaything, and the Kemalist linguist was a court intellectual.
Throughout the 1930s the protagonists at the tdk were regularly invited to dine
101 tdk/kd 1933032, 1933040.
102 tdk/kd 1933021.
103 A.S. Levend, Trk Dilinde, p. 416; G. Lewis, The Turkish Language Reform, p. 49; bca
030.10.0.0/144.032.15.
104 Trk Dili Aratrma Kurumu, Osmanlcadan Trkeye Cep Kilavuzu [Ottoman to Turkish
Pocket Guide], Istanbul, Devlet Basm Evi, 1935; Trk Dili Aratrma Kurumu, Trkeden
Osmanlcaya Cep Kilavuzu [Turkish to Ottoman Pocket Guide], Istanbul, Devlet Basm
Evi, 1935.
105 tdk, ml Klavuzu [Spelling Guide], Istanbul, Cumhuriyet Basmevi, 1941; tdk/kd
1941010.
106 tdk, Trke Szlk [Turkish Dictionary], Istanbul, Cumhuriyet Basm Evi, 1945.

The Linguist And The Politician

95

at ankaya, in the Anatolian capital. And each year, when the summer came,
they followed the Head of State to the banks of the Bosphorus, where Mustafa
Kemal took up his summer residence.107 And so when in the autumn of 1938
the Gazi, feeling his death was near, dictated his last wishes to a Beyolu lawyer,
he named his two favourite institutions amongst his heirs: the Trk Tarih
Kurumu and the Trk Dil Kurumu.108 This act, which had no immediate political
impact, turned out to be decisive twelve years later when the Democrats came
to power and dismantled the entire institutional framework associated with the
chf. Mustafa Kemals will acted as a talisman, enabling the tdk to assume a
new rationale: that of a private (not to say pious) foundation and legatee of the
personal fortune and desires of the departed President, hence endowed with
his charismatic capital that still paid dividends thanks to the permanent personality cult which was conducted independently of changes in government
and the clean break of 1950. This material and symbolic legacy prevented the
new political leaders from doing away with the tdk in the way that they dissolved the Peoples Houses. In other words, the tdk changed its stripes once
again and, for the first time, was now an association not merely in name.109
Conclusion
This study challenges a routine form of analysis concerning Kemalist Turkey
which makes do with the (heuristically weak) notion of the party-state. Over
the course of the 1930s and 1940s the tdk was an ever shifting conglomerate of:
a private association; a learned society; a nationalist club; a federation of patriotic committees; a satellite of the single party; a parliamentary adjunct; a propaganda workshop and outlet; an auxiliary organisation to the state; an academic
institute; a branch of a ministry; a government agency; and a presidential pastime. A certain feeling of disorientation, it is to be hoped, should be retained
from this kaleidoscope. Such uncertainty does not only reveal the inadequacy
of our own understanding, it was rather engineered by Kemalist activists as a
tactical tool in response to the 1931 opposition within the single party that had
107 Two rooms were made available to the tdk and ttk in the Dolmabahe Palace. tdk/kd
1933051, 1936011, 1937013, 1938016.
108 By leaving half of the dividends on his shares in the Bankas (The Business Bank) to one
and half to the other. N. Tan (ed.), Kuruluun 70. Yl Dnmnde Trk Dil Kurumu, p. 36.
109 tdk, Olaanst Trk Dil Kurultay 1951 [1951 extraordinary Kurultay], Ankara, ttk Basm
Evi, 1954. The provisions in Mustafa Kemals will meant the tdk continued to survive as
an association up until the 1980s.

96

Szurek

managed to halt the first campaign to transform the language.110 In other words,
one of the ways in which it was possible to remove the obstacles to linguistic
purification, barely one year after the Parliament had dissolved the Dil Heyeti,
was by diluting the boundaries between civil and political society.
More generally, continuing to see as analytically useful categories such as
political, administrative, associative, and intellectual amounts to adopting the
fictions (both nominal and legal) through which the Kemalist leadership built its
own domination. Statehood here goes hand-in-hand with a certain degree of
elasticity, relying on what was neither a set of purely formal arrangements nor an
institutional wasteland. In other words, what this study brings to light is that the
Kemalist politics and policies were not determined by the social weightlessness
of a pre-existing ontology111or the implementation of some Machiavellian
roadmapbut one of governmental experimentation, involving a certain amount
of trial and error and of opportunism. As in a three-card monte, the protagonists
of the Turkish Revolution manipulate the regulatory formulae before our eyes:
legal texts, memoranda, and association statutes are all cards to be played.
The art of prestidigitation is a political skill in itself, concealing how dense the
connections binding together the dominant class in single party Turkey actually
arebe they permanent or transitory, subterranean or open. When studied
closely, the tdk reveals the interplay of rationales which unified the Kemalist
field of power: were you to weed out the tdk, you would be leftdepending
upon the exact momentwith the sections of the chf, two or three para-public
outlets, most of the ministries, a number of high-ranking civil servants, a barrage
of parliamentarians, a fair smattering of Army officers, a dozen diplomats, tens
of journalists, a squadron of lecturers, a regiment of writers, a few hundred
Peoples Houses, a presidential residence, and a palace on the Bosphorus.
110 . Aytrk, The First Episode.
111 Murat Metinsoy, Fragile Hegemony, Flexible Authoritarianism, and Governing from
Below: Politicians Reports in Early Republican Turkey, International Journal of Middle
East Studies, vol. 43, no. 4, 2011, pp. 699719; Benjamin Gourisse, Order and Compromise:
The Concrete Realities of Public Action in Turkey and the Ottoman Empire in this
volume.

chapter 5

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

The Administration of the Teaching of Islam in Single-Party Turkey


Nathalie Clayer
An increasing number of studies over recent years have looked at the question
of Islam and how it was managed in Republican Turkey.1 Most of them raise
doubts about the wisdom of comparing Turkish laiklik and secularity as the
concept is understood in France. They reject the idea of a separation between
the religious and the state sphere, preferring instead to speak of the control
exerted by the latter on the former, and of the nationalisation of Islam.2 As
Hamit Bozarslan argues, taken in conjunction with the other reforms, this may
be viewed as a radical policy for the exercise of power that was imposed by the
nationalist and westernised elites, a hegemonic syntax devised in response to
an obsession with civilisation.3 Gavin Brockett suggests in his most recent
study that laiklik be seen as having both a negative facetthe destroying of
pre-existing Islamic institutionsand a creative facetexploiting religion to
fashion national Turkish identity.4
Within this context the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet leri
Reislii), which was set up in 1924, is frequently presented as an instrument to
control the religious sphere. Umut Azak views it as the main administrative
instrument for the diffusion of official Islam throughout the country, under
the direct supervision of the Prime Minister.5 For smail Kara it is a muzzled
1 I wish to thank Emmanuel Szurek and Alexandre Popovic for having carefully read a first
draft of this chapter, which enabled me to improve it thanks to their observations. I am also
indebted to all those taking part in the TransTur project, whose meetings provided a fruitful
environment for the development of my ideas.
2 See for example the studies by Hamit Bozarslan, Islam, lacit et la question de lautorit de
lEmpire ottoman la Turquie kmaliste, Archives de sciences sociales des religions, no. 125,
2004, pp. 99113; Hakan Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity in Turkey, Oxford, Oxford University
Press, 2003; Taha Parla and Andrew Davison, Secularism and Laicism in Turkey, in Janet R.
Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini (eds), Secularisms, Durham, nc/London, Duke University Press,
2008, pp. 5875; and Umut Azak, Islam and Secularism in Turkey: Kemalism, Religion and The
Nation State, London, I.B. Tauris, 2010.
3 Hamit Bozarslan, La lacit en Turquie, Matriaux pour lhistoire de notre temps, no. 78, 2005,
pp. 4249.
4 Gavin Brockett, How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk: Provincial Newspapers and the Negotiation
of a Muslim National Identity, Austin, tx, University of Texas Press, 2011, p. 45.
5 U. Azak, Islam and Secularism, p. 12.
koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_006

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institution wedged between religion and the state, with limited prerogatives
and subject to the political realm.6 More generally, it would seem that the religious sphere was particularly subject to constraint and repression by the
authoritarian Kemalist regime. Whilst this view is particularly pronounced
amongst authors of Muslim sensibility, for whom the religious actors were the
victims of this policy, a recent study by Amit Bein offers a more nuanced perspective and shows that there was considerable variation in the positions
adopted by the ulemas, ranging from cooperation to resistance, with most having opted for a middle course.7
The paradigm of collaboration/resistance leads to a certain number of
problems that I return to later on. However, Amit Beins approach has the
advantage of placing the attitude of the religious actors at the heart of his analysis. It also moves beyond the paradigm of reaction (irtica), that has also been
deconstructed by Gavin Brockett.8 Yet it is still the case that all these analyses
have but little to say about how laiklik and the reforms were conceived and
applied on a daily basis. There is of course the issue of the limitations arising
from the sources that tend to be used, preponderantly normative ones (debates
at the Grand National Assembly, political speeches, legislation and other decisions, curricula, and the press which was subject to censorship and control).
The memoirs of those involved at the time are highly subjective. Whilst using
administrative sources could well deliver a more detailed analysis of public
policy and the way it was received, they are not easy to obtain.
In order to better understand the administration of Islam in single-party
Turkey I wish to put forward a different approach, building on work by Amit
Bein and Gavin Brockett in this field, as well as work by Yiit Akn on petitions
and by Alexandros Lamprou on Peoples Houses (Halkevleri). The latter two
both emphasise how complex the relationship between society and the
Kemalist state was. Society, via its interaction with state bodies, also played a
role in fashioning the state. An institution such as the Peoples Houses was a
locus of tensions between actors of varying social profiles, who interpreted the
regimes policies and discourse in the light of power relations at the local level.9
6 smail Kara, Din ile Devlet Arasnda Skm Bir Kurum: Diyanet leri Bakanl [An
Institution Wedged between Religion and the State: The Directorate of Religious Affairs],
Marmara niversitesi lhiyat Fakltesi Dergisi, no. 18, 2000, pp. 2955.
7 Amit Bein, Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic: Agents of Change and Guardians of Tradition,
Stanford, ca, Stanford University Press, 2011, pp. 105116.
8 G Brockett, Revisiting the Turkish Revolution, 19231938: Secular Reform and Religious
Reaction, History Compass, vol. 4, no. 6, 2006, pp. 10601072.
9 Cf. Alexandros Lamprou, Between Central State and Local Society: The Peoples Houses Insti
tution and the Domestication of Reform in Turkey (19321951), unpublished PhD thesis,

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

99

It is therefore necessary to view state institutions as also being arenas and


fields of power.
This sort of approach has been used to re-examine the functioning of the
state under Stalin, frequently perceived via the study of totalitarianism and
analysed in purely political terms, without taking into account the social
dimension. Alain Blum and Martine Mespoulet, for instance, place individuals
at the heart of the action and study the daily administration of statistics, without thereby glossing over the internal contradictions and social tensions which
may underlay the everyday operation of the state.10 They also show how in
many cases the same individuals both collaborated and resisted. The absence
of any clear and coherent message from political leaders may in certain cases
produce temporary areas of freedom. This absence also implies that it is not
always possible to attribute rationality to acts which may subsequently come
to be seen as acts of opposition, and to thereby turn them into acts of resistance.11 Writing on Soviet religious policies, William Husband insists on how
gaps and contradictions could exist between these policies and the way they
were actually applied, and he also reveals just how diverse individual and collective responses to these policies could be.12
I propose to adopt a similar perspective13 and study the contradictions and
negotiations attendant upon the formation of Kemalist religious policies and
the way they were actually applied. More specifically, I will consider the new
Turkish Islamic institutions as a locus of negotiations and tensions between
various actors. Was the Diyanet solely an instrument for Kemalist laiklik policy,
marginalising the ulemas, controlling the religious field, and imposing the new
Kemalist Islam? Was it not also potentially a locus of religious actions that
could on occasions be in a state of conflict, tension, and negotiation with the
actions of other state institutions and other religious entrepreneurs? For there
were in fact a number of state actors intervening in religious administration in
addition to the Diyanet. Thus the study by Umut Azak of the process whereby

10
11
12
13

Leiden University, 2009; Yiit Akn, Reconsidering State, Party and Society in Early
Republican Turkey: Politics of Petitioning, International Journal of Middle East Studies,
no. 39, 2007, pp. 435457.
Alain Blum and Martine Mespoulet, LAnarchie bureaucratique. Pouvoir et statistique sous
Staline, Paris, La Dcouverte, 2003, pp. 514.
Ibid., pp. 341346.
William B. Husband, Godless Communists: Atheism and Society in Soviet Russia, 19171932,
DeKalb, il, Northern Illinois University Press, 2000.
In this I also draw my inspiration from work I am carrying out into the administration of
religion in Albania between the two World Wars.

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the call to prayer (ezan) took on a specifically Turkish form over the course of
the 1930s shows how the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister (who
was directly in charge of the Diyanet), the Directorate General of Religious
Foundations, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of the Interiortogether
with their various local and provincial bodiesthe police, and even various
bodies of the Republican Peoples Party all also intervened, in varying circumstances and to varying degrees.14
Furthermore, the scope of the Diyanet has varied considerably over time.15
When the Diyanet leri Reislii was set up in 1924 it was meant to replace the
Ministry of Religious Affairs and Foundations (eriyye ve Evkaf Nezareti), itself
set up in 1920 under the Sheikh ul-Islams authority, and which at the time had
prerogatives for formulating fetvas (legal opinions), administering qadi courts,
religious education, and the management of places of worship and the religious
foundations financing them. But in fact the organisation and significantly
reduced scope of the new Islamic institutions were not clearly established. It
was only in 1935 that a law was first enacted relating to the organisation of the
Diyanet (law no. 2800).16 In 1924 its prerogatives, as set out in law no. 429, were:
to take decisions relating to Islamic belief and worship; to administer places
of worship; and to appoint and remove religious officials. But in 1931 as a
result of law no. 1827 relating to the budget of the Directorate General of
Religious Foundations, the administration of places of worship and their
personnel was taken out of the hands of the Diyanet and entrusted to the
Directorate General of Religious Foundations (Vakflar Genel Mdrl)
that had been set up in 1924 in parallel to the Diyanet.17 In 1935 and as set out
in law no. 2800, it was still the Diyanet which had last say in the choice of
muftis (regional heads of the spiritual hierarchy), but its choice was limited
to a list of three people put forward by the regional civil and religious authorities (more specifically by a council made up of members of the local town
authorities and religious officials from the administrative division in which the
jurisdiction of the mufti lay).
Turning more specifically to the question of religious instruction, on which
this chapter concentrates as it played a central role in the implementation of
14
15

U. Azak, Islam and Secularism, pp. 45ff. (particularly pp. 58ff.).


The following information is taken from studies by tar Gzaydn, Diyanet: Trkiye
Cumhuriyetinde Dinin Tanzimi [Religious Affairs: The Organisation of Religion in the
Republic of Turkey], Istanbul, letiim, 2009, pp. 62ff.; Gazi Erdem, Religious Services in
Turkey: From the Office of eyhlislm to the Diyanet, The Muslim World, vol. 98, no. 23,
2008, pp. 199215; and Ahmet Hadi Adanali, The Presidency of Religious Affairs and the
Principle of Secularism in Turkey, The Muslim World, vol. 98, no. 23, 2008, pp. 228241.
16 It underwent subsequent reorganisations in 1950, 1965, and so on.
17 The Diyanet took back these prerogatives in 1950.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

101

laiklik given that it was one of the significant issues in fabricating the new
generations in Kemalist Turkey, the scope of the Diyanet may also be seen to
vary in favour both of other state institutions and of non-state religious
actors. Religious instruction formed virtually no part of the prerogatives of
the new religious authorities. The new establishments for teaching Islam (the
Faculty of Theology and the schools for imams and preachers) and religious
instruction in schools were entrusted in 1924 to the Ministry of Education in
accordance with the law relating to the unification of education (Tevhid-i
Tedrisat Kanunu). Only Quran classes were overseen by the Diyanet.18
Furthermore, other religious actors were involved in religious instruction
at times temporarily and in secretoutside the control of the Diyanet and
the other administrations in charge: such as imams operating illegally, the
heads of Muslim Sufi brotherhoods, the leaders of new spiritual movements,
and intellectuals.
And so consequently my contribution, conceived as a theoretical proposal based on material that is largely known, will consist in looking afresh
at the public policies associated with laiklik over the single-party period,
paying special attention to the dynamics and tensions relating to religious
instruction at work both within state institutions and outside them. The
first part of this chapter goes over the case of religious instruction under
the control of the Ministry of Education (in state schools, at the university,
and in specific schools for imams and preachers), so as to identify the tensions and areas of negotiation relating to the drawing up and application
of public policies generally considered as instrumental in separating
schooling and religion. The second part of the chapter looks more closely at
the dynamics driven by religious actors operating both within and outside
state institutions.

The Conditions, the Operation, the Methods, and the Limitations


of a Policy to Separate Education and Religion

The teaching of religion in state schools was no longer the responsibility of


religious institutions and progressively disappeared from the school syllabus.
Sociologists no longer see the disappearance of this subject as a linear, progressive, and inevitable process, and have instead shown how the narrative of a
linear westernisation and secularisation of instruction by the Kemalist elite
18

Elizabeth zdalga, Education in the Name of Order and Progress: Reflections on the
Recent Eight Year Obligatory School Reform in Turkey, The Muslim World, vol. 89, no. 34,
1999, pp. 414438.

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does not correspond to the facts. These authors prefer to speak in terms of a
policy to control and transform Islam, even though there was indeed a progressive rejection of religious instruction, which then reappeared in the school syllabus in the late 1940s with the reintroduction of a multi-party system.19 Islam
remained an important means of creating Turkish citizens. Taha Parla and
Andrew Davison thus refer to the presence of religious principles in certain textbooks commissioned and authorised by the state for children and
soldierswith socialisation via the Army being a major factor in what was still
a largely illiterate society.20 What I wish to concentrate on here is less the issue
of the control and transformation of the role of Islam than that of the heterogeneity of these policies and of the ways in which they were implemented due
to the existence of areas of negotiation between (state and non-state) actors,
depending upon their respective constraints, possibilities, and subjectivities,
in association with changes over time.

Policies for the Town and Policies for the Country
With regard to religious instruction, the policy of the Turkish education
authorities has been less monolithic and more pragmatic than is generally recognised. On occasions the political and social context played a role in this
policy, and it was applied in a relatively heterogenous manner. It is therefore
important to note that whilst religion as a specific subject was indeed gradually removed from primary and secondary school syllabuses, this was done in
differing ways depending upon the level and location of the schools, and often
in an indirect fashion.
Religious instruction disappeared immediately in high schools in 1924, but
were officially retained in other establishments. A study carried out by Father
Xavier Jacob, one of the most detailed explorations of religious instruction during the single-party period in Turkey, shows that the progressive removal of
19

20

Yeim Bayar, The Dynamic Nature of Educational Policies and Turkish Nation-Building:
Where Does Religion Fit In? Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle
East, vol. 29, no. 3, 2009, pp. 360370; Buket Trkmen, A Transformed Kemalist Islam or a
New Islamic Civic Morality? A Study of Religious Culture and Morality Textbooks in the
Turkish High School Curricula, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle
East, vol. 29, no. 3, 2009, pp. 381397; and above all T. Parla and A. Davison, Secularism
and Laicism, speak of the establishment, disestablishment, and re-establishment (in the
1950s) of religious instruction in schools.
Ibid., pp. 6566. See also A. Bein, Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic, pp. 109110, on the
basis of the example of a textbook written by Abdlbaki Glpnarl comparing the actions
of Mustafa Kemal to those of the Prophet. On socialisation via the Army see Smbl
Kayas chapter in this volume.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

103

religious instruction from secondary schools (orta okul) resulted in complex


negotiations among the political authorities and the teaching authorities. In
1924, one hour per week was set aside for religious instruction in the first two
years of secondary schooling, concentrating primarily on the rituals and history
of Islam. But two years later the subject lost its status, no longer being part of
the school-leaving diploma. Above all in 1927 the provincial Council for Public
Instruction held in Istanbul debated the issue of religious instruction, with a
majority of coming out in favour of optional instruction, as opposed to a minority who wished it to remain compulsory and to be increased even to two hours
per week. The issue was also debated at the same time by the provincial Council
for Public Instruction in Ankara, where some even argued for the abolition of
lessons, and the Ministry of Education had to step in to settle the matter.21 The
fact that religious instruction subsequently no longer appeared on the syllabus
would appear to indicate that it had become optional. It was not however abolished since in 1928 a memorandum specified that religious instruction would be
given on Monday afternoons during free time. Nevertheless, in 1930 the new
school programmes set aside Monday afternoons for handwork for boys and
sewing for girls, or other sorts of physical and practical activities, apparently
rendering it impossible to dispense religious instruction at school.22
There was thus disagreement amongst those in charge of education about
the abolition of religious instruction in orta okuls and, at least during the
period 19241930, decision-makers were obliged to use half-way or indirect
measures, such as no longer making the subject compulsory, pushing it off the
official timetable, or imposing other subjects. The reduction and subsequent
suppression of religious instruction in state schools resulted from internal
power struggles within the Kemalist elites confronted with the everyday attitudes of the population and with political and social changes (such as the
Sheikh Said rebellion in 1925, the economic crisis of 1929, the episode of the
Liberal Republican Party in 1930, events in Menemen at the end of the same
year, and so on).23
21
22
23

Xavier Jacob bases this assertion on a notice which appeared in Oriente Moderno, VII,
1927, p. 367.
Cf. Xavier Jacob, LEnseignement religieux dans la Turquie moderne, Berlin, Klaus Schwarz
Verlag, 1982, pp. 110113.
The rebellion which broke out in the Kurdish regions in South-East Turkey in 1925, under
the leadership of Sheikh Said, a leader of the Naqshbandi brotherhood, resulted both
from religious causes (the wished-for return of the Sultan Caliph) and the Kurdish nationalist cause. It resulted in the banning of brotherhoods in 1925 and the instigation of an
authoritarian regime with the law on public order decreed by the Turkish authorities.
As for the events in Menemen, which resulted in the assassination of a member of the

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Let us now look at the case of primary schools as described by X. Jacob.24


Primary teaching was conceived differently for the towns, with their ilk mektebi
(primary) schools, and for villages, with their ky mektebi (village) schools. The
two sorts of establishment differed both in terms of the length of studyfive
and three years respectivelyand in the sort of teachers, who were not called
schoolmasters or schoolmistresses (muallim/retmen) in the village schools
but school instructors (eitmen/retmen muavini). There were also different
syllabuses in the schools, in particular with regard to religion. And so whilst
religious instruction in town schools was initially reduced and reconceived in
line with the needs of the regime,25 before then disappearing from the official
syllabus in 193026 when it became an optional subject taught outside school
hours, it did not disappear from the syllabus for village schools until 1939.27
Even though the amount of time devoted to religious instruction was extremely
limited (officially half an hour per week), the fact that it continued at all is
highly informative about the particular approach adopted to village and peasant life and the place occupied by religion within this approach.28 In theory at
least laiklik was not meant to go so far as to offend the religious sentiments of
the majority of the population and thus risk creating too much discontent.
The varying degrees to which religion was present within state schools did
not however arise purely from differences in policy for different types of school.

24
25

26

27

28

Armed Forces, they arose from the combined influence of social protest and a messianic
movement. See U. Azak, Islam and Secularism, pp. 16 and 23; Hamit Bozarslan, Le mahdisme en Turquie: lincident de Menemen en 1930, Revue du monde musulman et de la
Mditerrane, no. 9194, 2000, pp. 297320.
X. Jacob, LEnseignement religieux, pp. 114127.
The emphasis was placed on combating superstition and fanaticism, the importance
of good deeds and almsgiving both for social assistance and for national defence organisations (aviation, etc.), the separation of state and religion, the absence of any hierarchy
or intermediaries within Islam, and the dissociation of Islam and Arabic.
As late as 19301931 a textbook was still being published for religious lessons taught in
both the ilk mektebi and ky mektebi schools (Muallim Abdlbaki, Cumhuriyet ocuunun
Din Dersleri [Religion Lessons for the Republics Children], Istanbul, Kaynak Yaynlar,
2005 [19271931]).
X. Jacob, LEnseignement religieux, pp. 114127. See also Bayram Sarcan, 1930lardan
Gnmze Bursada Din Hayat [Religious Life in Bursa from the 1930s until Today], Istanbul,
Dnce Kitabevi, 2005 [2003], p. 36. Parla and Davison (Secularism and Laicism, p. 65)
have already underlined the different nature of the policies for towns and villages.
For further discussion of the Kemalist approach to village and peasant life, see Asm
Karamerliolu, Orada Bir Ky Var Uzakta: Erken Cumhuriyet Dneminde Kyc Sylem
[There is a village in the distance: Peasantism in the early Republican period], Istanbul,
letiim, 2011.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

105

It was bound up with the optional nature of religious instruction for town
schools (of all levels) between 1924 and 1930, and as of 1930 or a bit later for
village schools. But more generally it also depended upon the profile of each
teacher and their individual personality and attitude. In particular the teaching reforms resulted in the suppression of posts for religious instruction teachers, who were either obliged to retire or else were re-appointed as teachers of
other subjects if they had the requisite capacities, so as to meet the imperious
need for schoolmasters and teachers.29 It is clear that a former religious
instruction teacher was likely to be more sensitive to religious issues than his
colleagues. And even amongst the other members of staff, their degree of sensitivity could vary greatly. Bayram Sarcan attended primary school in Bursa
between 1935 and 1940 where he had two schoolmasters with totally opposing
attitudes towards religion, with one forcing his pupils to eat chestnuts during
Ramadan and thus break their fast (if they were indeed fasting), whilst the
other had a positive approach towards religion, explaining cleanliness, for
example, in praising those who performed the ablutions for ritual prayers four
or five times a day.30
The teachers and inspectors were also obliged to react to very heterogeneous situations depending upon the religiosity and practices of their pupils
and parents. Kutuz Hodja, who I will return to in greater detail later on, refers
to several episodes from the three years he spent at the ky mektebi in his village in the region of the Black Sea from 1931 to 1934.31 At one end of the spectrum, his instructor did not want to put a pupil top of the class who had recited
the requested poem perfectly but had done so using the Quranic method of
recitation, and the inspector obliged the villagers to build a new school as he
could not stand lessons being given in the former medrese near the mosque.
And at the other end, one of Kutuz Hodjas teachers allowed him to not attend
school during Ramadan so that he could go and recite the Quran (hafzlk) in

29
30

31

X. Jacob, LEnseignement religieux, p. 113.


B. Sarcan, 1930lardan Gnmze Bursada Din Hayat, pp. 3334. His family came from
Gnjilane in the vilayet of Kosovo, and were very devout. It is worth noting that the subsequent waves of immigrants from the Balkans who arrived as muhacir leaving behind
countries under non-Muslim sovereignty swelled the ranks of the devout in Kemalist
Turkey (see H. Bozarslan, Le mahdisme en Turquie, pp. 303ff.).
He does not remember there being any religious instruction in his school. All subjects were
taught from the single reading book. He was particularly marked by his music lessons
(smail Kara (ed.), Kutuz Hocann Hatralar: Cumhuriyet Devrinde Bir Ky Hocas [The
Memoirs of Kutuz Hodja: A Village Hodja in the Republican Era], Istanbul, Dergh Yay.,
2000, pp. 4445).

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the region and so earn some money for his impoverished family. He thanked
his master by giving him two packets of cigarettes.32 At the local level negotiations were thus permanent and complex.

The Kemalist Elites, Religion, and the University
The case of the closure of the Faculty of Theology in 1933, to which we will now
turn, shows how these negotiations did not always relate solely to the place of
religion within state institutions, but also to more general issues. Following on
from the closure of the medreses in 1924, the new Turkish government decided
to set up a Faculty of Theology in Istanbul. It is generally stated that low student numbers led to the establishment being replaced in 1933 by an Institute
for Islamic Research, which in turn closed in 1941 or 1942. But if we follow Yasin
Aktay, who has produced a study about the academicisation of religious knowledge and the brief existence of the Faculty of Theology,33 then it can be seen
that the question of student numbers alone is insufficient to explain why the
establishment closed. We also need to take into account the diverse positions
held by the Kemalist elites towards religion, its teaching, and the training of
religious authorities, and especially and far more generally their positions on
the relationship between the University and the state.
First of all it is important to bear in mind that this Faculty was more involved
in teaching the sociology of religion than in teaching religion itself, and that
only three of its professors were ulemas. In addition to this the Faculty tended
to serve Kemalist policies, especially via the publication of a journal (lahiyat
Fakltesi Mecmuas) which printed many texts about Islam translated from
other languages, as well as by drafting the programme of radical reforms to
Islam in 1928, inspired by the historian Mehmet Fuat Kprl and by smail
Hakk Baltacolu.34 This reform programme sparked off a controversy and
was not implemented. So why did this Faculty close?35

32
33
34

35

Ibid., pp. 4446.


Yasin Aktay, Political and Intellectual Disputes on the Academisation of Religious
Knowledge, unpublished ma thesis, Ankara, Middle East Technical University, 1993.
Mehmet Fuat Kprl (18901966), a historian and historian of literature, taught the history of Turkish religion at the time at the Faculty of Theology; see infra for information
about smail Hakk Baltacolu.
The reform programme drew on science, rationality, and the desire to nationalise social
institutions, and in particular suggested the introduction of benches in mosques, the possibility of not removing your shoes, the use of music, Turkish versions of the prayers,
and the philosophical explanation of the precepts of Islam (see in particular X. Jacob,
LEnseignement religieux, pp. 9598; A. Bein, Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic, pp. 126
129; U. Azak, Islam and Secularism, pp. 5253).

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

107

To understand this we need to consider the question of university reform as a


whole, as it stood in the early 1930s.36 Certain people within the Kemalist elites
were for the autonomy of the University (Darlfnun), whereas others were for it
being totally dependent so that it could contribute fully to the Revolution. Several
factors inflamed the debate. Firstly what was called the photograph crisis, when
the University authorities forbade students from having their photograph taken
and certain Kemalists saw this as a reason to place the University under strict
control. Then in 1933 the Minister of Education criticised the University in front
of the Grand Assembly. The Minister drew on a report drawn up by a foreign
expert, Albert Malche, highlighting poor academic results, to suggest closing the
Darlfnun, which was not doing enough to further the Revolution. The fact that
members of the University opposed the new historical theories during the
Turkish History Congress of 1932 was not unrelated to his position, and the
Darlfnun did indeed close. When the new University of Istanbul opened, only
83 of the 240 former professors were appointed as faculty members, whose ranks
were swelled by foreign professors.
And in this new establishment there was no longer any Faculty of Theology.
It has to be said that one of its leading members had been smail Hakk
Baltacolu, a professor of the sociology of religions who, despite having been
one of the authors of the 1928 report on the reform of Islam and hence one of
the driving forces behind the Kemalist approach of the Faculty of Theology,
had subsequently published writings that were starting to mark him out as a
conservative Republican; he had been involved in the Liberal Republican
Party (Serbest Cumhuriyet Frkas) in 1930;37 he was also opposed to the new
historical theories, as were other professors at the Darlfnun.38
36

37

38

I also use here data provided by Yasin Aktay based especially on lhan Bagz, Howard E.
Wilson, Educational Problems in Turkey, 19201940, Bloomington, in, Indiana University
Press, 1968, and Bra Ersanl, ktidar ve Tarih: Trkiyede Resmi Tarih Tezinin Oluumu
(19291937) [Power and History. The Formation of the Official History Thesis in Turkey
(19291937)], Istanbul, Afa Yaynlar, 1996, pp. 167168.
smail Hakk Baltacolu (18861978) graduated from the University of Istanbul in 1908
and travelled in Europe, where he studied western teaching systems before going on to
become a professor of education. He was Rector of the Darlfnun from 1923 to 1925, before
going on to teach the psychology of religions at the Faculty of Theology. As of 1933 he edited
the cultural journal Yeni Adam (The New Man). In 194142 he returned to the University
and became a member of the Turkish Parliament. He wrote numerous works about teaching and published a translation and commentary on the Quran in the 1950s (Nazm rem,
Turkish Conservative Modernism: Birth of a Nationalist Quest for Cultural Renewal,
International Journal of Middle East Studies, no. 34, 2002, pp. 87112; Mehmet Faruk
Bayraktar, Baltacolu, Ismayl Hakk, Trkiye Diyanet Vakf slam Ansiklopedisi, s.v.).
B. Ersanl, ktidar ve Tarih, pp. 168169.

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The closure of the establishment thus resulted from the desire to purge the
University as a whole. In this context it was not possible for the Faculty of
Theology, where a figure such as smail Hakk Baltacolu played a central role,
to escape unscathed. It has furthermore to be observed that certain Kemalists
may also have wished that all religious instruction cease at university level, for
this would have made it possible to train new religious leaders who could
potentially become an alternative source of authority.

Student Numbers at the Schools for Imams and Preachers: Low but
not that Low
The hypotheses of a lack of students or of an outright attack on religious
institutions cannot thus fully explain the closure of the Istanbul Faculty of
Theology, making it is interesting to look at the question of secondary schools
to train imams and preachers (also known as imam-hatip schools) which
opened in 1924 at the same time as the Faculty and which were likewise run
by the Ministry of Education. Why were they progressively closed, and how?
The official historiography refers to the low student numbers, which is a way
of affirming that there was no directly antireligious policy involved. But new
studies that take into account the freedom of manoeuvre available to the
populationreduced though it may have beenthrow a different light on this
process.
Mehmet Ali Gkat has shown how certain imam-hatip schools were closed
and others opened over the years, in a way which though variable which would
appear to suggest the existence of regional groupings. In 192627 there were
only two left, in Istanbul and Ktahya, and they were closed in 1931.39 Whilst
low student numbers may have been a factor in their closure, Xavier Jacob has
shown that this may also have resulted from the differing attitudes to such
establishments of the population who, irrespective of whether or not they
were also associated with any religious stance, were always subject to strong
constraints imposed by the regime. These attitudes included boycotting
the new establishments for religious reasons, rejecting them due to the limited prospects and difficulty in going on to study in a secondary school or
university, a preference for other, increasingly numerous careers, and the
absence of boarding accommodation to send children to a school in another
region.40

39 Mehmet Ali Gkat, mam Hatipler [The mam-hatips], Istanbul, letiim, 2005,
pp. 140146.
40 X. Jacob, LEnseignement religieux, pp. 99107.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

109

Mustafa cal41 for his part queries the official figures and shows that the number of pupils was often adjusted downwards, and that the establishments were
not closed due to a lack of pupils as claimed by the official historiography (even
if student numbers were very low for the country as a whole). Especially, his
comparisons of the number of students enrolled at the secondary school and at
the imam-hatip school in Ktahya prove that the latter had just as many if not
more pupils up until September 1930, when it was closed apparently without any
official decree and thus without any legal basis. This closure thus resulted primarily from the reaction of the local teaching authorities to the overly fierce
competition the imam training school was giving to the secondary school.
The question of career prospects was, however, an issue, and this due
to constraints imposed by the state authorities. Interviews carried out by
Mustafa cal with three pupils who attended the imam-hatip school at the
time indicated there were virtually no available salaried positions as an imam.
Some pupils, including one of these three, went on to become a village imam
(and thus unpaid).42 The majority of pupils went on to the Teacher Training
College at Konya to become schoolmasters. Others were subsequently able to
follow courses as of 1940 in village institutes (ky enstits) to become instructors (eitmen) in village schools. In the last two cases pupils from the imamhatip school went on to become teachers and were thus entrusted with
educating the new generations of the Republic, and this despite their possible
inclination for religion which could potentially interfere with their teaching.
As was the case with the former religious instruction teachers, the shortage of
teachers meant the state was led to produce and tolerate heterogeneity
amongst its agents.

When Religious Actors Took Action

In order to better understand the interactions within the religious sphere relating to the transmission of religious knowledge, it is necessary to look not only
at how public policy operated and at its limitations, but also at the dynamics
generated by the action of people endowed with religious authority, whether
or not they were related to state institutions.
41

42

Mustafa cal, mam ve Hatip Mektepleri: Mezunlarndan Bazlar ile Yaplan Mlkatlar
ve ehdetname rnekleri [The imam-hatip Schools: Encounters with Some Graduates
and Examples of Delivered Certificates], Uluda niversitesi lhiyat Fakltesi Dergisi, vol.
12, no. 2, 2003, pp. 51101.
The person in question indicated that this involved being appointed by the kaymakamlk.

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The Diyanet and the Revitalisation of Quran Courses


As mentioned above, the Turkish Ministry of Education did not succeed in
obtaining oversight of all religious instruction. The head of the Diyanet, Rifat
Breki, managed to retain the prerogative of managing Quran courses (Kuran
kursu) as they were classed as professional education (which logically should
have applied even more clearly to the case of imam-hatip schools).43 But in fact
these classes, which were originally intended to train people able to recite the
Quran by heart (hafz), took on a more general role as places for the transmission of religious knowledge. There were moreover increasingly large numbers
of them throughout Turkey from the late 1930s onwards. They were only officially listed by the Institute of Statistics as of 1932, when there were 9 of them
with a total of 252 pupils. According to official statistics in 193435 there were 19
of them with 231 boys and 15 girls. But by 193839 there were a total of 29 with
966 boys and 103 girls, and the next year 48 with 1239 boys and 142 girls. In the
1940s and 1950s they became even more popular. For Xavier Jacob, who supplies
these figures, these numbers doubtless underestimate the phenomenon as they
do not include undeclared classes, discussed in the next part of this chapter.44
Mustafa cal also explains that it is hard to establish the exact figures. His
research indicates that Quran courses set up in 1925 may have been closed due
to the reform to the alphabet as of 1928, even though to be totally rigourous the
use of Arabic characters was only forbidden for the Turkish language.45 From
1930 howeverand thus prior to the rise in numbers at the end of the decade
the Diyanet apparently granted authorisations to as many as nine teachers on
an individual basis for this sort of instruction.46
Looking at the figures given above, it emerges that the increase in the number of Quran courses was particularly significant as of the 19381939 school
year, that is to say the year Mustafa Kemal died (November 1938) and Ismet
nn took over as head of the Turkish state and of the single party. This
43

44
45

46

As a result of action by Rifat Breki, and thanks to a motion filed by 50 Turkish mps, the
Diyanet was able to set aside a sufficient part of its budget to pay for about fifteen Quran
courses (cf. Mustafa cal, Trkiyede Kuran Eitim ve retiminde Grlen Gelimeler ve
Bir czetname rnei [Developments in teaching and learning the Quran in Turkey and an
example of diploma], Uluda niversitesi lhiyat Fakltesi Dergisi, vol. 13, no. 2, 2004, p. 87).
X. Jacob, LEnseignement religieux, pp. 127130.
Xavier Jacob also raises this point. It would appear that in 1937 it was compulsory to use
Latin characters in class (Esma Torun, II. Dnya Sava Yllarnda Laiklik Uygulamalar:
Deiimin lk aretleri [The Implementation of laiklik during the Years of World War II:
First Signs of Change], Ankara niversitesi Trk nklp Tarihi Enstits Atatrk Yolu
Dergisi, no. 2930, 2002, pp. 143158).
M. cal, Trkiyede Kuran Eitim, pp. 8691.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

111

cannot be coincidental. But 1939 is also the year when religious instruction
disappeared from the syllabus of village schools. These however depended on
the Ministry of Education. Research conducted by Esma Torun47 indicates that
the death of the Father-Turk emboldened the Diyanet leadership, and several
other state administrations of various levels soon reacted in turn.
In the course of 1939 the head of the Diyanet requested that teachers receive
a pay rise and that the number of imam-hatips be increased.48 With regard to
the Kuran kursus, he encouraged the teachers giving these classes to take on
additional students. Especially, he drew up for the first time the regulations to
which they would have to submit. In a letter sent to the Prime Minister he presented these regulations which institutionalised the classes, insisting on several points: hodjas were to be appointed by the Diyanet, and classes were to be
held every day except Sundays and feast days, in predefined mosques and masjids, and at fixed hours; the classes were to be open to all those who had completed primary schooling; lastly, the teachers were notably to recite the call to
prayer in Turkish.49 What with institutionalisation, allegiance to the state via
the Turkish version of the call to prayer, respect for the prerogatives of the
Ministry of Education, and the obligation to attend primary school, the regulations sought as much to control the increasing number of classes as they did to
reassure other state institutions.
Research carried out by Esma Torun indicates however that other institutions did in fact react to this. Bodies within the Ministry of the Interior and the
Ministry of Education, as well as within the Party perhaps, were already used
to intervening against the use of the Arabic alphabet or against competition to
state schools (cf. infra). Following on from the initiatives taken by the Diyanet
with regard to Quran courses, the Ministry of Education sent a report to the
Prime Minister in early 1940. The Ministry of the Interior had informed it
that the Diyanet had opened 49 Kuran kursus in various regions, of which 28
were run by teachers who were paid out of its budget, and 21 by voluntary
teachers. It is worth noting that these 21 teachers may be considered as
belonging to an intermediary category since they were meant to depend on
the Diyanet but without however being paid by it. For the Diyanet it was
47
48

49

E. Torun, II. Dnya Sava Yllarnda Laiklik Uygulamalar, pp. 147150.


According to research carried out by Esma Torun on the basis of documents held at the
Babakanlk Cumhuriyet Arivi (Ankara), in the Diyanet and Muamelat Umum Mdrl
archives.
The call to prayer in Turkish was introduced in 1932 (cf. U. Azak, Islam and Secularism,
pp. 45f. and Eve McPherson, Political History and Embodied Identity: Discourse in the
Turkish Call to Prayer, Music & Politics, vol. 5, no. 1, 2011, pp. 120).

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probably a means of expanding its scope without necessarily having the concomitant financial means.
The Ministry of the Interior and the provincial governors considered that
the increasing number of these classes was against the law relating to the unification of teaching and the organic law of Education, as they were classes
that had been opened without the authorisation of the Ministry of Education
and which fell outside its authority; furthermore, certain pupils had apparently not completed primary schooling, meaning that the classes were generating competition for primary schools. In addition to this they deemed the use
of Arabic characters to be inadmissible. The Minister of Education Hasan Ali
Ycel, arguing that he had authority over all educational undertakings, consequently demanded that the 21 classes not financed by the Diyanet be either
closed or else paid for by the Diyanet. What he was demanding was in effect
that the Diyanet no longer use this sort of flexibility and tolerance enabling it
to operate in a grey zone which could rapidly be expanded. He also demanded
that all these classes stop teaching in Arabic characters and that instruction be
carried out using a translation of the Quran into Turkish characters. Lastly, he
demanded that the regulations be submitted to his Ministry for examination
and planned on organising class inspections to ensure that they did indeed
comply with the definitive version of the regulations.
In this confrontation between the Diyanet and the Ministry of Education
which made common cause with bodies in the Ministry of the Interiorit
would appear that the Prime Minister looked more favourably on the dynamic
being driven by the Diyanet. In any case the Minister of Education did not
receive any response and was obliged to repeat his demands. Furthermore, and
given this context, it is legitimate to wonder whether the abolition of religious
instruction in the village school syllabus was not a consequence of this confrontation (a form of retaliation by the Ministry of Education). Whether or not
this was the case, it was only in 1941 when the Minister of Education raised the
issue once again with the Prime Minister, insisting that pupils of an primary
school age should not follow these classes, that the head of government transmitted an order to this effect to the Diyanet.
To a certain extent the leaders of the Diyanet did not accept the accusation
made by the Minister of Education, and claimed they were respecting his prerogatives. Ahmet Hamdi Akseki, the deputy head of the Diyanet, responded
that all officially enrolled pupils had completed primary schooling, but that as
the classes were open to everyone it was possible that school pupils came and
attended the Quran lessons outside school hours. Even though he affirmed
that he would have these instructions sent to the muftis, it is clear thatas
was the case with teachersthe Diyanet was creating a certain freedom of

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

113

manoeuvre for itself by expanding its field of action into the non-official
sphere (with teachers who were not paid and pupils who were not enrolled).
Beyond this however the leaders of the Diyanet were not able to go further
than certain limits, and the project they drew up in 1942 for the reorganisation
of religious institutions was rejected.50 It was not until the introduction of the
multi-party system that religious institutions enjoyed increased leeway once
again.

The Transmission of Religious Knowledge Independently


of the Diyanet
The issue of Quran courses is significant of the capacity of certain actors
within the Diyanet to take initiatives to develop religious instruction when the
occasion presented itself. But during the single-party period other religious
entrepreneurs acted independently of the Diyanet, and thus outside any state
control, for the boundary between the Diyanet and the rest of the religious
sphere was not wholly impermeable, and nor was that between the latter and
the administrative and state sphere.
The Kemalist authorities undeniably exercised great pressure and repression against religious practices and the transmission of Islamic knowledge.
In the towns in particular the closure of numerous places of worship
(mosques, tekkes, trbes), the lack of celebrants, the pressure put on civil
servants, dignitaries, and schoolchildren to stop them openly practising all
recur frequently in accounts of the period.51 However, and especially though
not uniquely in rural areas, religious knowledge was indeed transmitted and
certain practices did continue to be performed despite these constraints.
This phenomenon took various forms and occurred independently of the
Diyanets activities and of the school courses run by the Ministry of Education.
These transmission practices followed more or less the same lines as those
found during the Ottoman period.
Michael Meeker, in his book A Nation of Empire, has highlighted the continuities in and transformations to the intense process of the transmission of
religious knowledge in the region of Of (Black Sea) where there was a tradition
of religious studies in the late Ottoman period. It was a resource for this poor
region and the hodjas of Of were renowned and worked throughout Anatolia
as ulemas or else simply as imams, in which case they also often exercised a
trade (as pedlars, tinsmiths, or carpenters for instance). Field studies carried
out by Michael Meeker show that the Republic and the constraints it imposed
50
51

E. Torun, II. Dnya Sava Yllarnda Laiklik Uygulamalar, p. 151.


See for instance B. Sarcan, 1930lardan Gnmze Bursada Din Hayat, pp. 134135.

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on the religious field did not engender a complete break here. Whilst the official religious instruction of the medreses disappeared, religious knowledge
continued to be transmitted privately. Depending upon the seasons the pupils
studied with a master at his home, at the mosque, or in the summer pastures,
for a period of several years until they were in the position to obtain the certificate (izin or icazet) attesting to their knowledge of the book they had studied
(be it the Quran or some other work). This meant that the hodjas of Of, who
operated partly on the margins of the imperial system, were able to adapt and
to continue to offer religious expertise. For Michael Meeker, what changed was
that whilst in the Ottoman period the imams of Of catered to the needs of
popular Islam, in the Republican period they enabled the population to subvert the imposition of a new standard of thinking.52
The account provided by Kutuz Hodja, who was born in this region in
August 1918, offers a more detailed view of the ways in which knowledge could
be transmitted during the single-party period (with its attendant constraints)
and predominantly outside the control of the Diyanet or the Ministry of
Education.53 Mehmet Kara, alias Kutuz Hodja, came from a family of village
hodjas (ky hocas) who also exercised various other trades, and he followed
religious instruction for many years with various masters. He started by studying with the hodja at the local mosque along with other children between the
ages of 4 and 12, with classes being held both mornings and afternoons. Then
in 1926 he started studying with the imam at the mosque in another neighbourhood to become a hafz, having already started these classes the previous
summer in the summer pasture region (yayla). The imam in question taught
every day except Fridays and religious feast days to fifty or so pupils, some of
whom came from other villages, on occasions distant ones, and slept upstairs
at the mosque. Studying to recite the Quran lasted from between one to six or
seven years depending upon the pupil, and the pupils family paid the hodja if
they were in a position to do so. In the early 1930s Mehmet attended primary
school, except as seen earlier during Ramadan when he went to earn money by
reciting the Quran in the towns of the region (Bafra, Rize) as his father and
other village inhabitants did.54 In accordance with tradition, from 1934 onwards
Mehmet no longer devoted himself wholly to his religious studies but also
learnt how to be a blacksmith and plasterer and worked as such, though this
did not prevent him continuing with the hafzlk during Ramadan. In general
52
53
54

Michael E. Meeker, A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity, Berkeley
and Los Angeles, ca/London, University of California Press, 2002, pp. 5576.
. Kara (ed.), Kutuz Hocann Hatralar.
Later he also went to Giresun, Bulancak, and Osmanck for the same reason.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

115

religious activities were not an autonomous occupation for such private religious specialists. But in 1939 he became the winter imam at the mosque in his
neighbourhood and was paid by the local inhabitants, hence independently of
the Diyanet.
But especially Mehmet Kara started studying religious sciences with Kum
kum Hodja, the official imam of the Great Mosque (and therefore paid by the
state for his work as an imam though probably not for his teaching duties,
meaning that once again these were carried out in an intermediary zone
between the official sphere and the illegal sphere). Here he learnt fkh (jurisprudence) along with four other students, and started learning Arabic with
another hodja. He also studied reading the Quran with another master who
was barely older than him, both at the yayla and at the masters house along
with three or four other students. More surprisingly his religious training was
not interrupted by his military service, which he carried out between June 1942
and October 1945 in the region of Izmir, during which time he learnt about
health issues. Mehmet met another young religious sciences student there
from the region of who imparted his knowledge about religion to him once
Mehmet had managed with some difficulty to obtain the necessary book from
an imam in Seferhisar.
On returning to his village Mehmet joined the government medical services
for money reasons and on the strength of his newly acquired skills, before
becoming the imam-hatip at the largest mosque in the village in 1948. In 1951
he officially moved to the Diyanet, also as imam-hatip, with a state salary. And
so taking Michael Meekers ideas a stage further it may be suggested that after
the introduction of the multi-party system the imams of Of were able to play a
part in the strengthening of the Diyanet network, even those who had been
trained on the margins of the official system between 1925 and 1945.
Whilst the continuity in private religious teaching is striking, Kemalist policies did bring about transformations via the constraints which emerge here
and there in the account provided by Kutuz Hodja. Firstly the official networks
for the transmission of knowledge which also existed in the region disappeared
in favour of these private networks. The example provided by Kutuz Hodja of
Hajji Memi, his master for religion and for metalwork, is revealing. He came
from a family of ulemas and studied at the medrese in Gneyce from 1922 and
1924, before being obliged to make and sell shoes for ten years at Rize where his
father was the mufti. He then became a blacksmith so as to be able to go from
village to village and thus exercise in parallel as an imam. In 1938 he started
studying Islamic sciencesstill privately and illegally.55
55

. Kara (ed.), Kutuz Hocann Hatralar, pp. 6163.

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But constraints were also brought to bear on private teaching, something


that was officially forbidden. During classes children were posted as lookouts
to give the alarm if the police arrived, in which case everyone was meant to
hide their Quran, take off their fez, and disappear.56 Repression against the
pupils and hodjas could be harsh, and run as far as prison or corporal punishment, often exceeding that laid down in the orders from Ankara, according to
Kutuz Hodja.57 There were also cases in which the local authorities, and in
particular the police, would appear to have turned a blind eye. Kutuz Hodja
tells of one such occasion, which he interprets symbolically, attributing it to
the spiritual power of his hodja.58
Another account relates to the negotiations which could occur, though
unfrequently, at the local level, mainly because the prime target of repression
was the use of Arabic characters rather than use of the Quran, as also illustrated by the position of Minister of Education referred to above. This account,
which relates to the region of Dcze (midway between Istanbul and Ankara)
and dates from 193940, furthermore indicates that whilst the region of Of was
probably a specific case as far as the scale of illegal religious instruction is concerned, such instruction was nevertheless also to be found in other Anatolian
regions. The case was as follows. A hodja who was teaching the Quran without
authorisation to do so was arrested and taken to the police station, before
being judged and imprisoned in Dzce. At the moment of his arrest he nevertheless succeeded in communicating with one of his pupils in Circassian, and
asked him to alert the mufti of Dzce, an influential figure who had officially
performed his investiture as an imam and a hodja. On hearing of his arrest, the
mufti went to the police station. He managed to get the hodja released, who
asserted that whilst he did teach prayers and the Quran he did not teach
Arabic, and did not even know this language. In order to win over the commanding officer, the mufti appealed to him as a Muslim, who cannot prevent a
hodja from teaching children to say their prayers.59
It is worth noting that in these accounts the police emerge as the prime
means of control and repression at the local level. The schoolmasters and especially school inspectors were also sometimes actors in separating schools and
religion, as we have seen. However there are very few instances of intervention
56
57
58

59

Ibid., pp. 36, 46, and 175.


Ibid., p. 41.
Ibid., pp. 4142. A similar dimension may be found in Fulya Atacan, A Portrait of a
Naqshbandi Sheikh in Modem Turkey, in Elizabeth zdalga (ed.), Naqshbandis in Western
and Central Asia, Istanbul, Swedish Research Institute, 1999, pp. 147157.
M. cal, Trkiyede Kuran Eitim, pp. 105113.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

117

by the local administrative authorities or heads of Peoples Houseswho were


frequently in charge of supervising the population.
The private networks we have just examined were frequently run by networks of brotherhoods. The young Mehmed Kara became a hafz by following
the classes of a master associated with the Naqshbandiyya. Some of the sheikhs
of this brotherhoodseveral of whom were accused of stirring up rebellions
against the Kemalist regime and who were presented as archetypal reactionariestrained disciples even after the closure of the tekkes in 1925 and the banning of tarikat activities. Several characteristics of the Naqshbandiyya meant it
adapted particularly well to the new situation, better perhaps than other brotherhoods, such as the practice of retreat from society, that of rabta (the bond
with the spiritual guide), and the individual, silent zikr. Within the context of
Kemalist repression and of the social and cultural changes which began to take
hold in the late 19th-century, certain disciples went still further and devised new
forms of spiritual relations and ways of transmitting religious knowledge which
differed markedly from what we have seen in the case of Kutuz Hodja. There
was greater emphasis on individuals and personal initiatives in spiritual relations and religious interpretations, and a more pietist approach in other cases.60
These transformations, which arose from constraints but also from internal
dynamics of renewal and of adapting to modernity, resulted particularly in the
emergence of two new networks deriving from Naqshbandi circles, but from
which they are clearly differentiated by the central place taken by the dissemination of religious knowledge in their activities. These networks are those of
the Nurcus and the Sleymancs.
Said Nursi (18761960), the founder of the first of these two movements,
started disseminating his writings after the Sheikh Said rebellion (whom he
was accused of having supported) from exile in various towns of western
Anatolia, having originally come from Kurdistan. His writings are works of
Quranic exegesis seeking to reconcile religion and the sciences and to counter
the materialism being promoted by certain intellectuals. His increasingly
numerous disciples copied them by hand (in Arabic characters), thus disseminating a renewed form of Islamic knowledge. Said Nursi was arrested and
charged on several occasions (in 1934 and 1943) along with certain of his pupils.
In 1943 a committee of professors from the University of Ankara was asked to
60

Elizabeth zdalga, Transformation of Sufi-Based Communities in Modern Turkey: The


Nakibendis, the Nurcus, and the Glen Community, in Celia Kerslake, Kerem ktem
and Philip Robins (eds.), Turkeys Engagement with Modernity: Conflict and Change in the
Twentieth Century, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, pp. 6991; H. Bozarslan, Le mahdisme en Turquie, p. 306.

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judge whether his writings were revelatory of the forming of a secret religious
group. But they deemed that they were not so, and Said Nursi was exonerated.
Independently of his charisma, the dissemination of Said Nursis teachings was
already helping create a network of the faithful in Anatolia before 1945though
not yet of the same amplitude as this textual community based on reading and
textual interpretation subsequently acquiredcomprised largely of members
of the middle class together with a certain number of civil servants, soldiers,
and secondary school students, who did not necessarily see any contradiction
between his teachings and the modernity to which they aspired and which was
promoted by the regime. It is difficult to ascertain with any certainty when the
network also spread into the zone of the Diyanet, where it was a subject of tension. Between 1948 and 1960 Said Nursi and his disciples were released on
numerous occasions thanks to reports from the Diyanet concluding that there
was nothing illegal in his writings. In 1964, when the Diyanet published a book
attacking Said Nursi, the head of the Diyanet resigned. Despite this his successor, brahim Elmall, is thought to have been close to the movement.61
The person behind the second movement was Sleyman Hilmi Tunahan
(18881959), who called for a return to the textual sources of Islam. His teaching was more centred on the Quran, but based on a reformed teaching method
and carried out in private houses. During the single-party period Sleyman
Hilmi was imprisoned, in 1939 and 1944. But as was the case for the Nurcus
network, it would seem that the Sleymancs network also penetrated the
Diyanet and even other administrative and state circles. In 1949 imams-hatips
were trained by Tunahan for the Diyanet, which was finding new possibilities
opening up with the multi-party system.62
Amongst the transformations to the field of the transmission of Islamic
knowledge arising due to the Republican context, as well as more generally to
the place acquired by books in the dissemination of knowledge, mention also
needs to be made of the impulse provided by intellectuals such as mer Rza
Dorul (18931952), the son-in-law of the poet and Islamist thinker Mehmet
Akif Ersoy (18731936). This dynamic, without amounting to a movement, nevertheless appealed to similar categories to those won over by the nurcu
61

62

On Said Nursi see erif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey: The Case of
Bedizzaman Said Nursi, Albany, ny, State University of New York Press, 1989; H. Yavuz,
Islamic Political Identity, pp. 151f.; U. Azak, Islam and Secularism, p. 115f.; Bekim Agai,
Zwischen Netzwerk und Diskurs. Das Bildungsnetzwerk um Fethullah Glen (geb. 1938): Die
flexible Umsetzung modernen islamischen Gedankenguts, Schenefeld, EB-Verlag, 2004,
pp. 6471; E. zdalga, Transformation of Sufi-Based Communities, pp. 8082.
See in particular H. Yavuz, Islamic Political Identity, pp. 145148.

An Imposed or a Negotiated Laiklik?

119

movement. Dorul was influenced by the Indian and European AhmadiyyaLahori networka movement of Islamic renewal emphasising the compatibility between Islam and western civilisation, science, and modernity63and
he published a large number of books and brochures about Islam and the
Quran from 1927 onwards. He also published a commentary of the Quran in
Turkish (Tanr Buyruu, 1943, with many subsequent editions) mainly inspired
by the commentary of the Quran written by Muhammad Ali, the movements
founder, as well as many translations of texts written by western converts.
Work remains to be done however on the dissemination of his writings.64
Conclusions
People such as Yasin Aktay, Umut Azak and Amit Bein, for instance, who have
looked at the policy of the nationalisation and Turkification of Islam (with
attempts to produce a translation of the Quran and the call to prayers in Turkish)
have described similar phenomena to those we have just examined for religious
instruction, in particular with regard to tensions within state institutions and the
complex relationships which existed between these institutions and certain religious actorsrelationships which cannot be sufficiently accounted for as simply a matter of oppression/submission or of reaction/repression.65
And so at the end of this study several points may be made. The way laiklik
was conceived and imposed cannot be analysed in terms of a programme of
reforms that had been fully thought through from the start and then applied as
63
64
65

Cf. Nathalie Clayer and ric Germain (eds), Islam in Inter-War Europe, New York, Hurst/
Columbia University Press, 2008.
Mustafa Uzun, Dorul, mer Rza, Trkiye Diyanet Vakf slam Ansiklopedisi, s.v. Certain
of his writings were translated and disseminated in Albania.
In 1926 Rifat Breki dismissed an imam for reciting the Quran in Turkish, declaring such
a thing impossible. The following year the Diyanet published sermons in Turkish, but the
same Rifat Breki specified that only the meviza part (the actual sermon itself) could be
spoken in Turkish. In 1932 his institution was obliged to take part in the campaign for
performing the ezan in Turkish. In the same year the hutbe and reading of the Quran also
took place in Turkish, something which was not repeated in following years. There were
local instances of resistance and avoidance here and there (U. Azak, Islam and
Secularism,pp. 45ff.). With regard to the translation of the Quran, it was entrusted to two
ulemas, Mehmed Akif Ersoy and Elmall Muhammed Hamdi (Yazr), the first of whom
preferred to drop the undertaking and go into exile in Egypt, whilst the second completed
a commentary (tefsir) in which he did not refrain from criticising the Kemalist regime in
his introduction (Y. Aktay, Political and Intellectual Disputes; A. Bein, Ottoman Ulema,
Turkish Republic, pp. 116123).

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such. Instead it is a matter of measures drawn up in the light of a changing context both within Turkey and abroad.66 In this context, the power relationships at
play within diverse and heterogenous Kemalist elites were particularly significant, as was the heterogenous attitudes of state agents towards the imposition of
laiklik, that was developing in non-linear and non-homogenous ways, and
towards playing a role in imposing it. The case of schoolmasters and village
instructors is particularly illustrative here. The shortage of teachersa major
constraint for the governmentobliged the Ministry of Education to employ
former teachers of religion, people who had studied at a imam-hatip school, and
teachers with a certain sensitivity to religion. Furthermore, other issues responding to other rationales interfered in the elaboration of laiklik, such as the town/
country issue or that of the role of the University and how best to control it.
This study has also shown that it is important to take into account the
actions of religious actors whodespite the repression, and operating either
within or without state institutions (with the boundary between the two of
them being somewhat blurred)exploited any freedom of manoeuvre to
change course afforded by the heterogeneities and tensions between various
levels of the administration, and by the states lack of means and ability to
exercise control. Officials working at the Diyanet and within the Turkish education system were not merely passive agents or collaborators. Ahmed Hamdi
Akseki reputedly declared he accepted to become the head of the Diyanet so as
to stave off the worst.67
The examples studied here show that these actionsboth within and without state institutionscannot be reduced to mere reaction. Even under the
constraints of laiklik, these actions followed their own dynamics, sometimes
resulting from transformative factors guiding the Kemalist elites (rationalisation, the adopting of scientific approaches, the use of new media, and individualisation for instance). Equally, laiklik also depended on the daily actions of
these religious actors in turn. The reaction of the Ministry of Education and of
the Ministry of the Interior to actions by the leaders of the Diyanet in 1939 is
enlightening here. And so it may be stated that laiklik during the single-party
period was the fruit of the multiple and complex inter(re)-actions between various overlapping administrative and religious, and public and private spheres.
66

67

I have said little about the external factors that may have been influential, such as the
circulation of models and ideas, the worldwide crisis, changes in the relationship between
politics and religion taking place around the world, etc.
Ahmet Hamdi Akseki Dnemi Diyanet Skntlar [The Difficulties at the Directorate
of Religious Affairs in Ahmet Hamdi Aksekis Time], September 17, 2006. url: http://
www.arastiralim.net/ilk/ahmet-hamdi-akseki-donemi-diyanet-sikintilari.html (accessed
August 27, 2013).

chapter 6

The Military Seize the Law


The Drafting of the 1961 Constitution
Nicolas Camelio
The 27 May 1960 coup put an end to the first experience in Turkey of multiparty democracy. It was the first of a series of military interventions which
have subsequently marked the political life of the country.1 In 1950 the first
free elections resulted in the victory of the Democrat Party (Demokrat Parti,
dp) over the Republican Peoples Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, chp), previously the sole party in Turkey. The Democratic Party triumphed at the following elections in 1954, but this also marked the beginning of a more
authoritarian mode of government with restrictions on the freedom of the
public, the press, and the opposition. Against a backdrop of claims that the
1957 elections had not been free and fair, the opposition between the two
main parties in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey became increasingly
radicalised, and smet nn, the leader of the Republican opposition, a former companion of Atatrk and erstwhile President, was physically threatened even. In late April 1960 there were serious clashes between students
and the police, and the month of May was marked by a string of protests in
Ankara, with cadets from the military school joining in the demonstrations.
With the government exerting less and less control over the situation, on 27
May the Army intervened and overthrew the dp government, officially to
prevent a fratricidal struggle.
In a declaration of 27 May, immediately after taking power, the junta
stated:
Our Armed Forces have taken this initiative for the purpose of extricating
the parties from the irreconcilable situation into which they have fallen
and for the purpose of having just and free elections, to be held as soon as
possible under the supervision and arbitration of an above-party and

1 The title of this paper echoes that of an article in French by Bastien Franois about verifying
constitutionality in France: Bastien Franois, Le droit saisi par la politique, in Jacques
Lagroye (ed.), La Politisation, Paris, Belin, 2003, pp. 373386. Bastiens title refers in turn to
Louis Favoreu, La Politique saisie par le droit: alternances, cohabitations et Conseil constitutionnel, Paris, conomica, 1988.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_007

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impartial administration, and for handing over the administration of


whichever party wins the elections.2
This declared intention to hand over power to civilians within a new framework was accompanied by a request to a group of law professors to draw up a
new Constitution. In the night of 27 to 28 May, an envoy from the National
Unity Committee (Milli Birlik Komitesi, mbk), comprised of the officers
involved in the coup, went and fetched from their homes eight professors at
the Istanbul University Law Faculty and took them by plane to Ankara.3 That
same day it was decided to form a cabinet made up of technocratic ministers,
in other words issued from the upper echelons of the civil service and without
any links to a political party.
The very fact of calling on the civil service and law professors changed the
nature of the coup, triggering a constitutional process over which the military
progressively lost control. Whereas the Constitution was originally meant to be
written within a few months, it in fact took over one year and the number of
those involved increased considerably. The process can be roughly divided into
three phases: from May to October 1960 the first Committee worked under the
supervision of the military. Despite major disagreements between the members of the Committee, it handed in its draft to the mbk on 17 October. Over the
course of the month of October there was increasing opposition to the
Committees draft, and tension built up between the military and the professors. At this stage it also became clear that the draft would not be adopted in
its current state and that a Constituent Assembly would be set up. A second
brief period ran from late October to January 1961, during which a new
Committee was tasked with deciding on what form the Constituent Assembly
would take. In January this Assembly was finally elected and it approved the
new Constitution on 27 May 1961, exactly one year after the coup. This constitutes the third phase. The Constitution was definitively adopted by referendum on 9 July 1961. This Constitution considerably modified the framework of
Turkish politics as it created new institutions more explicitly guaranteeing
fundamental liberties (in particular the Constitutional Council), introduced a
series of social rights, and promoted economic development under the aegis of
the State (by setting up a planning body in particular).
Most studies of 27 May 1960 interpret the coup as an act of revenge by
the deep state (even if the expression is a recent one) on the Democratic
2 Quoted in Walter F. Weiker, The Turkish Revolution 19601961: Aspects of Military Politics,
Washington, dc, The Brooking Institution, 1964, pp. 2021.
3 See below table 6.1 for the members of the Committee of law professors.

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123

government which embodied social forces less attached to the state and
Kemalist ideology than the previous party had been.4 These academic studies,
which are often not that recent, adopt the liberal criticism that the 1961
Constitution was an instrument of domination by bureaucrats and state intellectuals (a position argued for notably by Cell Bayar, the President who was
deposed in 1960), and present the project of the coup officers and their allies as
the ultimate expression of a strong state dominating a weak civil society, thus
amounting to a new bureaucratic version of the Ottoman tradition.5
Equally, studies looking at the writing of the 1961 Constitution are often the
work of legal scholars, paying particular attention to innovations with regards
to institutions and freedoms.6 Such works are strongly influenced by what
could be termed developmentalism, starting from the premise that the evolution of the Turkish Constitution was a long path from classical Ottoman autocracy towards a western democratic form, with the interventions by the military
and other authoritarian periods being temporary deviations on the road
towards democratisation. The 1961 Constitution is hence viewed as the final
stage in the passage to a constitutional system (anayasal sisteme gei) originating in 19th-century Ottoman reforms, passing via the Kemalist Constitution
of 1924, and finally triumphing in 1961.7

4 One of the main studies to have adopted such an approach is Metin Heper, The State Tradition
in Turkey, Beverley, The Eothen Press, 1985. See too Kemal H. Karpat, The Military and
Politics in Turkey, 196064: A Socio-Cultural Analysis of a Revolution, The American
Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 6, 1970, pp. 16541683. For additional academic studies which are
frequently not recent, see Feroz Ahmad, The Turkish Experiment in Democracy, 19501976,
Boulder, co, Westview Press, 1977; Celalettin Gngr, 27 Mays ve Partileme Sorunu [The 27
May and the Issue of Partizanisation], Ankara, Nurol Matbaas, 1992; Suna Kili (ed.), 27 Mays
1960 Devrimi, Kurucu Meclis ve 1961 Anayasas [The 27 May Revolution, the Constitutional
Assembly, and the 1961 Constitution], Istanbul, Boyut Kitaplar, 1998; Blent Tanr, ki
Anayasa 1961 ve 1982 [Two Constitutions, 1961 and 1982], Istanbul, Beta Basm, 1991; W. Weiker,
Turkish Revolution.
5 M. Heper, The State Tradition, p. 89.
6 Orhan Aldkat, Anayasa Hukukumuzun Gelimesi ve 1961 Anayasa (Ders Notlar) [The development of our constitutional law and the 1961 Constitution (lessons notes)], Istanbul,
Faklteler Matbaas, 1970; Suna Kili, Turkish Constitutional Developments and Assembly
Debates on the Constitutions of 1924 and 1961, Istanbul, Robert College Research Center, 1971.
In French, see also Jean Marcou, Lexprience constitutionnelle turque, Revue du droit public et de la science politique en France et ltranger, no. 2, 1996, pp. 426462.
7 For further discussion of this passage to a constitutional system, see in particular Mehmet
Seyitdanlolu, Tanzimat Devrinde Meclis-i Vl, 18381868 [The High Council of Judicial
Ordinances during the Tanzimat, 18381868], Ankara, Trk Tarih Kurumu Basmevi, 1994,

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There is little dialogue between studies by historians and lawyers, and the
thesis of military and bureaucratic reaction fits ill with that of the apotheosis
of democracy. Most studies underline how it is difficult to perceive the logical
and sociological ties between a military coup and the most democratic constitution in history of Turkey, according to the consecrated expression.8
Without seeking to offer a definitive answer, we may perhaps be able to
detect the broad outlines of a solution by paying closer attention to the indeterminate and fluctuating character of the post-coup situation and to the competition between elite groups in their attempts to set up a new regime in
19601961. This chapter will therefore deal with the small group of people
involved in writing the Constitution over a specific period of time running
from May 1960, the date of the coup, to December 1960, when the decision was
taken to entrust an Assembly with the task of drafting the Constitution.
Numerous recent works have studied the areas of overlap between the legal
and political spheres in other fields, and have analysed the effects that drawing
upon the law can have on a cause, or in other words the specific forms of
translation and elaboration brought about by legal professionals.9 The drafting of a constitution and the activity of those involved constitute a privileged
case for observing these overlaps,10 as the studies of the 1958 Constitution in
France by Bastien Franois have shown in particular.11 These encourage us to

8
9

10

11

p. 40; erif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought: A Study in the Modernization
of Turkish Political Ideas, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1962, pp. 155ff.
M. Heper, The State Tradition, p. 87; C.H. Dodd, Democracy and Development in Turkey,
Beverley, The Eothen Press, 1979, p. 82.
Brigitte Gati and Liora Isral, Sur lengagement du droit dans la construction des causes,
Politix, no. 62, 2003, pp. 1730 (quotation here after the articles abstract). See also Danile
Lochak (ed.), Les Usages sociaux du droit, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1989;
Jacques Commaille, LEsprit sociologique des lois. Essai de sociologie politique du droit,
Paris, Presses Universitaires de France, 1994; Lucien Karpik, Les avocats. Entre lEtat, le
public, le march. XIIIeXXe sicle, Paris, Gallimard, 1995; Jacques Commaille, Laurence
Dumoulin, and Ccile Robert (eds.), La Juridicisation du politique. Leons scientifiques,
Paris, Librairie Gnrale de Droit et de Jurisprudence, 2000.
Bernard Lacroix, Les fonctions symboliques des constitutions: bilan et perspectives, in
Jean-Louis Seurin (ed.), Le Constitutionnalisme aujourdhui, Paris, Economica, 1984, pp.
186199; Yves Poirmeur and Dominique Rosenberg, La doctrine constitutionnelle et le
constitutionnalisme franais, in D. Lochak (ed.), Les Usages sociaux, pp. 230251; Antonin
Cohen, Julien Weisbein, Laboratoires du constitutionnalisme europen. Expertises acadmiques et mobilisations politiques dans la promotion dune Constitution europenne,
Droit et socit, vol. 2, no. 60, 2005, pp. 353369.
Bastien Franois, Naissance dune Constitution. La Vme Rpublique 19581962, Paris,
Presses de la Fondation Nationale de Science Politique, 1996.

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125

study the state not as a unified entity, and instead pay attention to the way the
social, political, intellectual, and administrative spheres intermesh, and to
internal divisions within institutions. By studying the disagreements between
the law professors, the constraints weighing upon them, and the various strategies they adopted to see their point of view triumph, this chapter will analyse
the Turkish state as an arena in which various actors intervene (either in their
official capacity or otherwise), and enquire into what was at stake in the perception they had of their work on the Constitution as political or apolitical in
nature.12 Taking up the conclusions of Brigitte Gati, the aim here is to apprehend the principles and ways of acting not as intangibles but instead as resulting from strategies and produced by cooperation and competition between
the various protagonists in very different sectors of the social space.13 Why did
the military call upon the law professors for help immediately after taking
power? How was the differentiation between law and politics negotiated and
decided upon, and in return how did the decision to use the law modify the
game and transform the conditions in which politics was carried out? Lastly,
how are we to account for the fact that the political parties very rapidly took
control of the constitutional process?
This chapter will not be drawing on any new knowledge about the period
to answer these questions,14 but rather putting forward a few hypotheses
12
13
14

Cf. Jacques Lagroye, Les processus de politisation, in J. Lagroye (ed.), La Politisation,


pp.359372.
Brigitte Gati, Les incertitudes des origines. Mai 58 et la Ve Rpublique, Politix, no. 47,
1999, p. 39.
The exact chain of events is well-known thanks to in-depth investigations by journalists
and the publication of first-hand accounts over recent years, mainly by military officers.
For journalistic investigations see Can Dndar and Blent apl, smet Paa: Her Devir bir
Hayat [smet Pasha: One Life for Each Time], Istanbul, mge Kitabevi, 2007; the best investigation however is Abdi peki, htilalin yz [Revolution from the Inside], Istanbul,
Milliyet Gazetesi, 1965. Abdi peki was the editor of the Milliyet newspaper who was
assassinated in 1979 and involved in the reconciliation between Greece and Turkey. For an
example of a first-hand account, see Ali Fuat Bagil, 27 Mays htilli Ve Sebepleri [The 27
May Revolution and Its Causes], stanbul, Kubbealt Neriyat, 1966; Cell Bayar, Kayseri
Cezaevi Gnl [Kayseri Prison Diary], Istanbul, Yap Kredi Kltr Sanat Yaynclk, 1999;
Orhan Erkanl, Anlar Sorunlar Sorumlular [Memories, Issues, and Those Responsible for
Them], stanbul, Baha Matbaas, 1972; Numan Esin, Devrim ve Demokrasi: Bir 27 Maysnn
Anlar [Revolution and Democracy: Memories of a 27 May Protagonist], Istanbul, Doan,
2005; Nazl Ilcak, 27 Mays Yarglanyor [The 27 May on Trial], Istanbul, Kervan Yaynlar,
1975; Sinan Onu, Parola: nklap. 27 Mays Yapanlar Anlatyor [Password: Revolution.
Narratives from Those Who Made the 27 May Happen], Istanbul, Kaynak Yaynlar, 2003.

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about the processes at work over the course of the year 1960. It will start by
analysing the specific terms of the transaction between the military and the
law professors on 28 May 1960, before studying the idea of the state championed by the first Committee tasked with drafting the Constitution, and then
finally examining how this idea failed to fit in neatly with the concrete functioning of the state, with its internal divisions and politicisation.

The Terms of the Transaction between the Military and the Law
Professors


Why Call on the Law Professors?
The fact that law professors were immediately called on to draw up a new constitution was not part of some clearly defined political plan, but instead motivated by immediate preoccupations. Being able to proclaim that a new
constitution was being drawn up and getting the most eminent law professors
in the country to help was, for the military, a way of legitimising the coup and
obtaining the support of academia.
The nomination of the Committee on 28 May seems to have been very much
an improvised affair, and we would be hard-pressed to find any coherent common project shared by the military and the legal sphere. Whilst it has been
established that there were contacts in the 1950s between university professors
and officers susceptible to take part in a coup, nothing indicates that there
were contacts between the group of officers on the mbk and the law professors
they chose. According to Abdi peki they were selected in the following
manner:
Madanolu15 did not know which University professors to choose, and
was unable to settle the matter himself. He remembered that two weeks
previously he had met Professor Nedim Ergven when dining with a
friend in Bahelievler,16 and they had talked about the countrys problems. [He went round to his house:] Excuse me, could you write down
the names of a few professors? he said.17

15
16
17

Madanolu was the officer in charge of the political direction of the junta at the beginning of the coup, prior to the arrival of Cemal Grsel in Ankara.
A part of Ankara inhabited mainly by officers and high-ranking civil servants at that
time.
A. peki, htilalin yz, p. 196.

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127

Apparently he wrote down the names of the professors who were subsequently
selected for the Committee. This anecdote clearly illustrates the degree of
improvisation, and that the importance of these nominations was massively
underestimated. For the mbk it was a matter of obtaining academic backing
but the difficulty of the task was not assessed very precisely. Over the course of
the first few days the mbk and the president of the Committee, Sddk Sami
Onar, were still officially declaring that a constitutional draft would be ready
within one month.
This impression is further reinforced if we look at the characteristics of the
professors selected. The military called on those who had the most distinctions, and the selection would appear to have been based on paper qualifications. Onar was the Rector of the University, Naci ensoy was the Dean of the
Law Faculty, whilst Hseyin Nail Kubal and Hfz Veldet Velidedeolu has also
acted as dean on several occasions.18 The members of the Committee were not
specialists in constitutional law and this considerably slowed down their
progress. Onar specialised in administrative law, ensoy in criminal law, and
Velidedeolu in civil law. All that seemed to count was the title law professor,
and the junta would appear to have cared little about the exact composition of
the team of academics. What mattered was that there be one, and that it be
prestigious.19
This use of legal experts also illustrates the important role law academics had acquired in politics during the 1950s. As Bernard Lacroix observes,
constitutions are always the work of people whose authority to help draft
them is based solely on their position within the established order; nevertheless they always present themselves as being a clean break and unconnected with the established order.20 The professors had been fully part of
routine political life since before the coup. The 1924 Constitution did not
provide for any Constitutional Council, and if there were any doubts about
the constitutionality of the law the press or opposition often called on law
academics to give their expert opinion. In April 1960, for example, when
solicited by journalists, Sddk Sami Onar and Hseyin Nail Kubal (a law
professor at the University of Istanbul who was also on the Committee)
had judged the Investigating Committee of the Democratic Party21 to be
18
19
20
21

See the appended table at the end of the chapter.


Cf. W. Weiker, Turkish Revolution, p. 69.
B. Lacroix, Les fonctions symboliques, pp. 5354.
The setting up of the Investigating Committee on the initiative of the Democratic government was the event to cause the biggest backlash in 1960, and one of the principal
causes of the coup. On 18 April, when the dp proposed to set up this Committee composed

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Camelio

a violation of the Constitution.22 These declarations did not produce any


immediate effects but played a large part in depriving the dp government
of its legitimacy in the eyes of the bureaucratic elites. Calling on the help
of the law professors thus indicates that non-institutional actors were
being brought into politics and this prior to the coup. Thus in a way the
military were simply following a normal or routine procedure and confirming the role law academics played as the semi-official referees of the
world of politics.
Lastly, the fact of drawing up a new constitution is illustrative of the shared
belief in the possibility of refounding political life via constitutional means. To
adopt Bastien Franoiss terms in his study of the 1958 Constitution in France,
having recourse to an institutional solution may be explained firstly in terms
of modernising the legal and institutional habitus of the political leaders,
which leads them to spontaneously opt for this sort of solution (revising the
constitution) or else spontaneously adopting an institutional register to test
the ongoing validity of politics.23 In fact the idea of the constitution had been
central to opposition movements in the Ottoman Empire and in Turkey since
the late 19th century, one of the main opposition demands made to the Sultan
being the return to the 1876 Constitution, viewed as the solution to all the evils
besetting the Empire. With regards to the period under study here, one of the
main intellectual opposition movements (based on the Forum journal from
1954 onwards) suggested revising the constitution so as to normalise the world
of politics that had been destabilised over the Democratic years, attributing
what it saw as the dp governments mistakes and excesses to the shortcomings
of the 1924 Constitution.24 Without necessarily having links to this journal,
groups of law academics had already met to discuss what a democratic constitution could look like in Turkey. For example Nermin Abadan, a lecturer at the
University of Ankara at the time, referred to a constitutional seminar held in

22

23
24

solely of mps from the Democratic party to investigate the crimes committed by the chp
since the war of independence, fights broke out between the members of Parliament and
one dp member brandished a revolver, but it was the chp group who were expelled from
the Chamber.
Ali Fuad Bagil, La Rvolution militaire de 1960 en Turquie (ses origines). Contribution
lhistoire politique intrieure de la Turquie contemporaine, Geneva, Perret-Gentil, 1963,
p.131.
B. Franois, Naissance dune Constitution, p. 65.
Forum first came out in April 1954. The journal intended, in the terms of its first editorial
to help enlighten the people by confronting different opinions. Forumun Davas [The
Forum Case], Forum, April 1, 1954. It was the work of young lecturers, most of them from

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129

June 1959 at Kilyos near Istanbul, under the aegis of the University of Columbia
and American law professors such as Walther Gellhorn.25 This seminar was
attended by many legal experts who sat on the various constitutional committees in 1960 and 1961.
And so opting for a constitutional solution and calling on the law professors
to help seemed automatic, and this for a whole set of reasons having to do
with the place occupied by the law and legal specialists in the Turkish political
order of the 1950s, and with the strategies adopted by the offices behind the
coup. In return, working with the officers did not seem to pose any problem for
the elite at the Law Faculty recruited by the junta for the occasion. The fact
that this should seem so natural requires examination, and it may be explained
by the experience many of the law professors had had of the Democratic government and by their conception of the state, as expressed notably on 28 May
by a declaration they issued justifying the coup.

Why Did the Law Professors Accept to Write a Constitution


for the Officers?
The immediate involvement of the law professors in the coup may be explained
firstly by the role the universities had played in protests against the Democratic
government. The two main universities in the countryIstanbul and Ankara
had been opposition strongholds since the late 1950s. Without going back over
the Democratic decade in detail, it should be remembered that the policies
pursued by the dp had resulted in an ever more pronounced divorce between
part of the state apparatus (both civil and military) and those in political
authority. From 1950 onwards the Democratic government conducted major
purges of civil servants who had been part of the former party-state regime,
whilst limiting the ability of civil servants to appeal against decisions made by

25

the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Ankara (Bahri Savci, Aydn Yaln,
Turhan Feyziolu, Akif Erginay, Cahit Talas, Muammer Aksoy, okun Krca, Mmtaz
Soysal, and Nilfer Yaln), and it rapidly opposed the Democratic government, especially
on questions relating to the autonomy of the University (the Democratic government was
trying to curb the ability of academia to voice criticisms of it) and to the protection of
civil servants (from the purges carried out by the Democratic government to remove
those recruited during the single-party regime). It also put forward ideas relating to the
Constitution, suggesting that a Constitutional Council and a second Chamber be set up.
See Diren akmak, Forum Dergisi 19541960 [The Forum journal, 19541960], Istanbul,
Libra Kitap, 2010.
Nermin Abadan-Unat and Kaba Sedef, Hayatn Seen Kadn: Hocalarn Hocas Nermin
Abadan Unat [The Woman Who Chose Her Life: The Masters Master Nermin Abadan
Unat], Istanbul, Doan Kitap, 2010, p. 273.

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Camelio

the political authorities.26 In addition to this the inflationary policy the


Democratic government pursued with American aid was disadvantageous to
public sector personnel who were on a fixed salary, at a time when a new emergent capitalist class was becoming wealthier just as they were becoming
poorer. Lastly, the Democratic government gradually became more and more
authoritarian, seeking to place legal limits on criticising the government. These
measures limiting freedom of expression particularly affected the universities
where many of the teaching staff were also active in the press as critical commentators of Turkish political life. In 1960 a series of student protests were put
down, something which played a key role in the collapse of the regime.27
For some of the professors on the Constitutional Committee, the coup
therefore put an end to a regime during which they had personally suffered. Sddk Sami Onar had been wounded seeking to intervene between
students and the police on 28 April 1960. Since then he had acquired a
reputation as a hero of the revolution. Huseyin Nail Kubal was suspended
from his position at the University of Istanbul in 1958 because of his activities writing opinion pieces. Bahri Savc and Muammer Aksoy both played a
part in Forum, and the latter resigned from his university position in 1956
to protest against a decision by the Democratic government undermining
university autonomy.28
The coup was thus for them an opportunity to do away with a regime that they
deplored and to apply the ideas they had developed in their criticisms of the previous regime. This collusive transaction29 between law professors and the military
was made all the easier by the fact that the military appeared to meet their demands
by proclaiming the autonomy of the law professors from the outset, and stating
that they would not intervene in the preparation of the Constitution. This autonomy was furthermore guaranteed due to the technical nature of constitutional law,

26

27
28

29

M. Heper, The State Tradition, pp. 85ff. Law no. 6422 of 1954 (Retirement Kanunu) reduces
the number of years of service required for a civil servant to be retired to 25, and sought
to purge those who had been in place during the single-party regime.
W. Weiker, Academic Freedom and Problems of Higher Education in Turkey, Middle East
Journal, vol. 16, no. 3, 1962, pp. 279294.
In 1956 the government decided to suspend Turhan Feyziolu, the Rector of the Faculty of
Political Sciences at the University of Ankara, after he had criticised a government decision
in a speech. This triggered a large wave of protest both in the University and the press.
This idea has been developed by Michel Dobry, Sociologie des crises politiques, Paris,
Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 1986. It refers to the stabilised forms of relationships between social sectors, based on mutual recognition, enabling institutions to
function on a routine basis.

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131

an area in which the military declared themselves to be incompetent.30 According


to A. peki, General Grsel (the head of the junta) addressed the law professors in
the following terms when they arrived in Istanbul: We believe in the University.
[] The reason you have been invited is as follows: make us a new constitution
immediately. I particularly ask you to accomplish this task in as short a time as possible. For we have decided to hold elections in three months time, and to hand
power over to a civilian cabinet. We do not want to exert any influence over the content of the constitution that you will prepare.31 This autonomy was all the more
remarkable given that the military exerted strict control over other parts of the
administration via the ministers they had appointed.32
For all of these reasons the elite of the Law Faculty and the military junta
were able to work together as of 27 May 1960. In addition, these political strategies were validated by a conception of the state which placed the law professors at the centre of the game. This conception of things was expressed in the
fundamental text that the Committee of law professors published on the day
after the coup, with the aim of justifying the military intervention.

The Role of the Law Professors and their Conception of the State

The text published on 29 May 1960 by the Constitutional Committee is worth


close examination as it enables us to understand the conception of the state
underlying the transactions between the military and the professors in the
immediate aftermath of the coup.
The condemnation of the Democratic government by the Constitutional
Committee takes up, firstly, the misdoings of which the Democratic leaders
were accusedthe trials of Prime Minister Menderes and President Bayar
were starting at the time. Both were accused primarily of corruption. Traces of
this may be found in the accusation of materialism said to guide the action of

30

31
32

On several occasions Grsel stated that he did not have any competence in legal matters.
See for instance his speech to the Constituent Assembly in March 1961 when he said that
he did not understand anything about constitutional law and that he left such matters to
the legal experts. Cf. S. Kili, Turkish Constitutional Developments, p. 67. These declarations
were not so much a recognition of any shortcoming on his part, as a way of recognising
the autonomy of the law professors.
A. peki, htilalin yz, p. 198 (italics added).
Cf. W. Weiker, Turkish Revolution.

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Excerpt from the Report of the Constitutional Committee
(as published in Ulus, 29 May 1960), signed by seven professors
from the Law Faculty of the University of Istanbul

The situation in which we find ourselves today cannot be considered as an ordinary


[di] political coup. Political power, which should represent the interests of the state,
the law, justice, morality and public interest, uphold the idea of public service, and
protect public rights, has unfortunately ceased to do so over recent months or years
even and has turned into a materialistic force serving personal interests and those of
an avid group.
The power of the state, which should be first and foremost a social force rooted in
law, has been turned into a means to satisfy this greed. That is why political authorityhaving lost all moral links with the Army, which is the basis of state power,
with the judiciary and courts, with civil servants devoted to their duty, with the
universities, with the press representing public opinion, and with the other social
forces and institutionshas found itself opposed to all the parent institutions of
state andto Atatrks revolution, which is of exceptional value and importance in
providing Turkey, as a civilised state, with a place in the Concert of Nations of the
world.[]
The situation is the same from a legal point of view. The legitimacy of a government
does not depend solely on its origin, that is say the way it came to power, but also in abiding by the Constitution which brought it to this position, and the way and continuity with
which it operates within the legal order [hukuk nizam] in cooperation with national
opinion, the Army, the judicial and scientific institutions, and other such institutions. But
this government has, firstly, passed laws which are completely opposed to the Constitution
which it has infringed by acting on these laws. It has become lawless [kanunsuz]. Secondly,
instead of being an agent for cooperation, serenity [huzur], and calm [skun] as ought to
be the case, the government has brought the political and social institutions of state and
the people working for them into opposition with each other. By criticising them to the
people and to foreign countries, it has become a factor of anarchy and thus lost its
legitimacy.
The Grand National Assembly, which ought to represent the nation, has ceased to
be a true legislative body and has become a party group serving individual and sectorial
interests, and has thereby placed itself in a state of dissolution.33

33

Report of the Constitutional Committee, Ulus, 29 May 1960, p. 5. A partial translation


can be found in M. Heper, The State Tradition, pp. 8586.

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133

the Democrats, as opposed to the servants of the state who are guided by their
idealism and awareness of the sacred nature of their duty.34
More fundamentally this text implicitly sketches out an ideal form of state
which ought to serve as the model for political action. This ideal government is
firstly one that is not based on party politics. The whole text is based on the
opposition between the state (devlet) and politics (siyaset), with the general interest (amme menfaat), unity and cooperation (ibirlii), and especially ideals (such as sacredness, kutsiyet) being aligned with the state, whilst
politics is said to be a matter of particular interests (ahsi nfuz), the interests
of cliques (zmre), divisions, fratricidal struggles (birbirine drmek), and
above all vulgar material (maddi) interests.35 This conception is rooted firstly
in the Kemalist corporatist solidarism dating from the 1920s and 1930s,36
according to which party divides based on class antagonisms are illegitimate
and inappropriate to Turkish society, said to be a classless society.37 Party
divides are thought of as struggles between cliques and so associated with
34
35

36

37

Report of the Constitutional Committee, p. 5.


This opposition coincides for the most part with that described in J. Commaille, LEsprit
sociologique des lois. The law academics distrust of politics is discussed in more detail
later.
The most detailed study of Kemalist corporatism is Taha Parla and Andrew Davison,
Corporatist Ideology in Kemalist Turkey: Progress or Order?, Syracuse, ny, Syracuse
University Press, 2004, p. 219: Solidaristic corporatist regimes do not eliminate freedom;
they guarantee it, but freedom comes with a deep mistrust for political manifestations
that threaten the order and tranquillity of the social whole. Freedom is stressed side by
side with unity and order but is constrained by solidarity. For the rpp [chp], freedom
meant freedom within the solidary, unified, corporate life of a corporatist society. The
similarity between Kemalist vocabulary and that used by the Onar Committee is worth
noting.
Pioneering work by smail Beiki on 1930s Kemalism and the Kadro journal have shown
to what extent this corporatism was indebted to the model of fascist regimes of the
period, and how the regimes promotion of a classless society needs to be understood
within the framework provided by the relationship between the Head (Atatrk) and his
people. smail Beiki, Cumhuriyet Halk Frkasnn Program (1931) ve Krt sorunu [The
Program of the Republican Peoples Party (1931) and the Kurdish Issue], Istanbul, Belge
Yaynlar, 1991 [1978]. This work, like that of Parla and Davison, is based on the 1931 programme of the Single Party, probably the fullest expression of this corporatism: the people of the Republic of Turkey are not composed of separate classes; on the contrary, one
of our basic principles is to consider the people, from the point of view of the division of
labour, as a community (camia) divided into various trades in social and individual life,
in Programme adopted 18 May 1931 following the chf conference, quoted in . Beiki,
Cumhuriyet Halk Frkasnn Program, pp. 14ff.

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nefarious factionalism. Good government, on the contrary, is freed of political


conflict and serves justice, morality, and the general interest.
The professors on the Committee, rejecting as illegitimate the radicalisation
of social conflict and of struggles between the parties, theorised about a state
above society and drawing its legitimacy from within and from the legal order
(hukuk nizam). Political authority is only legitimate in so far as it operates
within the framework of this legal order that it is in charge of protecting. As
Orhan Aldkat rightly points out, the 1961 Constitution therefore draws its
authority not from Parliament, but from itself.38
As described by the report of the Committee, the state is not only above
society, it is also unitary. The state is not at the service of political authority.
Political authority is only one institution of state among others. State interests
are not identical to those of political authority. The Army acts as the basis of
state power and the relations between state institutions form a harmonious
order. The main fault of the Democratic government was thus to have broken
the order which ought to reign within the state, to have disturbed the serenity and calm necessary for its proper functioning. Whilst a multi-party system is accepted in theory, it must function within a framework of harmonious
cooperation between institutions. Democratic practice overstepped these
limits. Once again we may detect here an echo of the ideas from the singleparty period, with the insistence on a form of state based on the principle of
the unity of powers39 rather than their separation, reflecting the Kemalist
idea of the unity of the administration.40
This conception of the state concords with the constitutional draft put forward by the Onar Committee in October 1960, which includes a large number
of checks on executive and legislative power. The main aim was to promote
38
39
40

Orhan Aldkat, The 1982 Constitution, public lecture, Boazii University, Istanbul,
May 15, 1984, quoted in M. Heper, The State Tradition, p. 88.
1931 programme of the single party, quoted in T. Parla, A. Davison, Corporatist Ideology,
p.223.
Work by Taha Parla and Andrew Davison has shown how the separation of powers proclaimed by the 1924 constitution was largely illusory. Parla has drawn on the 1931 programme of the single party and on speeches by Mustafa Kemal to prove that Kemalist
political thought was built largely against the liberal separation of powers, proclaiming
the unity of national sovereignty and refusing any differentiation between the administration, party, and National Assembly, thereby setting out a form of administrative
rather than political government. This idea even influenced the choice of vocabulary in
the 1931 programme, with the word idare (administration) being used to designate the
form of state being championed by the chf rather than the word hkmet (government).
Cf. T. Parla, A. Davison, Corporatist Ideology, pp. 223ff.

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harmony between social groups, by proposing a predominantly corporatist


second Chamber on an equal footing with the first Chamber elected along
party lines (with any conflict to be resolved by a meeting of the two Chambers).
A further aim was also to avoid any return to what was perceived as the dictatorship of the majority party under the Democratic government by proposing
a very full and detailed constitution acting as the framework for the Assembly
and the executive.41
To a certain extent it may be seen that the plan of the authors of the 28 May 1960
report was in many ways a Kemalist restoration, as evidenced by the large number
of Kemalist references and the omnipresence of the word inklap (revolutionary), functioning here as a sign of allegiance to the 1960 revolution as well as to the
Kemalist principle of inklaplk (revolutionism). It is, however, the restoration of
an idealised way of functioning of the single-party regime. The reference to an ideal
Kemalist legal order, based on a state of harmony between the various state institutions is not calling for a straightforward return to the single party regime. On the
contrary it acts as a way of envisioning a regime where political authority would no
longer be able to take full control of the administrationa regime where public
policies would be devised by harmonious negotiations between public institutions, a regime where the legal order would rule.
This conception of the state placed the academics at the centre of the game,
firstly as men of science who had a role to play in defining public policy. Whilst the
increasing inflexibility of the Democrats and their mode of governance, characterised in particular by clientelist phenomena, had meant that academics felt sidelined from the process of devising public policy, academic opposition to the regime
had taken Kemalist scientism as the justification for their demands to play an
active political role. The editorial line of Forum was based on defending freedom of
expression and on the government taking greater account of the opinion of academics. The call on state institutions to cooperate was thus also a pro domo call to
give academics an enhanced role within the apparatus of power.
More specifically the Report of the Constitutional Committee places law
and legal specialists at the heart of political life. The legitimacy of a government residing in its compliance with the legal order, legal experts are the only
ones in a position to decide this matter and, in a striking parallel with Ottoman
practice, act as the new ulemas of the Kemalist regime, those who unite and
set asunder (ahl al-ahd wal-hal),42 although by constitutional opinion not
41
42

For a summary of the constitutional drafts, see S. Kili, Turkish Constitutional Developments;
and W. Weiker, Turkish Revolution.
This modern fatwa aspect has been underlined by several commentators. In his article
Kemalism, Ernest Gellner refers to this text and argues that the spirit in which Kemalism was

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fatwa. Here once again the constitutional draft of the Onar Committee concords with this enhanced role accorded to legal experts, notably via their suggestion that a Constitutional Court be created so as to guarantee that laws
passed by the political authorities comply with the legal order.
The coup of 27 May 1960 was therefore marked from the outset by a collusive transaction between the officers involved and the legal elite of the country. The fact that they started working together so rapidly may be explained by
a series of reasons relating to the strategies of those involved, which were congruent with the political and legal ideas worked out during the single-party
period and the decade of Democratic rule.
The great political issue of the period, namely drawing up the Constitution, was
entrusted to a small group of law professors enjoying extensive autonomy and who
were accountable only to the military. Participation by the people was suspended,
and everything appeared in place for the serene functioning of the state rid of the
plague of party politics, as envisaged by the text of the Onar Committee. And yet,
the process of drafting the Constitution lasted a lot longer than originally planned
and involved a large number of contributors. This hiatus between the state as perceived by the Committee of law professors and its actual functioning may be
explained firstly by internal divisions within the various institutions involved in the
process, and by the divisions between public institutions.

The Impossibility of a Serene State


Divisions within the Legal World
The period running from May to October 1960 was far from being a harmonious period of work for the academics helping the military, and in fact revealed
the deep divisions within Turkish academia.
The first of these divisions was between the countrys two law faculties, in
Istanbul and Ankara. As a result of the militarys invitation to the law professors from the University of Istanbul, those from the University of Ankaraand
formulated and upheld was, at any rate in the first generation, a kind of perpetuation of
High Islam, Ernest Gellner, Kemalism, in Encounters with Nationalism, Oxford/
Cambridge, ma, Blackwell, 1994, p. 86. See Hamit Bozarslan, Un bienheureux malentendu: Ernest Gellner et la Turquie, in F. Pouillon et al., Lucette Valensi luvre. Une histoire anthropologique de lislam mditerranen, Saint-Denis, Bouchene, 2002, pp. 243256.
If such a parallel clearly seems warranted, any logical relation between the place of the
ulemas in Ottoman political practice and the legal experts in the 1960s would appear to
be tenuous. The legal texts published around the time of the coup do not refer to the
Ottomans in any case.

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137

especially from its prestigious Faculty of Political Sciences which educated


theadministrative elite of the countryprotested in early June and were subsequently appointed to the Committee. These rivalries between the two universities largely coincided with more fundamental divisions relating to the
constitutional draft itself.
Without being able to go into the details of the constitutional drafts, there
were two opposing schools of thought. The first, which Weiker calls legalist,43
was that of the dominant part of the Committee led by Onar. As seen above, it
proposed a constitution that would provide a strong framework to the political
authorities with in particular a largely corporative second Chamber. Whilst it
would be simplistic to reduce the legal debates to oppositions between social
groups, it may nevertheless be noted that the group supporting this view
tended to be senior academics, two good examples being the 62-year-old Onar
(University Rector) and the 56-year-old Velidedeolu (who had been Dean on
several occasions).
Opposed to this dominant group was a second set of law professors who
Weiker refers to as political, comprising the Ankara members of the
Committee as well as a few from Istanbul. They were opposed to Onars draft
and supported the idea of a shorter constitution giving greater room to the parties and more freedom of action to the political authorities. The point where
they parted company with the leaders was over the corporatist nature of the
second Chamber, something which they refused. This group was made up of
individuals who often held less directly dominant positions within academia,
either because they were younger (smet Giritli was 36 years old and only a
doent)44 or else because they had moved away from purely legal interests
(Tark Zafer Tunaya taught at the Economics Faculty and at the Institute of
Journalism and was increasingly moving towards the political sciences, publishing a work in 1952 on the political parties which is still regarded as a classic45). They had the support, however, of prestigious Ankara professors not on
the Committee, such as Tahsin Bekir Balta and Yavuz Abadan who were professors at the Ankara Faculty of Political Sciences.
Independently of whether or not they were members of the Committee, all
the members of the second group were, in addition to their academic careers,
closely involved in political circles. Yavuz Abadan had joined the chp and was
43
44
45

This analysis draws largely on the taxonomy of W. Weiker, Turkish Revolution, pp. 66ff.
The Turkish university system is very closely based on the German system of chairs. The
three ranks in ascending order are asistan, doent, and profesr.
Tark Zafer Tunaya, Trkiyede Siyasi Partiler, 18591952 [Political parties in Turkey, 1859
1952], Istanbul, Doan Karde Yaynlar, 1952.

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the mp for Eskiehir from 1943 to 1946; Balta had been the mp for Rize from
1943 to 1950 as well as a Minister (from 1947 to 1950) in the last chp government
before the dp took power. Another Committee member, Muammer Aksoy, had
acted as editor notably for the journal Forum, which had led him to join the
chp in 1957. Bahri Savc, whilst not directly involved in party political activity,
had been close to the Republican Party via his involvement in opposition
movements, both through his association with Forum and his union activities
defending civil servants.
And so these divisions between the legal academics were related to a complex series of internal divides within academia and to certain characteristics
external to it which we will examine later. These divisions made the Committees
task particularly difficult given the lack of any minimal consensus on the constitutional draft. They also made the task harder for the military, who encountered major difficulties with regard to these questions.
No provisions had been made to oversee the functioning of the scientific
committee. And so the military had to become involved despite their declarations of incompetence in legal matters. Onar referred a dispute between him
and two Committee members to the mbk in August,46 and threatened to
resign. The mbk decided in his favour and excluded smet Giritli and Tark
Zafer Tunaya. According to the account of one member of the junta, the military were unable to decide on the substantial merits of the case, and it was a
matter of respecting the hierarchy and renewing the terms of their transaction
with Onar.47
Confronted with these divisions within academia, with which they were
not fully acquainted, the military were all-powerful yet paradoxically found it
hard to know exactly where they stood and how to proceed: the habits of the
military institution and their way of going about things differed profoundly
from the informal roles of academia. On 28 October 1960, when the constitutional draft had been presented to them, the mbk enacted a law that reorganised the universities and purged 147 academics at the same time. What
mattered to the military here was acting to affirm that the University was part
of the sovereign domain. But whilst the military frequently used purges to
resolve conflicts, the academics were most upset. One of their main demands

46

47

The dispute related to two points. Tunaya and Giritli were opposed to a second corporative Chamber, and to the fact that the Committees debates were conducted in secret. For
a detailed account about this event and various documents relating to it, see A. peki,
htilalin yz, pp. 299302.
Ibid.; see also the account provided by O. Erkanl, Anlar Sorunlar Sorumlular, pp. 46ff.

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139

since the mid-1950s had been autonomy, and so this resulted in a clean break
between the junta and most of academia. Onar resigned from his position as
Rector to protest against these measures, followed by many of his colleagues.
Students and academics boycotted the opening ceremonies of the academic
year. Confronted with the risk that the mutual support between the University
and Army would collapse, the junta was obliged to retreat and promise modifications to the law (the 147 were only reappointed two years later, however,
as their reintegration posed major problems for the universities). The 147 crisis shows to just what extent the postulated continuity between military,
bureaucratic, and academic elites was in fact far from being self-evident,
andthat the ways in which state institutions worked together was far from
automatic.48
Furthermore, the border between non-official and institutional actors
would appear to have been porous. The sort of organisation chosen to draw up
the Constitution was a Committee. This was conceived by Onar as a group of
specialists operating as autonomously as possible both from public opinion
(Onar chose not to communicate with the press) and from the military (with
the recognition of the academics autonomy being the condition for their
cooperation).
The fact that the Committee conducted its work in secret was one of the most
problematic issues. The members who adhered to the political school of thought
decided to go against Onar and adopted a strategy of making its debates public, by
leaking its work to the press (this was one of the reasons for which Tunaya and
Giritli were excluded in August)49 and organising constitutional seminars at the
Faculty of Political Sciences in Ankara from September onwards. These seminars,
which were open to the public, acted as a platform for their ideas. They were
attended by journalists, ministers, members of the mbk, and increasingly by party
officials too. The presswith which the Ankara academics enjoyed good relationsprovided extensive coverage of the seminars. The Faculty of Political
Sciences published its own constitutional draft as well.50 Supporters of the political school of thought were able to act as a link between various sectorsthe press,
48

49
50

A detailed account of the events of the 147 crisis is provided in W. Weiker, Academic
Freedom, and a personal account by one of those involved in O. Erkanl, Anlar Sorunlar
Sorumlular, pp. 45ff.
Prof. Onar ve Prof. Tunaya dn birer deme verdiler [Prof. Onar and Prof. Tunaya Both
Made a Speech Yesterday], Ulus, September 4, 1960, p. 5.
Ankara niversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakltesi, Siyasal Bilgiler Fakltesi dari Bilimler
Enstitsnn Gerekeli Anayasa Tasars [Draft Constitution and Covering Memorandum
by the Faculty of Political Sciences Institute of Administrative Science], Ankara, ASBF
dari Bilimler Enstits Yaynlar, 1960.

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academia, political organisations, and even the Armyand so were able to turn
their seminars into the semi-official forum for debating constitutional matters,
even taking on an ever more official role and effectively replacing the Onar
Committee from late October onwards (the Committee having completed its
work on 17 October). The constitutional draft of the Faculty of Political Sciences
became the basis for the work of the Constituent Assembly in January, on an
equal footing with that of the Onar Committee.51

The Law Professors Caught between the Politicians and the Military
The fact that the process of drafting the Constitution was opened up to new sorts
of participantsthe written press, academics not on the Committee, party officialsfundamentally changed the nature of the game. Onars strategy had been to
steer towards a constitution written by specialists and men of science, insisting on
the technical nature of law, demanding full autonomy, and refusing any party political interference. The organisers of the Ankara seminars chose instead to include as
many participants as possible in the process.
The most striking thing on reading the press accounts of the constitutional
seminars held at the Faculty of Political Sciences from October 1960 onwards is
how tactical considerations far outweighed fundamental and theoretical considerations. When on 2 November 1960 it was decided to have a Constituent Assembly,
the dominant question became how it was to be elected and the role of the political parties in the process of appointing representatives. The idea of the sovereignty
of the people and the need for a party-based system were unanimously supported
in the seminars. Where there was disagreement however was over whether it was a
good idea to immediately reintroduce a party system in Turkey. The seminar of 7
November 1960, for instance, was opened by the following question from Osman
Kksal, a military member of the mbk: Can we, in the current conditions, hold
general elections? The intellectuals there agreed on the superiority of electoral
government in terms of its theoretical legitimacy, but they differed over how best
to organise elections (which can take a long time) and with regard to public order
issues (the country was still in a revolutionary situation), distinguishing between
their theoretical preferences and those they envisioned given the countrys specific
conditions (artlar).52
51

52

On 7 November 1960 Turhan Feyziolu, the president of the Committee in charge of


determining the form of the future Constituent Assembly, referred to the results of these
seminars as providing the basis for debates about the future Constitution. Feyziolu
aklama yapt [Feyziolu Issued a Statement], Ulus, November 8, 1960, p. 5.
Kurucu Meclisin bir Seimle Tekili Fikri Ar Basyor [The Idea of Forming the
Constitutional Assembly by Election Gains Prominence], Tercman, November 10, 1960, p. 3.

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The seminars also gave rise to clashes between the parties. When it became
clear in late November that the Constituent Assembly would be elected on a
corporative basis, with a quota of representatives to be designated by the parties, the issue became which parties would be authorised to send representatives and how many they would be allowed to send.53 During the November 9
seminar, representatives of the two major opposition parties in the Assembly
prior to the coup, the chp and the kmp (the National Farmers and Peasants
Party, a smaller right-wing party) disagreed about the wisdom of proceeding to
general elections, with the chp representatives fearing a resurgent Democratic
vote whilst the kmp representatives supported the idea of elections (thinking
that their party would be able to win part of the now free-floating Democratic
vote).54
During the same seminar its chairman, Tahsin Bekir Balta was obliged to
intervene vehemently to remind those present of the academic nature of the
seminars, notably given the demands made by small parties who were using
the seminar to call for representation in the future Assembly.55 Balta was
obliged to point out that the seminar has the limited and purely academic
objective of throwing light on the problems. We do not take any binding decisions here, and work within the framework of academic endeavour.56 These
regular affirmations of the boundary between political and academic activity
show that the divide between the two was no longer something which could be
taken for granted, and that it was in the interest of certain participants to
politicise the debates, in the sense of redefining constitutional activity by
social agents with a tendency to [] transgress or question the differentiation
between spheres of activity.57
The conditions for this rapid politicisation were numerous. They related
firstly to the highly porous boundaries between Turkish academia and politics. As seen earlier, many of the law professors involved in drawing up the
Constitution pursued both a political and academic career. However this
politicisation cannot be explained solely in terms of the intrinsic characteristics of the individuals involved. It was rather the result of the successful strategies of groups able to mobilise resources in various social sectors,
53
54
55
56
57

The parties have launched the struggle over the Constituent Assembly, Tercman,
November 22, 1960, p. 1.
Kurucu Meclisin, p. 3.
Ibid.
S. Bilgiler Fakltesinde Anayasa Seminerleri [Seminars on the Constitution at the
Faculty of Political Science], Ulus, November 12, 1960, p. 5.
J. Lagroye (ed.), La Politisation, pp. 360361.

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and thereby set up multi-sectorial alliances. Once the conflicts within the
group of law professors became such that they could not be decided by an
external body, a role that the Army had difficulty in fulfilling, it was the
political parties that provided the structures making it possible to pool
and articulate the demands of varied social groups58 and relay a common
project to the press, the administration, academia, and the Army. smet
nn was a central figure here. A former military hero with the ear of the
junta and especially that of its leader Cemal Grsel, the president of the
chp, and a former President of the Republic with close links both to academia59 and to the upper echelons of the civil service, he was in a position
to coordinate the various social sectors and get them to unite around a
party.60
The election of the Constituent Assembly thus constitutes very direct
proof of how the political parties had returned to the constitutional process. Although the procedure finally chosen by the military was an election
along corporative lines (each trade category electing its representatives),
and with the parties only appointing 75 representatives, the chp managed
to politicise the elections. Work by Celalettin Gngr has shown that out
ofthe 278 representatives, 222 were linked in some way to the chp.61 The
law academics elected to this Assembly largely owed this to their party
connections.
Conclusion
This series of events from July to December 1960 shows that the state,
despite the declarations by the Onar Committee about its unity, was far
from constituting a unified apparatus independent of social logics. On the
contrary, the course the constitutional debate took was significantly
58
59
60

61

Jacques Lagroye, Bastien Franois, and Frdric Sawicki, Sociologie politique, Paris, Presses
de la Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, 2006, p. 250.
He directly appointed six chp representatives to the Constituent Assembly, including
two young academics with progressive ideas, Doan Avciolu and Mmtaz Soysal.
Although initially opposed to the coup, nn took the interests of the officers behind the
coup into account when he got the chp to propose a clause in the constitution stating
that members of the mbk would become permanent members of the future Senate. He
also supported the purged academics to the military, and pushed for the rapid return of
civilian rule. Metin Heper, smet nn: The Making of a Turkish Statesman, Leiden/New
York, E.J. Brill, 1998, pp. 218220.
C. Gngr, 27 Mays ve Partileme Sorunu, p. 67, quoted in S. Kili, 27 Mays 1960 Devrimi, p. 24.

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influenced by conflicts between clashing professional norms, with the


hierarchical reasoning of the military coming into conflict with the
demands for autonomy of the Committee of academics, and with the strategies of some of its members meaning that the Committee was unable to
maintain the veil of secrecy over its workings. Furthermore, despite censorship, repression, and the fact that loyalty to the junta was crucial for
whoever wished to take part in the process of drawing up the Constitution,
the military were unable to keep party political considerations at bay and
to act independently of public opinion. The academics with the closest ties
to political parties were able to mobilise them and to use of press (despite
the fact that it was extensively controlled) to see their point of view
triumph.
The very rapid return to the fore of political parties shows how solidly rooted
they were in the very heart of state institutions. The bureaucratic elite did not
form a coherent whole able to prevail against the political elite elected by
universal suffrage.62 On the contrary, it was unable to prevent the politicisation
of the issues and the return of party political strife.
Whereas the first draft of the Onar Committee proposed to circumscribe
politicians in a mesh of administrative institutions overseeing political
affairs, the Constitution which was finally produced on 27 May 1960 left
extensive freedoms to those in political power, according an essential place
to the parties while seeking to ensure administrative continuity should it
come under threat due to the actions of any dominant party.63 The plan of
the first Committee for a state whose institutions would function harmoniously in a more depoliticised manner was swept away over the course of the
1960s by the ever greater divergence between the Army and the intelligentsia (who drifted leftwards), by the massive politicisation of public sector
appointments, and by the militarys inability to maintain Turkish democracy within Kemalist dogma.
62
63

M. Heper, The State Tradition, p. 99.


This is a reference to Chapter 114 which protects public sector employees against unfair
dismissal by the state. The 1961 constitution is generally considered as a compromise
between the initial draft of the Onar Committee and the one published by the Faculty of
Political Sciences in Ankara. Cf. S. Kili, Turkish Constitutional Developments.

Penal law
Constitutional
law

Istanbul
Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Istanbul

Naci ensoy
Hseyin Nail
Kubal

Tark Zafer
Tunaya

Ragp Sarca

smet Giritli

Hfz Veldet
Velidedeolu

Civil law

Administrative
Law
Administrative
law

Constitutional
law

Administrative
Law

University Speciality

Sddk Sami Onar Istanbul


(president)

Name

Composition of the Constitutional Committee

Signataries of the
declaration of 28
May

Table6.1

Ord. Prof.
(former Dean)

Do. (Lecturer)

Prof.

Prof.

Rector, Ord.Prof.
(Emeritus
Professor)
Dean, Prof.
Prof.

Position

Dismissed from the


Committee late
August

For

Against a second
Chamber
Against

Against

For
Against

For

Hero of the revolution


of 27 May 1960

Critic of the Democrat


government,
suspended from
his position in 1958
Dismissed from the
Committee late
August

Position with regard to


the corporative nature
of the second
Assembly

Remarks

144
Camelio

Ankara,
Faculty of
Political
Sciences
Ankara,
Faculty of
Political
Sciences

Bahri Savc

Muammer
Aksoy

Ankara,
Faculty of
Law

lhan Arsel

Prof.

Prof.

Do.

Constitutional
law

Constitutional
law

Constitutional
law

chp member,
resigned in 1956

University trade
unionism

Against

Against

Against

and smet Giritli. The final column of this table is based on A. peki, htilaln yz, p. 355.

64 In late August 1960 Vakur Versan and Ltfi Duran, teachers at the Faculty of Law at the University of Istanbul, were selected by Onar to replace Tark Zafer Tunaya

Members who
joined the
Committee in
early June

The Military Seize the Law

145

chapter 7

Institutional Cooperation and Substitution


The Ottoman Police and Justice System at the Turn of the 19th
and 20th Centuries
Nomi Lvy Aksu
Ottoman and Turkish institutions have been at the heart of the TransTur
project, both as objects of research in the right and as the starting point for
investigating the characteristics of the state and its relations to society. The
contributions to this project, whilst underlining that state and society are far
from being hermetic entities, have emphasised the many forms of interaction
in which various institutions and social actors are involved. The same applies
to the study conducted here of the relations between the police and justice
system at the end of the Ottoman period. I will seek to explore the points of
contact between the two institutions, which were both radically reorganised
during the second half of the 19th centurycreated even one might say for the
policeand given their respective fields of competence found themselves
working closely together. This will lead to the question of the role played by the
police in arbitration and judicial practices, with the hypothesis that the police,
at the end of the 19th century, also started acting alongside judges, religious
leaders, notables, etc., in resolving everyday conflicts, due to their official attributions but perhaps especially due to self-attributed prerogatives and to their
increasing integration with the local urban population.
Turning to the historiography, I am aware of virtually no comparative studies of the police and justice system for the Ottoman field.1 This is not all that
surprising given how few studies are devoted to these two institutions separately for the period under study. The history of the police was long the preserve of those who had belonged to or been in close contact with it, and there
is no need to go over the associated methodological and ideological biases.2
1 One exception to this is Omri Pazs PhD thesis which analyses the impact of transformations
to the police and justice system in Anatolia in the mid-19th-century: Crime, Criminals and
the Ottoman State: Anatolia between the Late 1830s and the Late 1860s, unpublished PhD
thesis, University of Tel Aviv, 2010.
2 Whilst the 1940s were the golden age for official institutional history of the Ottoman and Turkish
police, the subject still continues to dominate the contemporary historiography, as it enjoys the
support of the police hierarchy and most of academia. For one of the recent perspectives on
police history, see for example the work of historical sociology conducted by Ferdan Ergut,
Modern Devlet ve Polis: Osmanldan Cumhuriyete Toplumsal Denetimin Diyalektii [Police

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_008

Institutional Cooperation And Substitution

147

As for the justice system, there has been a remarkable historiographical


renewal over recent decades but the 19th and early 20th century have being
largely neglected, with only one or two exceptions.3 Furthermore, the fact that
there are so few works on this topic in general (and not only for the Ottoman
sphere) reflects a broader tendency, with the historiography being divided into
two distinct but dynamic fields, with the history of the justice system on the
one hand and the history of the police on the other. In the United States, Great
Britain, and France for example these two domains are examined by separate
research networks each exploring their own respective issues. It is worth noting however that over recent years there have been an increasing number of
initiatives to establish links between historians working in the two fields and
their research topics (with workshops and Internet platforms such as
Criminocorpus devoted to the history of the justice system in France yet also
including several sections relating to the history of the police).4 These new
trans-institutional approaches make it possible to better appreciate the degree
of institutional fluiditysomething which is often taken as a premise in our
researchas well as providing concrete illustrations of it. Whilst the most frequently recurring point of these various studies is the extent to which people
and practices circulate both within an institution and outside it, institutions
are still taken as heuristically pertinent units which, if studied in sufficient
detail, might lead out onto further and wider perspectives. These studies are
part of a larger and more general current working to conceptualise the science
of government, and echo other recent approaches in the field of public order

and the Modern State: The Dialectics of Social Control From the Ottoman Empire to the
Republic], Istanbul, letiim, 2004.
3 This historiographic renewal is based on a social and cultural analysis of judicial sources of the
period, principally the registers of the cadis. See for example the emblematic work by Leslie
Pierce, Morality Tales. Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab, Berkeley, ca, University
of California Press, 2003. For the late 19th-century, the work by Avi Rubin offers stimulating
analysis of the reform of the justice system and the setting up of the Nizamiye tribunals: Ottoman
Nizamiye Courts: Law and Modernity, New York, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2011. For a more detailed
account of the institutional transformations relating to the justice system of the period, see
Sedat Bingl, Tanzimat Devrinde Osmanlda Yarg Reformu [Judicial Reform in the Empire during the Tanzimat], Eskiehir, Anadolu niversitesi Yaynlar, 2004; Fatmagl Demirel, Adliye
Nezareti (Kurulu ve Faaliyetleri, 18761914) [The Ministry of Justice (foundation and activities)], stanbul, Boazii niversitesi Yaynlar, 2009. On the way the religious justice system
operated, see Iris Agmon, Family and Court: Legal Culture and Modernity in Late Ottoman
Palestine, Syracuse, ny, Syracuse University Press, 2006.
4 http://www.criminocorpus.cnrs.fr/.

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LEVY Aksu

and social control seeking to go beyond institutional frontiers by jointly examining, for instance, administrative and judicial policing.5
It goes without saying that such a trans-institutional perspective necessarily
involves consideration of the degree of institutionalisation of each of the
organisations under study. The Ottoman police and justice systems were in
many ways not fully-fledged institutions in the late 19th century. There was no
professional training or only of the most basic kind, the methods of recruitment, promotion, and sanction depended less on any regulations than on personal or political criteria, and there was still considerable confusion over the
exact scope and remit of each of the two institutions. Given this context, this
chapter will look as much at the contact between the two institutions as at any
overlap or friction between the two spheres of state intervention as embodied
by the police and the justice system. Independently of whether or not they
were rooted in regulations, such overlaps were inevitable given the proximity
between the fields of action concerned and they formed part of the routine
functioning of the two institutions. However they also gave rise on occasion to
rivalry and tension, revealing the political and personal stakes involved in
maintaining public order and enforcing the law. Although many of the contacts and overlaps mentioned in this chapter may be put down to pragmatism,
they are thereby also revelatory of the power relations existing both within the
state and between society and the various forms of the states control apparatus. Thus for the period under study the polices summary judicial practices are
for instance closely related to the authoritarian nature of Abdlhamid IIs
regime (18761909) that endorsed and even encouraged them.
In this chapter I have chosen to concentrate on the Ottoman capital,
Istanbul, so as to reveal the various forms of contact between the police and
justice institutions on the basis of several concrete examples. This study is
based primarily on the Ministry of Police collection held at the Ottoman
5 The division between administrative and judicial policing is at the core of the French police
organization and was also adopted by the Ottoman police in the early 20th century.
Administrative policing focuses on maintaining order and controlling people through various
preventive and repressive means, whilst judicial policing mostly concentrates on criminal
issues. See in particular the works by Laurent Lopez on the relations between the police, the
gendarmerie, and the justice system in France during the Third Republic: Lapplication de la loi
hors les tribunaux: les gendarmes et les policiers, leges animatae de la Rpublique (18701914)?
in B. Garnot (ed.), Normes juridiques et pratiques judiciaires du Moyen ge lpoque contemporaine, Dijon, eud, 2007, pp. 285294; Magistrats, policiers et gendarmes en France la Belle
poque: enqute sur les relations entre les acteurs de lenqute de police judiciaire, in JeanClaude Farcy, Dominique Kalifa, Jean-Nol Luc (eds.), LEnqute judiciaire en Europe au XIXe
sicle, Paris, Craphis, 2007, pp. 127136.

Institutional Cooperation And Substitution

149

archives of the Prime Ministers Office in Istanbul. The Ministry of Police,


which oversaw all of the police forces in the Empire, was set up in 1879 and
then abolished in 1909, and acted as a separate institution from the Ministry of
the Interior. I will therefore be tackling the subject from the police point of
view, concentrating on the contribution made by the police to arbitration and
judicial practices. This chapter will first look at the definition of the polices
judicial missions and at its scope for intervention within the procedure. It will
then seek to emphasise the various facets of police action in resolving conflicts. I argue that their intervention was based on two main mechanisms: they
had arbitrary power which could result in violence and rough justice. But at
the same time they became one of the actors in charge of arbitrating conflicts,
and could be considered by the people as an alternative to the justice
institution.

Judicial Policing: The Neglected Aspect of the Ottoman Police?


The Institutionalisation of Judicial Policing and Its Limits
In the majority of models of the police institution, the attributions of the
police are divided into two main categories: tasks relating to judicial policing
and those relating to administrative policing. The first category includes conducting inquiries and the pursuit and arrest of suspects, and relates primarily
to criminal affairs. The second category involves population control, the policing of public events and demonstrations, and the oppression of political opponents by authoritarian regimes.
In the Ottoman Empire this division was officially introduced by the 1907
Police Regulations (Polis Nizamnamesi), but it had been put forward in 1892 in
a report (which would appear not to have been applied at the time) by a French
expert called Bonnin in charge of police reform in the Ottoman capital. This
report, written in French and translated into Ottoman Turkish, recommended
reorganising the Istanbul police into two sections (ube), with an administrative police and a judicial police.6 The first section was to be in charge of prevention, maintaining public order, and political surveillance, with the second
concentrating on elucidating crimes. The following year a Sultanian decree
(irade) confirmed this reform and announced the creation of a committee in
charge of setting up the two sections.7 It has not been possible to find any

6 BOA, Y.PRK. ZB 10/31, 1309.L.19 [17 May 1892].


7 BOA, I.HUS, 1310.M.18 [12 August 1892].

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LEVY Aksu

traces of the work of this committee in the Ottoman archives, and the division
into two sections does not figure in the circular on police missions issued in
1896. Given that there were no regulations defining the polices activities and
organisation for this period, the historiography generally takes the 1907 regulation to reflect the pre-existing situation of prior decades rather than seeing it
as introducing reforms. However, the other sources available on the division of
tasks within the police up until 1907, such as the organisational structure charts
that were published each year by the Annuaire oriental (trade directory) of
Istanbul do not show any division into administrative police and judicial
police. Above and beyond matters of organisation, the failure to distinguish
clearly between tasks meant there were no opportunities for training and specialisation within the judicial branch, and this impeded its effectiveness and
the professionalization of its officers.
This weak institutionalisation of the judicial polices mission was not so
much due to any delay in realising how important a role they played within the
states control apparatus, as it was the result of political choices when the
Ottoman police was set up in the 19th century. In the regulations which
founded the Police in 1845, the Polis Nizamnamesi, the definition of its missions is based on tasks relating to administrative policing. An affirmation that
the purpose of this police force is to maintain order and public security (nizam
ve asayi-i ammenin muhafazasna dair8) is followed by fourteen articles listing
various administrative policing tasks: population control (art. 3), action against
beggars (art. 7) and workers movements (art. 12),9 censorship (art. 13), and the
surveillance of public places (art. 14), religious ceremonies (art. 15), and casinos (art. 16). It is not until the seventeenth and final article that there is any
mention of judicial policing, in which it is stated that the new police forces are
in charge of conducting inquiries into sudden death or illnesses so as to ascertain whether or not they are due to natural causes, And to help them in this
task the police assembly, established by the same regulations, may appoint a
chemist, a doctor, and a surgeon.
8 The document is reproduced in Osman Nuri Ergin, Mecelle-i Umr- Belediyye [Collection of
Documents About Municipal Affairs], vol. 2, Istanbul, stanbul Bykehir Belediyesi Kltr
leri Daire Bakanl Yaynlar 1995 (19141919), pp. 875878.
9 The interpretation of this article forbidding strikes is a matter of debate between those historians who consider it to be essentially a translation of an 1830 article of French law (cf. Mesut
Glmez, i Sorunu ve Polis Mevzuat: Fransa rnei ve Polis Nizmnn 12nci Maddesi
[The Workers Issue and Police Regulations: The French Case and Article 12 of the Police Act],
Amme daresi Dergisi, vol. 17, no. 1, 1984, pp. 115132) and those who see it as indicative of a
specific determination to oppose the social movements of the period. See F. Ergut, Modern
Devlet ve Polis, p. 123.

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151

This reductive definition of judicial policing and the clear disequilibrium


with the detailed description of administrative policing missions would appear
to indicate that combating criminality was far from being a priority for those in
power.10 It is worth noting here that the historiography on European police
forces has long been divided about the reasons underlying the setting up of
modern police forces in the 19th century. The so-called orthodox school underlines the need to combat increased levels of criminality arising from urbanisation and industrialisation, whilst the revisionist school emphasises the states
desire to expand the control it was able to exert over populations. In recent
decades a middle way has emerged, underlining both the important role
played by the new police forces in making the state stronger, and the objective
existence of new challenges relating to criminality necessitating reforms to the
forces of law and order.11 With regard to the Ottoman case, the historiography
pays virtually no attention to the origins of the police, but the 19th-century
political and social situation presents numerous aspects which could support
either thesis, such as the reforms of the Tanzimat period and issues relating to
immigration and urbanisation. However the text setting up the police force in
1845 clearly reveals the states desire to establish greater control over its territory and populations by expanding missions relating to administrative
policing.
There are very few studies of the polices organisation and activities prior to
the reign of Abdlhamid II, and some historians doubt even that a police force
existed in the decades following on from the 1845 regulation. Nevertheless,
work by Omri Paz into criminality and the forces of law and order in Anatolia
in the period 18301860 shows that forces placed under the authority of the
Police Marshall (Zaptiye Miriyeti), a position created in 1846, displayed a
genuine degree of organisation at this period.12 Paz argues that although these
new forces may initially have been devised on the model of paramilitary organisations, and entrusted with the two main tasks of combating banditry and
10

11

12

This affirmation is central to Ruth A. Millers essay on the way those in power used the
law. She argues that the law, and especially criminal law, was increasingly used by the
state during the last decades of the Ottoman Empire up until the Republican period as a
way of protecting its own interests at the expense of the protecting individuals and moral
values: Ruth A. Miller, Legislating Authority: Sin and Crime in the Ottoman Empire and
Turkey, New York, Routledge, 2005.
Cf. for example Robert Reiner, The Politics of the Police, New York, Harvester-Wheatsheaf,
1992. Reiner provides an overview of the various tendencies in the history of police forces
and adopts a position seeking to reconcile the extremes.
O. Paz, Crime, Criminals and the Ottoman State, pp. 190225.

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LEVY Aksu

collecting taxes, reforms to the criminal justice system together with social
demand meant that they increasingly took on functions relating to judicial
policing, and the nature of the institution became increasingly civilian. The
end-result of this process was the dissociation of the military and civilian
forces of law and order in the early years of the reign of Abdlhamid II.
After the Ministry of Police (Zaptiye Nezareti) was set up in 1879, the regimes
repressive tendency meant that administrative policing tasks increased, overshadowing judicial policing. Although a large part of the 1896 instructions setting out police missions relates to conducting inquiries into suspicious
individuals and tracking them down, the individuals targeted by these surveillance measures were in fact active or supposed political opponents rather than
common criminals.13 The 1907 regulation referred to above is emblematic of
this police approach. It admittedly set up a specific section for the judicial
police (adli polis), but it adopted a tripartite division instead of the more current bipartite division since the administrative police (idari polis) in charge of
population control was supplemented by a political police (siyasi polis) specifically in charge of combating opponents of the regime. If we add to this the
parallel intelligence organisation subordinate to the Yldz Palace with its own
network of plainclothes agents (hafiye) who were symbolic of the authoritarianism of the Sultan, the judicial police was in fact an isolated branch within an
overall police organisation that was institutionally bloated by missions relating to population control and intelligence.

Fields in Which the Police and Justice System Met and Interacted
How were these judicial functions actually carried out in practice? And to
what extent did this result in the police working with the justice system? The
Code of Criminal Procedure (Ceza Muhakemeleri Usul Kanunu) promulgated
in 1879 sheds light on the process leading from an inquiry through to trial, and
the respective attributions of the various state actors involved. The main innovation introduced by this regulation was inspired by the French Code of 1808,
consisting in the creation of the position of prosecutor, who acted as the representative of the state, and the definition of his role in relation to that of the
judge. In parallel to this several articles relate to the role of the police. The
police were responsible for conducting the criminal inquiry and had to transmit their conclusions to the prosecutor who used them to draw up the charges,
13

Dersaadet ve belad-i selsede syi vazifesiyle mkellef olan nizamiye ve jandarma asakir-i
ahanesiyle polis memurlarnn sureti hareketlerine dair talimat. The text of the circular is
reproduced in Osman Nuri Ergin, Mecelle-i Umr- Belediyye [Collection of Documents
about Municipal Affairs], vol. 1 (19141919), pp. 114116.

Institutional Cooperation And Substitution

153

whereas the judge simply pronounced judgement at the trial. The judicial and
administrative police were also in charge of assisting the court in the enforcement of sentences.14 What impact did these regulations have on the relations
between the Ministry of Police and the Ministry of Justice? The archives of the
Ministry of Police (Zaptiye Nezareti) contain very little correspondence about
criminal affairs, with most of the exchanges between the Ministry of Police and
the Ministry of Justice relating to employees of these two Ministries put on trial
for misconduct or crimes. In addition to this the fact that virtually all of the
archives of the Nizamiye courts have disappeared means that there are inevitably major gaps in any attempt to understand these relations.15 This means that
there is very little information available about the everyday forms of cooperation between the two institutions, and it is impossible to follow the process
leading from an investigation to a trial on the basis of these archives, and to
reconstitute its various stages and the points of contact between the institutions. Yet despite the principle of the clear separation of respective tasks of the
judge, prosecutor, and forces of law and order (both the administrative and
judicial police), it would appear that this ran up against the shortage of qualified staff in the justice system. Thus several sources indicate that the position
of deputy prosecutor in the provinces was often held by a police commander in
the absence of any candidate with sufficient legal training.16
From 1873 onwards the Ministry of Justice published a Court Gazette
(Ceride-i Mehakim), and this throws additional light on how the justice process
worked.17 This Gazette came out each week and its fifteen or so pages provided
accounts of the latest Nizamiye court affairs with summaries of judgements,
statistics, and sometimes the full text of the courts rulings.18 It also published
newly adopted regulations. The interrogations carried out by the police in the
14

15

16
17
18

George Young, Corps de droit ottoman: recueil des codes, lois, rglements, ordonnances et
actes les plus importants du droit intrieur, et dtudes sur le droit coutumier de lEmpire
ottoman, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 19051906, vol. 1, pp. 160186.
One of the rare exceptions is a register of sixty or so trials heard by the Nizamiye court of
first instance in Jaffa in 1887, and analysed by Haim Gerber in his study of Jerusalem at the
end of the Ottoman period: Ottoman Rule in Jerusalem, 18901914, Berlin, Klaus Schwarz,
1985. Sedat Bingl has found and transcribed and other register from the court in Hrsova,
in the Balkans: Sedat Bingl, Hrsova Kaza Dev Meclisi Tutanaklar [Proceedings of the
Hrsova District Judicial Council], Eskiehir, Anadolu niversitesi, 2002.
Avi Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, pp. 141142.
Ceride-i Mehakim was published from 1873 onwards by the Ministry of Justice and
renamed Ceride-i Mehakim-i Adliye in 1901.
This Gazette is the main source for the work by Avi Rubin: cf. Ottoman Nizamiye Courts,
pp. 914.

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LEVY Aksu

course of their inquiries and presented in this Gazette appear to have provided
the basis for drawing up charges. The case for the prosecution given at the
beginning of each account is based on the declarations made by the accused
whilst in police custody.19 The Gazette then presents the declarations made by
the accused to the court (in indirect discourse). Here in general they deny the
charges made against them or only admit them in part. In nearly all cases
whatthe suspect declared at the police station differs from what they declare
beforethe court, and during trial the defendants recant the confessions they
made at the police station and on which the charges are based. On occasions
the court sometimes asks the defendant about this difference, giving rise to
two sorts of response: either they deny having made such declarations at the
police station or else they state that they were drummed out of them by threats,
blows, or torture. But for the cases published by the Gazette the court never
casts doubt on the validity of the police reports despite these objections. The
verdict which is delivered with reference to one of several articles of the Penal
Code is based on the joint usage of police and judicial documents, with on one
hand documents from the investigation (evrak- tahkikat) and, in cases of murder or injury the reports of the medical examination (muayene raporat) transmitted by the police to the court, and on the other hand the hearings of
defendants and witnesses during the trial. All of the trials figuring in the
Gazette result in the defendants being found guilty and sentenced.20
The justice procedure as it transpires in the Ceride-i mehakim thus emerges
as resulting from close collaboration between the police forces and the judicial
apparatus. Whilst this source offers precious data for understanding the points
of contact between the police and justice system and how the two worked
together, it also raises several questions. Firstly the Gazette was published by
the state and so its didactic and political objectives are not without consequence for its content. The Gazette sought to familiarise all those working
within the justice systemand more broadly the state elitewith the mechanisms of the new judicial institution.21 This dialectic purpose may be clearly
19

20
21

I have not been able to carry out a systematic examination of the court Gazette and my
observations here are based on having looked at some examples of it as well as on the
work by lker Crt about crime in Istanbul which is based primarily on this source:
Social Rationality of Lower Class Criminal Practices in the Late Nineteenth Century
Istanbul, unpublished ma thesis, Boazii niversitesi, 2005.
Ibid., pp. 1012.
The Gazette was sent to all the courts in the Empire as well as to Institutes of Higher
Education (such as the Law Faculty, Mlkiye, the School of Medicine, the Imperial School,
and so on).

Institutional Cooperation And Substitution

155

seen in the standardised way in which trials are presented, with the repetition
acting as a sort of guide for future judges and prosecutors. This publication also
however provided the state with an opportunity to legitimise an institution
which had been recently reformed by presenting it as working in a transparent,
rational, efficient mannerand a just one above all.
This raises questions with regard to certain areas that are glossed over in the
presentation of the judicial process and in the way it is rationalised. The
Gazette does not explicitly state the criteria for selecting cases to be published.
The fact that it does not present any trials resulting in an acquittal would
appear to suggest that only cases where the police inquiry was validated by the
justice system were selected for publication. It would seem that any shortcomings in the police investigation and the accusations made by the defendants of
having been threatened or tortured were not sufficient to sway the courts position, and this may be interpreted in two different ways. Either the two institutions were indeed working together in a spirit of perfect cooperation, or else
any tensions and shortcomings that may have existed did not fit in with the
image that the institution wished to give of itself. It is worth noting that the
first hypothesis cannot be wholly ruled out if we were bear in mind that the
court could act as a showcase for these institutions, in the same way as the
court gazette did but with greater social reach. In theory the hearings were
open to all but in practice it is not clear whether or not they were attended by
members of the public.22 Even if there were none, the fact that various parties
and witnesses were present meant that the institution found itself in the presence of actors from diverse social origins. In other words the fact that there are
no notable tensions between the police and the judicial system during the trials may be due to the fact that the institutions were performing a representative role, both in the sense that they were representing the state and its
interests, and that they were presenting their methods and arguments to society. This leads to the hypothesis that any tensions and disagreements would
have been more likely to emerge in the stages preceding the hearing or else
after the verdict, something which we will return to later on in this chapter.
Prisons are another area where we can see how the police and justice systems
operated together, both at the institutional level and in terms of actual practice.
Attributions relating to prisons were divided out between the Ministry of Justice
and Ministry of Police, with a certain degree of fluctuation in their respective
22

Fatmagl Demirel refers to the fact that hearings are public in his description of the judicial process after the Nizamiye courts had been set up (Adliye Nezareti, p. 204). However
none of the other works quoted above about judicial reform dwell on this aspect, though
fictional and press sources of period could perhaps through further light on it.

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LEVY Aksu

spheres of competence. During the reign of Abdlhamid II and in the early years
of the Young Turk period it was the Ministry of Justice that oversaw the prison
service, but in 1911 this was transferred to the Ministry of the Interior. This may be
considered as indicative of the role played by prisons in the Young Turks strategies to experiment with demographic engineering, as illustrated by the setting
up of systematic censuses of prisoners involving both legal categories and ethnic
and denominational ones.23 For the Abdlhamid II period, news accounts and
fictional sources show how the prison institution acted as an interface. The
detention centres (tevkifhane) where suspects were held whilst awaiting trial or
sentencing, as well as prisoners serving short sentences, were often placed next
to the police station, as shown on the insurance plan for the Beyolu district
printed below (see figure 7.1). The central Galatasaray police station is right next to
the detention centre, making a complex of state buildings, to which may be added
the Galatasaray high school. A similar complex may be found in the historic peninsula where the Ministry of Police was on Ticarethane Street, in the Sultanahmet
district, alongside prisons. In these institutions as well as the prisons themselves
(hapishane), officials from these two institutions worked alongside each other
and oversaw the various points of contact between the institutions involved in
the judicial process, from arrest through to sentencing. However, work remains
to be done on how exactly this cooperation worked in practice.

Judicial Missions and the Central Role they Played in Representations


of the Police
In addition to everyday cooperation in the courts and detention centres, there
is also the question of the role played by the judicial system in shaping the
professional identity of the police at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
We have already mentioned how the practices and regulations observable in
the archival sources would appear to indicate that maintaining public order
and controlling the population were given greater priority than the prevention
and elucidation of crimes. In other words the police was in charge of protecting the interests of the state rather than people and property, and although this
situation was briefly called into question in 1908, it was always subsequently
reaffirmed in the regulations or else de facto during the Young Turk and
Republican periods. The memoirs of Hseyin Nazim Paa, a Minister of Police
in the 1890s, illustrate this police priority.24 Most of the work is devoted to the

23
24

Kent Schull, Prisons in the late Ottoman Empire: Microcosms of Modernity, Edinburgh,
Edinburgh University Press, 2013.
Hseyin Nazm Paa, Hatralarm: Ermeni Olaylarn Yz [My Memories: The Armenian
Events from the Inside], Istanbul, Selis, 2004.

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157

Figure7.1 The Galatasaray police station and detention centre.

Source: Goad insurance plan, 1905 (ifea-salt Research collection).

Armenian question and it would seem that he was obsessed by combating the
Armenian revolutionaries, something which is confirmed by the large number
of police reports relating to the surveillance and repression of Armenians in
the capital. The police thus comes across as safeguarding the stability of the
regime, a priority which is illustrated by the sizeable police force posted around
the Sultans residence, Yldz Palace.
Other sources however from the same period present a somewhat different
image of the policeman, with judicial activities playing the main role. The figure of the detective policeman started to appear in the books and the press in

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the late 19th century, before peaking in the early Young Turk period. The first
Ottoman detective novel, Esrar- Cinayat, was written by Ahmet Mithat and
was serialised in Tercman- Hakikat over the course of 1883 before being published in book form the following year.25 The action takes place in Istanbul and
tells the story of a police detective (Osman Sabri) and his assistant Necmi who
is an expert in disguise. The two heroes try to resolve a crime committed in the
capital involving a senior civil servant and a criminal gang. The novel is extensively rooted in the Ottoman context and has a clear didactic bent. The detective hero embodies the honest and effective policeman, being the one in charge
of the judicial investigation and working in collaboration with other institutions such as the administrative police and justice system. The Amanvermez
Avni series, published in the early 1910s, presents a figure of the ideal detective
policeman, largely inspired by Sherlock Holmes.26
These works are clearly influenced by literary and journalistic trends in the
French and English-speaking worlds and they cannot really be considered as
representative of the police activity of the period or of the sort of policeman,
and this despite the efforts made by the authors to create an illusion of reality,
notably via the spatial references and allusions to real people in the institutions.27 It is worth noting however during the Young Turk period this representation of the police, far from being limited to the pages of novels, was reinforced
by pronouncements by the institution itself, which emphasised the judicial
component of police activity. The official Journal of the Ministry of Police (first
called Polis and then Polis Mecmuas), more or less a police equivalent of the
Court Gazette, is a valuable source for observing efforts by the state to improve
the technical skills within the institution, whilst at the same time promoting a
positive image of police work.28 Long articles are devoted to identification
techniques of varying degrees of scientific validity (anthropometry, physiognomony, and fingerprints), as well as various aspects of the judicial investigation such as the use of dogs or photography. It is unclear to what extent these
25
26

27

28

Ahmet Mithat, Esrar- Cinayat [Mysterious Crimes], Istanbul, Emre Yaynlar, 2005 [1883].
Ebssreya Sami, Osmanlnn Sherlock Holmes Amanvermez Avninin Servenleri [The
Adventures of Amanvermez Avni, the Ottoman Serlock Holmes], Istanbul, Merkez
Kitaplar, 2006 [1913].
Erol yepazarc for instance has compared the corrupt Chief of the Galatasaray Police in
the novel Esrar- Cinayat with the Chief of Police Beyolu who was forced to resign in 1876
for professional misconduct: Esrar- Cinayat [Mysterious Crimes], Virgl Dergisi, no. 10,
July-August 1998, pp. 1314.
The first review, which was called Polis, was published on a fortnightly basis between 1911
and 1913. As of July 1913 it is replaced by Polis Mecmuas [Police Review] which was published on a fortnightly basis until 1936.

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159

articles reflect the methods and activities of the police at the period, with most
of the articles being translations from works published in western Europe and
only a minority of references to the Ottoman case, even if the many photographs prove that a certain number of the technical tools were indeed used
during an investigation or for identification. Irrespective of this, what this
review makes abundantly clear is that the judicial police were at the centre of
the institutions image management and its quest for legitimacy after the
reign of Abdlhamid II.
There is no equivalent for Polis during the Hamidian period, contrary to the
situation with regard to the justice system, and it would appear that building
up a positive police identity based on judicial work was not a priority for the
government of the period. We therefore need to turn to retrospective sources,
the vast majority of which are very critical of the regime of Abdlhamid II and
of his police. Police injustice is at the heart of these criticisms which often
emphasise the arbitrary and violent nature of the institution and its indifference to the needs of the population. The second half of this chapter will
endeavour to bring out various aspects of this arbitrary behaviour, as well as
seeking to flesh out and nuance this image by examining the role the police
played in resolving conflicts at the local level.

Both Arbitrary and Arbiters: The Twin Facets of the Ottoman Police


Summary Police Justice
The police during the reign of Abdlhamid II still acts as the symbol of the
authoritarian and repressive nature of the regime. The police was a tool in the
hands of the Sultan and the regimes strongmen, who used it to carry out surveillance of their real or imagined opponentsboth Young Turks and
Armenian revolutionariesand to remove and repress them, as well as more
generally to establish social control over the population. Memoirs of the period
emphasise the arbitrary nature of police behaviour and practices which
amounted to summary justice, in which the police resolved conflicts and
meted out punishment without bothering with judicial procedure, the outcome of which was not in their hands.29 For the period of Abdlhamid II there
are frequent references to the use of violence by the police to obtain information or to punish people. The police commissioner at Beikta, Yedi Sekiz

29

See for instance Sadri Sema, Eski stanbuldan Hatralar [Memories from Old Istanbul],
Istanbul, letiim, 1994 [1956], p. 18.

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Hasan Paa, was renowned for the beatings he meted out to lawbreakers and
wrongdoers.30 There is little documentation for the reign of Abdlhamid II
relating to the question of police torture, to which certain defendants refer in
the trials presented in the court Gazette, but it is an established fact for the
Young Turk period, when it was often used to intimidate political opponents.31
Another way in which the police circumvented the Justice system in the
Ottoman capital was by expelling suspects who were sent back to their province of origin. If such a decision should normally have been delivered by a
court, numerous reports recommend direct expulsion or else refer to ones
which have already taken place. However those who had been expelled on
occasions used the courts to protest against these summary police measures,
and sometimes won.32 Given the current state of research it is difficult to ascertain whether the ways in which police got around the rules reflect the comparatively unprofessional nature of actual police practice, or else are indicative
of rivalries, conflicts of interest, and even political divergences between the
police and justice systems.
Collusion between the police and networks of influence close to the government also enabled the police to overstep their legal attributions (which for that
matter were not all that clear) by using ruffians (kabaday) to help them in various districts around the capital. Ziya akir, a journalist and author who has left
critical first-hand accounts of the period, states that power in Istanbul was in
the hands of kabaday gangs, whilst the place called the Ministry of Police was
a phantom, and the official policeman were puppets.33 The police commissioner of Beikta referred to above was at the head of one of these gangs of
henchmen. Sometimes they assisted him in police missions, but they were also
used in power struggles with other regime strongmen who were well connected
30
31
32

33

Ethem Erko, Beikta muhafz Yedi Sekiz Hasan Paa ve bir devrin hikayesi [The Beikta
Police Superintendent Yedi Sekiz Hasan and the story of an era], orum, 2004.
Halil Kalkan is currently writing a PhD thesis at New York University on torture during the
reign of Abdlhamid II.
BOA, Y.MTV 281/60, 1323.L.09 (6 December 1905). The document orders that Armenians
who are porters, domestics, cooks, beggars, vagabonds, repeat offenders, and homeless
be expelled from the capital (Hamal ve uak ve a makulesinden ve serseri ve sabkal ve
bmekn takmndan bulunan Ermenilerin Dersaadetten ihrac ve ibdlar). Further on this
document targets unmarried individuals in particular without any job or family (bekr ve
sanatsz ve alkasz). This document is accompanied by list of twenty-two Armenians
who had been arrested so as to be expelled from the capital but who, after an investigation demanded by their families, were all found to have a job and family.
Ziya akir, Yarm asr evvel bizi idare edenler [Those Who Ruled Us Half a Century Ago],
vol. 2, Istanbul, Anadolu Trk Kitap Deposu, 1943, p. 35.

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to the Palace and with militia controlling certain parts of the town, such as
Fehmi Paa in Beyolu and erkez Mehmet Paa in Galata. This phenomenon
illustrates how the police was not professionalised and did not have clear-cut
frontiers, making it possible to set up what amounted to militia to serve the
interests of well-connected elites. Personal affirmation and financial gain were
the principal motivation for these para-police organisations, all of which
sought to be looked upon favourably by the Sultan. The police were paradoxically unusually well-placed to ignore the laws they were meant to enforce,
thanks to their privileged position in the state apparatus placed under the
authority of the Palace and to their access to various means of coercion.

Police Arbitration to Resolve Conflicts
However this oppressive, predatory aspect of the Ottoman police is not the
only one to emerge from our sources. In the late 19th-century police forces
were deployed across all districts in the capital and were increasingly integrated within the urban fabric, as attested by the flurry of police stations (karakol) built at the period. The density varied with the level of risk in the various
districts (depending on whether it was close to the Palace, in the port area, and
on the number of foreign and non-Muslim inhabitants).34 By being closer to
the population the police was better able to carry out its surveillance tasks. Yet
this proximity also led to an intensification in its relations with local p
opulation,
meaning that the police were sometimes called upon in the resolution of local
conflicts. It is this dimension, brought to light by Khaled Fahmy in his study of
Cairo in the nineteenth century, which we will now examine.35
Petitions addressed by the local inhabitants to the police authorities constitute a privileged source for examining the spheres of police arbitration
requested by the population and how it worked.36 These petitions were drawn
34

35
36

The movement to build police stations had started before the reign of Abdlhamid II, as
the barracks and guard houses which had survived the abolition of the janissaries did not
suffice for the new police forces. However, it was during the reign of Abdlhamid II that
the number of karakol increased in the capital and towns in the provinces. The photographic albums of Yldz show several examples of this sort of public buildings. For discussion of the karakol from the point of view of their architecture and town planning, see
Aynur ifti, Son dnem stanbul karakollar. Anadolu yakas ve Bykdere topu karakolu [Istanbul Police Stations at the End of the Empire. Asian Bank and Bykdere
Artillery Post], unpublished Masters dissertation, Yldz Technical University, 1996.
Khaled Fahmy, The Police and the People in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, Die Welt des
Islams, vol. 39, no. 3 1999, pp. 340377.
For discussion of the large number of petitions addressed by the population to the
Ottoman authorities and their use as the privileged mode of communication between the

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up at the district level on the initiative of the imams and muhtars, and contain
dozens or even a hundred or so seals of the inhabitants together with their
profession. Most of the time they related to questions of reality or public order
in which the petitioners felt they had been wronged and so demanded justice.
For instance the police responded to petitions about the expulsion of prostitutes or women of ill repute, or the closing of taverns or outlets for alcohol said
to be illegal or open outside authorised hours. The files held in the archives
referr to investigations carried out by the police on receiving these petitions so
as to establish exactly what the activities were of the incriminated women or
whether or not the sale of alcohol was being conducted illegally. The case of a
petition against an alcohol outlet in Topkap in 1909 underlines the various
forms of police response.37 After an initial investigation which emphasised
that the outlet respected the minimum legal distance from the mosque, the
police arbitration nevertheless recommended that it be closed due to the concern of the petitioners who were worried about upholding public morality in
their neighbourhood.
As a rule police arbitration was based more on assessing prospective interests and damages than on the application of legal categories. In addition to the
polices geographical proximity mentioned above, an additional reason for
which the petitioners turned to the police was perhaps this pragmatism and
flexibility in assessing situations, for this meant that the petitioners could hope
to win their case irrespective of the legal framework, and without all the bother
of a judicial process of uncertain outcome. These petitions could also be analysed within the framework of debates about past and present mahalle basks
(local pressure), for the social pressure exerted by the local district or some of
its inhabitants could be encouraged or legitimated by the tacit or explicit support of certain institutions.38 Although the paradigm of the Islamic town as
immobile and separated into distinct districts has been almost totally abandoned today, numerous studies of Ottoman towns and current-day Turkey still

37
38

centre and provinces, see Nora Lafi, Petitions and Accommodating Urban Change in the
Ottoman Empire, in Elisabeth zdalga, M. Sait zervarl, Feryal Tansu (eds.), Istanbul as
Seen from a Distance: Centre and Provinces in the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul, Swedish
Research Institute, 2011, pp. 7382.
BOA, ZB 377/31, 13 Mays 1325 [26 May 1909].
The debate about local pressure was launched in 2007 when erif Mardin raised the issue
of the oppressive and reactionary dimension of the local district within contemporary
Turkey and its historic context. Ruen akr (ed.), Mahalle Basks: Prof. Dr. erif Mardinin
Tezlerinden Hareketle Trkiyede slam, Cumhuriyet, Laiklik ve Demokrasi [Neighbourhood
Pressure: Islam, the Republic, Secularism and Democracy in Turkey according to Professor
erif Mardins Theses], Istanbul, Doan Kitap, 2008.

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consider the town as the prime forum for the transmission of religious and
traditional values acting as the base for resistance to those state institutions
seeking to bring about change, such as schools.39 The example of police
arbitrationand a fortiori arbitration by the muhtar studied by lise Massicard
elsewhere in this bookmeans we need to modify this vision of the interaction between the state and the district as being rigid and conflictual. Without
underestimating the tensions brought about by the expansion of state control
over the district, the presence of new state institutions at the heart of the
urban fabric would also appear to have had two consequences, resulting in the
greater social integration of state actors, something which on occasions influenced the mission entrusted to them and, at least in certain cases, the readier
acceptance of these actors by the population. Thus the notion of services rendered, a central theme in police legitimisation during the Young Turk period,
would seem to have played a crucial role in the acceptance of state institutions
at the local level, including during the reign of Abdlhamid II.40
Police arbitration was used by local inhabitants to exclude or sanction others, indicating that they acknowledged the role played by the police as an actor
in the resolution of everyday conflicts, and that the police forces were successfully integrated into the urban fabric in the late 19th-century. Police arbitration
could even be used to settle cases which would appear to be typically the
responsibility of local actors. Thus in 1907 the muhtars and imams of four districts in Tophane worked together to gather a hundred or so signatures, mainly
of local craftsmen and shopkeepers (esnaf), to a petition demanding police
support to set up a local fire brigade (tulumbac), despite the opposition of the
neighbouring Galatasaray brigade which operated in the districts in question.
It would appear that these districts had been unable to establish their brigade
39

40

erif Mardin uses the imam/schoolmaster opposition as one of the keys for understanding social and political dynamics during the Republican period. The arrival in power of
the akp (Justice and Development Party) is interpreted as the defeat of the schoolmaster
and victory of the local district. Interview with erif Mardin conducted by Ruen akr
and published in the books supplement of the Vatan newspaper on 15 May 2007 under
the title Mahalle havas diye bir ey var ki akpyi bile dver [There is Something Called
the Air of the Local District, it Could even Thrash the akp].
The police manuals referred to above emphasise this notion of service and the requisite
proximity between police officers and the population. Nowadays the notion of service is
central to the political discourse of the akp Party and to the promotion of the police. The
Istanbul police force has adopted the slogan Halk iin emniyet, adalet iin hizmet
[Security of the Population and Service to Justice]. For discussion of the importance of
this notion in Turkish vocabulary, see Etienne Copeaux, Hizmet: a Keyword in the
Turkish Historical Narrative, New Perspectives on Turkey, 14, 1996, pp. 97114.

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as the Galatasaray one was long established and enjoyed support in high
places.41 The arguments put forward in the petition related to the high risk of
fire due to the predominance of wooden buildings in the districts in question,
but especially emphasised the economic aspect of the question, for the
tulumbac also acted as porters (hamal), and their new status would procure
them a revenue and enable them to offer cheaper services to the local tradesmen. It was thus a conflict of interests that had nothing to do with issues of
public order and morality, but where the police was considered a legitimate
arbiter. The file held in the archives reveals the interest the police showed to
this affair since various parties were auditioned (a petition from the adverse
party is also found in the file) and an investigation carried out, before it was
decided to place the affair before a commission, the result of which (as is often
the case) remains unknown.
It is worth noting that whilst this affair reveals the close relations between
the inhabitants and the police, it does not enable us to pronounce on whether
or not the police were able to resolve this sort of local conflict. There is also the
question of why the police was interested in this sort of minor affair, in contrast with their apparent indifference for criminal affairs as discussed above.
Iwould be tempted to suggest that when the petitions were handed in and the
police called upon in this way that various recompenses were made in cash or
kind to stimulate the industriousness of the police officers, but for the moment
I have found no supporting evidence for this, even though it is known that
police salaries were low and paid irregularly at this period, and there are many
documents in the police archives denouncing corruption.
More generally police arbitration was contrary to the spirit of the reforms to
the judicial system undertaken in the 1870s. One of the fundamental principles
of these reforms was the separation between the judicial and the administrative authorities, with the attribution of the monopoly over judgement and
arbitration to the judicial institutions. This idea of the separation of powers
first resulted in the progressive transferral to the administrative authorities of
41

The file of this affair contains several documents about the head of the Galatasaray
Brigade, a certain Ali Bey who sought to be heard both by the police authorities and at the
Austro-Hungarian Embassy, where he was promptly shown the door. Diplomatic institutions were another way to settle local conflicts, especially in those districts in the capital
which had a large number of foreign inhabitants. For discussion of the role played
by European powers in the Balkans, see Malte Fuhrmann, Vagrants, prostitutes and
Bosnians: making and unmaking European supremacy in Ottoman Southeast Europe, in
Hannes Grandits, Nathalie Clayer, and Robert Pichler (eds.), Conflicting Loyalties in the
Balkans: The Great Powers, the Ottoman Empire and Nation-Building, London/New York,
I.B. Tauris, 2011, pp. 1545.

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administrative tasks that had previously been conducted by the cadi. For
example, the oversight of markets in towns, previously the duty of the cadi,
was handed over to the municipal authorities and their police forces.42 In turn,
several provisions in the law on the organisation of the Nizamiye courts affirm
the prerogatives of the justice system at the expense of the administrative
authorities. It was stipulated for instance that civil servants (mlkiye) were no
longer authorised to accept petitions relating to judicial affairs.43 The law
sought in particular to prevent provincial governors (vali) interfering in judicial matters and to diminish the control they exerted over the courts. The governors, who were at the head of the administration of the province and in
charge of supervising the local forces of law and order, frequently intervened
in judicial matters, in particular by using the police forces at their disposal
either so as to pre-empt decisions by the justice system to arrest or fine someone, or to oppose such decisions.44 Documents in the archive relate to similar
interventions by civil servants, such as a circular from the Ministry of Justice
that was issued in 1885, mentioning instructions given by local civil servants to
the police to delay carrying out arrests that had been ordered by the justice
system.45
In the cases mentioned above, the forces of law and order are merely instruments in the service of rival local and judicial administrations. I have not found
any documents in which the practice of addressing petitions to the police and
police arbitration are brought into question on the grounds that they contravene judicial prerogatives. There are several reasons that might explain this
tolerance of police initiatives. Firstly, as mentioned above, they helped legitimise the police forces in the eyes of the population and helped further their
local integration, which was one of the objectives of the reform to the system
for maintaining public order. Secondly, given that the justice system was short
of trained personnel and resources, the settling of minor conflicts by the police
authorities was a way of avoiding a longer and more complex judicial procedure which cost more both for the state and for the parties involved. Lastly,
42

43
44
45

Cf. For instance the regulation of the sixth municipal circle of Galata, dated 7 June 1858,
which mentions the oversight of markets as a municipal attribution. Osman Nuri Ergin,
Mecelle-i Umr- Belediyye [Collection of Documents about Municipal Affairs], vol. 2,
pp.895898.
Avi Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, p. 38.
Ibid., p. 40.
This affair is referred to by Avi Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, p. 43. A decision by the
Council of State subsequently forbade such interventions. See BOA, D. 619/14, 24.M. 1303
[2 November 1885].

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these arbitrations may be analysed within the framework of changes in sulh


practice (amicable settlement) in the late 19th-century.
Amicable settlement is a part of Islamic law that was used very extensively
in Ottoman lands. The registers of the cadis contain many examples of such
amicable settlements, concluded either in court, or else validated by it after
having been reached out of court.46 They could relate to all sorts of case except
intentional homicide. Intervention by witnesses or by local notables acting as
mediators (muslihun-i muslimin) is often mentioned as one of the keys to the
resolution of a conflict. Reforms to the justice system and the setting up of the
Nizamiye courts posed the problem of how to integrate this tradition of sulh
within the new state justice system. In the Mecelle of 1877, the first attempt to
codify the principles of religious law, there were several articles devoted to
sulh.47 However, the reform of the courts carried out in 1879 did not establish
any specific jurisdiction for this way of settling conflicts, instead adopting a
three-level model similar to the French system (with a Court of First Instance,
Court of Appeal, and Court of Cassation) with a bipartite division of each level
into criminal and civil courts. In parallel to this the law on the judicial organisation of Nizamiye courts recognised the right of the Council of Elders (htiyar
meclisleri), which operated at the scale of the subdistrict (nahiye), to function
as justices of the peace, but it would appear that this did not in fact systematically occur nor was it always recognised by the Nizamiye courts.48
My hypothesis is that the police was one of the actors to have inherited this
tradition of sulh, at a time when the polices institutional status was being
brought into question by reforms to the way the justice system was organised
and operated. As in the past, most of the district or neighbourhood conflicts
were settled by mediations involving several local actors, such as notables or
religious officeholders. With the Tanzimat the muhtar had emerged as a crucial
new actor in conciliation practices. The examples of petitions given above
would appear to indicate that in the late 19th century the police had also
become part of this network of relations and that they were called upon to
arbitrate as a local actor representing the state. It is probable that prior to the
Tanzimat most minor disputes were settled by mediation that did not involve
46
47

48

Ik Tamdoan, Sulh and the 18th Century Ottoman Courts of skdar and Adana,
Islamic Law and Society, vol. 15, 2008, pp. 5583.
See Chapter 12 of the Mecelle, translated into French in Grgoire Aristarchi Bey, Lgislation
ottomane, ou Recueil des lois, rglements, ordonnances, traits, capitulations et autres documents officiels de lEmpire ottoman [published by Dmtrius Nicolads], vol. 7,
Constantinople, Thraky Newspaper Offices, 1888.
Avi Rubin, Ottoman Nizamiye Courts, p. 33.

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presenting the case before the cadi.49 Equally, police intervention was only one
of the options available to the inhabitants of the district to settle a conflict, and
the use of petitions only one way to do so, but unfortunately the archives do
not throw any light on less formal means of contact based on the daily encounters between the police and inhabitants and the ensuing dialogues. Although
some of the current studies of sulh tend to idealise this sort of mediation practice, considered as symptomatic of the conciliatory nature of Islamic law, it
goes without saying that love of justice was not the only reason motivating the
various actors involved.50 With regard to the police their participation in infrajudiciary solutions legitimised their presence in the district and enabled state
actors to build up a network of personal contacts which could be used for the
purposes of surveillance or information-gathering. Arbitration could thus be
indirectly in the service of arbitrary behaviour, and vice versa.
Conclusion
My research into this subject is far from complete but I think that the approach
sketched out here makes it possible to better apprehend the way in which the
police defined themselves in relation to other institutions, in this case the justice system, as well as in relation to society. The comparative lack of interest
shown by the authorities for judicial policing and the ways in which the police
forces encroached on the prerogatives of the justice system reveal the priorities of the regime with regards to policing, characterised by the predominant
role accorded to political and social control. Whilst the organisational frameworks, budget allocations, and documents that I have consulted for Istanbul
clearly bring out this characteristic, it is possible that the disequilibrium
between judicial and administrative policing be less marked in certain provincial towns which did not have the same strategic importance for the survival of
the regime.

49
50

Ik Tamdoan, Sulh and the 18th Century Ottoman Courts.


Certain authors emphasise the pacific and amicable nature of sulh and its effectiveness in
amicable settlement, in conformity with the spirit of Islamic law. See for instance
Abdulmecid Mutaf, Amicable Settlement in Ottoman Law: Sulh system, Turcica, no. 36,
2004, pp. 125140. The development of mediation is for that matter one of the goals of the
current Turkish governments judicial policy. A bill will shortly be presented to the
Assembly to encourage the use of mediation (arabuluculuk) in affairs relating to litigation, employment law, and commercial law, either before or during a trial.

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From the point of view of their relation to society, the rivalry between institutions and lack of clear-cut definition in their respective spheres of competence had two diametrically opposed effects. On the one hand, this encouraged
arbitrary behaviour, particularly under an authoritarian regime. On the other
hand, it enabled society to use one institution rather than another, or even one
against another, making it possible for instance to avoid the justice system by
calling on the help of the police, or to use the administrative police instead of
the judicial police. This sort of differentiated use of institutions which is apparent in the petitions implies a familiarity with the various administrations,
something which was no doubt not within everybodys reach. It thus provided
local actors such as the muhtars or notables an opportunity to reinforce their
prestige and social legitimacy, either by acting for themselves or else in the
name of their district and community. In order to understand the social and
political equilibriums underpinning the way the justice and police system
operated at the end of the Ottoman period it is essential to take into account
these complex configurations, where the limit between the state and the nonstate sphere are far from clear-cut and the contours of institutions are frequently blurred.

chapter 8

The State without the Public

Some Conjectures about the Administration for Collective


Housing (tok)
Jean-Franois Prouse
In Turkey over the past few years the question of the increasing non-alignment
between Kamu (the Public, referring to the public interest, public welfare, and
public service) and Devlet (the state) has provided interesting material for those
thinking about the metamorphosis of the state.1 The idea here is that the state
is no longer there to defend the Public and that you have to look outside the
state sphere to find the true Public champions, who are often not recognised
by the state. Whilst this idea may be based on a normative conception of the
state, and so clearly open to criticism, it would nevertheless appear to offer a
stimulating approach given that it overthrows certain automatic associations of
ideas and ways of thinking. In December 2011, statements by the Minister of the
Interiordris Naim ahinon the omnipotence and omnipresence of the
state (The state is life itself2) brought to the fore once again the apparent paradox of the Justice and Development Party (akp), which has been in power since
November 2002. This young party, despite being a fervent supporter of shrinking the state by delegating tasks considered as secondary and cutting back on
public spending, actually perpetuates in its own way the centrality, necessity,
and cult of the staterecurrent political obsessions in Turkeyespecially with
regards to security issues.
This chapter will seek to take this debate about the redefinition of the Public
forward by analysing the transformations of a state administration with close
ties to the Prime Ministerthe Administration for Collective Housing, or
tok. This institution was set up in 1984 and is now at the heart of the Turkish

1 On this subject see Jean-Franois Prouse, Varolarda Devlet Var m Yok mu? sabetli bir
Sorunsal [Is the State Present in the Suburbs? A Question of Interest], Toplumbilim, no. 26,
April 2011, special issue: Banliy, pp. 8386.
2 For the details of the declaration in Turkish by M. ahin and a thought-provoking commentary, see zgr Mumcu, Hayatmzn bakan [The Minister of Our Lives], Radikal,
29 December 2011. url: http://www.radikal.com.tr/Radikal.aspx?aType=HaberYazdir&Articl
eID=1073876 (accessed 29 August 2013).

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_009

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Prouse

peoples preoccupations.3 It draws on its extensive state legitimacy to implement


an authoritarian housing policyand more generally urban policygoverned
more by circumstances, electoral reasons, and market forces than by any rationale based on social and spatial equity. If one were to resume what toks
detractors see as the fundamental prerogatives of the Public, it would include
acting as the guarantor of equality (social redistribution and a proper social
distribution or equilibrium), of diversity, and of the sustainability of public
assets, and the possibility of transmitting them to future generations.4 And
whilst toka powerful communicating machine, though a unidirectional
onecontinues to claim to be performing social work, repeatedly using the
term social housing to describe part of the housing stock it produces, closer
examination of the actual conditions offered to the people concerned raises
doubts about the so-called social aspect of this housing.5
tok, with its various deviations and system of relationships built up with
actors from multiple spheres, is an administration/agency6 that is emblematic of the process of state privatisation,7 being adept at playing on all registers
in a most pragmatic way (sometimes state legitimacy for authoritarian operations, and sometimes market legitimacy). In this respect tok is indicative of
the extent to which the states scope of action in Turkey, rather than shrinking
over recent years, has in fact been redefined and become less visible. It is a
3 In November 2011 a newspaper revealed that the toki website was the most popular Google
search, ahead of the Council for Foreign Trade, the Turkish Standards Institution, the State
Planning Organisation, the Directorate General of Posts and Turkish Telecommunications, the
Social Security Institution, etc.; cf: Milliyet, 20 November 2010, p. 12.
4 Such as the Association for Social Rights (Sosyal Haklar Dernei) which is very active with
regard to the right to housing; cf. Cem Ergun and Hseyin Gl, Barnma hakknn ihlal
edilme srecinde kentsel dnm projeleri, url: www.sosyalhaklar.net/2010/bildiri/ergun.
pdf (accessed 20 June 2013).
5 For the mass housing of the Kayaba development which went on sale on 24 August 2009,
the required conditions were as follows: an application fee of 2,000, a deposit of between
8,000 and 10,500 payable in cash on signing the agreement, followed by monthly payments
of 450 over a period of 120 months. Given that the average guaranteed minimum wage at
this date was less than 400, it is staggering to describe this as mass housing; cf. Pelin Pnar
zden, Sosyal Politika Balamnda Trkiyede Sosyal Konut Kavramna Bir Bak [Insights
into the Concept of Social Housing with Regard to Social Policies], l, no. 7, 2010,
pp.111116.
6 Even if the word agency in this sense is only just beginning to acquire a Turkish equivalent
(ajans)particularly with the regional development agencies set up in 2006what we
endeavour to prove in this paper inclines us to prefer this term to describe toki .
7 See Batrice Hibou (ed.), La privatisation des tats, Paris, Karthala, 1999.

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matter of new contours, new modes of action, and new alliances. The state is
frequently invoked as a resource of land to be drawn upon and legitimising
power for the operations carried out, whilst at the same time being trampled
underfoot qua defender of the Public. The example of tok thus shows that
this use of the private sector does not mean the disappearance of public institutions, corresponding instead to their redeployment since tok is in a position of strength in its relations with the private sector, being both a shareholder
in private companies and acting as an arbiter.
And so after going over the ways in which tok emerged as a key institutional actor in urban matters, this chapter goes on to examine its social engineering (II) and conception of the Public (III).

The Context of toks Rise: Increasing Pressure on the Land


and Property Markets and an Opportune Legislative Framework

Since the late 1990s the financialisation of the Turkish economy has resulted in
a rapid expansion in property investment, especially in the largest cities. Thus
a large number of Turkish construction companies, having built up capital in
foreign markets (ranging from Russia to Libya) have started investing in Turkish
towns, and primarily the major cities.8
In parallel to this, there has been a gradual shift in town management away
from planning demands and towards territorial marketing, with the stated aim
of local authorities being to promote their town on the international market.
One only has to glance at the akp manifesto for the June 2011 general elections
to appreciate the clear, recent shift in urban policy towards promotion, particularly as evidenced by the recurrent usage of the expression town brand.
At the same time property and land prices have increased everywhere since
2001 (when there was a banking and financial crisis), opening up the prospect
of a quick return on capital and rent even. To give but one example, land
belonging to the Zincirlikuyu Public Works Office (Beikta/stanbul), which
went on sale at $150,000 in 2001, was finally sold in 2007 for the sum of $800,000.
8 On which the Justice and Development Party, which has been in power since November
2002, appears to direct most of its effort and attention, as is flagrantly shown by its manifesto
for the 12 June 2011 general elections. See Trkiye Hazr Hedef 2023, April 2011. Out of the TL32
billion (about 15 billion) that toki invested in the country as a whole between the end of
2002 and the end of 2010, 30% was concentrated in the province of Istanbul; cf. Mustafa
Snmez, Sra Geldi Evdeki Gmlere [It Is Now Time to Sell the Family Silver], Cumhuriyet,
25 January 2012, p. 10.

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And so the Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2011 report published by the
Urban Land Institute and pwc consultancy placed Istanbul first out of twentyseven European cities for property development projects in 2010, ahead of
London and Munich. This shows that the comparative opportunities Istanbul
provides are well known to the main actors in the property sector. Pages 33 and
34 of this report are devoted to Istanbul which is now a key target for investors,
and it is pointed out just how exceptional Istanbul is both for new land purchases and for property developments.
Against this backdrop there has been a gradual shift amongst those with capital
away from sectors such as the textile industry or tourism9 and towards property.
The Erolu Groupwell-known in Istanbul for its long history in textilesoffers
a striking example of this recent reinvention. It now operates primarily in upmarket property. Equally, the Sanko Group has recently moved into the property sector
in Gaziantep, which has nothing to do with its initial core business. Over 50% of
the construction companies which win the vast majority of the major calls for tender put out by tok have only been present in this industry for less than ten years.
These changes have resulted in ever greater pressure on urban land and
these places those controlling it or those who are able to supply it in an unprecedented position of strength. This explains the rapid rise of tok, to the extent
that it directly owns an outstanding property portfolio inherited from its origins in the public sector.
The Administration for Collective Housing was set up in 1984 in the wake of
the coup and against the backdrop of an acceleration in privatisation by Law
no. 2985 which set up the Collective Housing Fund at the same time. Between
1984 and late 2002 (when the akp came to power), tok concentrated on
financing housing, primarily via the intermediary of housing construction
cooperatives (Konut Yap Kooperatifi), a social economic entity with central
and sometimes local public funding.10 During this period tok financed
940,000 dwellings, of which 549,000 between 1984 and the end of 1989, the
period when toks relationship with the cooperative movement was at its
height. Over the same period (1984 to late 2002), tok only actually built
9
10

Such as the Mart Group which initially specialised in tourist properties on the coast, but
has recently moved into the Istanbul property market.
Construction cooperatives first appeared in Turkey in the 1930s. Initially they brought
together people with a common goalbecoming the owner of a modern main residenceand with shared values, who frequently banded together on a corporatist basis so
as to realise economies of scale. Once the cooperative had been set up (in accordance
with the Law of 1934) and recognised by the relevant Ministries, its members undertook
to pay their monthly dues. And the cooperative, with a plot of land acquired for next to

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i.e. where it acted both as financer and as prime contractor43,145 dwellings


(of which 7,852 built by the Property Bank or Emlak Bankas11).
During the period between 1992 and 1997 when tok was headed by Yiit
Glksza great servant of the state who, having studied architecture at the
Technical University of Istanbul went on to study urban and regional planning
in the United States, before working for the State Planning Organisation (dpt)
and then the Ministry for Rural Affairs and Cooperatives between 1978 and
1980there was a close relationship between tok and the social democratic
municipal cooperative movement, especially in Ankara. Once Glksz was
removed in 1997, on the grounds that he was too social democrat, the clearly
stated intention of the liberal conservative governments of the time was to get
tok to move beyond its social vocation.
The winding-up of the Collective Housing Fund (Toplu Konut Fonu) by Law
no. 4684 of 20 June 2001 gave clear legal form to this new orientation, which
occurred therefore prior to the akp coming to power. At the same time tok
recuperated some of the property assets of the Property Bank which had collapsed during the 2001 banking crisis. This providential injection gave a major
boost to its property portfolio. But tok only started exploiting its property
portfolio in late 2003, after the restructuring of toks principal partner, the
real estate investment trust Emlak Konut (Emlak Konut gyo A.. in Turkish)12
which was placed under its guardianshipand especially after Law no. 4966
of 6 August 2003. This law radically revised the law which set up tok, with the
opening up to and encouragement even of partnerships with the private sector. In January 2004 tok was placed under the guardianship of the Prime
Ministers Office (Babakanlk)having previously been linked to the Ministry
of Public Works. It then began to take up a central and more visible position
within the apparatus of state. Then in December 2004 a new step was taken in reinforcing toks means and prerogatives when it absorbed an institution called
the Office for Building Land (Arsa Ofisi Genel Mdrl) which had been set

11

12

nothing from the local authorities, and with bank guarantees, was now in a position to go
and negotiate with a property developer.
This bank was set up in 1926 and was tasked with facilitating access to decent housing for
all Turkish people, but it deviated away from its initial objectives and finally went bankrupt and disappeared in the banking crisis of 2001. See Murat Gven and Ouz Ik,
Emlak Bankas 19261998 [The Property Bank 19261998], stanbul, Tarih Vakf, 1999.
This restructuring was subsequent to Law no. 4603 of 15 November 2000 transforming
public banks into limited companies. As of late 2001 this group became one of the largest
real estate investments trusts (or gyos), with a property portfolio valued at tl4.1 billion
(in current money), or about 1.9 billion.

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up in 1969 and was in charge of acquiring, managing, and supplying land for
public needs.13 Lastly the final phase of this staggering empowerment started
in February 2011 with a further modification to its 1984 founding law which
now enabled tok to draw up development plans for urban transformation
zones to be regenerated,14 in the zones that tok owned and in the zones
defined as collective housing zones. This process continued in July 2011 when,
in the final stage of its metamorphosis, a specially created Ministry emanated
from tok, the Ministry of the Environment, and Urban Planning, whose natural head was former director of toki between 2003 and 2010. And in early
2012, two laws were being put to the vote by the Turkish parliament relating
primarily to tok: the law on urban transformation and risks of catastrophe,15
and the law on public lands formerly classified as forestry (known as 2b land).
This comparatively spectacular structural mutation, initiated in the late
1990s, has expanded toks remit and let it take on a very wide variety of different tasks, something which has partially undermined its image as a public
institution: tok builds villas for rich Russians along the coast, police stations
along its sensitive borders, as well as building football stadiums and providing
credit to restore old buildings. In addition to this tok is now used to showcase
Turkish dynamism, and is even developing projects abroad, from Venezuela to
Pakistan and taking in Kuwait, Tunisia, and Nigeria.16
toki has concomitantly started churning out housing, having built over
510,000 dwellings between early 2003 and late 2011 according to the much-vaunted
official statistics. toks communication is based on the supposed efficacy of
hammering out figures. These quantitative performances are systematically
employed by politicians who, during election periods, are perfectly happy to have
their meetings coincide with the launch of work on a development or, at of the

13
14

15
16

This was consecrated by article 4 of Law no. 5273 of 8 December 2004 which modified the
1969 Law no. 1164 on the supply and use of urban land.
Since 2004, when the akp launched its urban transformation policy (or kentsel dnm)
which has been driven through primarily by toki , there have basically been four types of
urban transformation: transformation of historic centres seeking to reduce their density
and promote their museumification; transformations to regularise and embellish peripheral zones which had sprang up spontaneously; the transformation of zones to be deindustrialised; and lastly attempts to produce earthquake-resistant buildings (deprem odakl).
This law opens up whole new prospects for toki with regard to land held by the military,
the black box of the Turkish land market; see Vatan, 4 February 2012, p. 1.
See Nijerya Cumhurbakan toki den konut istedi [The Nigerian President Has Asked
toki for Housing], Milliyet, 4 February 2011, p. 19; or Yurtdnda ilk dev proje. toki ,
Pakistanda 4 620 konut yapacak [First Giant Project Outside Turkey. toki to Build 4,620
Housing Units in Pakistan], Birgn, 19 February 2011, p. 5.

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other in the process, with the solemn ceremonies in which the keys to tok
lodgings are handed over to their owner or beneficiary.17
And yet with fewer than 1,000 employees in late 2011 tok may be considered to be a modest-sized administration. Only one third of these employees
are civil servants, from the former Administration for Collective Housing, with
the rest being made up of contract personnel working either as experts or in
non-qualified positions.18
There is a certain contradiction between toks strong visual presence, with
its name plastered up everywhere and its abundant communication about its
projects and products throughout the whole country, and the reduced direct
relationship it has with citizens. These relationships are limited to negotiations with the inhabitants of zones targeted as zones for transformation and
to commercial relationships when tok housing is sold. And these negotiations, which are often long and delicate, tend to be farmed out to local agents
or local civil servants with local knowledge. And the commercial relationship
is increasingly conducted via the Internet as part of the electronic state programme (e-Devlet) in which tok is a zealous participant. Furthermore, the
use of contractorseven for managing the housing stock built by tok
tends to mean that tok has a limited physical presence.19 Most of the time, as
is the case for region of Istanbul, tok hands over the management and maintenance of its housing stock to a private company called Boazii Ynetim A..
(formerly Boazii Konut A..). This limited company was set up in 1997with
tok being the main shareholderand it works both for tok and for Kipta,
the private construction company of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality.20
And even during ceremonies in which housing is handed over to beneficiaries,
it tends to be the local mayors or Prime Minister who take centre stage, rather
17

18

19

20

The most recent striking example being the prospectus called Our people have won,
Turkey has won that the akp has been distributing everywhere since April 2011, and which
takes the form of a comparison between 2001 and 2011 in which toki s results are presented
as one of the most irrefutable proofs of how efficient and hard-working the government is.
In 2009 the former president of toki , Erdoan Bayraktar, spoke of 550 employees in
Ankara, at the toki premises, and of 100 in Istanbul in the various zones transformed by
toki . See: Pelin Pnar zden et al., stanbul Bulumalar, Kriz ve stanbul [Istanbul
Meetings. Istanbul and the Crisis], tmmob ehir Planclar Odas, 2010, p. 21.
In a few cases there may be a local toki contracted administrator in charge of setting
up the most social and sensitive toki operations, whose job consists in receiving the
stream of complaints of the beneficiaries.
See its website: http://www.bogaziciyonetim.com.tr (accessed 29 May 2011). Amongst the
list of sites managed by this company on 29 May 2011 is a site (said to be private) for an
upmarket development by a private property company with links to the Prime Minister
himself (Albayrak gyo).

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than the tok bureaucrats. And so all most Turkish people know of tok is its
media director, its logo found everywhere in the Turkish urban landscape, and
the tutelary figure of the Prime Minister.21 In the way it is perceived and conducts its affairs on a daily basis, tok embodies the cold, rational, and modernising reason of state, plus the generous hand of the state when the social
nature of its operations is being emphasised.22

Figure8.1 Official toki report showing the organic bond between the Prime Minister and toki .

21

22

Erdoan Bayraktar, the former head of Kipta when R.T. Erdoan was Mayor of Istanbul,
acted as director of toki from 2003 until late 2010, when he resigned to stand in Trabzon
for the June 2011 general elections. He was elected as the akp mp for Trabzon, and in late
June 2011 was appointed as the head of the brand-new Ministry which had virtually been
designed for him, the Ministry of the Environment and Town Planning (evre ve ehircilik
Bakanl). An official toki report published in 2010 (see Figure 8.1) shows a tenderhearted Prime Minister holding a baby in his arms, something which symbolises the
organic bond between the Prime Minister and toki ; cf. T.C. Babakanlk toki , Trkiyenin
Geleceini na Ediyoruz. toki Kurum Profili 20092010 [We Are Building the Turkey of the
Future. toki s Institutional Profile], Ankara, 2010, p. 2.
This generous/maternal image is not something that is forged by all media outlets. If you
take into account the press articles taken from 15 newspapers and collected on the Boazii

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177

Authoritarian Social Engineering? The Ability to


Reconstruct Realitytoks Idea of the Poor and
the Modern

toks reputation and the way it is generally perceived in public opinion are
based on a series of recurrent and somewhat vague themes it is very careful to
maintain so as to safeguard its respectability as an emanation of the state. The
first of these themes, as indicated in the introduction, relates to the social
dimension of the housing stock produced under toks aegis, something
which continues to maintain its social image. The socio-economic categories
and criteria used by tok are worth looking at in greater detail. In the example
referred to above (Kayaba, August 2009), three main groups of beneficiaries
were targeted: the poor, those with modest income and the social housing
group (with monthly payments of around 420). Not only does the label collective housing seem abusive and plain wrong even, but contrary to official
pronouncements by and about tok the poor housing only represented 6.5%
of the units put on sale. Furthermore, even in the poor segment, given the
absence of state aids the beneficiaries of housing in this category found they
were unable to pay the requisite monthly payments, however small they may
have seemed to tok, and so abandoned their lodging. This is what happened
at Taoluk, a zone where people evicted from Sulukule were rehoused, and at
Bezirganbahe, a zone where those evicted from Ayazma were rehoused. And
so ultimately the housing built for the poor by tok often insidiously ended
up on the normal property market.23
According to our estimates for Turkey as a whole, the percentage of truly
collective housing supplied by tok in 2011that is to say housing costing less
than tl 200 a month (about 90)does not exceed 15% of the housing stock
it put on the market. Consequently the categories tok promotesbased on
its state legitimacy and power to define the point of view on points of view24
appear to be based purely on emphasising how well it performs, thus seeking

23
24

Ynetim A.. website, then include the following papers: Yeni afak (3), Zaman (2), Vakit (1),
Bugn (1), Takvim, and Posta (1). For the first five days are part of the conservative movement close to the akp government. The others are made up of articles taken from the local
or specialised press (see Appendix2).
See: Fakirler iin yaplan evler, karaborsada satlyor [Houses Built for the Poor Resold
on Black Market], Zaman, 5 February 2006.
To use the fine turn of phrase Thierry Coanus uses in talking about Bourdieus critique of
the state; cf. Thierry Coanus, Jean-Franois Prouse, Villes et risques. Regards croiss sur
quelques cits en danger, Paris, Economica/Anthropos, 2006, p. 27.

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to conceal the non-alignment between the state housing policy and the actual
income structure.25
On this theme tok has even built up its own legend via the ritual spectacle
of the lottery draw for its apartments which features in its publicity campaigns
in the written and audiovisual press and on posters. It presents itself as a Robin
Hood institution taking from the rich and giving to the poor so as to camouflage its ever greater focus on the upmarket segment of the property market.
tok is going to make housing costing 100 million a month by selling luxury
housing a leading figure at tok declared in May 2005.26 It has not changed its
argument since then. Once again an entire doublespeak has been developed
here to describe the partnerships with large private construction groups
revenue sharing, resource development (kaynak gelitirme)and this language is imposed on citizens who are meant to accept it at face value, submit
to it, and relay itas if these arrangements were for the common good. This
movement away from the clientele tok was originally intended to serve, a
shift openly announced in the statements by the tok president in 1997, has
even started to trigger negative reactions in business circles close to the akp.
On 9 January 2011 the Yeni afak newspaper, which can hardly be suspected of
being critical of the akp government, nevertheless ran an article under a title
quoting the head of the Construction committee of the conservative business
association msiad (Independent Industrialists and Businessmens
Association): tok and Kipta must withdraw from luxury housing. This
warning reveals the existence of cracks within the coalition of interests supporting the akp government.
toks idea of the poor is not exactly the same as what is meant by the
socially excluded in English, for while both are constructs they are grounded in
different bases. The poor have to meet certain conditions. And in toks conception of it the welfare state is only for the solvent and for property owners.
The policy of urban transformation that was largely initiated and driven
through by tok would appear only to recognise property owners as valid
interlocutors and beneficiaries, and perhaps tenants able to produce a proper

25

See the analysis by the Turkish Institute of Statistics (Trkiye statistik Kurumu, tk)
reprinted in the business paper Referans, 1 June 2007, p. 4: 1 m2 bile alamayacak 13
milyon aile var. Mortgage zengin ii [There are 13 million families who cant even buy one
square metre. A mortgage is something for rich people].
26 toki 100 milyon taksitli konutlar lks konut satarak yapacak [toki to build housing
for low monthly payments by selling luxury housing], Hrriyet Yaam Emlak, 19 May 2005,
p.3. He is talking in old Turkish lira.

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179

tenancy agreement (something which is a rare in Turkey given that the majority of tenancy relations still tend to be informal). In December 2010 evenfor
the third time in four yearstok increased its own poverty threshold,
i.e. the ceiling income per family below which they may request tok collective housing, which went up from tl 2,500 to tl 3,100 in Istanbul (that is
from approximately 1,100 to 1,500).27 As it refuses to provide collective housing to the bottom of the income structure, tok has to turn to other population groups. And announcements by tok along the lines of housing for sale,
no conditions attached28 repeatedly crop up in the press and on the Internet,
illustrating the shift towards the everyday free-market and away from operations which initially lay claim to a social dimension.29
In short, taking advantage of its official status and authority as a central
administration directly attached to the Prime Minister since 2004, and drawing
abundantly on the public stock of urban land,30 tokwith its power of
expropriation and decision on planning mattersentrusts land (an ever rarer
asset) and work to its privileged partners, whilst claiming to be working for the
social good. The pretext of earthquakes is thus increasingly used to justify its
exceptional expropriation procedures, with tok presenting itself as the saviour of the nation.31 The power accorded to tok to define public utility,
which may be used to justify expropriations, means that it is an actor playing
on a highly varied range of registers and orders of legitimacy, ranging from
27 toki , alt gelir gurubunun azami snrn ykseltti [toki increases upper income limit
for low revenue group], Milliyet, 13 December 2010, p. 4.
28 On 23 September 2006, the Birgn newspaper ran a title on page 7: toki enters a new
period of no conditions sales [toki artsz sat dnemine giriyor].
29 See Koulsuz sat, toki nin gnlk cirosunu patlatt [No conditions sales have massively boosted toki s turnover], Milliyet, 7 October 2006, p. 8.
30 At the end of 2011 over 50% of the land in the province of Istanbul still belonged to a
(central or local) public institution. The largest landowners were the Ministry of Defence,
the Treasury, the Directorate General of Foundations (which depends on the Prime Ministers
Office or Babakanlk as toki does), and the Metropolitan Municipality. According to
Tuna Kuyucu, the main function of toki is precisely to ensure the transfer of this abundant public land to the private market: Bir Mlkiyet Transferi Arac olarak toki ve
Kentsel Dnm Projeleri [toki as a property transfer tool and its urban transformation projects], in stanbul sempozyumu, 1516 Ekim 2010, stanbul, Garanti Bankas Ariv ve
Aratrma Merkezi, 2011, pp. 122134. See for example: toki , 25 ilde 233 arsa satacak
[toki to sell 233 plots of land in 25 different provinces], Dnya, 19 May 2011, p. 4.
31 Be it a matter of terrorist threats, the risk of flooding, landslides, fire, or earthquakes, toki
apparently has the same answer for everything and presents itself as an unassailable rampart protecting society.

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public reason (and the public interest when it is a matter of annulling property
deeds on the grounds of seismic risk) to market logic.
The public mission that tok claims to be carrying out to make what it does
acceptable (even though this does not always have a social dimension), also
involves claim to be conducting a modernising and civilising mission. In so
doing tok is presenting itself as continuing the modernising project from the
time of the founding of the Republic, tok clearly being a state agency with a
self-allotted civilising mission. The policy of urban transformation is therefore
presented as seeking to modernise both the urban fabricas if the old could
not be modern and the new were necessarily sovia its radical renovation,
and peoples behaviour, ways of life, and mentalities. This pretention in particular, which is a form of social engineering, shows tok to be a zealous agent
of the modernising state, clearly taking up the Kemalist project. But the mo
dernising project in question is in fact based on a belief encountered elsewhere
in the virtually magical effects of a new built environment on peoples behaviour and even their socio-economic position.32 A newspaper close the government ran an article in 2007 about a family who had fled from Ayazma and been
re-housed in a housing block under the title They climbed the social ladder
and jumped up a rung.33
toks totalising modernising pretensions clearly establish it as one of the
authoritarian state institutions that does not have to account for itself to citizens or be attentive to the social demands of the poorest members of society.34
The arrangements it comes to with big construction companies are made virtually acceptable or invisible by virtue of this civilising mission. And here there
is a link between its modernising claim and its obsession with security.35 tok
is quite prepared to publicly criminalise those opposed to its projects so as to
32

Jean-Claude Chamboredon, Madeleine Lemaire, Proximit spatiale et distance sociale.


Les grands ensembles et leur peuplement, Revue franaise de sociologie, vol. XI, no. 1, 1970,
pp. 333.
33 See Yeni afak, 3 March 2007.
34 In 2010 and 2011 toki presented itself as the institution that would solve the Rom issue in
Turkey by finally providing them with decent housing and at affordable prices. But, two
years on from this media offensive, it is clear that these objectives have not been met, and
the issue of the employment and income structure of this population group have not
been resolved. toki has also developed specific housing units intended for the widows of
soldiers killed in the war to the East, and their communication about this draws on
nationalist themes and populist rhetoric.
35 In three collective housing developments toki has carried out in Istanbul, at Babyk,
Halkal, and Bezirganbahe, entire blocks have been allocated to the families of police
officers.

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181

be able to present itself as working for the public good. In November 2005 the
head of tok declared to people from the construction sector that certain
individuals operating outside the law, taking advantage of the opportunities
afforded by districts which have sprung up spontaneously, are seeking to
oppose its projects.36 Two years later the same person, E. Bayraktar, declared
that: our greatest problem after terrorism is illegal construction.37 By brandishing these objectives and adversaries tok establishes itself as one of the
main agents in cleaning up and normalising Turkey. Investment in building
police stations (including in the most exposed border areas) and new prisons
would appear to confirm this alliance between modernisation and security.
For that matter tok increasingly puts forward the secure aspect of its properties as a decisive commercial argument, as do its partners/rivals in the
private sector, for they are targeted at comparatively affluent social groups
who tend to buy them as an investment. Products made by toks private
partnershaving benefited from the land transferred by tokare even
more clearly marketed using the security argument.
Thus for tok the modern equates to the new, the secure, but also to consuming in quantity. Acceding to urban modernity equates, in toks eyes, to
acceding to consumer society thanks to its emblematic facilitiesshopping
centres. They have become showcases for what tok does, and are as central in
the urban organisation and landscape as mosques or schools. The centre of
Kayaehir (formerly Kayaba), a satellite town to the north east of Istanbul
where tok built 65,000 housing units in three years, is made up of one of the
vast shopping centre.38
Lastly the tok empire is founded on another purportedly indisputable
truth reflecting the coalition of interests it embodies.39 This truth relates to the
supposedly chronic shortage of housing in Turkey. Yet this idea of a shortage, a
particularly powerful and effective argument, is in fact highly debatable. It is
supported by the leading collective housing construction companies (toplu
konut), and most especially by those viewed favourably by tok given its
exceptional power and means (and especially its own portfolio) to work with
36
37
38
39

See Kentsel dnm eteler engelliyor [Gangs blocking urban transformation], Yeni
afak, 18 November 2007, p. 5.
Terrden sonra en byk sorun arpk yaplama, Yeni afak, 6 May 2007, p. 5.
See toki Kayabanda uydukent kuruyor [toki is building a satellite town in
Kayaba], Emlk, October 2008, pp. 4347.
Erbatur avuolu, slamc neo-liberalizmde inaat fetii ve mlkiyet zerindeki simgesel hle [The Fetichisation of Building and the Symbolic Sacralisation of Property in
Islamic Neoliberalism], Birikim, no. 270, 2011, p. 50.

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whomsoever it wishes. Independently of this, in its pronouncements about its


social purpose tok draws on this supposed shortage in urgent need of remedying. The mission tok sets itself is to reduce this shortage by using all available opportunities and investing in all empty urban spaces, and this comes
across as a proactive, centralising, and quantitative approach to development.
Construction and property business associations, such as the inder or then
gyoder, speak of a similar shortage.40 They drive the rapid urban spread and
are always pushing for more projects and for opening up more land to urbanisation. In that respect there is no difference between tok and the leading
private operators from the construction industry. tok merely lends state
legitimacy to what this group of interests has to say. Nevertheless, tok has
never put forward any precise argument explaining what this observation and
diagnosis are based upon. Once again it is merely dictated from on high as selfevident. Whoever dares contest this self-evidence expose themselves to the ire
of the institution. Those who do speak out against it in certain local administrations and professional bodies are treated with contempt. The policy of
urban transformation, promoted in 2004 to the status of unique urban policy
to be rolled out massively across the country, provides tok with the opportunity to impose its vision of what the urban world of the future should be like
and its conception of modernity.

tok, the Local, Public Service, and Public-Private


Partnerships: A Misunderstanding

If you look closely at toks relationship to the localthat is to say to the local
environment and local societyas evidenced in its way of conducting operations, what is striking is the negation of the local that informs all it does. It is an
administration with a predominantly standardising and national perspective.41
tok only interacts indirectly with the local, from the centre, in a top-down
40

nder: stanbul naatlar Dernei (Association of Istanbul Construction Companies);


gyoder: Gayrimenkul Yatrm Ortakl Dernei (Association of Real Estate and Real
Estate Investment Companies).
41 [] toki , lkemizde konut ve kentlemeye ilikin sorunlara ulusal dzeyde zm retmeyi amalayan bir kamu kurumudur (italics added) [toki is a public institution whose
goal is to produce nationwide solutions to all our countrys questions relating to housing
and urbanisation]. See Toplu Konut daresi (toki ), Bilinirlik, Gvenilirlik ve Marka maj
Aratrmas [Research about Reputation, Reliability, and Brand Image], toki Aratrma
Dizisi 4, Ankara, 2008, p. 5.

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and uniform manner. The notion of local territory, a complex system with its
own social and environmental dynamics and group memory, is wholly absent
from toks philosophy. It is as if the urban modernity so fervently promoted
by tok could only have a single face. There are no local variations to the tok
norm. tok puts out calls for tender on a nationwide basis and therefore shortcircuits local systems to build housing. And if you look at the examples of
Gaziantep, Edirne, Bilecik and so on they all follow the same interchangeable
path towards urban modernity.
Equally the approach tok has towards the local powers with which it is
obliged to work is based on a hierarchical relationship in which tok, speaking
from centre in the imperative voice of the Prime Minster, has the upper hand and
final word. This is particularly striking in certain regions for different reasons: on
the north-east coast of the Black Sea, due to the strong emotional bond the Prime
Minister has to this region, or in the East, due to central governments distrust of
towns not controlled by the akp.42 In this respect if you compare the period of
2004 and 2005, when the municipalities still had a minimum of initiative, with the
situation today, what transpires is that tok has reinforced its power to the detriment of the municipalities who are reduced to the role of the local executor of
orders from above, notwithstanding all the claims made elsewhere about the
decentralisation of the administration.43 Equally, and despite the new law on
municipalities (Law no. 5366 of July 2005) of which article 76 set up town councils
and encourages participation, at no stage in the process of urban transformation
does tok call for participation, even as a matter of form. Certain of the fairness of
what it is doing for the good of the (ignorant) people, tok what appear to shortcircuit the frail channels of local democracy. The reason of state is something that
applies everywhere and uniformly, hence there is no need for consultation.
Ultimately, it is worth examining the public dimension of tok by returning
to the distinction sketched out in the introduction between the state and the
Public. toks public dimension, which for that matter used to be explicit in
the initial form of its acronym, Toplu Konut ve Kamu Ortakl daresi (italics
added),44 would appear to have been erased over the course of the 2000s.
42
43

44

See Muriel Girard et Clmence Scalbert Ycels contribution in this volume.


The example of what occurred at Kkekmece/Ayazma illustrates this alteration in the
balance of power. The Prime Minister personally intervened in the process when it was being
held up due to the reluctance of households to leave the area. See also: Mehmet Penpeciolu,
Yapl evre retimi, devlet ve byk lekli projeler [Producing the Built Environment, the
State, and Large-Scale Projects], Birikim, naat ve resulullah, 2011, no. 270, pp. 6567.
That is: Administration for Collective Housing and Public Partnership. As of the late
1990s the acronym became simply Toplu Konut daresi.

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In2005 toks president declared to the press: the time has come to invest in
the private sector,45 an open invitation to investors promoted to the status of
privileged interlocutors. One may even state that tok has been instrumental
in the adoption of business phraseology within the Turkish state and in making its use normal, and it continues actively to do so.46 The close ties it has with
organisations such as gyoder (Association of Real Estate and Real Estate
Investment Companies), a pressure group for the leading Turkish property
investors and developers, and to international agencies working to spread the
vulgate of liberal good urban governance, such as the consultancy group pwc,
Urban Land Institute (uli),47 and Moodys, is not coincidental here. Moodys
for instance published a very favourable report on tok in February 2008,
repeating the doxa. The leading companies belonging to gyodersuch as
Sinpa, hlas, and Torunlarare toks main partners and the principal beneficiaries of the transfer of public land to the private sector.48 tok is adept in
marketing methods and many of its directors join it straight from the private
sector.49 At the beginning of 2007 the promotion campaign tok launched
with large discounts on household appliancesto get rid of its stock of completed

45
46
47

48

49

Gayrimenkule yatrm yapmann tam zaman [Nows the time to invest in real estate],
Vatan, 30 May 2005.
Ccile Robert, Les transformations managriales des activits politiques, Politix, no. 79,
2007, p. 10.
The background of Haluk Sur, the president of uli Turkey since 2007, is revelatory of the
atmosphere in which toki moves: after a degree at the University of Boazii (in structural engineering), he went on to do a Masters in environmental sciences there before
going to the United States to do a doctorate in environmental engineering. On returning
to Turkey he worked for many years for the Turkish Ministry of Defence in the nato
Instructions department as supervisory engineer. He then worked for the very religious
holding company hlas (from 1992 to 2006) with links to a very conservative brotherhood,
and in 1997 took part in setting up of one of the first Property Investment Companies in
Turkey, hlas gyo. He was president of gyoder in 20052006.
Tuna Kuyucu and zlem nsal, Urban Transformation as State-Led Property Transfer:
An Analysis of Two Cases of Urban Renewal in Istanbul, Urban Studies, vol. 47, no. 7, 2010,
pp. 14791499; Mustafa Snmez, toki ve Rant Datm [toki and the distribution of
unearned income], url: http://mustafasonmez.net/?p=657 (accessed 16 October 2013).
Such was the case for the young manager in charge of sanitation for spontaneous housing
(Gecekondu Dnm Mdr) whom the present author met in October 2011 at a town
planning competition in Diyarbakr. After studying urban and regional development at
the University of Seluk (Konya), he then specialised in property development. After several years spent in the private sector he rejoined the municipal sector in 2004 (Ktahya)
and then toki in 2006.

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housing sparked reactions from other operators in the property sector, who
denounced it for unequal competition.
Furthermore the urban transformation projects carried out by tok involve
a frequently radical negation of the local past, to the point of fabricating a very
abstract and stereotypical past with which the social groups destined to invest
in the transformed zones are meant to identify. tok even pursues a clean
break with past when this is deemed irrecoverable or unworthy of interest,
something which is not without similarities to town planning during the early
years of the Republic. There is no noticeable attempt to establish continuity,
not even between the various initiatives of the public authorities, and tok
operates in accordance with its own channels and logic without taking account
of pre-existing or adjacent public initiatives (by local government or other central administrations). This confirms the hypothesis of the archipelagoization of
public policy insofar as tok operates according to its nationwide dynamic
that fails to link up with those of other public actors who might be operating in
the same territory, such as the Drains and Water Board (i s ki ) in Istanbul, the
Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul, or the Governors Office (valilik). In
Ayazma for example tok, having played a large role in the stigmatisation of it
as an illegal territory needing to be reabsorbed as a matter of urgency, accepted
that a zone in which the local government had invested and installed public
equipment and facilities (prior to toks appearance on the scene in 2004) be
simply wiped off the map and reconfigured for the needs of a clientele wholly
removed from the displaced populations. One of toks conditions for urban
transformation is a clean break with the local past, and a form of amnesia even.
With regard to transparency and accountability tok does not comply with
the principles which are strongly promoted by the akp, neither in its accounting arrangements nor in its relationship to the Turkish people.50 This is no
doubt one of the contradictions of this institution, so eagerly held up as a key
argument in electioneering propaganda by those in power.51 It has the power
to define public utility and is exempted from public accounting rules, and since
50

51

Leaders of the akp make very frequent use of the word transparency (saydamlk/
effaflk) and of accountability (hesap verebilirlik); Law no. 5018 of 10 December 2003,
known as the Law on the Management and Supervision of Public Finances (Kamu Mali
Ynetimi ve Kontrol Kanunu), Law no. 5548 of 28 October 2006 on the Public Oversight
Institute (Kamu Denetilii Kurumu Kanunu), and Law no. 6085 of 3 December 2010 on
the Court of Auditors (Saytay Kanunu) are the most obvious instances of this concern.
In June 2007, the High Electoral Board (Yksek Seim Kurulu, ysk) even banned the continual tv broadcasts of toki ceremonies in which the Prime Minister took part during
the election campaign (for the general elections of 22 July 2007), judging their use be a

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March 2012 has even been exempted from the law on public calls for tender
(Kamu hale Kanunu) for all of its activities other than housing (the construction of public buildings, police stations along the borders, etc.). In a detailed
review of toks finances, and on the basis of a report from the Turkish Central
bank, the Turkish Fortune journal even went so far as speak of the administration as being a Pandoras box.52 In addition it is not known what the exact
content is of toks negotiations with the Army to transfer some of the latters
still considerable landholdings, and this despite the fact that this is an issue of
utmost importance for the future of Turkish towns.
The absence of any territorial or transversal approach to toks policies is
thus a striking characteristic. The environment does not exist for tok other
than as an immediately accessible landscape or dcor to be consumed by its
targeted clients. Thus an upmarket development (Ataky Konaklar) by tok
near a heavily polluted river draining a densely urbanised area is apparently
not problematic. What matters is the specific context and immediate qualities
of the site, on a stretch of coast offering highly prized sea views. For tok the
territory and environment are not systems, meaning that any problems which
may occur are attributed to external causes. They are carved up into entities to
be promoted independently and considered in isolation. Correspondingly the
principle of (social and spatial) equality would not appear to rank amongst
toks concerns. Quite the contrary in fact, as by directly and indirectly extolling the right to luxury and prestige (ayrcalk) in its marketing campaigns,
tok does exactly the same as its privileged private partners.53 In the opinion
of associations defending the right to housing for all (such as Sosyal Haklar
Dernei, the Association for Social Rights) and of those opposed to its urban
transformation projects (such as the chambers of planners and architects),
tokby strictly classifying and ranking its beneficiaries solely on the basis of
solvency, by failing to envisage developing an assisted public rental sector, and
by only recognising property owners as valid interlocutorsis in fact consolidating and even accelerating social inequalities. In this regard toks statements about social advancement and enrichment are misleading. The opposition
movement against the transformation of the Dikmen Valley (Dikmen Vadisi) in
Ankara offers a clear example here, with its egalitarian rhetoric against the


52
53

source of inequality; cf. toki trenlerinin yayn yasakland [Broadcasting of toki


ceremonies banned], Referans, 1617 June 2007, p. 15.
Fortune, March 2009, p. 44.
See the Vatan newspaper, toki lks villalar yapacak [toki to make luxury villas], 9 July
2009.

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projects being carried out by tok and the Municipality of Ankara to open up
the site to wealthier population categories than those who are currently living
there and resisting this change.
Furthermore the bewildering uniformity of the urban forms indiscriminately produced by tok on a grand scalesomething that urban planners
and architects have frequently denouncedmay be seen as the most tangible
and manifest expression of the highly centralised way tok operates.54 There
is no incompatibility between seeking to create prestigious developments and
their lack of diversity. Egalitarianism may for that matter be taken as a pretext
for the lack of diversity, where diversityas suggested earliermay lead to
taking local variations into account.
Moreover, following on from the shift and empowerment referred to earlier, tok has become a sort of machine for private/public partnerships, both
with regard to the number of such partnerships and their total annual value.
Changes to the law in July 2003 and May 2004 opened up the possibility of such
partnerships by adding the possibility to the law which had set up tok to:
create companies relating to the building sector or become a partner of existing (construction) companies and financial institutions.55 Following on from
these legal changes the property investment limited company with ties to
tok, Emlak Konut gyo A.., has become one of the largest in Turkey with a
market value exceeding that of all its rivals in late February 2011.56 This private
company, of which tok is the main shareholder, is for that matter the prime
beneficiary of toks calls for tender. Furthermore, tok holds shares (15% in
early February 2012) in another property investment limited company called
Vakf gyo that originated from an old administration, the Directorate General
of Foundations.57 It is the leading property investment company set up in
Turkey (in 1996) under Law no. 3794 of late 1992 (Sermaye Piyasas Kanunu)
about the financial market. Furthermore, tok is the main shareholder of a
private company known as the Sales, Construction, and Project Management
Co Ltd (epp) which emerged from a limited company set up in 1980 and which
54
55
56
57

See: mer Kanpak, Tek tip toki binalar ileride byk sorun olacak [toki s single type
of blocks will be a source of major problems in the future], Radikal, 7 June 2011, p. 8.
See the modifications to Law no. 2985 creating toki by Laws no. 4966 (31 July 2003) and
no. 5162 (5 May 2004); Additional Article 1, paragraph e).
With a market value on 28 February 2011 of try 6,275 billion.
The main property development project in Istanbul of this private company, with its
extensive landholdings inherited from the General Directorate of Foundations, is the construction of the headquarters of this Directorate in the emerging new zone of Ataehir
(on the Anatolian bank near the motorway ring road).

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was linked at the time to the Property Bank referred to earlier. In addition to
Vakf gyo and epp there are other private companies in which tok is a major
shareholder: geda (a consultancy set up under the aegis of the Property Bank
in 1994, and then transferred to tok in 2001), toba (a company set up to
oversee the urban transformation operations to the north of Ankara), and
Vakf naat (a company specialising in restoration works that was set up in
1977 by the General Directorate of Foundations, but which came under toks
control in 2005). In short tokwhich appears to function as an operator for
related administrations, such as the imposing General Directorate of
Foundations, to open up to the private sectorhas created its own private
environment, and one which is dependent upon tok and with which it has
an all but incestuous relationship.
Public tenders (ihale) and public lands are awarded using the revenue-
sharing system (hasilat paylam), and this has shaped this system of relations
and interactions. Hence since 2003 a set of privileged partners have managed
to entrench their position, and they now appear to be the major beneficiaries
of the duplicity/duality of toks structure. In the space of ten years tok has
built up an environment of privileged partners with an inner circle who benefit from the allocation of land and prestigious developments, and a second
circle of loyal entrepreneurs, via the dual mechanism of naming them main
contractors of its construction projects or of awarding them land and the rights
to develop it. For instance Varyap naat is in the inner circle and is one of the
companies to have benefited the most from the largest value projects. Varyap is
a construction company founded in 1975 southern Turkey by a family originating from the Black Sea (Trabzon). Varyaps rise dates back to the beginning of
the systematic privatisation programmes in the late 1990s. In 1998, having
moved its headquarters to Istanbul in 1988, it won the privatisation tender for
whisky production from the alcohol monopoly (Tekel), which was just starting
to be dismantled. From this stage on the company, which made a healthy profit
by selling on the whisky manufactory to an American group, grew via a series
of partnerships with the public sector, and especially with tok.58 For instance
Varyap built the new Trabzon Town Hall, the alayan Courthouse in Istanbul
(said to be the largest in Europe), the new stadium for Galatasaray Football
Club (Seyrantepe), the new management building for the Council of State (the
opening of which was attended by the Prime Minister and the President of the

58

This is exactly what Erdin Varlba, the young managing director of Varyap since 2004,
acknowledged in an interview he gave in June 2010: I have run the company by working
with the public sector; see Haber Trk, 24 June 2010, p. 11.

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Republic), and a prison in Tekirda. Varyap largest developments in the residential and commercial property sectors (offices) have been on tok land
and/or in partnership with toks property investment company (Emlak
Konut). The most striking example is a prestigious project (Metropol Istanbul)
developed at the heart of Istanbuls future financial centre which is currently
being built, in partnership with a company headed by one of the son-in-laws
of the Prime Minister (gap naat) and with toks property investment
company.
On the basis of tok sources, Gke has shown for the period from 2000 to
September 2007 that out of the 300,000 registered construction companies in
Turkey, only 70,000 were entitled to bid for public tenders. Over this period out
of those 70,000, only 700 were awarded tok tenders, but of those 700 a comparatively small number of companiessixty in factmanaged to corner
60% of the overall value of tenders.59 This transfer of land to a few chosen
companies for a price deemed to be a lot lower than the market price is viewed
by someincluding the main opposition partyas a fire-sale of public assets
and as favouritism.60 And so companies that win tok tenders make an excellent deal, as the value of the land increases very rapidly. Furthermore, and this
is the second charge frequently levelled against tok, the cost of construction
is said to be overinflated in comparison to the real cost, which can be held
down by employing subcontractors. As a consequence of this the state loses
out on two accounts: via the underestimation of the value of the urban land
being sold off, and by inflated invoicing for the work done by construction
companies. And so it is not surprising in this context that tok transformation

59

60

Diner Gke, toki den hangi irket ne kadarlk ihale ald [Which firm got toki tenders
for how much money], 2007, http://dincergokce.blogcu.com/toki-den-hangi-sirket-ne
-kadarlik-ihale-aldi/7241702 (accessed 29 October 2013).
For example according to a report by the Supreme Supervisory Board (Yksek Denetim
Kurumu, ydk)which since 1938 has been in charge of supervising public economic
enterprises (Kamu ktisadi Teebbsleri, kit)a plot of land in Ataehir, one of the most
attractive zones for investors in Istanbul over recent years, was valued immediately after
being awarded to a private company with ties to toki at twice the price fixed prior to the
call for tender (try 109 million as against try 57.9 million); cf. chp, Yolsuzluun Kitab2.
toki [The book of corrupt practices2. toki ], Ankara, chp, 2011, p. 26. The reliability of
the consulting firms that work with toki to determine the value of public land prior to
its transfer to the private sector has also been brought into question on occasions.
Following on from proceedings initiated by the ydk, certain consultancies have had their
business licenses withdrawn. But the ydk, which is organically linked to the Prime
Ministers Office, does not have much independent leeway.

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projects during the 2000s coincided with the process of the financialisation of
the construction economy and the rise of gyos (Real Estate Investment Trust).
As suggested earlier, the first gyos appeared in 1997 (Vakf gyo, hlas gyo)
under a 1996 law. In late 2011 twenty-three of them were listed on the stock
exchange.

Conclusion: We are Building the Turkey of the Future61

For tok collective does not equate to social. In that respect translating Toplu
Konut as Mass Housing comes with fewer connotations than the translation
into French as logement collectif does, where the association between collective and public occurs virtually automatically. tok is a light administration
(with an anti-bureaucratic discourse and an operation-driven approach),
streamlined (and with a hatred for bloated, impotent administrations, or
hantal), experienced in (territorial) marketing methods, and sympathetic to
certain identifiable interest groups. It is an administration that, whilst ostensibly cultivating a sort of entrepreneurial urgency, employs the methods of an
authoritarian administration,62 being convinced of the justice of what it does
and exercising its modernising mission with serene indifference as it is cut off
from the local level.63
Furthermore, the phenomenon we are dealing with here is as much one of
the privatisation of the state as it is the expansion of the state into the private
sector, given the extremely heterogeneous structure of the development projects, the backgrounds of people working for tok, and the tangled web of
institutions involved. These institutions are home to many individuals with a
mixed professional backgroundsuch as the new head of tok appointed in
July 2011 after twenty-five years spent working in the private sectorwho

61

62

63

This is one of the slogans used by toki in one of its many promotional publications:
Gelecein Trkiyesini ina ediyoruz. 500 bin konut [We are building the Turkey of the
future: 500,000 housing units], Ankara, toki , 2011.
With its discretionary power to exclude construction companies from the centralised
public tender system, toki wields formidable authority; see toki 24 irket kara listesine
yeni ald [toki has just placed 24 companies on its blacklist], Taraf, 16 October 2008, p. 9.
Moving beyond the specifically Turkish sphere, comparisons could be made with the alomrane institution in Morocco for instance: Pierre-Arnaud Barthel et Lamia Zaki, Les
holdings damnagement, nouvelles vitrines techniques de laction urbaine au Maroc. Les
cas dAl Omrane et de la cdg Dveloppement, in L. Zaki (dir.), LAction urbaine au
Maghreb, enjeux professionnels et politiques, Paris, Karthala, 2011, pp. 205225.

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circulate and act within 2 previously distinct spheres that they thereby bring
into constant contactif such a distinction still makes any sense that is. tok
is an administration born of the 1980 liberal coup and an economic policy
directly determined by the World Bank and its satellite institutionswith its
heavy emphasis on privatisationsand is thus a hybrid institution organically
bound to central government, and one which offers a clear illustration of the
metamorphoses currently reshaping governmentality in Turkey.

chapter 9

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy in the


Southeastern Anatolia Region
Muriel Girard and Clmence Scalbert Ycel
The fashion designer Cemil peki, who is famous in Turkey for his collections
that take their inspiration from Anatolian and Ottoman aesthetics, is involved
in various projects to revive the textile handicrafts in the Southeastern Anatolia
Region.1 Far from being merely anecdotal this example is in fact illustrative of
the widespread involvement of private individuals in carrying out public
action. This observation in turn offers a way of exploring the fluctuating process of withdrawal and redeployment of the state2 by analysing the construction of a specific category of public actionthat of heritage.
Jean-Franois Prouse has noted how the French term patrimoine [heritage]
in its current complex western meaning has no equivalent in Turkish,3 and
other terms are used in its stead: value (deer), work of art (eser), asset
(varlk), historical environment (tarihi evre), and heritage (miras). There are
several variants based on this final term, associated with private assets, such as
historic heritage (tarihi miras), architectural heritage (mimar miras), cultural
heritage (kltr miras), and industrial heritage (endstri miras).4 Nevertheless,
the recent emergence in political discourse of the term cultural heritage (kltrel
miras or kltr miras)5 represents, in our opinion, a shift. Heritage is emerging
as a category of public action, and there is a certain degree of alignment in the
way it is conceived in Turkey and by international organisations. For example,

1 He was involved in the Project for the Production and Design of Traditional Clothing, in
Mardin (2008, atom Multi-Purpose Community Centre) and in the Project for the
Production and Design of Traditional Clothing (2009, makider, Association to Support
Professional Training for Women), and in the Silk Pui project in Diyarbakr (2008, Chamber
of Commerce and Industry).
2 For discussion of issues relating to the withdrawal and redeployment of the state via the
process of privatising public action, see Batrice Hibou, Retrait ou redploiement de ltat?
Critique internationale, vol. 1, no. 1, 1998, pp. 151168.
3 Jean-Franois Prouse, La muraille dIstanbul ou limpossible mmoire urbaine Rives nordmditerranennes, no. 16, 2003, pp. 2744.
4 Ibid.
5 Jean-Franois Prouse, La Turquie en marche, de La Martinire (ed.), Paris, 2004, p. 59.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_010

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the signing of the unesco Convention Concerning the Protection of the World
Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1983, given the context in which Turkey was
then opening up to the world and looking to develop tourism, significantly
influenced the Turkish heritage protection legislation passed that same year.6
Furthermore, public heritage policy gives rise to the production of categories,
in which we may also see traces of Turkeys interaction with the international
community, notably via the recent emergence of the category of intangible
cultural heritage (somut olmayan kltrel miras).7
In the Southeastern Anatolia Region heritage policy is currently partly conducted via the Southeastern Anatolia Project (Gneydou Anadolu Projesi, gap).
Since its foundation in 1980 the gap has been the responsibility of the State
Planning Organisation (Devlet Planlama Tekilat, dpt), to which the gap Regional
Development Administration (Gneydou Anadolu ProjesiBlge Kalknma
daresi Tekilat, gap-bk) has been attached since it was set up in 1989.8 Though
originally devised as an infrastructure project, the gap progressively evolved into
a development project covering numerous economic and social dimensions.
Heritage action was progressively included as of the 2000s, due in particular to
eu-driven programmes. This transformation into a development project also
encouraged the involvement of a greater range of actors. gap heritage action is
carried out in a region where the Kurdish issue is central, as is the role played by
pro-Kurdish actors.9 And so whilst the development of gap heritage would appear
to arise from importing categories, it cannot be studied solely from the point of
view of public policy transfer,10 and can only be analysed by taking into consideration the various heritage actors present on the ground, the specific historicities
of the numerous heritage actions, and the differing conceptions of heritage.
6

8
9

10

Law no. 2863, dated 21 July 1983, on protecting cultural and natural heritage (Kltr ve
Tabiat Varlklarn Koruma Kanunu). Derya zel, Politiques urbaines et patrimonialisation: quelle reprsentation de lhritage architectural? Lexemple de la pninsule historique Eminn-Fatih, Istanbul, Internship Report, Observatoire urbain dIstanbul, 2004.
For discussion of the issue of heritage in Turkey, see in particular Muriel Girard,
Recompositions du monde artisanal et mutations urbaines au regard des mises en patrimoine et en tourisme au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient (Fs, Istanbul, Alep), unpublished
PhD thesis, Tours University, 2010.
In 2011 the dpt was replaced by the Ministry of Development.
A pro-Kurdish actor is an individual or organization that publicly and explicitly lobbies on
behalf of the [Kurdish] movement and its goals. Nicole F. Watts, Activists in Office. Kurdish
Politics and Protest in Turkey, Seattle, wa/London, University of Washington Press, 2011, p. 12.
For discussion of this notion see Laurence Dumoulin and Sabine Saurugger Les policy
transfer studies: analyse critique et perspectives, Critique internationale, vol. 48, no. 3,
2010, and Claire Visiers chapter in this volume.

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The process of designating objects as heritage is inherently dynamic. It


often coincides with periods of political and social tension, and the heritage
status conferred on objects undergoes reconfiguration and needs to be re-
contextualised and reassessed.11 Emmanuel Amougou defines it as a social
process by which legitimate social agents (or actors, if you prefer) seek via
their reciprocal, that is to say interdependent, actions to confer on an object,
a space [] or a social practice [] a set of properties or values, initially
recognised and shared by the legitimised agents and subsequently transmitted to all individuals via the individual or collective institutionalisation
mechanisms necessary for their preservation, that is to say for their lasting
legitimisation within a specific social configuration.12 Nathalie Heinich
observes that these values are not fixed and undergo alterations depending
on the periods and actors in question, as indeed does their importance.
Basing her work on the French context she has shown that there are five coexisting values involved in designating an object as heritage: age, rarity, significance, beauty, and authenticity, where the last relates to the objects purity
and integrity, especially its link with origins. Whilst the economic value and
general interest value are not intrinsic to the object, they guide heritage
choices in contexts where heritage functions as an economic and identity
resource.13
It is by dissecting the coexisting heritage actions carried out by numerous
actors over different timeframes that we can analyse the fabrication of heritage
as a category of public action as well as any resistance it might generate, and
thereby see what it reveals in terms of the states scope of intervention.14 In
order to do so we shall base analysis on the assertion that: there is no difference between the actors that in inherent in their nature. All differences in

11

12

13
14

Dominique Poulot, Histoire de la raison patrimoniale en Europe, XVIIImeXXIme


sicles, 2004, consulted on the iiac lahic website, http://www.iiac.cnrs.fr/lahic/sites/
lahic/IMG/pdf/article_poulot.pdf (accessed 10 December 2010).
Emmanuel Amougou, La question patrimoniale. Repres critiques et critique des
repres, in Emmanuel Amougou (ed.), La Question patrimoniale: de la patrimonialisation lanalyse des situations concrtes, Paris, LHarmattan, 2004, pp. 2526.
Nathalie Heinich, La Fabrique du patrimoine. De la cathdrale la petite cuillre, Paris,
Maison des Sciences de lHomme, 2009.
Vincent Dubois emphasises how this is a process, speaking of the categorisation of public intervention (in Politique culturelle: le succs dune catgorie floue. Contribution
une analyse des catgories dintervention publique, in Martine Kaluszinski and Sophie
Wahnich (eds.), Ltat contre la politiqueLes expressions historiques de ltatisation,
Paris, LHarmattan, 1998, pp. 167182).

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

195

level, size and scope are the result of a battle or a negotiation.15 We formulate
the hypothesis that a certain conception of heritageconveyed by certain
actors with certain resources and certain instrumentshas emerged as a
strong category, tending to supplant other (perhaps less consensual) conceptions of heritage then in use as well as other categories.
The emergence of heritage as a category of intervention also brings new
methods of government and new public action instruments, ushering in a
whole constellation of individual and collective, public and private, local,
national, and international actors operating at different scales and for different
purposes. What is needed is to examine whether these new government methods indicate a genuine withdrawal of the state. Analysing the formation of heritage as a category offers a way of studying the power relations at work between
those involved in public action, as well as conflicts in the daily implementation
of policy. Terminological turbulence and the presence of multiple actors in
heritage action make it important not to gloss over uncertaintiesuncertainties which are all the more numerous given that the gap was originally planned
to end in 2012 when the Action plan was drawn up in 2008, but this end date has
since been pushed back. Nevertheless, we formulate the hypothesis that the
appropriation by various actors of the concept of heritage put forward by
thestate serves to underline the strength of this category.16 Our thesis is that
the dissemination of the category of heritage reveals that the apparent withdrawal of the state in fact obscures its redeployment.
In order to address this question we have drawn on examples relating to traditional handicrafts (el sanatlar gelenei) and music (mzik). These two fields lie
at the intersection of policies relating to tourism, social issues, economics, and
politics, and whilst handicrafts is central to gap development policies music is
more peripheral. Furthermore, whilst both handicrafts and music are recognised
by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as being part of the cultural heritage,17
they are nevertheless categories still in the process of being elaborated, and are
underpinned by sometimes opposing values.
15 Michel Callon and Bruno Latour, Unscrewing the Big Leviathan: How Actors
Macrostructure Reality and How Sociologists Help Them to Do So, in Karin D. KnorrCetina and Aaron V. Cicourel (eds.), Advances in Social Theory and Methodology: Toward
and Integration of Micro and Macro-sociologies, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981,
p. 279. In this extract, they explicitly describe Hobbes conception of the Leviathan.
16 The way the term strength is used in this text is based on the usage of M. Callon and
B. Latour (ibid.), for whom the more connected an actor is (be they human or otherwise)
and acts as the spokesperson for others, the bigger and stronger he is.
17 Website of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, culture portal, http://www.turkiyekultur
portali.gov.tr/home.aspx, consulted on 10 January 2013.

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Our first field study was carried out in March 2011 and focused on three
historic cities within the gap region, Diyarbakr, anlurfa, and Mardin. All
three are provincial capitals and on the unesco Tentative World Heritage
List, and they have contrasting images, histories, and politics. The three cities
are pursuing urban transformation policies involving various actors work
ing alongside the provincial governors, municipalities, and the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism. Furthermore the mayors of the three cities come from
different political parties, with Mardin controlled by the Justice and
Development Party (Adalet ve Kalknma Partisi, akp), anlurfa by an independent with Islamist tendencies (formerly a member of the akp and then
the Felicity Party, Saadet Partisi), and Diyarbakr by the pro-Kurdish Peace
and Democracy Party (Bar ve Demokrasi Partisi, bdp). Comparing these
three cities reveals how configurations differ from one place next, as does the
role played by interactions in choices and categorisations relating to heritage.
During these field studies we took the gaps heritage policies as our starting
point, but we also sought to meet all those involved in heritage action (institutions, groups, and individuals) and to accord them an equal place in our
enquiry and analysis.
This chapter is comprised of two parts. It starts by going over the construction of heritage as a dominant category, also showing how the inclusion of heritage in the gap (and concomitant reshaping of public action)
partakes in pre-existing local dynamics relating to heritagisation. It then
examines how this category and the instruments it conveys are used, appropriated, and sometimes exploited in ways not originally intended. This provides a key to examining the redeployment of the state in the region, and
thereby feeds into the examination of the methods of government in
Turkey.

The Construction of Heritage as a Category of Public Action

Now that international organisations are actively involved, heritage would


appear to be constructed as a strong category for public action in the region,
but that does not mean that heritage-related actions did not exist previously
involving different actors. Such actions oriented towards identity productions and the construction of localities did not necessarily use the term heritage. We therefore need to understand this change of category, and we will
take as our working hypothesis that this change is both illustrative of the
strength of the category of heritage, and instrumental in generating this
strength.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

197


Heritage Measures avant la lettre
The region is profoundly marked by the Kurdish question. It is not possible to
consider heritage action without taking this issue into consideration. Kurdish
nationalism may be defined as the doctrine of constructing Kurdishness,18
based on myths, the reinterpretation of history, and the creation of identity
markers. Numerous works have studied the construction of Kurdish national
identity, and in emphasising the importance of territory, language, oral traditions, and so on they echo works by historians of nationalism.19 What Kurdish
nationalists originally constructed as identity markers and researchers studied
as such may sometimes now be considered (both by the actors and the
researchers) in terms of heritage. It is for that matter interesting to note that
the Newroz myth, one of the founding myths of Kurdish nationalism, was
placed on the unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
of Humanity in 2009. Yet if this enterprise of identity construction did have a
heritage dimension it was not conceived of using this category, but rather on
the basis of identity (kimlik) and tradition (gelenek) for example.20
Such efforts cannot be understood solely within the framework of the construction of Kurdish nationalism. Other measures, generally conducted by the
Ministry of Culture and Tourism, have sought to regenerate and preserve old
districts. The city of Diyarbakr has thus been carrying out a regeneration and
renovation programme since 1995, which has been hard to implement due to
political conditions and the war in the region. In anlurfa, the Foundation for
Research, Art, Education, and Culture (anlurfa li Kltr Eitim Sanat ve
Aratrma Vakf, urkav), with the provincial governor as its president, was
established in 1990 in order to make better known and protect the towns folklore, artistic, and cultural works (eser) and assets (varlk).21 The director of
18
19

20

21

Hamit Bozarslan, La Question kurde. tats et minorits au Moyen-Orient, Paris, Presses de


Sciences Po, 1997, p. 103.
For example: Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge/
New York, Cambridge University Press, 1983; Anne-Marie Thiesse, La Cration des identits
nationales. Europe, XVIIIeXXe sicle, Paris, Le Seuil, 1999.
See for example Clmence Scalbert Ycel, The Invention of a Tradition: Diyarbakrs
Dengbj Project, European Journal of Turkish Studies, no. 10, 2009, State-Society Relations
in the Southeast, url: http://ejts.revues.org/4055 (accessed 20 June 2013).
http://www.surkav.org.tr/?bs=4&ID=1, consulted on 11 December 2011; the director spoke
of cultural and natural assets (Kltr ve Tabiat varlklar), interview, anlurfa, March
2011. Nevertheless, local cultures were often constructed as part of a Turkish national
whole (Marie-Hlne Sauner-Nebiolu, volution des pratiques alimentaires en Turquie:
analyse comparative, Berlin, Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1995). The national issue is thus never
wholly absent.

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urkav proudly points to the knock-on effects of the first urban transformation
and renovation works carried out in the early 1990s by the Foundation (in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism).22 urkav and the provincial governor are also behind the setting up of the sra geceleri (literally nights
by turn) music group in 1997.23 Public employees, who at the time worked in
offices but who were also amateur musicians, saw their professional activity
undergo a transformation. Though still public employees, they were then
employed by the Governors office purely to play in the sra geceleri group at
official performances. The group was a way of getting the city better-known
and offered a strong identifying image of the locality.24 In the late 2000s the
cities of Diyarbakr and Mardin also set up comparable formationsrespectively
the House of Dengbj, established in 2007 with links to the municipality,25 and
the Choir of Cultures, founded in 2008 with links to the Governors office. The
creation of these two bodies gave the towns an identifying image, and overlapped with heritage measures being carried out by certain individual and
collective actors.
It is thus worth emphasising the role played at a finer scale by individuals
whose work collecting artefacts and intangible assets partakes in a heritage
preservation initiative. Works by Mercedes Volait and Irne Maffi include
within the sphere of heritage all those anonymous amateurs and private
22 Interview, anlurfa, March 2011.
23 The sra geceleri are a custom consisting in a group of male friends with common interests
(music, religion, literature, etc.) meeting up in the evening. The meetings are organised in
advance for a given day of the week and each takes place in the house of a different member of the grouphence their name. Their various categorisations and practices are studied later in this chapter.
24 The identifying images of today are the equivalent of the edifying images of the past. It
is no longer a matter of edifying individuals, of instructing and constructing them, so as
to bring them to progressively identify with the shared Christian ideal and morality, but
of identifying groups, rooting them in history, consolidating and supporting their image,
and mythifying them, so that individuals can in turn identify with them. Marc Aug,
Pour une anthropologie des mondes contemporains, Paris, Champs Flammarion, 1994.
AsSaskia Cousin has shown, this notion makes it possible to understand the role of selfpresentation designed for an outside worldtourismin representations of this local
identity. Saskia Cousin, Lidentit au miroir du tourisme. Usages et enjeux des politiques
de tourisme culturel, PhD thesis, Paris, ehess, 2002, p. 24.
25 A dengbj may be defined as a reciter of romances and epics (Michael Chyet, Kurdish
English Dictionary, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 2003). For discussion of
the category and the House of Dengbj, see C. Scalbert Ycel, The Invention of a
Tradition.

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199

collectors who go around safeguarding heritage.26 For Dominique Poulot the


success or failure of such people is related to the economy of knowledge and
trendsto the history of exchange and recognition, of limits and dependencies.27 In our fieldwork we noticed how amateurs and local specialists
(aratrmac-yazar) played a key role in the House of Dengbj in Diyarbakr and
at urkav for instance (where there were also university researchers).
Different individual and collective actors had launched actions which may be
described as heritage actions, but without them necessarily having been conceived and devised in terms of cultural heritage. This brings out how important it is not to overestimate transfer of the heritage category from external
actors, and rather consider the whole set of practices and purposes. But with
heritage being taken up as part of the gap, testifying to this overall interest in
heritage, its definition would appear to have become established in a more
homogenous manner amongst all the actors concerned.

The Take-up of Heritage as Part of the gap
Initially the gap accorded little importance to heritage.28 It was sharply criticised by the Kurdish nationalist movement for its assimilating action, deemed
to destroy heritage. This was something which came up in some of our interviews. Although the gap administration now comes across as a major actor in
the region in expansion of heritage as a category of public policy, the fact that
work is still going ahead despite numerous protests to build the lisu dam on
the Tigris, which will soon drown the town of Hasankeyf, is a very clear illustration of the ambivalence of state heritage action. By expanding its heritage
action and synchronising with international dynamics it can earn respectability
abroad (if not necessarily at home),29 and given the ongoing war in the

26

27
28
29

Mercdes Volait, Arthur-Ali Rhon (18361910): du Caire ancien au vieux Paris, ou le patrimoine au prisme de lrudition dilettante. Socio-anthropologie, no. 19, 2006, pp. 1730;
Irne Maffi, La patrimonialisation en Jordanie. Dune pratique coloniale un instrument
dexpression dmocratique, Socio-anthropologie, no. 19, 2006, pp. 4769.
Dominique Poulot, De la raison aux mondes du patrimoine, Socio-anthropologie, no.19,
2006, p. 14.
Jean-Franois Prouse, Damien Bischoff, La question des barrages et du gap dans le Sud-Est
anatolien: patrimoines en danger? Les dossiers de lifea, srie patrimoines au prsent, no. 3, 2003.
We wish to thank Hamit Bozarslan for this remark made at the final anr TransTur
conference Ordonner et transiger: modalits de gouvernement et dadministration en
Turquie et dans lEmpire ottoman, du XIXe sicle nos jours, ehess, Paris, 2526 June
2012. For that matter the gap presents the kmgp heritage action as working against
cultural erosion and rapid social and geographical change, thus countering criticism.

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Southeast, heritage action can also provide the state with the tools to normalise the region.30
One may hypothesise that the growing involvement of international bodies
is influencing how the purposes and definitions of the gap evolve over time
and its take-up of heritage, whilst at the same time providing it with legitimate
normalisation tools. Analysis shows that heritage is also conceived by many
different actors present there as a development resource, thereby placing the
action of the gap within an observable movement worldwide.31 Lastly, heritage action is more generally considered by the gap administration as a tool
for disseminating public action instruments and methods of government.

The Preponderant Role Played by International Organisations


in the Redefinition of the gap
The adoption of the rhetoric of sustainable development by the gap is on its
own evidence of the circulation of norms. The Southeastern Anatolia Project
which was initially limited to the construction of dams, the production of
hydroelectric power, and irrigationwas transformed into a global regional
development project based on an integrated, multi-sector planning approach.
This was launched with the publication of a Master Plan in 1989. The role allotted to the social dimension of development was bolstered with the publication
of a social action plan in 1994. Nevertheless the transformation of the gap into
a sustainable development project would appear to flow directly from work
carried out conjointly from 1995 onwards by the United Nations Development
Programme (undp) and the gap-bk.32 This partnership led to the setting up
of the gap Sustainable Development umbrella Programme which became
operative in 1997. The gap adopted what it called international standards for
development based on a philosophy of sustainable human development.33
This programme was followed by phases II (20032007) and III (20082012).
Phase III, called Innovations for Womens Empowerment: A Workable Model
30

31

32

33

Nilay zok-Gndoan has already shown how the gap works overall as a tool for social
organisation: Social Development as a Governmental Strategy in the Southeast Anatolia
Project in the 1990s, New Perspectives on Turkey, vol. 32, 2005, pp. 83111.
See Franoise Navez-Bouchanine, Prise en compte des dimensions sociales, in Daniele
Pini (ed.), Patrimoine et dveloppement durable dans les villes historiques du Maghreb:
Enjeux, diagnostics et recommandations, Rabat, unesco, 2004, pp. 4565.
unpd, gap Sustainable Development Umbrella Program Strengthening Regional
Development and Reduction of Socio-Economic Disparities in the gap Region, Follow up
phase II, Project number: 0040295, gap, Ankara.
url: http://www.gap.gov.tr/site-icerik/gap_surdurulebilir_kalkinma_programi_.aspx et
http://www.gap.gov.tr/site-icerik/gap_bki_tarihcesi.aspx, accessed on 12 December 2014.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

201

for Women in Turkeys Southeastern Anatolia Region, was dedicated to


empowering women via a project called Nine towns, nine designers.34
u nicef also fostered the role accorded to the social dimension as part of a
social development programme for women and young people, taking concrete
form in the creation of Multi-Purpose Community Centres (ok Amal Toplum
Merkezi, or atom) in 1995.35 There are currently about thirty atoms in the
nine provinces in the region, used by 112,000 people. The action of these centres is based on providing women with training to enable them to become
autonomous. They combine literacy lessons, health courses, and professional
training including, sometimes, handicrafts.
There was virtually no reference to heritage in these partnerships, but with
the cooperation between the European Union and the gap this started to
change. The gap-eu Regional Development Programme resulted from an
agreement between the gap-bk, the Under-Secretariat of Treasury, and the eu
which was signed in 2001, the year when the first accession partnership for
Turkey was drawn up.36 This programme was based on the development of cultural heritage, rural development, and support for smes. It was funded by the eu
to the tune of 47 million, 15 million of which were earmarked for heritage.
The Cultural Heritage Development Programme (Kltrel Miras Gelitirme
Programkmgp) was carried out from 2003 to 2007 as part of this joint programme. From then on cultural heritage, as kltrel miras, perceived and constructed as a development tool, was fully integrated within the action of the gap.

Heritage as a Development Resource
The immediate purpose of the kmgp was to support local initiatives to develop
tourism whilst protecting cultural heritage. Out of the 31 projects to receive
kmgp financing, 12 were restoration and rehabilitation projects. The other 19
were projects for culture and tourism.37 Amongst these, eight were devoted
to revitalising handicrafts and one, indirectly, to music, whilst the ten others
34
35
36

37

This programme is based on cooperating with designers, whose role is to give the handicraft
products a new look and brand them so as to make them saleable on the Istanbul market.
Aygl Fazlolu, atom: A Model for Empowering Women in Southeastern Anatolia
(Multi-Purpose Community Centres), Kadn/Woman, 2000, pp. 2143.
See http://www.gap.gov.tr/site-icerik/gap_in_uluslararasi_boyutu.aspx and http://www.
gap.gov.tr/site-icerik/dis_kaynakli_projeler.aspx, both accessed on 20 December 2014. For
discussion of these partnerships see Claire Visiers chapter in this volume.
Teknik Yardm Hizmetleri (ekl, wyg Int./imc, Proje Ynetim A.., Betaplan), gap
Blgesinde Kltrel Miras Gelitirme Program [Cultural Heritage Development Programme
in the gap Area], gap-bk, Avrupa Birlii Trkiye Delegasyonu.

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consisted in enhancing tourism potential and providing hygiene training. This


leads to the question of what is defined as heritage, particularly if we bear in
mind that the assessment criteria encouraged projects which create added
value and employment; directly support cultural tourism; associate different
activities in the fields of cultural heritage and tourism; are sustainable and
replicable.38
Whether the aim is to develop tourism or else to combat poverty (two objectives which for that matter may well overlap), heritage is conceived as a tool for
economic development. Hence an explicit objective of all the heritage projects
relating to handicrafts in the Programme for the Development of the Cultural
Heritageand indeed more generallyis to increase the economic resources
of participants and thereby their autonomy. However, the economic benefits of
handicraft production tend to be minimal. The atoms offer a clear illustration
of this, where the women taking part in handicraft production are paid piece
rates, and more often than not only if the piece is sold. Revenue from sales is thus
marginal, with the average annual revenue being about 300TL or 400TL, about
100 or 150.39 The fact that private companies place orders with the atoms to
manufacture goods also leads to the hypothesis that rather than being a matter
of economic liberation, the logic underpinning the atoms is in fact a way of
providing the labour market with a very cheap and unqualified workforce.
In general projects to revive handicrafts are rooted in a desire for profitability. For that matter, the directors of the atoms are well aware of the renewed
interest in authenticity, particularly as a means to develop tourism.40 Thus in
Mardin where tourism is constructed as a key economic activity, one atom
has a Project for Disappearing Arts in Mardin (Mardinde Kaybolan Sanatlar
Projesi) devoted to training people to work copper and paint on glass,41 and
this despite the fact that the director does not seem especially concerned
about matters of cultural and heritage preservation in comparison to other
38

39
40

41

url:http://www.avrupa.info.tr/tr/ab-mali-destegi/ab-mali-destekli-programlar/basarihikayeleri/success-stories-single-view/article/gap-boelgesel-kalkinma-programi-1.html?cHa
sh=c84f9df3a5da8bc8754edd381a7b038b&print=1, consulted on 15 December 2014.
Interview with the person in charge of atoms at the Development Foundation of
Turkey (tkv), March 2011, Diyarbakir.
Research conducted in the anthropology of tourism has shown how important authenticity (and the search for authenticity) is in tourism experiences and the tourism imaginary,
as well as underlining the multiple forms it can take. For a critical analysis of this notion
see Cline Cravatte, Lanthropologie du tourisme et lauthenticit. Catgorie analytique
ou catgorie indigne? Cahiers dtudes africaines, no. 193194, 2009, pp. 603619.
This project dating from 2010 was financed by the Social Support Programme (Sosyal
Destek Program).

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203

actors. It is worth emphasising how essential it is to consider local contexts, for


though the Mardin atoms seem to attach great importance to preserving
heritage than those in Diyarbakr for example, this is perhaps because the tourist potential is greater and also because the political context there is relatively
speaking less strained.

Heritage as an Instrument to Normalise Government Methods
Whilst the kmgp uses heritage as an economic resource, it also has the clear
objective of disseminating new government methods. Indeed, the two longerterm objectives of the kmgp are, firstly, to help devise an integrated Strategic
Action Plan to safeguard cultural heritage and develop tourism for 20052015
and, secondly, to support the development of project administration and
management capabilities in terms of their conception and fund management,
in accordance with the procedures of the European Commission.42
In order to meet these two objectives a technical support team was set up.
Placed under the authority of the president of the Foundation for the Protection
and Promotion of the Environment and Cultural Heritage (evre ve Kltr
Deerlerini Koruma ve Tantma Vakf, ekl43). this team is comprised of project development outfits and implementation consultancies. Its heritage action
is extremely limited, and as the ekl representative in Diyarbakr indicated,
the role of the team is essentially to organise training in setting up projects,
monitoring projects, and verifying that they comply with the administrative
and financial procedures of the European Commission.44
One official in the gap Tourism, Culture, and Environment Department
observed that the selection of projects by an independent assessment committee, under the authority of the Central Finance and Contracts Unit (Merkez
Finans ve hale Birimi), was carried out mainly on the basis of the criteria of
conforming to European projectswith regard to the overall format of the
dossier, drawing up the budget, and feasibilityas well as on criteria relating
to the authenticity of the cultural heritage. The official in question spoke of
true cultural heritage (gerek bir kltrel miras).45 This selection is then
42
43

44
45

Teknik Yardm Hizmetleri (ekl, wyg Int./imc, Proje Ynetim A.., Betaplan), gap
Blgesinde.
ekl was set up in 1990 and is one of the main heritage protection ngos in Turkey, and
it has established itself as a central actor over recent years. It works to develop awareness
of heritage and has built up a network to preserve environmental and built heritage in
both towns and the countryside. See www.cekulvakfi.org.tr.
Interview with ekl official in Diyarbakr, March 2011.
Interview with an official at the gap Tourism, Culture, and Environment Department,
Directorate for the Administration of the gap, anlurfa, March 2011.

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forwarded to the Turkish Representation to the European Commission and to


the gap-bki . gap-bki had set up its own assessment committee, involving
people familiar with the region, which only played a limited role in reassessing
the initial selection. The official interviewed observed:
When you look at our region, most of the cultural heritage is in Urfa, Mardin
and Diyarbakr. But when you look at the funded projects most are in
Gaziantep. The reason is that they have given well written projects. Lets say
an old hamman. Maybe it is not necessary I dont know, lets say. But they
have written the projects explanation very well. Thats all. The most important
thing. Or Ithink it is one of the fault of the eu projects. [] Yes because you
are just looking at the application files prepared by some of the people. You
dont see the place, if it really needs it or not. Now, after now, there are some
private companies; you give them some money and they prepare very professionally. Then all the projects are passing because they are prepared very well.46
It would appear that heritage action is subordinate to formal criteria and is a
vector for disseminating government methods. This raises a question about
heritage-makers, since complying with the formal requirements of European
financing plays a key role in the selection process.

Disseminating the Project as an Instrument of Governance
The heritage action of the gap, via the kmgp, makes it possible to disseminate
projects as a key instrument47 for public action, based on good governance,
transparency, and participation. The observations of the gap official we
interviewed provide a good starting point for exploring the dynamics behind
the dissemination of this instrument. When asked What are your priorities for
safeguarding cultural heritage? he answered, to the issue of the kmgp:
(In Turkish:) It is not a domain for which the gap is directly responsible,
cultural heritage. It is the work of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.48
(In English:) They are responsible for all this cultural heritage, or tourism
but we are available. As the gap administration, we can work on every
subject. But as a sample. You know it will be a pilot project. For example
we do that as a pilot project, a pilot program. After that, it will go on.
46
47

Idem.
The expression is taken from Visiers chapter in this volume which provides further
discussion of projects as public action instruments.
48 gap idaresinin dorudan birebir sorumlu olduu bir i deildir kltrel miras O Kltr
ve Turizm Mdr iidir.

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205

Mostly we are doing the pilot project just for the beginning and draw the
attention of the institutions or other peoples, and then it will go on. []
But is doesnt mean it will be all our responsibility. We say we do this
project. It means that, the main message is: If you want to do something
for the cultural heritage program, there is a fund in the eu, you can go
there. You have to prepare such a project and do it like this. The programs
are always changing. It can be on agriculture, cultural heritage49
Heritage action follows a logic of best practice which, being replicable, plays
a part in social normalisation via the dissemination of these new instruments
and methods for public action, as well as in standardising what may be considered as heritage.

Best Practice and Social Normalisation
Some projects such as the development and branding of local handicrafts and
popular culture were presented in order to act as a model for devising kmgp
projects.50 The setting up of the Multi-Purpose Community Centres (atoms)
also resulted from a project labelled as good practice.51 Their operation
involves numerous actors. Following on from their establishment by the gap in
cooperation with unicef, their management was delegated to the Turkish
Development Foundation (Trkiye Kalknma Vakf, tkv).52 Furthermore, they
present themselves as having a participative and democratic form of management, and are run by committees whose members are elected from amongst
staff and participants. Their role is to go out prospecting in the neighbourhoods, knocking on doors to encourage women to follow the educational activities and to listen to their expectations, the idea being to base the way things
are done on participation.

49

Interview with an official at the gap Tourism, Culture, and Environment Department,
Directorate for the Administration of the gap, anlurfa, March 2011. The fact that this
person underlined the central role played by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism also
illustrates a certain vision of heritage as something centralised and controlled by the state.
50 url: http://www.avrupa.info.tr/tr/ab-mali-destegi/ab-mali-destekli-programlar/basarihikayeleri/success-stories-single-view/article/gap-boelgesel-kalkinma-programi-1.html?cH
ash=c84f9df3a5da8bc8754edd381a7b038b&print=1 (accessed 8 December 2014).
51 url: http://www.gap.gov.tr/site-icerik/cok_amacli_toplum_merkezleri.aspx (accessed 8
December 2014).
52 The tkv was set up in 1969 and works in the field of rural development. It started working
in the Southeast of the country in 1975. Nowadays it works primarily in the nine provinces
of the gap, as well as in Ankara, Kars, and Ardahan.

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This best practice is adopted by the Social Support Programme (Sosyal


Destek Program, sodes) which presents iyi rnekler (model projects, that
is to say good practice). sodes was set up 2008 as part of the Social
Development Programme within the gap Action Plan, and is directly linked to
the dpt and hence the Ministry of Development in turn. Its explicit goal was
to bring about the development of the region so as to be able to bring the gap
to a close by 2012. sodes disseminates the participative way of doing things
by funding short projects, some of which have a heritage aspect. The result is a
plethora of projects designed as minor touches but presented as having a
great combined effect.53 The fact that various institutions and associations
enjoy sodes support leads to a significantly increased number of actors
directly involved in development and heritage action.
sodes states that it endeavours to address problems relating to migration,
poverty, and unemployment, with the goal of consolidating human capital
and supporting the social reunion process. In addition to the socialisation of
women, the explicit goals of the atoms are, for their part, to emancipate
women, to combat poverty, and develop citizenship. Hence the heritage action,
of varying degree of centrality from one project to another, is also there to
serve a more overarching ambition, namely social normalisation. The case of
the atoms shows that handicrafts are primarily a pretext and means for
reaching the main goalto get women to come to the centres and to follow
various literacy and family planning courses. In particular the prospect offered
by the handicrafts courses of paid activity and of putting together a trousseau
is intended to encourage women to enrol at the atom.
Projects with a heritage dimension sometimes seek to foster social normalisation via the training they frequently offer together with the dissemination of
good practice to be reproduced, and so are instrumental in offering a standard
vision of what heritage actually is.

Training and Standardisation
Most of the projects we observed involved training, which was sometimes a
central aspect of them. This is due to social and economic issues and in certain
cases the desire to reconstruct a certain notion of authenticity. In all cases this
led to a redefinition of the actors, products, and learning methods. This leads
to categoriesand in turn practicesbeing reconstructed but without there
53

These are the terms of the slogan used: Kk Dokunular, Gerekleen Hayaller (sodes,
Tantm Kitab [Presentation Book], dpt, Ankara, undated, p. 1). In 2008 and 2009 there
were respectively 53 and 72 projects in the province of Diyarbakr, 34 and 111 in that of
Mardin, and 67 and 123 and that of anlurfa: ibid., pp. 3 and 18.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

207

necessarily being any real link to musical practice or handicrafts. In the case
of music and handicrafts the training was not based on a master (usta)/
apprentice (rak) relationship, but a teacher (retmen)/pupil (renci) one.
Furthermore the training was not carried out over a lengthy period of time but
was instead limited by the short duration of projects.
Actions relating to music were generally described as being a return to the
past. Let us take the example of the Choir of Cultures in Mardin. Its repertory is
made up of songs that had been discovered in the archives. Local scholars help
with learning the songs, proper diction, and pronunciation in various languages.
Work is not done by ear but on the basis of musical scores drawn up by the choir
leader. Notation is seen as a guarantee of authenticity and professionalism.54
Projects to revive handicrafts transform both the craft and its artisan. Whilst
all the projects we studied were labelled traditional, they often offered an
updated version of the product and activity. Certain projects teach participants
to reproduce old models, or their design at least (such as the projects run by
urkav and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Diyarbakr), whilst other
projects are based on renewing handicraft products and a desire to relate them to
design products. Phase III of the undp is illustrative of this emphasis on design,
as is the way the project of Cemil pekis fashion house in Mardin has evolved:
What we wanted to do was take the traditional way of dress in Mardin
and modernise it. To take the clothes our grandmothers and modernise
them. But when he came here Mr. Cemil said: No. Thats a very limited
idea. Lets expand on it. Im going to teach women my style. So he added
to the idea. Women are going to need to earn money if the products are
to sell, he said. We had only been talking of modernising the old. He
talked about doing all we could and selling. He was the one who got
things to change. The business grew. Now we really do earn money. The
initial name of our project was The Cemil peki project to modernise
the traditional clothing of Mardin. We then changed it [] and called it
The Cemil peki fashion design and production workshop.55
54
55

Interview with the choir leader, Mardin, March 2011.


Bizim istediimiz. Mardinin eski kyafetlerini alp onu modernize etmekti. Ninelerimizin
kyafetlerini alp modernize etmek. Bizim fikrimiz buydu. Ama sonra Cemil bey buraya
gelince yok dedi, bu ok dar bir dnce dedi, bunu geniletelim. Ben tarzm reteyim
kadnlara. O geniletti. rnler satlsn. Kadnlar para kazansn dedi. Biz sadece eskileri
modernize edelim dedik. O, elimizde ne varsa yapp satalm dedi. O byle evirtti.
Geniletti olay. imdi gerekten para kazanyoruz. Biz projesinin ad Cemil peki Mardin
Yresel Kyafetleri Modernize Edilmesi Projesiydi. Sonra deitik. [] Cemil peki Moda
Tasarm Atlyesi yaptk adn Interview with the project leader, Mardin, March 2011.

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The case of handicraft projects shows how private actors, in this case designers,
can become major actors within projects notably by disseminating their own
conception of heritage, and this in turn has an influence on the nature of the
project. This case also shows how two conceptions of how to enhance cultural
heritage, entertained by the same actors, can evolve in parallel to each other
one based on a return to the past, the other based on a desire for modernisation.
Given that the projects launched as part of the gap promote a relatively
standardised vision of heritage slanted towards a desire for profitability and
social normalisation, it is important to examine the multiple ways in which
heritage as a category along with heritage initiatives are embraced (or not).
This will enable us to pursue our exploration of our initial hypothesis about
the redeployment of the state.

Resistance and Normalisation

A change in focus will enable us to examine the interactions between institutions and the various actors. This will also bring out how complex the relationships between the gap and local institutions are, and emphasise the resistance
and rivalry between differing visions of heritage. This approach also shows
how the government methods and instruments conveyed are in fact appropriated, revealing how the strength of heritage is constructed. Internal observation of new tools and instruments that have been promoted and developed,
their agents, and their daily practice will be used to test the hypothesis of the
redeployment of state via the diffusion of its concept of heritage.

Multiple Relationships to Heritage
Heritage action involves numerous actors. Their interactions may be analysed
though the prism of heritage categories and the meanings attributed to them,
by the purposes of designating an object as heritage, and by the instruments
used. We may distinguish between two situations. The first, consensual situation in which groups or individuals relay actions carried out as part of the gap
without questioning the dominant conception of heritage. And a second in
which the public action instruments disseminated by the gap heritage policies are used, but not without a certain degree of resistance.

A Consensual Use of Heritage
The circulation of categories and the appropriation of instruments may firstly
indicate a consensual use of heritage. However, whilst the dominant visions,
and notably those disseminated by the kmgp, are not brought into question,

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

209

this does not result in identical heritage concepts as they are often appropriated in a fairly random and incomplete manner.
The case of music brings out how important a role is played by institutional
actors who seek to safeguard their position as the central actor for heritage
issues and, at the same time, by individual actors who seek to associate their
heritage practices to those of institutions, with varying degrees of success. Let
us take urkav as an example. Its publications offer a definition of sra geceleri
that is close to that given by the gap tourist guide (see infra). They are firstly
defined via their social function as a sort of popular school (halk mektebi) for
transmitting and learning social rules, decorum, and mutual support.56
Nevertheless there are certain divergences in the defined purpose of the heritage action, with urkav underlining the positive role played by the media in
increasing awareness of sra geceleri and turning them into a symbol of
anlurfa, whilst at the same time insisting on how they have contributed to
the degeneration of the tradition. Furthermore its project for training and
promoting the importance of anlurfa sra geceleri in the tourist industry displays a similar ambivalence about heritage, both recognising the benefits of
tourism and identifying the damage it does in terms of the deterioration
(bozulma) of the tradition.57 Thus the project operates within the tourism perspective yet at the same time endeavours to present an image of what real sra
geceleri are. It can be argued that by making such a distinction, urkav is
seeking to act as the guarantor of an authenticity that it helped to invent.
Individual actors are also heavily involved in heritage action, but it is their
contingent encounters and affinities with institutions that matter for the
56

57

Abuzer Akbyk, anlurfada Sra Gecesi Gelenei [The Night by Turn Tradition in
anlurfa], in A. Cihat Krkolu, Mslm Akaln, Sabri Krkolu and Selahaddin E.
Gler (eds.), anlurfa Uygarln Doduu ehir, anlurfa, urkav, 2002, pp. 276280;
Mehmet Avni zbek, Tabii bir Okul: Sra Gecesi [A Natural School: The Night by Turn],
anlurfa Kltr Sanat Tarih ve Turizm Dergisi, no. 7, 2010, pp. 1114.
url: http://www.abuzerakbiyik.com.tr/news_detail.php?id=18, consulted on 12 May 2012.
And observation made by the director about the musicians in the urkav sra geceleri
group, founded in 1997 currently disbanded, reveal a similar ambivalence about heritage:
They are local artists from the neighbourhood. Naturals. No one has had any training.
They developed in a master/apprenticeship relationship. The same as for traditional
handicrafts, handed down by the grandfather or father. [] Musical notation is out of the
question with them but they are the best. At the local art form. [Mahalli sanatdr bunlar. Doal. Bire eitim verilmedi. Bunlar usta-rak gelimiti. Deden, yine el sanatlar gibi,
dededen babadan kalan bir ey. [] Nota mota olay olmaz bunlarda. Ama en dorusunu
da bunlar yaparlar. Mahalli anlamda]. His vision of training and its relationship to
authenticity differs from that of the Choir of Cultures in Mardin referred to above.

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subsequent development and orientation of these actions. The urkav sra


geceleri project was drawn up by Abuzer Akbyk, a local scholar who has
written extensively and carried out numerous projects about music. Cemil
pekis involvement in numerous projects is also characteristic. Let us also
mention the case of a teacher of feltwork whose research into different techniques and models and commitment to reviving the handicraft resonated
with the activities of a atom in anlurfa, and would appear to have influenced them. But individual initiatives do not all receive the same degree of
support. In Mardin for instance there are two brothers who present themselves as the guardians of musical tradition. The elder of the two is a music
teacher and has set up a new school, as well as being a prominent figure in
collecting the music of the city. This resulted in a work published by the provincial governors office in 1998, in an instance which nicely illustrates how
an individual undertaking can chime with local government interest. The
younger of the two brothers is president of the Mardin Music Association and
has also collected music whilst seeking to get the new generation of local
musicians better known. His cd Mardin Night Troupe (Leyl) (Mardin
Geceleri Topluluu (Leyl)) provides an image of a multicultural, museum-like
city clearly intended for tourists. This initiative and the production of such a
vision of local music differing from that of his elder brother would appear to
be an attempt to gain institutional recognition, something which has not yet
happened.58
There are also circulations of categories and modes of action within handicraft projects, and despite their apparent mimeticism, the projects carried out
within the same instance may be of different types. The fact that there is consensus over certain points does not indicate anything any total convergence.
Hence for instance the objectives of the atoms and their way of functioning,
intended as a model for other development projects, are reproduced in projects carried out by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Diyarbakr
(Diyarbakr Ticaret ve Sanayi Odasdtso). The Kibele cooperative, for example, founded in 2004, targets disadvantaged local women and girls, and indirectly their families. It aims to revive handicrafts so as to combat poverty.
Professional training is also preceded in this case by basic literacy training, and
nutrition and hygiene courses. Once again social normalisation is the goal,
which is something also seen with the atoms for example. The adoption of
the same objectives and ways of doing things is instrumental in constructing
the strength of heritage.

58

Interviews, March 2011, Mardin.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

211

There is also a degree of mimeticism in the way of envisaging the revival of


handicrafts. As noted above, there are projects based on a return to the past
existing alongside others focusing on the creation of new handicraft products
with the support of designers. And in fact both kinds of project may be found
within the dtso. Certain projects and especially those relating to silk are based
on a desire to revive silkwork, which has nowadays disappeared. The approach
is based on scientific encounters combined with the help of old master craftsmen (usta)with for instance an old Armenian usta from Kulp for silk
scarvesso as to guarantee the authenticity, which for that matter undergoes
redefinition in the dtsos implementation of revival actions. These practices
and the increasing number of silk projects reconstruct the manufacture of
scarves as one of Diyarbakrs showcase handicrafts. But characteristically, and
as for the sodes and atom projects, the designer Cemil peki is also involved
in other dtso works. This can be seen as indicative of how a vision of heritage
based on its modernisation has been disseminated and become mainstream.
The involvement of Cemil peki may also show how he has become established
as a central actor with legitimacy and expertise in the revival of the textile craft,
and one who circulates within different spheres. Ultimately he would appear to
have established himself as a heritage actor of considerable weight. He has been
instrumental in consolidating a certain vision of heritage and its modes of manufacture which transcend the divisions within a conflictual situation.

Resistance, Rivalry, and Divergent Uses of Mainstream


Heritage Visions
Sharp criticism of the gap heritage action especially by pro-Kurdish actors
leads us to analyse the interaction between their own heritage actions and
those carried out as part of the gap. Despite the criticism, there are in fact
occasions when the various actors involved work with each other, and instruments and categories are appropriated which can be used to serve different
identity constructions and their own specific purposes.


Identifying Images in Tourist Guides
Heritage actions clearly seek to enhance the image of the region. Analysing
identifying images can therefore shed light on the multiple and sometimes
opposing ways in which heritage is produced. We have investigated the categories built up around handicrafts and music on the basis of two tourist guides
that bring out the ideological differences between the gap administration and
the pro-Kurdish municipalities. The Southeast Anatolia Guide. A panorama of
civilisation was published in 2007 by the gap via the intermediary of the
Chamber of Commerce in Gaziantep, whilst Another Look at East and Southeast

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Turkey was published in 2009 by the Southeastern Anatolia Union of


Municipalities (Gneydou Anadolu Blgesi Belediyeleri Birlii, gabb), whose
current president is the Mayor of Diyarbakr. The two guides differ in terms of
their purpose, their authorship, and the images they promote.
The objective of the gabb guide is to foster economic development and
change the image of the Kurdish region. Drawn up under the editorship of an
anthropologist from the Kurdish diaspora, the guide also seeks to provide
material for projects to promote the region. The gap guide for its part seeks to
promote the Southeast and turn it into a major tourist centre.59 It was produced as part of the Project to Promote Southeastern Anatolia (with the support of the Programme for the Development of Cultural Heritage), run by the
Chamber of Commerce in Gaziantep working in partnership with the Ministry
of Culture and Tourism, and was drawn up by Turkish and foreign consultants,
researchers, and project leaders. What the guides have to say about the territory is also different. The first draws on certain standard commonplaces such
as the encounter between East and West, which originate in Orientalism, and
even a form of inner Orientalism,60 whilst the gabb guide goes back over the
characteristic features of Kurdish culture.
This distinction is also found in the kind of tourism promoted. The gap promotes cultural tourism and adopts the ideology of international organisations
about sustainable tourism to protect the historical and cultural heritage of the
region.61 The gabb guide promotes alternative tourism. This increasingly
popular tourist experience is based on encountering the other as part of an
ecological and social approach. What the guide proposes is to encounter the
Kurdish population and culture and to discover the environment.
When it comes to the way they apprehend music and handicrafts, the two
guides differ almost systematically. Handicrafts are omnipresent in the gap
guide, but virtually absent in the gabb guide. In the gap guide traditional
handcrafts62 occupy a central place, perhaps due to their association in the
59

There is still little tourism in Southeast Anatolia (Laurent Mallet, Le tourisme en Turquie:
de la manne financire aux changements de mentalities, Hrodote, no. 127, 2007, pp. 89102)
even though the fact that Turkish and foreign travel agencies do offer tourist circuits
shows that a market does exist.
60 Emmanuel Szurek, Trans-, Mta- et Post-. Pour un usage contrl de lorientalisme intrieur, in Franois Pouillon and Jean-Claude Vatin (eds.), Aprs lorientalisme. LOrient cr
par lOrient, Paris, iismm-Karthala, 2011, pp. 5360.
61 Saskia Cousin, De lunesco aux villages de Touraine: les enjeux politiques, institutionnels et identitaires du tourisme culturel, Autrepart, no. 40, 2006, pp. 1530.
62 Or geleneksel el sanatlar in the Turkish version of the guide, available online at http://
guneydogumirasi.org/.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

213

imaginary of tourism professionals with authenticity.63 Three themes are


developedtradition constructed as a significant feature of local culture,
arhetoric of loss which is a standard feature in heritage discourse and legitimises the action of the gap, and the question of the origins of handicrafts
(in central Asian, Ottoman, or Seljuq practice), thus adopting the Turkish
national imaginary. In the gabb guide there is relatively little discussion of
handicrafts and what is especially present is the fact that everyday objects
often come from China for example. It is perhaps a matter of trying to break
with the regions old-fashioned image and also of putting forward another
version of authenticity based on contemporary shifts.64
Music is frequently referred to in the gabb guide. The dengbj (tellers of
romances and epics) are referred to as being important figures in most cities
and towns. A comparatively lengthy passage is devoted to their social role, the
important part they play in transmitting oral history, and the House of Dengbj
in Diyarbakr. There are references to the sra geceleri in anlurfa and the guide
goes over their social function, mentioning that nowadays they are mainly
folklore performances for tourists. The gap guide offers a very different image
of the oral tradition, mentioning the sra geceleri, trk songs (traditional folklore songs), and Sufi music. The local specificities of music are only partly presented, with the emphasis being placed on the similarities between the music
of Diyarbakr, Mardin, anlurfa, Elaz, and Krkuk. And the sra geceleri in
anlurfa are referred to solely as a social practice. There is thus a more consensual presentation of handicrafts, unlike music where there is greater rivalry
between two identity images.
The guides bring out the identity constructions occurring in a context of
ethnic plurality, which is also referred to in different manners. The gap guide
refers to cultural diversity and the colourful social fabric.65 Diyarbakr is
described as a melting pot influenced by various civilisations.66 A page is
devoted to Christianity in the history of Mardin, but the fact that countless
civilisations have passed through resulting in a unique cultural heritage is only
63
64

65
66

Rachid Amirou, Imaginaire du tourisme culturel, Paris, Presses Universitaires de France,


2000.
For discussion of new developments in discourse about authenticity in the tourist economy, see Anne Doquet, Guides, guidons et guitares. Authenticit et guides touristiques
au Mali, Cahiers dEtudes africaines, no. 193194, 2009, pp. 7394.
Southeast Anatolia Guide, A Panorama of Civilization, Gaziantep Chamber of Commerce
2007, pp. 13 and 110.
Diyarbakirs colorful social fabric is woven from Turkish, Syriac, Chaldean, Armenian,
Kurdish and Arab threads, ibid., p. 110.

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GIRARD and SCALBERT YCEL

referred to in passing.67 The guide mentions that the population in anlurfa is


comprised mainly of Turkmen, Arab Turks, and Kurdish Turks, using the ethnic categories specific to Turkish nationalist ideology.68 The gabb guide for its
part presents the region as primarily Kurdish, whilst emphasising its religious
and ethnic diversity69 and multiculturalism. In both cases the guides adopt
nationalist rhetoric, offering two different images of the region in a context
where developing tourism is a central objective.

Interaction and Competition: The Yenikap Street Project


inDiyarbakr
The fact that parallel and competing views are put forward by one and same
tool, namely tourist guides, does not prevent interaction. The example of
Diyarbakr provides a way of seeing how a kmgp urban transformation project
functions within a larger project to renovate the old town that the Ministry of
Culture and Tourism has been carrying out since the mid-1990s, and which the
pro-Kurdish municipality has been involved in since 1999. More specifically
the example of Yenikap Street underlines how the actions carried out and categories used by of the central government or European Union are appropriated and applied to local issues, and how a one-off project can fit into far larger
heritage actions with multiple purposes.
Yenikap Street, which lies close to a mosque, a Chaldean Catholic Church,
and a synagogue, is the target of one of the kmgp projects being led by the
metropolitan municipality. The aim is to act as a model for renovating all of
theold town by turning the street into a tourist attraction and to revitalise the
historical identity, whilst at the same time emphasising the plurality of belief,
the cultural mosaic tradition and the atmosphere of tolerance. In concrete
terms the project consists in embellishing the street, providing linguistic and
sanitary training for its 75 inhabitants, and a communications campaign.70 It is
therefore relatively limited both in time and in the scale of its objectives.
But this kmgp project is also part of two pre-existing actions being carried
out by different actors. Firstly the renovation of the old town with the support
of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (via the intermediary of the provincial
governor and with ekl offering advice and active backing), and secondly
actions being carried out by the Metropolitan Municipality and the old town

67
68
69
70

Ibid., p. 238.
Ibid., p. 265.
Another look at East and Southeast Turkey, gabb, 2009, p. 11.
Teknik Yardm Hizmetleri (ekl, wyg Int./imc, Proje Ynetim A.., Betaplan), gap
Blgesinde, p. 16.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

215

District Municipality (Sur belediyesi) to defend and even recreate a multicultural, multidenominational identity, thereby making it possible to ensure a
form of legitimacy to Kurdish identity. Given its sphere of action this kmgp
project is part of this larger project, that the District Municipality presents
as being a multiculturalism project (ok Kltrlk Projesi), in which
Yenikap Street is referred to as the road of cultures. In addition to the
kmgp project the municipality plans on restoring the existing places of worship and building an Alevi centre and a Yezidi centre.71 Once again this is an
attempt to recreate authenticity, these two denominations not being traditionally present within the town, but being of concrete and symbolic importance to the Kurds.
Whilst the examples of the guides and the road of cultures show how alternative heritages can be constructed and how the tools provided by the gap
may be used in ways that diverge from what was originally intended, they also
perhaps show the standardisation and normalisation that result from the dissemination of heritage action. The action is thought of in terms of development, especially tourist development, and so the heritage category is adopted
de facto. The dissemination of instruments provided by the gap, the effects of
rivalry, and more generally the increasing number of actors and projects
making it harder to interpret public action finally lead to the question of the
extent to which the reformulation of public action genuinely amounts to a
withdrawal of the state.

A Redeployment of the State?
If participation is part of the ideology of development and constitutes one of
the objectives of disseminating project-based action, then does it not in fact in
this context, and despite the possibility of it being used in divergent ways,
amount to a redeployment of the state?

The Central Administration as a Matrix for Heritage Action
Generally speaking analysis of the heritage action carried out in the gap region
shows the significant role played by central institutions, local government, and
certain provincial governors (valis). Project-based actions do not bring the tradition of centralisation into question as they are still controlled by the central
state via the State Planning Organisation and the intermediary of local government (valilik). Thus local government exercises close control over the activities
of the atoms. The sodes are in fact simply a relay of the dpt. Not only are
sodes projects drawn up and implemented at the local level under the
71

url: http://sur.bel.tr/turkce/ (accessed 11 December 2011).

216

GIRARD and SCALBERT YCEL

coordination of local government, which selects the projects in conjunction


with the dtp, public institutions are in fact the main recipients of funding.72
Whilst sodes projects, under the guise of participation, are instrumental in
the redeployment of the state, atoms are enjoying increasing autonomy. Given
that atoms are a project without any institutional status whose existence is
linked to that of the gap, there is a degree of uncertainty as well as constraints on
their operation, such as the impossibility of responding to calls for projects. The
gap Action Plan, drawn up in 2008 to complete the development of the region
and close the gap project in 2012, included making the atoms more efficient
via their institutionalisation.73 To this end associations and cooperatives were
set up around each atom in the early 2010s, guided by the Turkish Development
Foundation (tkv). This brings out both the fact that norms, notably empowerment, were imported via the centralised action of the tkv which was acting as a
relay for the undp, and the strategic use made of these norms. The atom directors seized upon these norms as a way of perpetuating the action of the atoms
after the end of the gap, and thereby of reducing the level of uncertainty.
However this uncertainty and the increasing autonomy of the atoms
should not mask the fact that they work in close cooperation with local government. Protocols have been signed between the gap and local government,
who support projects and supply buildings, whilst the protocols enable the
atoms to work with teachers from public-sector professional training centres (Halk Eitimi). The centres place teachers on secondment and deliver a
diploma at the end of the years training. Equally certain courses are conducted
in cooperation with the Turkish Labour Agency (Trkiye Kurumu).
Professional training means that the redefinition of categories (of handicrafts
and music, but also of craft practitioners and musicians) and of the associated
categories is correlated to administrative oversight. Firstly the administration
sanctions the craft practitioner or musician who it has in fact created, and for
whom it has established the framework, limits, and authenticity. This could be
described as the administration retaining or even strengthening its control
over practices that it has promoted to the status of heritage, but apart from a
few rare exceptions independently of existing practices and social realities.74
72

73
74

Thus in 2008 and 2009 respectively 71.6% and 75.1% of projects funded by the sodes were
run by public bodies, 8.3% and 6.3% by Town Halls, 16.3% and 14.9% by ngos, 1.3% and
1.4% by universities, and 2.5% and 2.3% by special province administrations (l zel
daresi). sodes, Tantm Kitab, p. 20.
Gap Action Plan 20082012, gap, Ankara, 2008, p. 45.
This is not specific to the region and is also found in Istanbul: M. Girard, Recompositions
du monde artisanal et mutations urbaines.

Heritage as a Category of Public Policy

217

Multiple Relationships between the Administration


and Actors in the Field
The role of the central administration needs also to be examined in relation to
the attitudes of the actors, both within a given institution and from one institution to the next. The atoms offer an example of the ways in which relationships with the central state may be negotiated in different ways. Analysis of the
five atoms studied shows how varied the relationships between their directors and provincial governors can be, as is also the case for relationships
between atoms and local government. The directors had differing individual
backgrounds and performed their mission in different manners. There was
also a difference between those who came from the neighbourhood and followed courses dispensed by professional training centres, and those who had
worked in local government and the gap administration after having studied
at university.
Whilst the distinction between the profiles of the directors was not always
that clear-cut, they were seen to assume their role in different ways. Some directors appeared to perceive atoms as a public service to fulfil the goal laid down
by the gap central administration or by local government. Others appeared to
use empathy as a dynamic for public action at a time when there is a move
towards making administrative practice more personal75: We are an establishment with links to the state but we have the specificity of a non-governmental
organisation. That is how we move forward. We are like a family.76
However a certain ambiguity in the attitudes of the directors was observed,
being a mixture of criticism and esteem. Relationships with the gap administration differed from one atom to the next, as did relations with the provincial governor, which were, or so certain elements indicated, partially dependent
upon the existence of personal relationships. Nor should we overlook the personality of the individual provincial governors or the influence of local contacts, which would suggest that all governors do not benefit from the same
scope for action. It is also worth mentioning how warmly numerous people
who had met the Mardin governor spoke of him, as well as the sadness, anger,
and campaign of support he received on being dismissed in spring 2011. But the
fact that people spoke publicly of their esteem does not mean to say that he did
not come in for criticism, mainly about the fact that the directors were not
public-sector employees77 and the difficulties encountered in carrying out
75
76
77

This echoes the shelters for battered women analysed by Berna Ekal in this volume.
Devlete bal bir kuruluuz, ama sivil toplum zellii tayoruz. yle yol alyoruz. Biz bir
aile gibiyiz. Interview with a atom director, Mardin, March 2011.
Their wages are paid indirectly via intermediary of the tkv.

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GIRARD and SCALBERT YCEL

their mission due to the lack of funding and material resources supplied by
the administration.
Observing institutions from within once again shows that despite the shift
towards granting them autonomy, and despite the varying and sometimes critical attitudes of actors in the field, the state has retained its control over heritage action, and we may interpret this as indicative of its redeployment.
Conclusion
Analysing heritage action in South-eastern Anatolia reveals the links that exist
between the international circulation of norms and local dynamics. Hence
taking the gap as our starting point, we have noted how heritage has been
imported via the intermediary of international organisations, yet this should
not obscure the fact that heritage actions not necessarily categorised as such
have long been carried out locally.
And therefore paying attention to the circulation of norms, instruments,
and government methods at different scales, and to the actors involved, reveals
how the strength of heritage is constituted. The category of heritage would
appear to rework or even supplant categories used before. It also subjects
authenticity to various tensions by showing the different uses made of it.
Observing the way this category is fabricated also brings to light the power
relationships at work between the actors present. In particular it has been seen
how the heritage action of individual actors is often dependent upon their
benefiting from relays within administrations. The construction of alternative
heritage models has also been observed, notably those promoting Kurdish
identity. Nevertheless the alternative nature of these models should not be
overstated given that they draw partly upon the same instruments and categories as those disseminated by the state. The simple fact that actors involved in
the heritage category appropriate the tools and methods of government it conveys would also appear to be instrumental in constituting its strength.
Lastly, observing the dissemination of heritage as a category of public action
together with the participative principles it conveys serves to underline how
there is in fact a redeployment of the state, since centralisation is not really
brought into question despite participation. The traces of this redeployment
observed during this initial enquiry suggest further research is needed to look
at the evolution of heritage terms over time in differing contexts, and to switch
focus from heritage-makers to heritage-bearers.

chapter 10

European Policies to Support Civil Society


Embodying a Form of Public Action
Claire Visier
This chapter seeks to analyse the effects that Turkeys application to join the
European Union has had on government practices in Turkey. In order to join
the European Union a country must adopt the Community acquis, and the aim
of the pre-accession policy is to help the country implement European
standards by funding initiatives to this effect. In this sense it is explicitly a matter of international transfer, where this is understood as a process by which
information and knowledge relating to the public policies specific to a past or
present political system are exported and imported into another political
system.1
There are numerous studies analysing the international circulation of forms
of public action. These policy transfer studies have developed a lot recently,2
and studies of Europeanisation, which initially focused on the transfer of
modes of public action between different levels of government and between
European countries, have subsequently expanded their field of enquiry to
include the way enlargement mechanisms function.3 These research streams
explore a rich and varied set of issues, relating to different sorts of transfer, the
conditions, the dissemination channels and actors involved, the transformations models undergo over the course of the process, the conditions for successful uptake, and the impact on public action in the importing country.
This analysis adopts the same perspective but will focus on two specific
dimensions. Firstly it is important to take into account what we regard as a
specific feature of the pre-accession policy, namely that it is at least as
much a matter of exporting as it is of importing. Our study of the modes of
transfer will therefore also examine the European policy to bring such
transfer about. Secondly, many studies focus on the actual process of transfer (and particularly on the conditions for transfer) and take the model
1 David P. Dolowitz, Policy Transfer and British Social Policy: Learning from the usa?
Philadelphia,pa, Open University Press, 2000.
2 Thierry Delpeuch, Lanalyse des transferts internationaux de politiques publiques: un tat
de lart, Questions de Recherche, no. 27, December 2008.
3 Heater Grabbe, Europeanization Goes East: Power and Uncertainty in the eu Accession
Process, in Kevin Featherstone and Claudio Radaelli (eds.), The Politics of Europeanization,

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_011

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being transferred as some kind of given. It is reified as it were, considered


as fixed and immobile, and the transfer mechanisms are conceived of as
being top-down. The rules, procedures, and paradigms shaping modes of
public action are thus apprehended as being fully fixed and consolidated
prior to transfer.4 The impact of the transfer is then analysed by assessing
the extent to which the form of public action differs from the original
model. Equally, the usage by actors affected by the transfer are analysed in
terms of the re-translation and appropriation of a model perceived as having a specific concrete reality prior to transfer. Lastly, the learning phenomena are studied in relation to this supposed reality. This chapter will
show how on the contrary the transfer process itself plays a role in defining
the forms of public action transferred.
We have decided to study a specific aspect of the pre-accession policythe support provided to civil society in Turkey. The category of civil society5the
explicit transfer objectlike those associated with it (such as governance and
project) are far from being clear and stabilised prior to transfer.6 As we shall see,

Oxford/New York, Oxford University Press, 2003, pp. 303331; Frank Schimmelfennig and
Ulrich Sedelmeir (eds.), The Europeanisation of Central and Eastern Europe, Ithaca, ny,
Cornell University Press, 2005.
4 As is the case in the now canonical definition of Europeanisation provided by Radaelli.
Europeanisation consists of processes of (a) construction, (b) diffusion, and (c) institutionalisation of formal and informal rules, procedures, policy paradigms, style, way of doing
things and shared beliefs and norms which are first defined and consolidated in the eu policy process and then incorporated in the logic of domestic (national and subnational) discourse, political structures and public policies Claudio Radaelli, The Domestic Impact of
European Union Public Policy: Notes on Concepts, Methods, and the Challenge of Empirical
Research, Politique europenne, vol. 1, no. 5, 2002, p. 108.
5 The aim here is not to define what civil society is or to discuss this notion. Though it is of
course an ill-defined and polysemous notion, we deliberately use the term civil society (in
scare quotes) as it is that used by eu bodies.
6 As shown by the numerous studies of civil society. For discussion of the genealogy of the
category see Julien Weisbein, Sociogense de la socit civile europenne, Raisons politiques, no. 10, 2003, pp. 125137. On the complex and problematic theoretical underpinnings
of the notion, see Sunil Khilnani La socit civile, une resurgence, Critique internationale,
no. 10, 2001, pp. 3850; Rosa Sanchez-Salgado, La socit civile europenne: les usages dune
fiction, Raisons politiques, no. 44, 2011, pp. 201226. For discussion of the vague meaning and
usage of the notion, see Hlne Michel Socit civile ou peuple europen? LUnion europenne la recherche dune lgitimit politique, Savoir/Agir, no. 7, 2009, pp. 3341, Yael
Navaro-Yashin, Uses and Abuses of State and Civil Society in Contemporary Turkey, New
Perspectives on Turkey, no. 18, 1998, pp. 122.

European Policies To Support civil Society

221

all of these notions are associated with a heterogeneous set of international practices, values, and ideological representations. The transferrather than leading to
the greater or lesser distortion of a model which had no prior stabilised reality
may better be seen as a process that gives actual form to, or rather an actual form to
categories and forms of public action. Though the approach adopted here may
seem obvious given the ill-defined and polysemous nature of the categories under
study, it could also be profitably applied to other categories in other sectors of public action. Thus there is extensive overlap with the conclusions arrived at in this
volume by Scalbert-Ycel and Girard with regard to the category of heritage.
Lastly, the analysis conducted here into a specific policy raises the more general
question of the way transfers between the European Union and Turkey operate.
Our case study includes the texts regulating the enlargement policy in general and pre-accession in particular, as well as the financial instruments for its
implementation. For our study of civil society we have focussed on the
Promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between eu and Turkey programme,
drawn up as part of the pre-accession policy. This corpus is supplemented by
study of a project, Workers Together: Bringing Together Workers From Turkey
and the eu Through a Shared Culture of Work7 addressed to Turkish trade
unions and financed by the 20078 European pre-accession fund as part of the
Promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between eu and Turkey programme.

 Workers Together: Bringing Together Workers from Turkey


and the eu through a Shared Culture of Work
Workers Together, with funding to the tune of 3.2 million, was conducted from
2008 to 2010 by the European Trade Union Confederation (etuc) and three of its
four affiliated Turkish confederations: Trk-, the Confederation of Turkish Trade
Unions (Trkiye i Sendikalar Konfederasyonu); Hak-, the Confederation of
Turkish Real Trade Unions (Hak8 i Sendikalari Konfederasyounu); and di s k, the
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey (Trkiye Devrimci i
Sendikalar Konfederasyonu). The fourth confederation, kesk, the Confederation of
Public Workers Unions (Kamu Emekileri Sendikalari Konfederasyonu) was initially
involved in the project but subsequently withdrew. Fifteen confederations from

7 This project was chosen firstly due to practical considerations about the possibility of field
access. The scale of funding also makes it of interest.
8 Hak means both right and God.

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seven countries in the eu (France, Belgium, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Greece, and the
United Kingdom) also took part in the project.
The overall aim of the project was to strengthen the contacts and mutual
exchange of experiences between the trade unions of Turkey and trade unions of eu
member states, with a view to ensure better knowledge and understanding of one
another, and an awareness of the opportunities and challenges of future enlargement.9 It also sought to encourage the exchange of good practice and so develop a
shared culture of work between Turkish workers and those of member countries.10
Additionally it aimed to reunite the workers of Turkey11 so as to strengthen trade
unionism in Turkey.
The project financed 27 conferences and/or seminars held in various towns in
Turkey and in the eu member countries and organised by the national trade union
confederations including:
an opening conference and a closing conference;
four 3-day orientation seminars for the representatives of the Turkish trade
union organisations with an initial orientation [] to the culture of work in eu
countries, to eu social policy and social achievements, and to explore some of the
key issues concerning eu accession;12
twelve 4-day mutual comprehension and discussion seminars for union members to present the state of trade unionism in their country, their field of activity, and
their company;
nine 6-day sector-specific seminars so that trade unionists from Turkey and
representatives of the European trade union federations could meet, relating to 6
areas of activity (energy; local government; food, agriculture, and tourism; trade and
banking; textiles; and transport).

The investigation is based on a compilation of regulatory texts as well as on a


series of interviews carried out in November 2008, and then in October and
December 2009 in Brussels and in Izmir with officials at the European
9

10
11
12

See the project summary, url: http://www.etui.org/Services/Support-for-European


-Trade-Union-Projects-SETUP/Projects-list/Civil-Society-Dialogue-Bringing-together
-workers-from-Turkey-and-European-Union-through-a-shared-culture-of-work (accessed
May 2012).
As indicated in the project title: Bringing Together Workers from Turkey and the eu
through a Shared Culture of Work.
Project presentation material at the Izmir seminar.
Project summary.

European Policies To Support civil Society

223

Commission (dg enlargement), the director of the steering committee for the
Workers Together project, a member of the European Trade Union
Confederation, the Turkish and Italian coordinators of the project, trainers in
charge of the project for the Turkish confederations Hak- and di s k, and a
member of di s ks Department of International Relations. Ethnographic
observation was also carried out at one of the project seminars held in Izmir in
October 2010. This made it possible to converse in a more spontaneous manner
with the Turkish, Belgian, and Swedish participants. At their request and in
order to respect confidentiality the interviews are anonymous, on occasions to
the point of giving no indication whatsoever about who made the remarks
being quoted.
The first part examines the programming of pre-accession policies for
civil society. It is shown that there are numerous objects of transfer. The
public policy relates to a model of public action European governancecorresponding to an ideal, yet one that has little coherence or
concrete substance. Civil society gradually acquires shape via the modes
of transfer, as does the object of transfer which is considerably removed
from the promoted ideal.
The second part studies more specifically how the civil society organisations taking part in a funded projectEuropean and Turkish trade union
organisationsapprehend that project. These organisations both design and
receive the transfer. They take part in the drawing up of the project aims. They
directly experience the modes of transfer via their participation in its implementation. And finally (at least with regard to the Turkish trade union organisations) they are also considered as the transfer recipients. In short they are an
integral part of the entire transfer sequence.
The observations made here seek to show how above and beyond the predefined objectives of the project, what is actually transferred and appropriated
by practically all of the trade union organisations are the complex governmental techniques as conveyed by the financial instrument.

Projecting European Governance

Studying the content and objectives of the pre-accession policy for civil society throws light on the ways in which the European Union seeks to project
categories of public action that partake in an idealised model of European
governance towards its near periphery which is potentially called upon to join
it. It is a highly ideological model and at the heart of the eu legitimisation
process. Studying the ways in which the policy to support civil society is

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implemented brings out the ways in which the promoted categories are
embodied, as well as the form of public action that is the concrete object of
transfer.

Promoting Ideal Categories
The expression civil society as it transpires in the pre-accession policy
has multiple definitions and is associated with a category (in the sense of a
rubric comprising various elements) rather than with a specific reality. It
brings together all the meanings which have been conferred on the notion,
both within the European Union and in its outwards projections. This category is bound up with another, that of European governance which is
strongly associated with an ideal model of public action. Equally, the preaccession policy in general is conveyed by a public policy instrument, the
Project,13 which is another category associated with the model of European
governance. The Project and civil society mutually reinforce each other
in their celebration of a model with strong ideological connotations at the
European level.
At the European level discourse about civil society started to emerge in the
second half of the 1990s, initially in the fields of outwards action. Its ideological roots are multiple and heterogeneous. This discourse took up the themes
championed by the financial organisations, whilst at the same time being sensitive to mobilisations which celebrated civil society in the name of participative democracy. The notion was used especially in relation to policies for
third countries given that it seemed to offer other modes of European action
within a context of awkward inter-state relations.14 Discourse about civil society, far from being used solely for the eus outwards actions, also occurred in
reference to internal actions as of the late 1990s with the emergence of the
debate about the eus democratic deficit and ideas relating to European

13

14

This chapter distinguishes between the Project (with a capital P) which is a generic public policy instrument, from the project, that is to say an example of an action implemented by the public policy instrument.
The notion was consecrated in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the social, cultural,
and human partnership to develop human resources, promote understanding between
cultures, and foster exchanges between civil societies becoming one of the three pillars in
the eus relation to Mediterranean third countries. Claire Visier, la recherche de la
socit civile internationale, le cas de la coopration gouvernementale en Mditerrane,
Politiques et Management Public, no. 2, 2003: Laction publique face la mondialisation, pp.
165185.

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225

governance.15 The notion had not been used in the early years of the European
construction process, but the belief of politicians and administration officials
in a neo-functionalist16 approach to European construction led them to heavily emphasise the contribution social actors made to the ongoing process.

Civil Society as the Spearhead for an Alternative Mode of Public Action
The notion of civil society has been extensively used since the late 1980s by international financial institutions keen on good governance.17 Two dimensions in particular have been developed with an eye to shrinking state power: firstly the separation of
the State from civil society and on occasions even the simplistic opposition of the
two, and secondly the postulate that civil society is intrinsically democratic and that
its development acts as a countervailing power to that of the state.18
Given the context of greater concern for European public opinion with
regard to enlargement in the early 2000s (the enlargement to take in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and then Turkey was vociferously taken up
within numerous public debates about the eu), reference to civil society
would now appear to be a central plank in pre-accession policy. Nevertheless
multiple definitions of the notion are to be found from one official document
to the next, and even on occasions within the same document. The expression
can refer simultaneously or alternatively to an international reality (the civil
societies of the various eu candidate and member countries,)19 a transnational reality (European society),20 as well as a national or even local reality
15
16

17
18

19

20

Rosa Sanchez Salgado La socit civile europenne: les usages dune fiction, Raisons
politiques, vol. 4, no. 44, 2011, p. 204.
The neo-functionalist current emerged from theoretical analysis of international relations and had a strong influence on European studies in the 1960s. According to neofunctionalist theories, the process of eu construction results from the lasting
establishment of relations between political and administrative officials, social actors,
and interest groups. Ernst Haas, The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social and Economic
Forces 19501957, Stanford, ca, Stanford Univiversity Press, 1958.
Batrice Hibou, Le partenariat en ranimation bureaucratique, Critique internationale,
no. 18, 2003, pp. 117128.
This notion has been particularly criticised in the literature on the grounds of this dual
conception of civil society. See Ren Otayek (ed.), Dmocratie et socit civile, une vue
du Sud, Revue internationale de politique compare, no. 9, 2002; Yael Navaro-Yashin, Uses
and Abuses of State and Civil Society in Contemporary Turkey.
European Commission, Society Dialogue between the eu and Candidate Countries,
Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic
and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions, com (2005) 290 final, 29 June 2005.
The European Commission shall introduce a facility to further the development of civil
society, notably through capacity-building and exchange projects. European Commission,

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(civil society in Turkey).21 It is sometimes used as a synonym for societies


and public opinion, as well as being used to refer to organised non-
governmental actors. The pre-accession programme to support civil society
initially focused on ngos but in 2006 this was enlarged to include other target
actors.22 The expected benefits of this programme were multiple. It was to
encourage the participation of non-state actors in drawing up and implementing public action, and was supposed to foster democratisation and the establishment of governance, with the link between the two tending to be taken as
given. By promoting better mutual knowledge and thereby reducing stereotypes this programme also had the functional objective of facilitating the
implementation of eu action and opening up the path to future enlargement.
Lastly in the social field, the one which is of interest to us here, the aim was to
strengthen and deepen social norms in Turkey: Social partners and social
ngos play a key role in the elaboration and implementation of eu legislation
in the areas of labour law, health and safety at work, gender equality, and
non-discrimination.23
Whatever the various meanings associated with the expression civil society, they all relate to the values of openness, pluralism, and consultation, values which are also part of the notion of governance. The expression thus seeks
to magnify the democratising benefits of the encounter between a mobilised
society and an open political authority.

Enlarging Strategy and Main Challenges 20072008, Communication from the


Commission to the European Parliament and the Council, com (2007) 663 final, Brussels,
6November 2007.
21 The Turkey Accession Partnerships, documents drawn up by the European authorities to
list the priorities for introducing reforms in candidate countries, referred to promoting
civil society [in Turkey]. eu Council, Decision of 19 May 2003 on the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions contained in the Accession Partnership with
Turkey, 2003/398/CE, Official Journal, no. L 145 of 12 June 2003, pp. 4056.
22 This programme (with funding of approximately 20 million) was based on four funding
priorities: youth dialogue initiatives, towns and municipalities (about 5 million), professional organisations (about 3 million), and universities (about 9.3 million). In 2007 this
initial programme was supplemented by a second called Promotion of the Civil Society
Dialogue between Europe and Turkey II (4.2 million) based on three priorities: establishing a framework for cooperation, supporting the establishment of partnerships, and
promoting dialogue between the civil societies of Turkey and the eu on culture and
arts,and fisheries and agriculture. The programme also sought to finance small Turkish
ngos outside the major urban centres.
23 Society dialogue between the eu and Candidate countries.

European Policies To Support civil Society

227


European GovernanceAn Ideal Model of Government
Governance is a hold-all word with heteroclite usages and meanings. It was
used in relation to the business world in the 1930s before suddenly appearing
in heterogeneous ideological domains in the 1980s.24 The notion was initially
introduced by adepts of local participative democracy, who issued from the
social movements of the preceding decades. It was also used by those working
to modernise local public management, especially urban management, who
were both partisans of economic rationalism and preoccupied by the civic hollowing out of deprived neighbourhoods. It was then taken up by the major
international development institutions, including especially the World Bank
in a context of (economic) structural adjustment and then of democratic
transition. The concept also migrated into academic spheres specialising in
the analysis of international relations. Lastly the concept was taken up at the
beginning of the 2000s by the European administrative elite, with Eurocrats
being the first to lend it the substance of a genuine conceptual construct,
despite being the last to intervene.25 At the European level governance is
defined in relation to predominantly institutionalised practices, or at least routine ones. It relates to a certain transformation in the exercise of political
authority which is less vertical and more associated with a relative degree of
horizontality, in order to foster consultation with various public and private
actors (thereby partially undermining the public-private hierarchy). It also
refers to a polycentric way of exercising power, both in topographical
and geographical terms, with power being exercised at the level of regions,
states, the inter-governmental and supranational levels, Brussels, Strasbourg,
Luxembourg, Frankfurt, and so on. It is also defined in relation to a process of
self-adjustment (similar to that of the economic market) produced by the relationships between public, economic, and civil society (non-economic) actors.
It is also characterised by the often temporary and ad hoc nature of the means
used. Lastly it is characterised by the affirmation of the primacy of consensus
over conflict, and of negotiated norms of democratically voted laws.26
Yet governance has officially been built up at the European level as an ideological proposition seeking to promote an ideal of democratic government in
the context of acute concern about the eus democratic deficit. The difficulties
24
25
26

Guy Hermet, Ali Kazancgil and Jean-Franois Prudhomme, La gouvernance, un concept


et ses applications, Paris, Karthala, 2005.
Guy Hermet, Un rgime pluralisme limit? propos de la gouvernance dmocratique,
Revue franaise de science politique, vol. 54, no. 1, 2004, p. 163.
Richard Balme, La gouvernance de lUnion europenne, in Guy Hermet, Ali Kazancigil
and Jean-Franois Prudhomme (eds.), La gouvernance, pp. 6781.

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in ratifying the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 may be considered as one of the first
stages in democratic deficit being placed on the eu agenda. But it was only
after the scandal relating to the European commission headed by Jacques
Santer (some of its members were suspected of mismanagement) and its
resignation in 1999 that the debate on the democratic deficit really took off. It
was against this backdrop that the European Commission published its
White Paper on European Governance in 2001, which subsequently became
something of a milestone.27 This sought to guarantee the authority of the
Commission in relation to the states and endow it with democratic legitimacy.
It consecrated governance as a fully-fledged doctrine of European democratic
public action based on five principles: openness, participation, responsibility,
efficiency, and coherence.
However, the outlines of this model of European governance are complicated. In sketching out a possible alternative to representative democracy it
refers to a deliberative ideology, but without operating any veritable distinction between deliberative democracy and participative democracy, nor clearly
defining the status of governance in relation to these two poles.28 Civil society comes across as a central part of this model, where it acts as some sort of
substitute for the people,29 and it is considered in the White Paper as the principal key to the efficiency and legitimisation of the eu.

The Project: A Key Instrument of Governance
This reference to the model of European governance does not relate solely to
the content of the pre-accession policy for civil society, but also to the methods used to define and implement public action. These methods are based on
the notion of the Project.
The Project was developed within urban policies as a public policy instrument from the 1970s onwards. At the time it sought to effect a clean break with
the centralised and sector-specific actions of the welfare state which were
deemed to be ineffective. It sought to bring about a change in the way decisions were made and attest to a new formulation of the idea of democracy. By
involving the target public of a given public action in its conception and in the
decision-making process, the aim of the Project was to promote a more
27
28
29

European Commission, European GovernanceA White Paper, 25 July 2001, com (2001)
428 final.
Loc Blondiaux, Yves Sintomer, Limpratif dlibratif, Rue Descartes, no. 63, 2009, p. 28.
Corinne Gobin, Le discours programmatique de lUnion europenne: dune privatisation
de lconomie une privatisation du politique? Sciences de la Socit, no. 55, 2002, pp.
156169.

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horizontal form of action and guarantee the appropriation over time of the
objectives of public policies. This social mobilisation was generally to be
brought about by implementing a process of interaction to result in the collective construction of problems and the emergence of a consensus. The various
principles relating to the Project as an instrument include openness to the
context, the decentralisation of action, the greater horizontality of public
action, the injunction to reach consensus, and the attention paid to the process itself.30 These are all areas of convergence with the ideal promoted by
European governance.
Nowadays the Project is by far the preferred instrument for allocating funds at
the European level. It has also been included in enlargement and in the eus outward actions. Once a country has been accepted as a candidate and negotiations
are underway the enlargement policy is based on two processes. The first of these
are the accession negotiations that frame the processes by which the candidate
state adopts the Community acquis. These occur at the level of the ministers or
permanent representatives of the member states and the negotiators of the candidate countries. The second process relates to the pre-accession policy which seeks
to help the candidate country to undertake the political, economic, and institutional reforms necessary to come into line with European norms. Far from being
monopolised by the European authorities this policy is programmed in close consultation with the authorities of the candidate country. The candidate countries
draw up their National Programme for the Adoption of the Community Acquis on
the basis of the Accession Partnership drawn up by the European authorities (listing what the eu considers to be the priorities in preparing for accession). This document is drawn up by the competent administration (the Ministry of European
Affairs) and the Turkish government, adopting to varying degrees the elements of
the Accession Partnership and drawing up national priorities. On the basis of these
documents the European authorities draw up a Multi-Annual Work Programme
going over the main priorities in very general terms and indicating the proportion
of funding for the five components of the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance
(ipa). This financial instrument has five main components: support for transition
and institution-buildingincluding civil society, cross-border cooperation,
regional development, human resources development, and rural development.
The planning phase (that is to say the drawing up of the major programmes in
these five domains, the projects of which will subsequently be funded) involves a
process of to-ing and fro-ing between the European Commission and the Turkish
30 Gilles Pinson, Le projet urbain comme instrument daction publique, in Pierre
Lascoumes and Patrick Le Gals (eds.), Gouverner par les instruments, Paris, Presses de
Sciences Po, 2004, pp. 199233.

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Ministry of European Affairs working in tandem with each ministry. The European
Commission checks that the proposed programmes comply with the framework
documents, rules on their acceptability and, when necessary, sends them back to
the Turkish authorities for further development. This is the basis on which the programmes are then formally chosen, with the European Commission, drawing up
comments, and then agreeing to the increasingly detailed project outlines of the
programmes. This way of proceeding reveals the pervasiveness of the participatory
and deliberative ideal which transpires even within the enlargement policy. It is
the Project approach which counts in the drawing up of the programmes.
Institutional expertise is not accorded any form of monopoly, and is instead
required to be open to the existing state of affairs (of the candidate country) in
order to try to draw up a joint assessment and define concrete objectives as part of
an interactive partnership approach, whilst at the same time affirming its strong
political will (the adoption of the Community acquis.)31 For all of the programmes
the new Project instrument is then used once again to implement actions in
thefield.
And so the pre-accession policy clearly refers to a model of European governance both in terms of the way it is presented and of its method. The transfer of this model, which needs to be recognised and accepted by the candidate
countries, involves various aspects, one of which is the policy to support civil
society, the spearhead of governance. The method of transfer is also conceived
in such a way as to enable the candidate country to learn from its experience
of this model of public action. Nevertheless the policy seeking to bring about
the transfer of this ideal model refers to categories which, far from being stabilised forms of public action, instead come across as heterogeneous and illdefined. This means that it is important to supplement this analysis by studying
the concrete transfer processes and so better apprehend the form taken by
these categories in Turkey, and thus specify just what the object of transfer is.

Transferring a Mode of Government
This study of the modes of transfer needs to be supplemented here by a
study of public policy instruments, something which is little discussed in
the literature on transfers.32 These instruments are techniques, means of
31

32

For discussion of the tension between the insurrectionist approach and the indetermination of a proactive approach, see G. Pinson, Le projet urbain comme instrument daction
publique, p. 217ff.
Laurence Dumoulin and Sabine Saurugger recommend analysing instruments to supplement analysis of transfers. Thus policy transfer instruments are not just tools designed to
resolve problems. Detailed analysis of them makes it possible to understand the interplay

European Policies To Support civil Society

231

operating, devices making it possible to give concrete form to public


action and to operationalise it. An instrument is a technical and social
mechanism to organise specific social relationships between the public
authority and its recipients according to the representations and meanings it bears.33 We agree with the statement that the instruments used
are not a matter of pure technique, they produce specific effects which are
independent of the stated objectives (the goals assigned to them) and
they inform public action and shape it according in their own specific
way. [] Public action instruments are not inert things that are simply
available for socio-political usage, they come with their own specific
power of action. When being used they tend to produce original and
sometimes unexpected effects.34
There are two stages in the way civil society is embodied in the preaccession policy as it occurs. First the funding programmes are planned,
and then the projects to receive funding from these programmes are
selected. Each of these two stages is significantly influenced by the associated financial instrument for pre-accession assistance. Yet the operationalisation of the project reveals that it is the political authorities (the
European institutions on the one hand and the Turkish State on the other)
that monopolise the planning of funding and assistance to civil society.
The specific case of the Workers Together project also shows how the way
projects are selected for funding by these programmes leaves little room
for the involvement of actors from Turkish civil society.
Studying the ways in which the transfer is actually implemented thus reveals
that there is in fact little room for civil society to become involved in the consultation and decision process. Far from partaking in the participative and
deliberative ideal contained in the model of governance described above, the
ways in which the transfers are implemented tend rather to draw on a topdown approach privileging the centres of political authority and European
civil society organisations, in this instance the European Trade Union
Confederation.

33

34

of power and legitimacy at work. They determine the usage of resources and indicate who
the legitimate agents of this usage are, Les policy transfer studies: analyse critique et
perspectives, Critique internationale, vol. 3, no. 48, 2010, p. 19.
Pierre Lascoumes and Patrick Le Gales Laction publique saisie par ses instruments, in
P.Lascoumes and P. Le Gals (eds.), Gouverner par les instruments, Presses de Sciences Po,
2004. p. 13.
Ibid., p. 31.

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The Programming Process: Civil Society as Apprehended


by the Centres of Political Authority
The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance is, since 2007, the sole framework
used for all pre-accession assistance. Programming for civil society is thus
carried out in the same way as it is for rural development, regional development, and institution-building. Equally, all of the components targeted by preaccession assistance refer to the project and to governance. The Turkish state,
acting via its ministers, is the European Commissions interlocutor. As seen
above, the way in which pre-accession assistance is programmed involves a
series of to-ings and fro-ings between the European and Turkish authorities on
the basis of documents drawn up by each of them. The idea is to give greater
responsibility to the country receiving assistance and to evolve towards the
normal system of member states where 90% of funding is managed by the
states with only ex-post auditing.35 It is therefore up to the state authorities to
contact external actors and work with them to establish their needs, put forward the main lines of action, and then draw up the programmes in the five
areas for which there is assistance.
In the case under study here, the Project approach used to operationalise
the pre-accession assistance resulted in the implementation of a mechanism
to consult and coordinate various actors, but this was limited to one-to-one
dialogue between the Turkish and European administrations.36 It was up to
the Turkish state to foster and support society in Turkey.37 But this would
appear to at least partially contradict the European Unions assessment of why
civil society was weak in Turkey and its requirements in this field. The
Commissions annual reports insist on the fact that the Turkish state continues
to exert excessive control over society organisations: Legislation on freedom
of association is broadly in line with eu standards. However, disproportionate

35
36

37

Ibid.
It would be interesting to conduct further study into the relations which were (or were
not) built up at the time between the Ministry of European Affairs, sector-specific ministries, and the political and administrative spheres.
The website of the Turkish Ministry for eu Affairs offers a good illustration of the relationship the Turkish state has with civil society. On the Fields of Action page there is a link
to a section about Dialogue with civil societymeetings, in the same way as there are
links to civil society on the website of the Delegation of the eu to Turkey and on the
European Commission website dedicated to enlargement. But the section on the website
of the Turkish Ministry does not refer to the Turkey and eu civil society dialogue (which
is presented in the section about Projects), and instead talks about the links established
between the Turkish authorities and civil society actors as part of the programme.

European Policies To Support civil Society

233

controls and restrictive interpretation of the law remain; funding rules for Civil
Society Organisations remain restrictive.38 The reports have also criticised the
legal obstacles which continue to weigh on collective rights and which were
the reason why social organisations were weak: Major obstacles remain for
private-sector workers and public servants on the rights to organise, bargain
collectively, and on the right to strike.39 Equally, the paucity of social dialogue
was also blamed on the state: The Economic and Social Council did not meet
during the reporting period. The capacity of the social partners needs to be
improved.40 Improving social dialogue and the need to increase the involvement of society organisations in public policy were amongst the short-term
priorities as set out in the 2008 Partnership for Accession.
Irrespective of the criticisms these various official documents make of the
Turkish state, the way the programme is carried out means the Turkish state is
the key operator behind boosting civil society. The pre-accession assistance
programmes are thus not defined by or with society but rather for it.41 Civil
society is not something that takes shape autonomously but subject to impulsions from central authority. In order to progress along the path to eu integration the state has to put forward reforms in areas which oblige it to question its
own modes of government,42 but it can do this according to its own timescale
and, in the case under study here, without any accompanying redistribution of
authority outside the state sphere, and without granting any autonomy to the
sector in question.

38
39
40
41

42

Itdoes not mention any mechanism for regular, institutionalised consultation but merely
refers to the four large-scale meetings held in 2009 and 2010 by the Ministry for eu Affairs
which were targeted at civil society with institutional communication being their goal.
And even though the website is regularly updated there is no mention of any meeting
held since 2010, suggesting that it is not a priority action for the Turkish authorities. url:
http://www.abgs.gov.tr/index.php?p=46&l=2 (accessed June 2012).
European Commission, Commission staff working paper, Turkey 2011 Progress Report, sec
(2011) 1201 final, Brussels, 12 October 2011, p. 28.
Ibid.
Ibid., p. 79.
A study of all of the proposed programme projects, of the selection procedures, and of the
final drafting of projects for programming would be essential to fully understand how the
definition of civil society is based on arbitration within the Turkish authorities, between
the authorities and the Turkish government, and between the Turkish state and European
bodies.
Further analysis of this point needs to be carried out to see what the programming process can tell us about the ways in which roles and hierarchies are (almost) redefined
within the Turkish administration, as well as between the authorities and the Turkish
government.

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The way this programming is carried out is directly inspired by certain modes
of government of the European political system. In going about its daily business the European Commission establishes numerous contacts (of varying
degrees of formality) with national and sector-specific interest groups in
Brussels, both so as to draw on their expertise and for the legitimacy they
provide (in the name of openness to civil society). Consultation with

externalactors is fully part of the eu idea of public action. In the case under
study here, there were contacts from the programming stage onwards
betweentheCommission and European Trade Union Confederation in Brussels.
Nevertheless, the principle of subsidiarity (according to which a p
ublic action
must be handled by the smallest body able to do so effectively) implies that the
eu provides impetus in a certain number of domains but then leaves it up to
individual states to implement them using whatever means they wish. Thus as
is the case in its dealings with member states, the eu can only promote the ideal
of consultation and participation without being able to ensure that it is actually put into practice.

The Selection of Projects: A Top-Down Approach to Civil Society
As with the programming process, the selection of projects is carried out via a
transfer of European governance mechanisms, where this does not refer to
some ideal but to the observable concrete reality of government mechanisms
found at the European level.
The standard public action instrument used to open funding programmes
to civil society organisations is the call for tender. Civil society is not
involved in the programming process but is meant to subsequently be able to
appropriate these programmes by working to put forward projects to be
funded. The call for tender procedure seeks to reposition the social actors at
the heart of the process. At this stage these organisations are no longer solely
considered as the target of these programmes and are instead meant to emerge
as the active designers of projects. Nevertheless, the way the call for tender
procedure actually functions gives a clear advantage to organisations already
socialised in the European ways of doing and seeing things. This way of apprehending civil society is once again characteristic of the European system, and
in fact the history of European construction reveals a top-down approach to
building up a European civil society.43
In order to stand a chance of being funded, a project presented by an organisation must not only correspond to the programme requirements but also a
43

See for example Corinne Gobin, LEurope syndicale entre dsir et ralit: essai sur le syndicalisme et la construction europenne laube du XIXe sicle, Brussels, Labor, 1997.

European Policies To Support civil Society

235

certain number of financial and management criteria so as to comply with the


evaluation, auditing, and transparency requirements specific to European governmental practice (the drawing up of a precise timetable with only marginal
room for subsequent modification, and the establishment of a rigorous financial and administrative framework leaving little flexibility in the way the
project is managed). It must furthermore be based on a specific methodology
found in numerous projects financed by the eu, namely working as a transnational network, projecting expected results and benefits for the future of the
eu, and taking into account various elements such as gender mainstreaming
and so on.44
Organisations wishing to obtain funding must not only be aware of the existence of programmes, they also need to understand the European codes and
have the administrative capacity needed to set up a funding application for the
project, a lengthy task without any certainty of success. These various criteria
mean that there is frequently an informal pre-selection process for organisations likely to place a tender, and this has an effect on the embodiment of
Turkish civil society supported by the eu.
Nevertheless the Workers Together project did not actually follow this procedure. The European Trade Union Confederation, which coordinated the
project, did not place a tender but was instead officially contacted by the
European Commission to draw up a project. The European authorities are able
to come to agreements directly with international organisations when it can
be proved that it is the only organisation [capable] of carrying it out. [] For
example there are a lot of projects with the Council of Europe.45 The European
Trade Union Confederation is viewed as the key European trade union organisation. It had already carried out a European project about social dialogue in
conjunction with its Turkish affiliates,46 and was deemed capable of carrying
out a project with a significant budget (3.2 million, the entire budget allocation for the Funding Programme for Professional Organisations in the
Promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between the eu and Turkey Programme).
44

45
46

Gender mainstreaming, which was endorsed in 1995, is a pluralistic approach whose


urpose is to get sexual equality taken into consideration for all public policy and
p
mechanisms.
Interview, European Trade Union Confederation, December 2009.
The project was financed in 2001 as part of the meda Programme for Civil Society: Trade
Union Dialogue. For discussion of this subject see Emre ngn, Action collective transnationale et contraintes de lespace national. Enqute sur les formes de lengagement en
Turquie dans le contexte de leuropanisation, unpublished PhD thesis, Institut dtudes
Politiques dAix-en-Provence, 2008.

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When setting up the project the European Trade Union Confederation did
not contact the dozen confederations that exist in Turkey but naturally turned
to its four Turkish affiliate confederations. Whilst this does include the three
largest Turkish confederations, it may be concluded that the civil society
involved in the project was limited to etuc partners. In this specific case all of
the funding earmarked for professional organisations therefore went to one
organisation well versed in the way Europe functions and for which the eu is
in fact its raison dtre, and by those Turkish organisations linked to it.
This situation is not specific to the Turkish case and is very present within
the eu itself. The history of the European Trade Union Confederation provides
a good illustration of how society is built top-down. In the process of building
Europe the European Commission was very active in developing privileged
contacts with specific European social actors who were comparatively unfettered by any national or international attachments and thus more likely to foster European construction. In the field under study for instance the European
Trade Union Confederation was set up in 197347 and now comprises 84 trade
union organisations from 36 countries and twelve sector-specific European
federations. The European Trade Union Confederation did not originate in
some impetus from national confederations but was instead built top-down.
Its emergence and development is very clearly linked to the European dynamic
and in particular the project of Jacques Delors (who was president of the
European Commission at the time) to build a social Europe as a counterweight
to the concrete emergence of the eu single market. The organisation was
focused on obtaining the status of official interlocutor to the European authorities and so was based on a diplomatic and administrative mode of functioning
significantly removed from those of a more protest-focused organisation.48
47

48

The European Trade Union Confederation was founded by the organisations of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, which is an international union confederation founded in 1949 following on from a split within the World Federation of Trade
Unions which was dominated by Marxist tendencies. The European Trade Union
Confederation was subsequently joined by organisations by the denomination-based
trade union organisations and those which left the World Federation of Trade Unions.
Its relatively successful integration in the world of eu professionals has been the source
of numerous criticisms levelled against this form of trade unionism of leaders and
experts. Anne-Catherine Wagner, Les conditions sociales et institutionnelles
delinternationalisation des militants syndicaux, Actes de la Recherche en Sciences
Sociales, vol. 5, no. 155, 2004, p. 17. For discussion of the history of trade unionism also see
Corinne Gobin, LEurope syndicale; Guy Groux, Ren Mouriaux and Jean-Marie Pernot,
Leuropanisation du mouvement syndical, la Confdration europenne des syndicats,
Le Mouvement social, vol. 1, no. 162, 1993, pp. 4168.

European Policies To Support civil Society

237

The European Trade Union Confederation is thus a specific product of the history of the construction of Europe and may be considered as the eus organised civil society, and fully socialised in the way eu government operates and
indeed dependent upon itthe civil society of Schuman roundabout as its
detractors call it.49
The exact form of Turkish civil society likely to receive eu funding was thus not
based on the mobilisation of actors on the ground (in this instance the Turkish trade
union federations), but rather on a two-stage process of definition and selection
that was extensively monopolised by the Turkish state and European organisations.
This is not primarily an upshot of how the transfer operates (potentially resulting in
a distortion of the model) and is rather due to the very content of the transfer (conveyed by the instrument). Studying the programmatic objectives of the civil society
programme in conjunction with the ways in which it was implemented thus brings
to light the object of transfer. In addition to promoting the categories associated
with an ideal model of government the programme also transferred a specific form
of governance found within the eu and in which a certain form of civil society was
predominantly encouraged and created by the efforts of central political authorities.
We now need to analyse how the trade union actors involved in the procession policy apprehended the transfer and how they carried it out.

The Way the Trade Union Organisations Apprehended the


Workers Together Project

Despite having been directly approached by the central political authorities, the
trade union organisations were nonetheless considered as playing an active role in
the eu-funded project, which they helped define and subsequently implement. By
studying the way they apprehended the project we will be able to identify the exact
object of transfer, as well as being able to study its effectsor more precisely its
short-term effects as this study does not extend beyond the period in which the
project was mplemented. We will focus on the European Trade Union
Confederation, which steered the project and played a major role in its definition
and implementation, as well as on the Turkish confederations involved in the project. This chapter will not consider the confederations from eu member states.
Workers Together reveals the tensions discussed above between the objectives of the project and the way it was actually carried out. The programmatic
49

Robert Schuman roundabout is at the heart of the eu district, and is surrounded by the
headquarters of the European Commission and the building of the Council of Ministers.
It is the symbol of eu power in Brussels.

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objectives of the project as well as the method selected to implement it were


based on values that corresponded to the ideas of European governance.
Rather than co-opting European ideology so as to obtain funding, the European
Trade Union Confederation sought to use this project to promote the values at
heart of this ideology. These values were accepted and/or adopted to varying
degrees by the Turkish confederations. Yet irrespective of this, the way the
project was actually carried out was detrimental to these values, and on occasions opposed to them even. This was due both to the situation of Turkish
trade unionism and to the constraints attendant upon the European funding
instrument. And so in fact it was the complex techniques of government
embodied in the financial instrument which were transferred and appropriated by virtually all of the trade union organisations, not the values.

The Explicit Values of the Project Accepted to Varying Degrees by the


Turkish Confederations
The steering committee of the Workers Together project, in charge of drawing up its main lines and monitoring it, was chaired by the European Trade
Union Confederation and also included the Turkish confederations. Project
management and organisation was carried out by two coordinators: a Turkish
trade unionist (a member of di s k who acted as the official representative of
the four Turkish federations to the European Trade Union Confederation) and
a specialist in managing eu projects (who spoke Turkish but did not have any
specific link to Turkey or to the world of trade unionism). However it was the
European Trade Union Confederation which did most of the preparatory work
for the project, which was carried out by the project managers and two coordinators working for it. The Turkish coordinator had been living in Brussels for
thirty years. He was fully socialised in the way eu institutions see and do things,
and may be viewed as a European Trade Union Confederation manager.50
Whilst he played a major role as an intermediary with the Turkish confederations affiliated to the European Trade Union Confederation, he was not all that
involved with the issues which were of interest to the Turkish confederations.
The programmatic objectives of Workers Together were heavily influenced
by the values it laid claim to, as were its methods. The Turkish confederations
didnot necessarily all apprehend these values in the same waydepending on
their ideology, the history of their relation to the eu, and the context of eu

50

Claire Visier, Les reprsentants dintrt turcs Bruxelles: la socialisation travers les
modalits darticulations de diffrentes appartenances, in Ccile Robert and Hlne
Michel (eds.), La Fabrique des Europens. Processus de socialisation et construction europenne, Strasbourg, Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg, 2010, pp. 7798.

European Policies To Support civil Society

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enlargement to include Turkeyand this may have influenced their involvement


in the project.

Values Promoted by the European Trade Union Confederation
The values promoted by the European Trade Union Confederation are largely
the same as those of the ideal of European governance. etuc is one of the
cornerstones of social dialogue at the European level, and social dialogue is
considered as the keystone of the European social model. Since the Maastricht
Treaty in 1992 the European Trade Union Confederation has been officially recognised as the social partner representing workers at the European level. It
therefore takes part in discussions, consultations, negotiations with employer
organisations (in bilateral dialogue), and with employer organisations and
European authorities (in three-way dialogue), and can also play a role in drawing up European social norms in such fields as employment, social affairs, macroeconomic policy, industrial policy, and regional policy. Social dialogue is
based on the principles of participation, of recognition of others (the public
authorities and other social partners), and of negotiation (with the rejection of
conflict), and is considered as playing a vital role in eu governance.
The dissemination of these values is central to the relation between the
European Trade Union Confederation and its affiliate Turkish confederations.
The organisation carries out a proactive policy with regards to Turkey and
wishes to support its process of integrating the eu. As early as 1997 it adopted
a resolution underlining Turkeys place in the European economic and political space and its European vocation, and reconfirmed this stance in 2004.51 The
European Trade Union Confederation has defended a political position that
views Turkeys candidacy to join the eu favourably. It has worked to socialise
its Turkish partners in the values and principles of the eu. In the early 2000s it
devised a project to create a (Turkish) National Trade Union Commission for
Integration with a common working structure managed by a coordinator
appointed from the four affiliate Turkish organisations (who went on to become
the coordinator of the Workers Together project), so as to prepare for the inclusion of the Turkish trade union movement within the integration process.52
Tothis purpose it applied for eu financing and in 2001 obtained funding for a
51

52

etuc, Resolution of the Executive Committee, 45 December 1997; etuc, etuc: Turkeys
accession to the European Union, Resolution of the Executive Committee, 1314 October
2004, url: http://www.etuc.org/spip.php?page=recherche&lang=en&recherche=resoluti
on+Turkey (accessed June 2012).
Report of the etuc steering committee, point 6 on the agenda The situation of trade
unionism in Turkey, relations between the etuc and Trk-, EG/dm/29/01/02.

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project relating to social dialogue that it implemented together with kesk,


di s k, and Hak- (Trk- having refused to take part at the time).
After membership negotiations were opened with Turkey it carried out lobbying (in association with the representative of Turkish organisations) to get
the European Commission to accord a substantial role to trade union organisations in the pre-accession assistance programmes. Workers Together did
not relate specifically to social dialogue but one of its objectives was to bring
about a shared culture of work between workers from Turkey and the eu. The
project therefore sought to transfer the eu ideology that the European Trade
Union Confederation was steeped in: social dialogue, the systematic attempt
to seek consensus, and international cooperation and communication.53 In
concrete terms the aim of the project was to finance 21 three-day seminars to
enable trade unionists in Turkey and eu member states to meet and discuss
their varying trade union practices, and to discover the actual situation in a
given town or country thanks to organised visits to companies, local authorities, universities, and so on. These seminars were devised in accordance with
the method developed by the European Trade Union Institute, which specialises in providing training for trade unions and offers numerous training courses
for the national confederations affiliated to the European Trade Union
Confederation.54 By insisting on the importance of knowing and meeting others the European Trade Union Institute seeks to foster international solidarity,
promote dialogue to the detriment of confrontation, and move beyond habitual ways of thinking and acting based on national structures.55 It seeks to provide knowledge about the way the eu functions or about the situation in given
countries, and to transmit international know-how and skills. It is by using a
specific method (participants in any given course are from different countries,
53
54

55

Anne-Catherine Wagner, La fabrique de syndicalistes europens: une enqute sur les


formations europennes de la ces, Politique europenne, vol. 1, no. 27, 2009, p. 113.
In the 1980s the etuc developed a training policy, and in the 1990s it set up various training and research centres relating to questions of health and safety. In 2005 the European
Trade Union Institute was set up by emerging various office of its centres. It carries out
studies and research, runs training activity, and provides technical assistance.
Hlne Michel has shown how the pluralistic nature of French trade unionism was, for
some of the trainers interviewed, a problem, for the trade unionists: rather than trying to
think European they remain hidebound by a national perspective in that they are preoccupied by competition between national federations, see Les syndicalistes europens
entre apprentissage des rgles du jeu communautaire et accumulation de capital social,
in Hlne Michel and Ccile Robert (eds.), La Fabrique des Europens. Processus de
socialisation et construction europenne, Strasbourg, Presses Universitaires de Strasbourg,
2010, p. 386.

European Policies To Support civil Society

241

and the courses emphasise participation, working as a group, organising practical cases, and role-playing) that the Trade Union Institute seeks to promote
the key values of the European Trade Union Confederation.
Though it coordinated the project, the European Trade Union Confederation
did not devise it single-handedly. It is therefore important to examine the way
the Turkish trade union organisations apprehended the values and methods
promoted by the project. The stances of the various confederations differed
significantly. In order to apprehend these stances we need to take into account
not only the ideological matrices of these organisations, but also the history of
their relations with the European Trade Union Confederation and European
trade union networks, and the current context of Turkey- eu relations. In addition to this we also need to take into account the existence of different currents
within these trade union organisations and the marked disagreements between
Turkish trade union organisations.

Hak-: The Convergence and Strengthening of Its Positions


Hak-

Hak- was founded in 1976 when activists from the Turkish Islamist movement, which had been founded by Necmettin Erbakan in the late 1960s,
became involved in trade unionism. The Confederation was outlawed after
the 1980 coup but was shortly re-authorised, though it was not very active
until the 1990s. It initially developed ideas based on Islamist values and was
critical of the West, and on paper at least it would appear to be far removed
from European networks and links. Its relations with Europe subsequently
evolved once it envisaged the normative resources (human rights, religious
tolerance) that could result from a rapprochement with European institutions. It is known for enjoying close links to the Islamist Refah party, which
after doing well in the 1995 general elections joined the coalition government
in 1996.56 Hak-s application to join the European Trade Union Confederation
was accepted in 1997, against a backdrop of strong pressure by the secular
state and military against the government, led by the leader of the Refah
party, Erbakan (resulting in his resignation in 1997 and the banning of the

56

Necati elik, a former president and major figure in Hak- was elected to Parliament in
1995 for the Refah party and became Minister of Labour in the coalition government.

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party in 1998). The coming to power of the akp government, that Hak- was
close to (two of its members were elected as akp mps in 2002) and the official
government position in favour of rapprochement with the eu resulted in
Hak- increasing its degree of European involvement in the early 2000s.
Hak- was the Turkish Confederation to show the greatest interest in what the
project was about. Although the trainer from the Confederation involved in
Workers Together did not endorse the method used in seminars (which he
considered as being akin to tourism), he gave his backing to the idea at the
heart of the project: I have to say that I am one of the people who designed
this project.57 The Confederation has a certain number of ideological values in
common with the European Trade Union Confederation, such as humanism
and social justice. Its trainer was the only person to raise the question in interview of the specific methodology of the project, which focused on individuals.
But all the same, the project resulted in a change in the Confederations stance
vis-a-vis the eu and brought him into closer contact with European trade
union networks, and this resulted in his taking up key principles of the
European Trade Union Confederation, such as social dialogue. The
Confederation, which is close to the ruling akp, adopted the akps European
agenda in the early 2000. It developed a very militant and proactive approach,
and its involvement in European networks and projects meant it was able to
establish numerous links with European partners to promote the image of a
modern Turkey ready to join the eu. At the time when the Workers Together
project was carried out Hak- was still working to promote Turkeys application to join (even though the enthusiasm of the akp government for the eu
was waning by then).
Thus Hak- reinforced its social ideology, adopted a new stance vis-a-vis the
eu, and worked to support the Turkish application. The convergence of its
positions led it to take part in the project, to which it was very committed. It
adopted the values promoted by the project and the methods by which the
project sought to transfer them. Nevertheless, in an interview carried out in
2009 with the Hak- trainer, his insistence on the importance of meeting and
dialogue placed the emphasis on the people involved rather than on relations
between trade union confederations,58 and this despite the fact that trade
union relationships in Turkey are fraught with keen rivalry. Exchange and dialogue is thus conceived of from an international perspective (between the
57
58

Hak- trainer, interview, Izmir, October 2009.


Ibid.

European Policies To Support civil Society

243

populations of the eu member states and the Turkish population, with it being
implicitly understood that this was so as to eradicate European prejudice
against Turks), rather than from the internal perspective of Turkish trade
unionism.

kesk and dis k: Axiological Dissonance
kesk and di s k are the two confederations furthest removed ideologically
from themes such as social dialogue. They are also the ones to have developed
the strongest links with European networks, which may explain their involvement in projects removed from their ideology. Nevertheless, the specific context in which Workers Together took shape resulted in their mobilisation
against certain project values, indicating that some of the values promoted by
the project are an integral part of the transfer object.
These two confederations have to be able to draw on etuc resources that
are essential to their survival. Nevertheless, the gap between their ideological
orientations and the notions promoted by their European partners has caused
major axiological dissonance. Thus whilst di s k is theoretically at least far
removed the idea of social dialogue, it has taken part since the early 2000s in
the European project on social dialogue being conducted by the European
Trade Union Confederation. On occasions their involvement has resulted in a
certain feeling of nonalignment. For instant a di s k representative in Brussels
who played a key role acting as a mediator between his Confederation and the
European Trade Union Confederation observed in 2004 that personally I have
been here since 1981, I have followed it, I have become used to it, but for the

di s k
di s k was set up in 1967 and was long the second-largest Turkish Confederation in
terms of member numbers. It was characterised by a left-wing revolutionary identity,
and was subject to harsh repression after the 1980 coup. Its head of legal services was
stripped of his nationality and went into exile in Belgium where he was granted the
status of political refugee. He was then appointed as the di s k representative in
charge of organising solidarity from Brussels. In 1985 the European Trade Union
Confederation accepted di s ks application to become an affiliate member. It has
subsequently played an important role in supporting di s k, and helped it to recover
some of its confiscated assets. It also authorised di s k to open an office in its building,
thereby enabling it to continue existing in Brussels despite being banned in Turkey
(up until 1991).

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kesk
The Confederation of Public Workers Unions was founded in 1995 at a time when
public sector trade unionism was not explicitly authorised by the law.59 Most kesk
members come from extreme left-wing Marxist organisations or else from the political wing of the Kurdish nationalist movement, and they tend to have a revolutionary
vision of social relations as class struggle. They have developed a radical stance (reinforced by the organisations precarious situation) denouncing bureaucratic trade
unionism and compromises with the state and system. Nevertheless kesk has built
up numerous links with the European Trade Union Confederation via the trajectories
of political refugees, and it actively sought to join the European Trade Union
Confederation, succeeding in 1995, so as to enjoy the support of an established
European organisation in its struggle against oppression in Turkey. Because it is specialised in the public sector kesk has fewer members than the other confederations
discussed here, and it is therefore less subject to fierce rivalries.

others this language [of social dialogue] is something totally new.60 The same
person went on to become the coordinator for the Turkish federations in the
European Trade Union Confederation, and it would appear that he paid an
important role in the systematisation of contacts between kesk and the
European Trade Union Confederation. kesk has also taken part in the
European project on social dialogue. Emre ngn has demonstrated that
Turkish trade unionists do not understand the training courses they have
attended on social dialogue organised by the European Trade Union
Confederation (and using a method similar to that of Workers Together). His
work also demonstrates more generally the effects of the rapprochement
between the confederation and the European Trade Union Confederation in
terms of the discursive shifts and evolution towards a form of action that gives
greater place to institutionalised negotiation and less to protests.61
59

60
61

Trade unionism in the public sector developed in the 1960s before being forbidden by the
Constitution after the 1971 coup. It was not until 2002 when a law was passed legalising
trade unionism in the public sector that it was officially recognised.
di s k representative in Brussels, interview, Brussels, May 2004.
Emre ngn, Les usages pluriels dune formation subie. Lexprience de militants de
kesk dans une formation anime par la ces, paper given to the Congrs de lAssociation
Franaise de Science Politique, workshop La socialisation militante au prisme de la formation syndicale. Les dispositifs et leurs usages, Toulouse, 2007. http://www.afsp

European Policies To Support civil Society

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Both confederations initially accepted to take part in the Workers Together


project. But their involvement did not thereby mean that they accepted the
values being promoted by the project. Tensions emerged when the project was
being drawn up over the notion of dialogue as it appears in the programme
title Promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between Europe and Turkey, and
both confederations actually rejected the title. The Turkish coordinator of the
project, who was originally a member of d i s k but who is now employed by the
European Trade Union Confederation (and fully socialised in its values),
observed that in d i s k dialogue is beyond the pale. I believe that in order to
negotiate you have to have dialogue, even if you dont agree. But they do not
understand this, they do not understand that you have to negotiate.62 The
partners then devised a compromise and the title of the project no longer contained the word dialogue and became instead Bringing Together Workers
Through a Shared Culture of Work. As for the name of the programme providing funding for the project, there was no mention of it in any brochure or
document handed out to those attending seminars so as to avoid the word
dialogue.
So why did these two organisations, who had accepted in the early 2000s to take
part in a project whose aim was clearly social dialogue, protest so strongly a few
years later against the notion of dialogue. The Turkish context and the dynamics of
Turkeys integration of the eu are both key factors to understanding this. It is worth
recalling the context of the membership negotiations.63 The Turkish confederations agreed to take part in the Workers Together project as part of the general
enthusiasm at the opening of negotiations. The fact that these rapidly got bogged
down led the confederations to reassess the opportunities that their joining
European projects and networks could bring, and to re-prioritise their objectives.
Far from being monolithic organisations the confederations are composed of
sometimes highly diverse sector-specific interests, to which in some cases are
added numerous party-political and ideological currents. The dynamic set up by
the Turkish application and then the opening of negotiations lent greater legitimacy to actors convinced of the benefits of joining the eu. Equally, as the prospect
of joining Europe receded, this gave rise to discrepancies between the values of an

62
63

.mshparis.fr/congres2007/ateliers/textes/at18ongun.pdf (accessed September 2012);


Emre ngn, Leffet retour des stratgies de contournement transnational. La modification de lagenda et du rpertoire daction du syndicat kesk, in Gilles Dorronsoro (ed.), La
Turquie conteste. Mobilisations sociales et rgime scuritaire, cnrs, 2005, pp. 183201.
Turkish project coordinator, interviews, Brussels, December 2009.
For discussion of the Turkish context and the kesks involvement in the project in the
early 2000s, see Emre ngn, Les usages pluriels dune formation subie.

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organisation, its perception of Europe, and the usages it envisaged for Europe.
More critical opinions started to be heard once again: Europeans dont want us,
but at the same time they want to mould us, and convince us even or some people
think observed the Turkish coordinator.64 As a Hak- trainer stated, A commonly
held assumption in Turkey is that Europe will divide Turkey.65 It was within this
new context that the debate about the notion of dialogue took shape.
But the compromise foundto avoid using the term dialoguewas insufficient to diffuse tensions which had emerged with the slowdown in accession negotiations. di sk and kesk nearly withdrew from the project. People are losing their
motivation for the eu. It is too distant a horizon [] There is a lack of interest; in
the words of two project leaders, They are disappointed by eu and wonder if
theres still any point in doing a project with the eu.66 One of the coordinators
observed The reason that kesk gave [for withdrawing] was that there were a lot of
organisational problems, but behind that were major internal splits about the
European issue. [] They destroyed their relationship with the European Trade
Union Confederation because of a hardline vision with regard to the eu. []
Everything that comes out of the eu is bad.67 He added, There has been a change
in position and the largest di sk delegations have been raising a number of issues.68
In the end only kesk left the project. The commitment of the di sk trade unionist in
Brussels who played a central role coordinating the project would appear to be the
reason why di sk stayed on board. According to him di sk finally ended up respecting its commitment. I discussed and they understood the issues at stake.69
The case of these two confederations shows that distance from certain values, and nonalignment with them even, does not necessarily and automatically mean not taking part in projects conveying them. However d i s ks and
kesks protests about the notion of dialogue show that certain values promoted by the European Trade Union Confederation and the eu and defined as
project objectives are not thereby negligible quantities. They too are part of the
object of transfer.
Trk-
The dynamics relating to joining the eu also played a role in the decision by
Trk- to take part in the Workers Together project.

64
65
66
67
68
69

Turkish project coordinator, interviews, Brussels, December 2009.


Hak- trainer, interview, Izmir, October 2009.
Interviews, Brussels, December 2009.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Turkish project coordinator, interviews, Brussels, December 2009.

European Policies To Support civil Society

247

Trk-
Trk- was founded in 1952, and is the oldest of the Turkish trade union confederations and is still the largest in terms of member numbers. It originally supported the
Turkish governments western policy, and has been a member of the European branch
of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions since 1961. It joined the
European Trade Union Confederation when the latter was set up in 1973. With close
links to government and an ideological slant that steers away from protest, Trk- has
long tended to echo official discourse and to seek compromise. Despite being banned
Trk- supported the military junta after the 1980 coup, for which it was suspended
from the European Trade Union Confederation. Despite its positionwhich theoretically at least was closer to the key themes of the European Trade Union Confederation
than that of the other confederationsTrk- shifted towards a highly nationalistic
and anti-European discourse in the 1990s, insisting on European imperialism and the
effects it had on Turkish national unity. It was not at all active in the European Trade
Union Confederation at this period but did not however withdraw, using its presence
within the European organisation to hone its criticism of the eu during the 2000s. Its
non-active presence enabled it to collect information about the European Trade
Union Confederation which was used to fuel its anti-European arguments. In 2001 it
unilaterally withdraw from the project of the European Trade Union Confederation
seeking to prepare the Turkish trade union movement for playing a role the accession
process, and publicly criticised the project, the European Trade Union Confederation,
the participation of the other three affiliated bodies, and the European Union in general.70 As of 2004, when the launch of negotiations was nearing, Trk- toned down
its position after certain of its large federations exerted pressure: Membership of he
eu is a primary national goal for Turkey. It is a big step in the modernisation project
that the great leader Atatrk designed its president declared in February 2004.71
70

71

During the 1990s in particular the etuc was tasked with using funds from the European
Commission (originally the government of the United States of Europe) and it implemented a policy that was wholly aligned on that of the European Commission. A considerable number of European trade unions apparently wished to have their share of the fat
profits that European capital funds had racked up in other countries via the system
referred to as the European social model taken from Trk-, Y. Ko (a member of the
Confederations General Council and its representative at the etuc), Trkiye Avrupa
Birlii likileri [The Relations between Turkey and the European Union], Trk- Eitim
Yaynlar, 66, Ankara, 2001. Ko also declared that it was difficult to call it [etuc] an
independent trade union organisation. About 85% of [its] activities are financed by eu
funds, Aydnlk, 2 December 2001, pp. 1516. This newspaper was set up by the extreme
left-wing nationalist Workers Party.
Declaration by Salih Kl at a meeting of the Council of Federation. See Zeynep Alemdar,
Turkish Trade Unions and the European Boomerang, European Journal of Turkish

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Though less removed ideologically than d i s k and kesk from the values
defended by the European Trade Union Confederation and the European
Union, it nevertheless refused to take part in the project about social dialogue
in the early 2000s. Furthermore it had publicly denounced both the project (as
part of the eus imperialistic policy seeking to dictate its agenda to Turkish
organisations) and those taking part (referring to the Turkish organisations as
traitors). With the opening of negotiations, and following on from a shift in its
discourse about the eu, Trk- initially accepted to take part in the Workers
Together project. But with the timeframe for joining the eu becoming ever less
certain it also considered withdrawing from the project. If it did not do so it
was because of trade union rivalries. The situation in Turkey is characterised
by pronounced dissension and keen rivalry between the trade union confederations, a point which we will return to later. Trk- had long been the largest
Confederation but over recent years has lost a large number of its members,
whilst the number of Hak- members has been increasing and now reportedly
exceeds the number of d i s k members. Major tensions mean that the confederations are reluctant to cede any ground to their rivals and seek to capture as
many potential resources as possible. Constrained by its keen rivalry with
Hak-, Trk- preferred to continue to be part of the project, especially as the
practicalities of taking part were entirely revised (as discussed below). It would
appear that kesk enjoyed greater room for manoeuvre as its public sector specialisation meant that questions of rivalry were of lesser importance to it (with
regard to winning members in any case), and so it was easier for it to withdraw
from the project.
Whilst the Turkish confederations took certain of the values promoted by
the project into close consideration, thereby making them one of the elements
in the object of transfer, their involvement or otherwise in the project cannot
be explained solely on the basis of their positions towards these values. What
we now need to study is what happened to these values during the implementation of the project.

The Implementation of the Project by the Trade Union


Confederations
The Workers Together project was devised around three objectives relating to the values of encounter, exchange, and dialogue. The first of these is
highly political and far exceeds the issues at stake within the trade union
sector. It is a matter of strengthen[ing] contacts and mutual exchange of
Studies, no. 9, 2009, eu-Turkey: Sociological Approaches, 58. url: http://ejts.revues.
org/3774 (accessed 23 September 2014).

European Policies To Support civil Society

249

experiences between the trade unions of Turkey and trade unions of eu


member states, and thus between the members and activities, with a view
to ensuring better knowledge and understanding of one another, and an
awareness of the challenges of future enlargement.72 The two other objectives are more sector-specific, the aim being to reunite Turkish workers73
at a national level so as to strengthen trade unionism within the country,
and at a transnational level to develop a shared culture of work between
Turkish workers and those of member states. Equally the methodology of
the seminars, based on that of the European Trade Union Institute, sought
to take the values promoted by the project and apply them concretely to
the way the encounters were organised. Analysing the seminar organised
in Izmir by di sk throws light on a process in which the actors distance
themselves from the projects objectives and promoted methodology, as
well as from the values it endeavoured to convey. However the way the
project took place shows that despite a series of difficulties, all of the trade
union federations were able to adopt European governance techniques
specific to the financial instrument funding the project.

Distancing from the Project Objectives
As observed earlier, the organisers of Workers Together were confronted with
the situation of sharp rivalry between the Turkish federations. Although one of
the objectives of the project (reuniting Turkish workers) sought to remedy
this, paradoxically the project was not devised with this in mind.
The situation for trade unions in Turkey is particularly awkward. The conditions for Trade union membership (which involve a series of stringent procedures for the workers) and the status of collective bargaining (which is only
possible in companies where over 50% of the workforce belongs to a given
trade union and belonging to a sector in which 10% of workers are unionised)
considerably weakens the trade unions, thus fanning the rivalry between them.
One of eus criteria for moving towards enlargement is the passing of new legislation guaranteeing the full enjoyment of social rights (such as the right to
organise, to bargain collectively, and to strike) and modifications to the current
conditions for Trade union membership. Nevertheless trade union rights are
one of the subjects of diplomatic negotiations relating to Chapter 19 of the
72

73

Workers Together project presentation, url: http://www.etui.org/Services/Support


-for-European-Trade-Union-Projects-SETUP/Projects-list/Civil-Society-Dialogue
-Bringing-together-workers-from-Turkey-and-European-Union-through-a-shared
-culture-of-work (accessed 25 May 2012).
Project presentation material at the Izmir seminar.

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Acquis (on social policy and employment) and, as seen above, are independent of the implementation of pre-accession aid projects. The Workers
Together project was carried out even though a proposed new law on trade
union rights which was extensively debated in 2008 failed to make it onto the
statute books. In this context the notions of exchange, consultation, and dialogue promoted by the project would appear to be at odds with the reality of
Turkish trade unionism, characterised both by its weakness and by the rivalry
between confederations. The implementation of the Workers Together project is illustrative of this discrepancy. For instance, when the Trk-
Confederation finally accepted not to withdraw, it was on the condition that it
would not be attending any seminars at the same time as Hak-. It thereby
officially called into question one of the objectives of the project and the values it sought to convey.
Thus one may wonder why the reality of the Turkish situation was not taken
into account for the Workers Together project, despite the fact that it sought
to reunite trade union members and strengthen trade unionism in Turkey. This
was primarily due to the projects multiple objectives which did not necessarily fit in with one other. Pursuing them all at the same time was a very tall
order. Firstly, the expected results of the programme financing this project
(Promotion of Civil Society Dialogue between eu and Turkey) far exceeded
the trade union sector and were primarily political (working to make future
enlargement possible). The reference to civil society here refers to society, to
populations. It was so as to meet this objective (and because of the sizeable
budget allocated to it) that Workers Together came up with a programme of
impressive organisational scope. It planned on the participation over two years
of over 1,400 members of the Turkish federations affiliated to the European
Trade Union Confederation and of sixteen (finally fifteen) confederations from
seven eu member states, with 21 seminars being held in various towns in
Turkey and in the countries of the organising confederations.74 Furthermore
all of the seminars were multinational and brought together multiple trade
unions so as to meet the other two objectives of the projectreuniting Turkish
trade unionists and promoting a shared culture of work. Each seminar was
organised by a trade union confederation from the country in which it was
held, the goal being to enable confederations to acquire concrete experience of
organising projects and multinational consultation. As observed by an official
at the European Trade Union Confederation used to managing international
projects, the success of a project of this scale requires close coordination
74

In addition to these there was also an opening conference and the final conference and
four training seminars for the organisers of the twenty-one seminars.

European Policies To Support civil Society

251

between the various trade union organisations organising it. But the reality of
the situation was totally different. It was characterised by rivalry and tense
relationships between the Turkish federations, and a lack of experience in
Turkish federations working together with those from eu member states. As
one of the project leaders observed, It is complicated because it is a big project with a lot of activities. It is the biggest one that the European Trade Union
Confederation has had []. It is the first time that we do such a big thing
involving Turkey and the eu. We had never worked in partnership with the
Turks. [But this project requires] a whole range of activities to work and manage it together, as well as consensus on the educational method and on the
documents to be handed out. Then for a seminar such as the one at Trabzon,
for example, 7 organisations (four from France, two from Greece, and Trk-)
had to get together and reach a consensus about the programme. We had to go
through that 21 times. Without the financial means to be able to meet beforehand and prepare things.75 The projects cumbersome organisational apparatus meant a certain fluidity and efficiency was required in the relationships
between the trade union organisations, but this was not the case, and was even
one of the projects other two objectives. Given its scale the project appears to
have been ill suited to the complex situation. Whilst the project would appear
to have been able to fulfil the first objectiveincreasing the level of contact
between trade unionistsit would not appear to have been able to meet the
other two objectives ascribed to it.
In addition to the incoherent objectives of the project, the organisers were
also constrained by the public policy instrument used. In order to meet the
European expectations for the management, transparency, and monitoring of
funding, the pre-accession instrument leaves very little scope for managing the
funds, and there is virtually no flexibility with regards to what was decided at
the moment when the project was selected. As an official at the European
Trade Union Confederation observed, If it werent a project with X financing
and Y schedule and if they could speed things up a bitbut here we have precise objectives [holding the seminars] and it is not easy [] If it werent a project with all these constraints we could wait one or two years [for the tensions
to dissipate]. But we cant do that.76 European demands leave very little flexibility for delaying seminars, stipulate a quota of nationalities and confederations for those attending each seminar, lay down the number of participants,
and so on. Hence given Trk-s refusal to take part in seminars with Hak-,
the project leaders were confronted with an alternative: either they could
75
76

Interview, European Trade Union Confederation, Brussels, December 2009.


Ibid.

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reject the decision by Trk-, which would potentially lead to its withdrawing,
thereby calling the whole project into question, or else they could accept the
position of Trk-, which would amount to partially denying the project values. In order not to jeopardise the project they decided to opt for the second
solution.
Finally, rather than functioning as a framework to promote notions of dialogue, the project would appear rather to act as a way of exporting and perpetuating the national dynamics of conflict between the confederations.
Aminor dispute at the Izmir seminar can serve as an example of this. After one
of the speeches the head trainer for d i s k who was chairing the debate did not
give the floor to the Hak- trainer (who had gone out during the speech), even
though it would seem to have become established usage that the confederation representative not chairing the seminar was called upon to open the
debate. The Hak- trainer reacted very badly to this and said so out loud.
The altercation became a dispute and was the subject of all discussions for
thethreedays the seminar lasted.
The Izmir seminar also revealed the projects relative inability to establish
the conditions for encounter, dialogue, and exchange between participants.
This was perhaps due to practicalities in the way the seminar was organised,
which at Izmir was carried out by d i s k, an organisation with little native sympathy for the theme of dialogue. Thus the fact that participants were free to
sit wherever they liked resulted in delegations grouping together by nationality
(the Swedes, the Belgians, and the Turks) or by union membership, reducing
the possibility of any interaction between the trade unions and nationalities.
The very long presentations by the speakers reduced the possibility that all the
participants have time to express themselves, as did the large number of those
present within each room (with there sometimes being over sixty people).
Although the programme indicated that there was time set aside for working
in groups, this did not take place. But organisational decisions made by d i s k
were not the only problem. Throughout the seminar the Hak- officials placed
greater insistence on promoting Turkey and its membership bid than on the
difficulties confronting trade unionism in Turkey and the importance of dialogue as a valuedespite having acted as the champions of this notion when
the project was being devised. Other factors also contributed to the poor
degree of communication. Most seminars were attended by members from different sectors as the choice of participants was left to the various trade union
organisations, and so they were attended by a very mixed public, making it
harder to initiate links. Furthermore, the fact that the public changed at each
seminar (so as to involve the largest number of participants) left very little

European Policies To Support civil Society

253

time for building up interaction. In addition to this the language barrier and
cumbersome simultaneous translation system meant there was no room for
dynamic communication. The difficulty in fostering exchange was even visible
in the way participants divided themselves up between the two buses laid on
for getting around town, with a Turkish bus and a European bus. There were
equally very few mixed tables at meals. It was only those who stayed up late in
the evening who were able to form any stronger ties with their Turkish guides
who were in charge of finding places to visit.
The aim here is not to prejudge what the medium-and long-term effects of
establishing links between the various confederations and their members may
or may not be. It is for instance worth noting that despite the fact that there
was little communication during the three-day seminar, when the participants
came to say goodbye they swapped contact details. Nevertheless it would
appear that in its concrete implementation phase the Workers Together project did not really enable the transfer of the values it was seeking to promote,
for all of the actors operating the transfer chose for different reasons to distance themselves from these values.

The Transfer of an Instrument of Governance
When asked in late 2009 for their assessment of Workers Together, the project
leaders and coordinators all agreed that the main success of the project resided
in the fact that it had actually gone ahead and been carried out. Whilst they
had no illusions about the results of the project vis-a-vis the expected objectives, this assessment illustrates that another object was indeed effectively
transferred. Apart from kesk, which withdrew from the project, all the confederations managed to appropriate the complex and inflexible mechanisms of
the projects financial instrument, based on the instruments used for internal
eu financing.
The members of the European Trade Union Confederation in charge of the
project and the project coordinators displayed managerial skill in carrying it
out, even though some of its objectives were brought into question. Confronted
with a series of difficulties the first chairman of the project steering committee
resigned. He was replaced by a special adviser and non-executive director from
the European Trade Union Institute who was seconded to the European
Confederation of Trade Unions for the project. The appointment of this new
manager who, whilst he did not have any specific competence relating to
Turkey, had held important positions at the European Trade Union Institute
and previously managed some of its large projects, reveals the importance the
European Trade Union Confederation attached to this project which placed its

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credibility on the line. The new head of the steering committee had to overcome the withdrawal of two confederations that had initially been involved in
the project,77 manage the conflicts between the Turkish confederations, and
reconcile these various constraints with those inherent to managing a European
project. As the financial instrument could not be adapted to suit the Turkish
situation, it was the project which ended up being adapted to suit the instrument. The entire seminar programme was reconceived. The seminars took
place even though they were partially hollowed out. Trk- and Hak- were
never present at the same time. Furthermore given that certain Confederations
from the eu member states were more interested in questions relating to the
public sector, the withdrawal of kesk left a void. In order to prevent these confederations from deserting in turn, the number of sector-specific seminars was
reduced and the number of general seminars increased. These tricks (to use
the term employed by one of the coordinators) meant it was possible to implement the project, even if it was at the expense of its objectives and the values
explicitly promoted. This reorganisation of the project enabled Trk- to benefit from the project without suffering what it saw as its undesirable effects. It
also enabled d i s k and Hak- to pursue their relationship with European networks without profoundly altering their way of saying and doing things for all
that. Lastly it enabled the European Trade Union Confederation to demonstrate its ability to successfully carry out a large-scale project.
The fact that those involved distanced themselves from the programme
objectives and explicitly promoted values of the project in no way prevented
them from appropriating the public policy instrument enabling the operationalisation of the project. Ultimately it would appear that it was the public policy
instrument which was at the heart of the transfer.
Conclusion
The policy to support civil society in Turkey, studied here via the way it was
put into practice from defining the programme through to implementing the
project, may be considered as an effective transfer of European governance.
Firstly the transfer was characterised by the promotion of categories relating to
the values of an ideal of democratic governance. Secondly the transfer brought
into play eu-specific modes of governance implying a redeployment of central
77

In addition to kesk, a German Confederation also withdrew from the project, both
because it was not interested in its content and because of financial difficulties not taken
into account by the project.

European Policies To Support civil Society

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power and an appropriation of managerial techniques.78 The categories of


civil society and Project as they were actually embodied during the transfer
may well have been removed from the ideals with which they are associated,
but without thereby bringing into question the specific modes of public action.
The actors, whilst each adopting their own position vis-a-vis the values of the
democratic governance ideal, were both the operators and recipients of the
transfer, and what they appropriated was primarily the governance techniques
incorporated within the instruments used to carry out the project.
78

These relate to New Public Management techniques. In addition to the importance


accorded to management by results and using market mechanisms (competition, outsourcing), these techniques organise governments around the separation functions
relating to strategy, piloting, and monitoring from the operational functions of implementation and execution; the fragmentation of vertical hierarchies by [a process of] creating autonomous administrative units, decentralisation, the empowerment of user
groups [] and the transformation of the administrations hierarchical structure by
increasing the responsibilities and autonomy of those levels in charge of implementing
state action. Philippe Bezes, Construire des bureaucraties wbriennes lre du New
Public Management? Critique internationale, no. 35, 2007, p. 12.

chapter 11

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

The Figure of the Neighbourhood Headman (Muhtar)


lise Massicard
This chapter is part of the collective reflexion on the modes of government in
the Ottoman Empire and in Turkey, and on the state-society relations and interactions that are related to them. It is dedicated to the figure of the muhtar, a
term that covers the headmen of villages or neighbourhoods, although here
we will focus only on muhtars in urban areas. There are approximately 53,000
muhtars in Turkey, 13,000 of whom are headmen in urban neighbourhoods
varying substantially in sizefrom a few hundreds to tens of thousands of
inhabitants. Unlike most existing studies on muhtars,1 here they are seen as the
lowest level of the administration, the closest to the citizens and thus as the
ideal point of entry for a study of the permeability of the state, but also for an
analysis of the concrete forms of the relations between citizens and the
administration.2
The first section argues that the figure of the muhtar is not consistent with a
reading in Weberian terms of rationalisation of institutions. In fact, the
1 The key reference on the creation of the muhtarlk remains Musa adrc, Trkiyede
Muhtarlk Tekilatnn Kurulmas zerine Bir nceleme [A Study of the Foundation of the
Muhtarlk organisation in Turkey], Belleten, vol. 34, no. 135, 1970, pp. 409420, which is based
on the chronicles of Ahmet Ltfi Efendi (1873). The other key text here is that of Cem Behar,
based on the study of a single source, the registers of the muhtar of a neighbourhood in 19thcentury Istanbul. For the contemporary period, most studies take the perspective of administrative science. Many of them are PhD or masters theses which often use survey-based
questionnaires with muhtars and sometimes with residents, but there are few qualitative
studies. Most of them inquire the muhtarlk about issues such as participation or local
democracy. Other studies, in particular those dedicated to politics in urban peripheries or
poverty, analyse the muhtarlk indirectly, revealing their role in local politics or access to
public services. Certain peripheral neighbourhoods (such as mraniye in Istanbul) consequently have a prominent place in these studies.
2 This chapter is based on several sources: the study of the existing literature and legal texts; an
analysis of the press, primarily over the last two decades (a pragmatic choice, linked to the
difficulty to conduct a thematic press review before the digitalisation of many articles in the
1990s); as well as on some exploratory interviews conducted with muhtars and observation of
some muhtarlks in Istanbul. This first study is part of a larger project which also deals with
the muhtarlks relationship to politics, which will be set aside here.

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_012

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

257

muhtars appeared over the course of the bureaucratisation of the Empire and
their emergence is generally interpreted as part of that framework. However,
the characteristics of this position distance it from Webers ideal-type of the
civil servant. To the extent that proximity (geographical, social and relational)
with the population is an integral part of the role of the muhtar, it seems more
relevant to consider the muhtar as an institutionalised intermediary, as the
second section shows. This chapter, then, considers the muhtar a figure of continuity, a link between the official orderitself complex and shiftingand
the local society in which he or she is embedded through multiple links of
proximity and dependence. Although government by intermediary has been
widely studied for the Ottoman period, this is much lesseven not at all
true for the republican period, with the exception of the work of Michael
Meeker which covers the period up until the 1960s.3
Studying the muhtar reminds us of the need to historicise the notion of
administration, commonly considered universal by the Ottoman and then
Turkish reformists, as well as by most observers of Turkey. Robert Descimon,
Jean-Frdric Schaub and Bernard Vincent define it as a general imposition
on an individual of a measure concerning him, without the possibility for him
to defend his point of view or his particular situation, stressing the radical
historicity [of this] mode of government of society.4 This chapter does not
assert that administration is by definition foreign to Ottoman and Turkish
institutionsto do so would be to risk an essentialism scarcely more stimulating than oriental despotism. On the other hand, it argues that the state
apparatus of both the Ottoman period and the Republic institutionalised intermediaries, alongside the administration, which leads to question the modalities of government that resulted from this.
The third section shows that this institution of the muhtarlk, basically a quasiofficial one, is characterised by the role that it deliberately leaves to social processes. This institution5 is implemented in different ways in different contexts.
3 Michael E. Meeker, A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity, Berkeley
and Los Angeles, ca/London, University of California Press, 2002.
4 Robert Descimon, Jean-Frdric Schaub and Bernard Vincent (eds.), Les Figures de
ladministrateur. Institutions, rseaux, pouvoirs en Espagne, en France et au Portugal 16e19e
sicles, Paris, ditions de lehess, 1997, pp. 1516.
5 In the sense of a Universe marked by the existence of stable rules, procedures and usages
that weigh on the beliefs and behaviour of social actors. Olivier Nay and Andy Smith, Les
intermdiaires en politique. Mdiation et jeux dinstitutions, in Olivier Nay and Andy Smith
(eds.), Le gouvernement du compromis. Courtiers et gnralistes dans laction publique, Paris,
Economica, 2002, pp. 4786.

258

Massicard

In this way it represents both a way of orderingallowing in particular the


integration of local heteronomous societies and producing contentment
and compromising, in that it provides ways of avoiding or bypassing the state
order.

The Socio-History of an Incomplete Rationalisation


The Invention of the Muhtar: Rationalisation at the Local Level?
The institution of the muhtarlk appeared in Istanbul in 1829. Then it was generalised throughout the rest of the Empire and then made systematic in the
decades that followed. This institutional creation thus occurred in a period
characterised by the formation of new bureaucratic formalities and the reconfiguration of state hierarchies and competencies. This was part of the process
generally referred to by historians as the centralisation and bureaucratisation of the Ottoman Empire.6
The literature on the question allows us to envisage several causes of the
creation of this institution. On one hand, the Janissary units, which had previously been responsible for municipal police and maintaining order in the
towns, were abolished in 1826. Therefore, it was necessary to replace them
with other officers.7 Moreover, faced with the increasing movement of populations into the towns (Istanbul in particular), the imams were given the
order, among others,8 to distribute (or refuse) certificates of passage in their
neighbourhoods. But this control was not very efficient; there were numerous accusations against them of corruption, permissiveness, and arbitrary or
abusive use of power.9 In 1829, two muhtars were appointed to each imam for
every neighbourhood in Istanbul, to take over the civil functions of the
imams. The creation of the muhtarlk has thus been interpreted on one hand
as an attempt to rationalise and standardise population management,10 and
on the other as part of the secularisation of urban administration. Indeed,
6

7
8
9
10

Cem Behar looks specifically at the introduction of the muhtarlk in the context of the
Tanzimat. Cem Behar, A Neighborhood in Ottoman Istanbul: Fruit Vendors and Civil
Servants in the Kasap lyas Mahalle, Albany, ny, State University of New York Press, 2003.
lber Ortayl, Tanzimat Devrinde Osmanl Mahalli dareleri (18401880) [Ottoman local administrative bodies during the Tanzimat (18401880)], Ankara, ttk Yaynlar, 2000 [1974], p. 108.
Such as keeping the civil status register, transmitting the orders of the Sultan and the kad of
Istanbul to the population, collecting taxes among the population of their neighbourhood.
. Ortayl, Tanzimat Devrinde, p. 108, still based on the chronicler Ahmet Ltfi.
Nomi Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres dans lIstanbul ottomane (18791909), Paris, Kartala,
2012, p. 222.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

259

it marginalised and ultimately excluded the religious hierarchy from municipal, economic, commercial and security concerns11although it did not question the social and moral status of religious authorities.12
The muhtarlk spread rapidly to the provinces, beginning in the urban neighbourhoods, then to the villages, where the derebeys (valley lords) were progressively relieved of their functions.13 According to adrc, this institution was
first introduced to provinces in Kastamonu in 1833 during a conflict between a
local notable, who was too avaricious in raising taxes, and the population; this
led to a revolt supported by the mtesellim (local lieutenant of the non-resident governor, or even governor). After replacing the notable by two muhtars
per neighbourhood, the governor provided an account before the Sublime
Porte, congratulating himself on maintaining order while satisfying the population. Following this, the Sultan Mahmud II apparently ordered all governors
to introduce this system to the other provinces between 1833 and 1835.14
The muhtars were chosen by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, at least
from the promulgation of the Vilayet Law (Vilayet Nizamnamesi) in 1864, which
introduced an annual census suffrage. Little is known about how they were
chosen prior to this.15 Like the imams, the muhtars were then confirmed by
11
12

13

14
15

C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 66.


The relationship between muhtar and imam seems to have been peaceable; the imam was
the guarantor of the muhtar and actively participated in decisions concerning the neighbourhood. M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 412; C. Behar, A neighborhood.
Prior to this, or at the same time, in some Ottoman regions there were figures more or less
similar to a village chief, who were not formally codified by the Ottoman administration
(ras al-fallhn in Palestine; kocaba, orbac). See Amy Singer, The Routine Conduct of
Rural Administration, in V. Milletleraras Trkiye Sosyal ve ktisat Tarihi Kongresi. Tebliler.
Marmara niversitesi, Trkiyat Aratrma ve Uygulama Merkezi, stanbul 2125 Auustos
1989, Ankara, Trk Tarih Kurumu Basmevi, 1990, pp. 663670; Gilles Veinstein, Le patrimoine foncier de Panayote Benakis, Kocaba de Kalamata, Journal of Turkish Studies, vol. 11,
Raiyyet Rsmu, Essays Presented to Halil nalck, 1987, pp. 211233.
M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 412.
According to Ergin, they were elected from the beginning (Osman Nuri Ergin, Trkiyede
ehirciliin Tarihi nkiafi [The historical development of urbanism in Turkey], Istanbul,
Istanbul University, 1936, p. 121); according to adrc, they were appointed in Istanbul but
chosen in Kastamonu amongst those who had succeeded, had their say and enjoyed the
consideration of the residents (M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 410,
based on the newspaper Takvim-i vekayi, no. 73, 81; M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk
Kurumunun Tarihi Geliimi [The emergence and historical evolution of the Muhtarlk
institution in Turkey], ada Yerel Ynetimler, vol. II, no. 3, 1993, p. 5. Rather than free
elections, this was probably a process of co-optation (by the imam or the neighbourhood
notables). C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 78.

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the Porte; likewise, their seal (mhr) was prepared at the Mint and then sent
to them.16 Even today, the seal remains the symbol of the muhtar. From the
beginning the muhtars were connected to the state apparatus; from an organisational perspective they were attached to the Registry Controllers (defter
nazrlar), who were themselves attached to the Census Ministry (Ceride nezareti). They were initially placed under the control of the mtesellim, to whom
inhabitants could complain through the intermediaries of the imam and influent figures in the neighbourhood.17 From the Vilayet Law in 1864, they were
placed under the control of the zabtiye amirleri, the Commanders of the
Municipal Police and the muhassl, a term which designates tax collectors salaried by the state, but also certain provincial governors. They were briefly remunerated with the budget of the latter, although this was not systematic.18
However, resources were already insufficient for the remuneration of the
imamsgenerally paid out of the revenues of religious foundationsand the
latter were considered the priority, so the idea of paying muhtars was quickly
abandoned.19
The Vilayet Law of 1864, which was progressively implemented in different
provinces until its generalisation in 1871, established an administrative hierarchy with an integrated pyramid of districts. It made the organisation of the
muhtarlk more systematic and specified their responsibilities. The attributions of the muhtar above all concerned the functions of the central power, to
the point where adrc describes the village muhtars as executive government public servants (hkmetin uygulama memurlar.)20 Their main responsibility was ensuring order and safety in the neighbourhood, particularly
controlling authorisations for passage, and recording the arrival of new residents, on the condition that they were in possession of an internal passport
(mrur tezkeresi), which was required to move about within the Empire. As for
the inhabitants who wished to leave the neighbourhood, they had to ask the
muhtar for a certificate of good behaviour (mhrl pusula or ilmhaber)
which was required to obtain the internal passport.21 The muhtars also had to
16

17
18
19
20
21

M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 413. This procedure was modified in 1864
because it was too costly and cumbersome considering the conditions of communication;
confirmation was then transferred to the governor. . Ortayl, Tanzimat Devrinde, p. 110.
M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, pp. 414415; M. adrc, Trkiyede
Muhtarlk Kurumunun, p. 7.
. Ortayl, Tanzimat Devrinde, p. 110.
M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Kurumunun, p. 8.
Ibid., p. 9.
They would not have been very efficient at checking the rural exodus. . Ortayl, Tanzimat
Devrinde, p. 110.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

261

make the newly promulgated laws and regulations known to the local population and contribute to conscription.22 They were responsible for keeping the
accounts of the neighbourhood and assisting the government in the distribution and collection of taxes, collecting information on real estate assets and
revenues of the inhabitants. The muhtars were also responsible for keeping the
civil records and transmitting them to the Registry Controllers.23 These attributions made the muhtars the successors of the imams in their role as middlemen between the state and the people. Far from simply replacing them, the
muhtars rapidly acquired new areas of intervention. The Ottoman administration implicitly required them to control and be informed of practically everything relevant that took place in their neighbourhood.24
With the establishment of the muhtarlk, a connection for information and
control was thus established between the neighbourhoods and the central
administration via the bureaucracy, along with a new centralising vision.25
Arkboa considers the creation of the muhtarlk as a significant element in the
advent of a centralised state. Indeed, it is not part of a local government nor of
the state administration in the provinces, but a unit responsible for tasks considered obligatory and having to be conducted first hand, by a state undergoing
centralisation.26
However, it seems necessary to provide a nuance to this reading in terms
of centralisation. Indeed, far from being simple public servants, the muhtars
were in an intermediary position between the local population and the
Ottoman authorities (executive or judiciary). This was not only because they
were elected but also because they could testify before the tribunal
in the name of the neighbourhood (being its legal guarantor), both collectively and if necessary individually. Moreover, the muhtars were regularly
solicited to act as mediators or to represent their neighbourhood before the
22 M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 414; idem, Trkiyede Muhtarlk
Kurumunun, pp. 67.
23 The Population Registration Regulation of 1883 stipulated that the muhtar had to record
all births, deaths and marriages as well as migrations and to report them to a centralised
population record. C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 7980, 160.
24 Ibid., pp. 165, 169.
25 Adalet B. Alada, Osmanl-Trk ehrinde Mahalle [Neighbourhoods in the OttomanTurkish Town], unpublished PhD thesis, Ankara, Ankara University, 1989, p. 143.
26 Erbay Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, Katlm ve Mahalle Muhtarl [Local Authorities,
Participation and the Neighbourhood Muhtarlk], unpublished ma thesis, Istanbul,
Marmara University, 1998, p. 105; Erbay Arkboa, Yerel Ynetim Asndan Mahalle
Muhtarlna bir Bak [A Look at the Neighbourhood Muhtarlk from the Point of View
of Local Authorities], ada Yerel Ynetimler, vol. 8, no. 3, 1999, p. 107.

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Massicard

authorities.27 They could also transmit collective demands and complaints


to the authorities. The muhtar of Kasap lyas at the end of the 19th century for
example became a communitarian leader probably more on his own initiative
or on the residents than because of regulatory dispositions.28
Developments following the introduction of the muhtarlk are more difficult to trace. Although the texts are relatively specific concerning the village
muhtars they are silent about urban muhtars. The 1871 regulation enumerated
the many competences of the village muhtar, including this time local competences (cleaning, roads, rubbish collection etc.). Even though the 1864 Vilayet
Law did not mention local responsibilities of urban muhtars, we can imagine
that the prior organisation of the neighbourhoods for local concerns such as
rubbish collection or maintaining order by the night watchers (beki) continued, probably under the supervision of the muhtar.29 Yet the 1871 regulation
granted numerous responsibilities to the municipalities undergoing institutionalisation30; covering in part the local tasks accomplished by the muhtarlk,
without any distribution of tasks being specified. Thus, two institutions with
the same prerogatives coexisted with no hierarchical or codified connections
between them. According to Arkboa, the central state always considered the
village as a genuine administrative unit, whereas the neighbourhood was seen
as a kind of temporary auxiliary to the municipality.31 This silence is confirmed
in later decades. In 1913, the law on the administration of the provinces promulgated by the Committee of Union and Progress abolished the Tanzimat
regulations and as a result the muhtarlk, as it had been so defined. It does not
mention the muhtarlk, no more than it attributes its former responsibilities to
other institutions. We can thus hypothesise that the mahalle muhtarl continued to function de facto, at least for part of its former attributions, possibly
without a legal basis (at least in these texts) but with the tolerance of the government.32 The 1924 Constitution does not mention it, nor does the law on the
administration of the provinces (1929). As for the law on municipalities (1930),
it refers to neighbourhoods only in terms of the delimitation of their territory,
but does not mention the existence of the muhtarlk.
27
28
29
30
31
32

M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, p. 414; N. Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres,


p. 222.
C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 79, 82.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, pp. 102104.
Municipal structures were extended to whole of the capital in 1867.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetim Asndan, pp. 107112.
Trk Belediyecilik Dernei and Konrad Adenauer Vakf, Mahalle Muhtarlar ve Belediye
likileri [The Neighbourhood Headmen and Their Relations with the Municipalities],
Ankara, Trk Belediyecilik Dernei, 1998, p. 13.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

263

In 1933, a law explicitly abolished the muhtarlk institution in the urban


neighbourhoods, which confirms the hypothesis that they had continued to
exist. Its rationale specified that the municipalities were henceforth established by the law of 1930, elaborated on the most recent scientific basis and as
a result municipalities were to be responsible for the tasks of the mahalle
muhtarl, rendering the latter unnecessary.33 Moreover, it justified the need
to abolish the mahalle muhtarl by the fact that they did not exist anywhere
else in the world.34 According to Ergin, the muhtars and the councils of elders
did nothing but oppress and erode the people and provided no service without being paid; even during opening hours they were difficult to find. He also
criticises the fact that under the pretence of serving the people they were only
concerned with their personal interests. According to him, due to the fact that
the muhtars were not local or governmental public servants, and that they
were linked to political organisations (probably meaning the single party, the
Republican Peoples Party), it was very difficult to sanction them or have them
removed from their functions.35 Ergin, who graduated from the police academy, thus criticises the insubordination of the muhtars, the fact that they were
not controllable and that they served themselves rather than the state or the
people. The bill passed without much debate in the Assembly,36 and most of
the responsibilities of the muhtars were transferred to the municipalities.
This abolition could be interpreted as being part of the process of rationalisation and bureaucratisation, as a normalisation, reinforcing the reading of
the Ottoman-Republican continuity in terms of modernisation. This hybrid
and intermediary institution, being both an arm of the central government
33
34

35

36

E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 114.


The introduction of the muhtarlk institution was not based on overseas experiences. See
Bilal Erylmaz, Trkiyede Ky ve Mahalle Muhtarlklarnn Ortaya k ve Geliimi
[The Emergence and Historical Evolution of Village and Neighbourhood muhtarlks in
Turkey]. This enables us to relativise the dominant reading of the Ottoman administrative reforms of the period in terms of Westernisation. See especially Stanford J. Shaw,
Some Aspects of the Aims and Achievements of the Nineteenth-Century Ottoman
Reformers, in William R. Polk and Richard L. Chambers (eds.), Beginnings of Modern
ization in the Middle East. The Nineteenth Century, Chicago, il/London, University of
Chicago Press, 1968, pp. 2939; Carter V. Findley, Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman
Empire: the Sublime Porte, 17891922, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1980. For a
critique of this perspective see the contribution by Olivier Bouquet in this volume.
Osman Nuri Ergin, Beledi Bilgiler [Notions on Municipal Administration], Istanbul,
Osmanbey Matbaas, 1939 [1932], pp. 9293. This passage lets us imagine the competition
between the single party, that the muhtars all came from, and the state institutions.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetim Asndan, p. 115.

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Massicard

and a representative of the neighbourhood, would be thus seen as constituting


a temporary auxiliary to an administration under construction. The administrative rationalisation/modernisation that was not to be completed under the
Empire would ultimately be finished under the Republic.

A Hybrid Institution: Between Local Government and Territorial


State Administration
However, the above reading does not stand up to scrutiny. In the first instance
it is important to specify that the 1933 law transferred the prerogatives of the
muhtars mainly to the municipal police and the gendarmerie, but also in part
to night watchers and even elected residents of the neighbourhood.37 Thus,
although the municipalities opened offices and appointed public servants to
the tasks attributed to them following the abolition of the muhtarlk, their lack
of connections in the neighbourhoods and the absence of a reliable identification system rapidly undermined these attempts. As a result, certain mps proposed
that a new administrative organisation be created for the neighbourhoods from
the late 1930s onwards.38 The mahalle muhtarl was officially re-established in
1944. The rationale for the bill specified that the functions formerly fulfilled by
the muhtarlk were no longer satisfactorily fulfilled and justified the necessity
of reinstating them with an administration gap (idare boluu.)39
The 1944 law on the organisation of the neighbourhood muhtars and the
councils of elders in the cities and towns (ehir ve kasabalarda mahalle
muhtar ve ihtiyar heyetleri tekiline dair kanun) did not add anything new and
important in terms of the responsibilities of the muhtarlk. The muhtars were
still to be accompanied by the councils of elders (ihtiyarlar heyeti or ihtiyar
meclisi), who were elected with them and who assisted them in certain tasks,
as was already foreseen in the 1864 Vilayet Law. Their responsibilities remained
above all linked to the central authorities; the mahalle muhtarl had to apply
and enforce their instructions. Additionnally it had to show security forces
where suspects or wanted persons lived and identify future or recalcitrant
conscripts. It was responsible for the civil registry and the establishment of
electoral rolls, delivering certificates (particularly residence and poverty certificates), and notifying the administrative authorities of any epidemics. The
functions of the muhtarlk, with certain exceptions, did not concern collective
services to the neighbourhood as such but rather services that the residents

37
38
39

Elected partly by the local council, partly by the residents of the neighbourhood and
partly by public servants.
O. N. Ergin, Beledi Bilgiler, pp. 9495.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 117.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

265

needed on an individual basis.40 Other laws, which were not directly related to
the muhtarlk, attributed new tasks to this institution41 in the wake of the 1944
law, but only ever partially and without taking a global perspective.42 Arkboa
thus describes the muhtarlk as a stop gap (boluk doldurucu).43
Beyond the issue of responsibilities, the three bills successively elaborated
between 1943 and 1944, and debates in the parliamentary commissions and in
the plenary sessions reveal a high degree of hesitation about the status of the
muhtarlk.44 This observation should encourage us to consider the dispositions
that were finally adopted as being the results of multiple and relatively contingent compromises, rather than assuming the existence of a hypothetical rationality, and still less administrative reason. Certain mps proposed to grant the
neighbourhood a legal status and thus to transform it into a local government,
but the idea was quickly abandoned. The fact that the Constitution did not
foresee this administrative level meant that it would involve a cumbersome
and uncertain procedure. The debates also covered the links between the
muhtarlks and the municipalities and territorial state administration, particularly the prefectures and sub-prefectures. Ultimately the muhtarlks were not
attached to the municipalitieseven though it is with them that they have the
most contact45nor to the territorial state administration, even though they
were placed under the authority of the sub-prefecture.46 Thus the muhtarlk
was established as an autonomous unit with an indeterminate place in the
administrative system,47 halfway between local government and territorial
40
41

42
43

44
45
46
47

Ibid., p. 126.
As an example, the regulation on social security of 1972, attributes them the task of establishing certificates attesting to the fact that the beneficiaries of a deceased person have
been taken care of by insurance.
Erbay Arkboa also laments the fact that the muhtars are considered exploitable at will.
See Yerel Ynetimler, p. 124.
Erbay Arkboa Boluk Doldurucu ve Arac Kurum: Mahalle Muhtarl [A Stop-gap and
Intermediary Institution: The Neighbourhood Muhtarlk], in Birgl Ayman Gler and
Ayegl Sabuktay (eds.), Yerel Ynetimler Sempozyumu Bildirileri, Ankara, todai e yyaem
yaynlar, 2002.
The scope of this chapter does not allow us to undertake a more detailed analysis of these
texts, or the debates that accompanied them. See E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, pp. 117ff.
Sema Erder, Istanbula Bir Kent Kondu: mraniye [A Town Sprang Up in Istanbul:
mraniye], Istanbul, letiim, 1996, p. 80.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetim Asndan, p. 118.
Hamit Palabyk and ermin Atak, zmir Bykehir Btnnde Mahalle Ynetimleri
Profili [The Profile of Neighbourhood Authorities across the Metropolitan Municipality of
Izmir], Dokuz Eyll niversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstits Dergisi, vol. 2, no. 3, 2000, p. 154.

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Massicard

state administration.48 The law made the muhtarlk an administrative apparatus at the level of each neighbourhood, which assisted the public administration in providing services.49 Although the muhtarlk was established as a unit
which had to deal with the public services relating to the population of the
area, it did not have local responsibilities, which remained the prerogative of
the municipality. This hybrid reveals the confusion between local government
and territorial state administrationa confusion which is not limited to this.50
The contemporary representations of the mahalle muhtarl confirm this
indeterminacy. In a study by questionnaire conducted among eighteen muhtars
in Istanbul and Bursa, the definitions of the muhtarlk that were the most commonly adopted were the first level of the state, the smallest unit of the state,
the lowest unit or an arm of the state. They frequently consider themselves
to be the mlki amir of the neighbourhood, that is, as its principal civil servant.51 In a study by questionnaire conducted among muhtars and residents of
the central district of ankaya in Ankara in 2004 as part of a masters project,
27.4% of the muhtars interviewed described their role as that of a state public
servant, 21.6% as a municipal public servant (belediye memuru), 25.5% considered themselves both, and 25.5% responded other. The representations of the
population of the role and status of the muhtars are not very different and
reflect the same lack of certitude: 43.5% of residents questioned considered
that the muhtars were public servants of both the state and the municipality;
25.8% that they were state public servants, and 21% that they were municipal
public servants.52 The muhtar is frequently considered as the lowest level of
the state administration. Simultaneously the resemblances of the mahalle
muhtarl with the village administration and its relations with the municipalities result in its being often considered as form of local government.
The muhtar, a Non-Weberian Civil Servant?
This confusion reflects a fundamental ambiguity: the muhtar is a quasi-public
servant. The rupture or the distance that a Weberian civil servant is supposed
48
49
50

51
52

E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, pp. 117122.


Mehmet Aldan, Mahalle Muhtarl Tekilat [The Organisation of Neighbourhood
muhtarlks], dare Dergisi, vol. 27, no. 240, 1956, p. 16.
lise Massicard, Rgionalisme impossible, rgionalisation improbable. La gestion territoriale en Turquie lheure du rapprochement avec lUnion europenne, Revue dtudes
comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 39, no. 3, 2008, pp. 171203.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, pp. 134135.
Seil evran, The Place of Neighborhood Administration in the Turkish Administrative
System: The Case of Ankara, unpublished ma thesis, Ankara, Middle East Technical
University, 2005, pp. 104, 147.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

267

to have with those they administer or control is limited, even non-existent.


This lack of distance is accompanied by a relationship of dependency because,
given that they are elected, muhtars are dependent on the residents for reelection but also for their means of survival.
The muhtars are officers of the central government. In practice they are frequently considered civil servants (memur), in particular because most of their
functions are linked to the central administration and because they receive a
monthly payment. Yet they are not strictly speaking administrators. From a
legal standpoint, muhtars are considered other public agents (dier kamu
grevlileri) and their rights and duties are governed by the law on public servants. The State Council (Dantay) and the Supreme Court of Appeals (Yargtay)
sanctioned the principle according to which the muhtars are subject to the law
on the trial of civil servants.53
The status of the muhtars is all the more ambiguous for the fact that they are
elected54; and temporary. From this perspective, they are like local elected officials, but they do not have the same status, and do not have the legal authority
to represent the population. They are also not the same kind of elected official
as the others. Unlike candidates for any other election, candidates for the
muhtarlk are not required to present a prior declaration to the High Electoral
Council responsible for supervising elections, in order to validate their eligibility. The results are not published in the official electoral statistics.55 Moreover
they are non-partisan elected officials, because they can not run on party lists
any more since 1980.
Thus the muhtar can be distinguished from the legal-rational bureaucrat as
defined by Max Weber. Firstly their recruitment is not based on ability according to a technical qualification tested by examination and guaranteed by diplomas.56 The elective nature of the role is contrary to any requirement of
specialised skills, as to the principle of permanency57; moreover, there is no
career logic, no promotion according to years of service. Overall, it seems
53

Fethi Ayta, Mahalle Muhtarlarnn El Kitab [The Neighbourhood Muhtar Handbook],


Ankara, Sekin Yaynevi, 1995, p. 141; H. Palabyk and . Atak zmir Bykehir, p. 152.
54 The muhtars are elected by direct suffrage, although there are exceptions. Where the prefect considers it necessary, they can be elected by the municipal council.
55 E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 118, note 47.
56 Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, G. Roth, C. Wittich,
Berkeley and Los Angeles (ed.), ca/London, University of California Press, 1978 [1922],
vol. 1, p. 220.
57 Franoise Dreyfus, Linvention de la bureaucratie. Servir ltat en France, en GrandeBretagne et aux tats-Unis (XVIIIeXXe sicle), Paris, La Dcouverte, 2000, p. 90.

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inappropriate to read the muhtar according to a Weberian perspective of rationalisation or political professionalisation.58
Indeed being a muhtar is not always the sole or primary profession (Weber)
of those concerned. The question of their remuneration was raised from the
beginning of the muhtarlk and abandoned for want of means. The 1944 law
does not foresee a salary for them which sparked concerns on the grounds that
the public service would be transformed into an individual business.59 It was
only from 1977 that the muhtars were remunerated, out of a part of the budget
of the Minister for the Interior, transferred to the prefectures. However, this payment is not sufficient to live on; until 2014 it was less than half the salary of a
public servant with a high-school qualification.60 Moreover, the muhtars have to
pay a compulsory insurance which amounts to a significant part of their remuneration. Besides, they receive revenues linked to their activities of certification. Indeed, the muhtars are also paid the fees on the attestations that they
issue61that they dont necessarily require of the poor. The price of these services is set each year by each prefecture.62 This revenue is intended to cover the
expenses of the muhtarlk (rent, heating, electricity) and if necessary to complement the revenue of the muhtar. The sums of money that are brought in by
this activity are proportional to the population of the neighbourhood which is
extremely variableranging from a few hundred to more than 100,000 inhabitants. For Istanbul at the end of the 1990s, we can estimate that a muhtar was
obliged to have another source of revenue in neighbourhoods where the population was less than 7,000 or 8,000 people.63 According to widespread belief, the
muhtars have a very substantial income in densely populated areas,64 and people are driven to become muhtar out of desire for financial gain.65 However, in
these areas, the muhtars have to employ assistants to manage their workload,
whom they have to remunerate out of the money they receive. In any event
58
59
60
61
62
63
64

65

Michel Offerl (ed.), La profession politique, XIXeXXe sicles, Paris, Belin, 1999.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 123.
In 2010, it was roughly 330 tl (about 170), the minimum wage before tax being 800 tl
(about 410). In 2014 its amount has raised from 457 tl to 871 tl.
For the registry of requests for installation, opening businesses, residence, enrolling children
at school, property acts, identity documents and forms for changing identity documents.
In 2014 in Istanbul, it was 6 tl (a little more than 2) per stamp.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 146.
One newspaper evaluated the average monthly revenue of the muhtar in densely populated areas as between 4.5 and 13.5 million Turkish lira in 2004 (roughly between 2,800
and 8,500) Muhtarlarn Rant Dellosu [Muhtars duel over unearned income],
Milliyet, 25 March 2004.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 140.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

269

themuhtarlk was established as an activity funded by its own revenues and the
survival of muhtars was left to the circumstances of the locality in which he or
she operated; payment was an adjustment variable. Concretely, it is clear that this
revenue often means another source of income is required. Many muhtars are artisans, small business owners, involved in real estateclassified ads are often stuck
up on the walls or in the windows of their officeor receive a retirement pension.66
In fact, the modest nature of their remuneration implies a certain selection of
candidates, ruling out less well-off categories. In a study of muhtars in Istanbul conducted at the beginning of the 1990s, respondents were asked: between the
muhtarlk or the other job you do, which do you consider your profession? 70.7%
of the respondents answered my other job.67 Thus the muhtarlk is rarely a
professionalised activity that can be counted on for survival, but is instead often a
supplementary activity. The fact that the law until recently obliged the muhtarlk to
be open only four hours a day is revealing in this respect (see Figure 11.1).
Similarly, the muhtars do not have any specific means to fulfil their responsibilities. The 1944 law did not allocate them a budget, staff, or offices. This
point sparked debate in the discussions on the law, certain mps were afraid
that it would limit their scope of action.68 It is not rare that muhtars work from
an office that they own or rent, or even from their homes. We can see in this an
indication of the private - and not only public - character of their function.
However, some of them do have offices. These may have been donated or paid
for by residents. In recent times several municipalities (often district municipalities, but sometimes also metropolitan municipalities) have provided
offices to the muhtarlk, or computers.69
The Weberian approach in terms of the rationalisation of institutions, such
as it has been applied to the late Ottoman Empire and to Turkey, seems to be
limited here. Reading this gap in terms of incompletion, considering that the
Turkish administration had Weberian aspirations but wasnt able to achieve
themthrough lack of means for examplealso seems to be not very relevant
here. Although means are a real issue, the fact that the remuneration of the
66

67

68
69

According to research conducted in Izmir in 1998, 74.6% of the muhtars questioned were
retired and 22.9% had another occupation. H. Palabyk and . Atak zmir Bykehir,
p. 154.
A. Hikmet Horasan, stanbul Mahalle Muhtarlarnn ada Demokrasi Anlay [The
Vision of Contemporary Democracy by Neighbourhood Muhtars in Istanbul], unpublished ma thesis, Istanbul, Istanbul University, 1992, p. 71.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 122.
According to research conducted in Izmir in 1998, 31.1% of muhtars questioned operated
on municipal premises, 30.2% on premises belonging to them and 30.7% in premises that
they rent. H. Palabyk and . Atak zmir Bykehir, pp. 154, 167.

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Massicard

Figure11.1 Door of a muhtarlk. Opening Hours: 1012, 1416; I am working at my job at the
radio shop. Across from the church [address and telephone details]; Registration of
residence of workplaces and bachelor rooms is not performed. Note: No residential
registration. Please do not ask. (There are numerous spelling mistakes).
Photo: Jean-Franois Prouse, Istanbul, 2004.

muhtar was put in place in 1977 at a time when public finances were on the
edge of bankruptcy should be an indication that this was not a decisive factor.
The studies of the lowest levels of bureaucracy are also not suited to the analysis of the muhtar. The latter thus does not have a place in the typology of levels
of administration proposed by Migdal, who takes a Weberian approach. For
him, the lowest level is that of the trenches; public servants who have to
enforce state commands in the face of possible social resistance. These include
police officers, teachers, tax collectors, public servants in the traditional sense.70
Similarly, Lipsky focuses on teachers, social workers or members of the police
in his studies on low level public services and their application of policy.71
70

71

Joel S. Migdal, The State in Society: an Approach to Struggles for Domination, in Joel S.
Migdal, Atul Kohli and Vivienne Sue (eds.), State Power and Social Forces. Domination and
Transformation in the Third World, Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press,
1994, p. 16.
Michael Lipsky, Street-level bureaucracy. Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services,
New York, ny, Russell Sage Foundation, 1980.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

271

In both cases these are professionalised public servants, even if they are in
direct contact with society. On the other hand the role of the muhtar is particular in that it does not fit into these established typologieswhich is why it is
such an interesting object of study.

An Institutionalised Intermediary


One Intermediary among Others
Here we suggest adopting a different approach. The muhtar seems to be part of
a state-society continuum. We could argue that they represent the first point of
encounter with the state, an embodied entry point to the administration, who
is mobile and non-specialised. It is often through the intermediary of the
muhtar that the individual experiences the state. To use the terms of Cem
Behar, they play the role of middlemen.72 Nomi Lvy Aksu uses the term
intermediary to designate actors who take on a particular role in the management of public order and who, because of this, constitute privileged contacts
both for the state and for urban society. The community elites, local religious
leaders and neighbourhood headmen are categories who, because of their role
and social status, are guarantors of public order.73 Thus we can see the muhtars
as being like other intermediaries, who have been widely studied in the context
of the Ottoman Empire. Certain historians of the Ottoman period have even
proposed a paradigm of notables, defining these figures as those who could
play a certain political role as intermediaries between the government and the
population.74 In a similar way the muhtars are agents of the centre, but embedded in and stemming from local society; their role is to articulate both. To this
extent they represent a figure of the investment of the state in society but also
the investment of the state by society.75 Contrary to a reading in terms of a zero
sum game criticised in the first chapter of this book, it is precisely the social
role of the muhtarsthe fact that they are well-known and respected in their
72
73
74

75

C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 160.


N. Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres, p. 30.
Albert Hourani, Ottoman Reforms and the Politics of Notables, in W.R. Polk and R.L.
Chambers (eds.), Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East: The Nineteenth Century,
Chicago, il/London, The University of Chicago Press, 1968, p. 48. On the modalities of
delegation of power in Ottoman provinces, see Karl Barbir, From Pasha to Efendi: The
Assimilation of Ottomans into Damascene Society, 15161783, International Journal of
Turkish Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, 19791980, pp. 6883; Ariel Salzmann, Tocqueville in the
Ottoman Empire: Rival Paths to the Modern State, Leiden/Boston, Brill, 2004; Amy Singer,
The Routine Conduct.
M. Meeker, A Nation of Empire.

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neighbourhoodthat makes them eligible for the muhtarlk and reinforces


their role for the institutions, including as an internal intermediary within the
neighbourhood. Describing them as intermediaries between the state and
society therefore does not imply a watertight separation between two different
entities. On the contrary it means emphasising the simultaneous embedding
of the muhtars in different social orders and their subsequent role as a privileged contact and mediator. As Michael Meeker notes regarding provincial
elites, [They] were then both inside and outside the official class.76 Their
role is not limited to the mediation between state and society but can also
take place between different segments of local society. Thus, the muhtars
have often been requested to act as arbiters of neighbourhood conflicts
among other possible arbiters at the end of the 19th century, as described by
Nomi Lvy Aksu in her chapter. Even today, residents often turn to them in
instances of conflict with other residents, or in case of problems within the
building.77
Existing research on muhtars shows that one of their main activities
is the transmission of information about neighbourhood problems (in particular regarding the streets, public infrastructure and security) to the relevant authorities, municipal or sub-prefectural.78 According to a survey,
the inhabitants bring their problems to the muhtar first (62.1%), well
before the municipality (24.2%.)79 Article 9 of the 2004 law on municipalities recognised for the first time the role of the muhtar as the intermediary
and representative of the neighbourhood, making him or her responsible
for determining the collective needs of inhabitants, improving quality of
life in the neighbourhood and communicating with the municipality and
other institutions; intervening in questions linked to the neighbourhood
and working in collaboration with other authorities. This exchange works
both ways, as we can see from the fact that most muhtars declare that
they are informedeven if not systematicallyof the decisions and
announcements of the municipality and the sub-prefecture regarding their
neighbourhood.80
In the course of their functions, the muhtars are in contact with many
institutions. In existing studies, the overwhelming majority of muhtars emphasise the importance of maintaining a good relationship with the relevant
76
77
78
79
80

Ibid., p. 147.
S. evran, The place of neighborhood administration, p. 140.
Ibid., p. 110ff.
Ibid., p. 132.
Ibid., p. 116ff.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

273

authorities and bureaucrats.81 In a study of mraniye, a muhtar emphasised


the need to know everyone at the municipal level, from the mayor to his or her
assistants, the departmental directors and even the garbage collectors.82 This
is an important point because muhtars cannot actually do anything in their
own right, mediation is thus essential to their role. According to the typology
introduced by Jeremy Boissevain on clientelism,83 they are closer to the figure
of the broker than that of the boss (which is a substantial difference from
Ottoman notables), to the extent that they have little means of their own but
provide access to resources controlled elsewhere, by the state authorities.
During the local elections of 1999, the brochures of one candidate read
Although I have no authority (yetki), I will be the intermediary between the
relevant institutions for the provision of services.84 In the words of one
muhtar, given that you dont have power on your own, and you dont have any
cards in your hand, you have to be on good terms with those concerned.85

Social Grounding, Proximity and Interconnectedness
The social position of the muhtars and their proximity to the population are
key attributes of this role. This is very different from Weberian administrators
who are defined by distance or estrangement from those they administer, but
also unlike the street-level public bureaucrat. Firstly, the muhtars level of education is an important factor in reducing this social distance. In order to be a
candidate for a seat on the municipal or provincial council, one must have
completed primary school, whereas to run for the position of muhtar one simply has to know how to read and write Turkish.86 The Figure 11.1 shows just how
basic this muhtars understanding of spelling and grammar are. These are
therefore the administrators and elected officials who are the closest to the
peoplein social terms too. Secondly, once elected, the muhtars do not have
any specific training which might encourage them to conform to standardised
practices. They do not constitute a groupby their functions, their interests,87
or their specific ethosoutside the social groups they come from; instead a
81
82
83
84
85
86
87

E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, pp. 141142.


S. Erder, Istanbula bir Kent, p. 81.
Jeremy Boissevain, Friends of Friends: Networks, Manipulators and Coalitions, Oxford,
Blackwell, 1974.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetim Asndan, p. 122, note 56.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 142.
As well as criteria of nationality, age and a clear police record.
Although there are associations to represent their interests, many muhtars are not
involved in them.

274

Massicard

relative non-differentiation can be observed. Yet it is not just anyone who runs
for the muhtarlk. Unlike other levels of election (municipal council, provincial
council etc.) the muhtars cannot be presented by a political party, they campaign with their own resources, even if they gather support in their neighbourhood, just as notables did in France before political professionalisation. Thus,
a certain financial selection does occur.88 This also tends to confirm the legitimately private dimension of this role.
In 2004, Jean-Franois Prouse put together a photographic corpus of slogans used in the muhtarlk elections in different neighbourhoods (essentially
peripheral) in Istanbul. A rapid overview of the campaign themes shows that
the main argument is often based on resemblance, proximity, such as in the
slogan one of you (iinizden biri). Of course this rhetoric of proximity to the
people is also used in numerous other kinds of elections in other contexts;
candidates have to show that they are close to the voters, that they are on an
equal level.89 However, here this is more than just rhetoric; the muhtar is supposed to have lived in the neighbourhood he or she administers for at least one
year before being elected, and he or she is in daily interaction with those who
are administered, much more so than the mayor or the municipal councillor.
We can thus hypothesise that it is the very proximity of the muhtar (in geographic and social terms) to the population that is pivotal to this role.
This proximity, this relative non-differentiation, can be read in the configuration of the muhtars premises. Indeed the materiality of objects and devices
contribute to the definition of a relationship to the institution, in other words
the designation of its legitimate usages.90 In most muhtarlk premises, a distanced relationship is not the norm. Unlike in other administrative offices,
there is no barrier (in the form of a booth or a window) which physically separates the muhtar from the public. The offices themselves are somewhere
between an administrative office and a reception room. The muhtars often
officiate from a non-specific private or professional space. Some muhtarlks
stand next to cafs, and muhtars who run cafs are quite common in fact (see
Figure 11.2). We can see in this the position of the muhtarlk in the social life of
the neighbourhood.
88
89
90

Heidi Wedel, Lokale Politik und GeschlechterrollenStadtmigrantinnen in trkischen


Metropolen, Hamburg, Schriften des Deutschen Orient-Instituts, 1999.
Christian Le Bart and Rmi Lefebvre (eds.), La proximit en politique. Usages, rhtoriques,
pratiques, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2005.
Vincent Dubois, La vie au guichet. Relation administrative et traitement de la misre, Paris,
Economica, 2003, p. 43; English translation, The Bureaucrat and the Poor. Encounters in
French Welfare Offices, Aldershot, Ashgate, 2010.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

275

Figure11.2 The premises of four muhtarlks combined around a caf at the foot of Galata Tower.
Photo: lise Massicard, Istanbul, 2013.

Another consequence of the fact that the candidates run alone is that a
large social network is required to win the election. Interviewed on the conditions of eligibility, many muhtars first mention being well-known (tannma),
although that doesnt exempt them from having to campaign. On this point, it
is revealing that in electoral campaigns sometimes only the name of the candidate is mentioned, and this seems sufficient to identify them. The election
takes place in a context where personal connections are very important.
In 1994, in mraniyea neighbourhood on the outskirts of Istanbul with
several tens of thousands of inhabitants -, there were around ten candidates
who represented pre-existing social groups (mainly originating from the same
region or village, hemehri). Some of these groups conducted primaries in
order to not disperse their votes; but these informal procedures are only
possible in the context of relative social connectedness.91
It is relevant here to come back to the social context of the neighbourhood
(mahalle): as well as being an administrative unit, the neighbourhood is also to
91

H. Wedel, Lokale Politik.

276

Massicard

a certain extent a social unit. With the creation of the muhtarlk the authorities
did not create an administrative echelon but situated themselves within
already operating social units and reinforced the administrative connection
with them. For the late Ottoman period, Cem Behar emphasises that the
mahalle was always both a basic urban administrative unit and a social and
economic entity even if these two meanings never completely overlapped. []
The mahalle was essentially a basic urban community defined by a dense web
of relationships, before being a ward, a local administrative unit.92 At the end
of the Ottoman period the neighbourhood seems to have been the most important level in the daily lives of the town residents, from a social, economic and
relational perspective.93 Here we will not fall prey to that traditionalist, orientalist vision of the Ottoman or Islamic town composed of stable, almost
autarkic, homogenous neighbourhoods in which everyone knows everyone.94
For one, the administrative unit and the space of belonging designated by the
term mahalle do not always perfectly overlap.95 For another, the situation has
since changed a lot, given that the borders of the mahalle have been redrawn
several times (most recently in 2009), leading to disjunctions between administrative boundaries and social ones, which are themselves vague and in flux.96
Finally, the density of the social connections cannot be the same in areas with
only a few hundred inhabitants and those with several tens of thousands. More
than the idea of coherent social unity, which may have been relevant in certain
periods, what is important here is relative social connectedness, that is, the
possibility (for the muhtar, but also for inhabitants) to obtain information
about anyone quite quickly through a limited number of intermediaries.

Institutionalised Witness and Guarantor
Thus the main skill of the muhtars is their ability to mobilise social interconnectednessbecause they are supposed to recognise intruders but also to
know (or be able to know) the social and economic situation of those they
administer and to vouch for it. Similarly, different state institutions can demand
92
93
94

95
96

C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 6, 9.


N. Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres, p. 220.
It is particularly based on the neighbourhood with its borders closed at night that Max
Weber refused to include the socially and politically fragmented Islamic city in his ideal
type of the town. Max Weber, The City, translated by D. Martindale and G. Neuwirth,
Glencoe, The Free Press, 1958 [1921]. Following this, the neighbourhood was long considered the symbol of the fragmented and immobile Ottoman or Islamic city. Work in urban
history from the 1970s and particularly that of Albert Hourani has led to question this vision.
N. Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres, pp. 217222.
C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 14.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

277

certain documents or certificates issued by muhtars to prove the status of


individuals.97 One of the key responsibilities of the muhtar is providing certificates (of good behaviour during the Ottoman Empire, until today residence or
poverty certificates). In the delivery of these certificates, the role of the muhtar
is not to verify the presence of the documents required but to produce them
based on his or her knowledge. The role of the muhtar is to be a direct eyewitness (if not direct, then through a limited number of trusted interme
diaries) of the daily life, family situation, and social behaviour of the residents.
This testimony is the basis for the production of official documents, including identity documents. At the end of the Ottoman period, the testimony of
the muhtar had more power to identify someone than their identification
documents.98 This might be linked to the muhtars capacity to identify but
also to authenticate a person based on their knowledge.99 Even today if
someone loses their identity documents they must be identified (and
authenticated) by the muhtar before being able to have new ones made.
Although most civil service procedures are now carried out by the population
directorates at sub-prefectural level, the identification and authentication of
an individual must first be performed by the muhtar. The underlying idea is
that in a context of relative uncertainty of identification, they are the only ones
in a position to recognise the individual. For residence certificates as well, the
muhtars are considered privileged witnesses as to a persons place of residence.
The same is true of poverty certificates. Cem Behar has shown that this document dates back to at least the 19th century, but its origins remain unclear. It
is an official declaration, signed and stamped by the muhtar, certifying that an
individual is poor and giving him or her access to assistance (from the Red
Crescent, charitable organisations etc.) or tax exemption. Indeed, both under
the Empire and today, social assistance is made up of subsidies and payments
which are divisible, even individualised and distributed on a case by case basis.
It is often the muhtar who evaluates each case on the basis of his or her supposed knowledge of everyones conditions of daily life. Today social assistance
is primarily distributed through the social cooperation and solidarity fund
established by Law no.3294 of 1986. Individuals or households who request
assistance must approach the muhtar who evaluates their eligibility. The direction of social affairs of the sub-province then studies the application and generally follows the muhtars advice. But it does happen that they send social
workers to observe the living conditions of the applicant/s. The local managers
97
98
99

F. Ayta, Mahalle Muhtarlarnn, p. 105.


C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 164.
See Benot Fliches chapter in this volume.

278

Massicard

Figure11.3 Writing at the entrance to a mosque referring to the poverty certificate provided by
the muhtar. Those who wish to receive a Ramadan basket must obtain a poverty
certificate from the muhtar.
Photo: Jean-Franois Prouse, Istanbul, 2004.

of the national solidarity fund are often assisted by the muhtars in evaluating
the applications and deciding on the type and amount of assistance to award.
Moreover, since the beginning of the 1990s numerous other divisible social
benefits have been put in place, essentially by the municipalities but also by
associations or mosques. They may involve assistance in kind or financial assistance, in particular for medical or education expenses.100 To obtain them, a
certificate from the muhtar or other influential persons (nfuzlu kiiler) such
as the imam or school principal, is also often required. The same type of procedure operates for health services, also in striking continuity with the past. In
the 19th century, muhtars established certificates enabling people without
resources to receive health services for free or for reduced rates.101 From 1992 to
2009, poverty certificates enabled populations without social protection to

100 Aye Bura and alar Keyder, New Poverty and the Changing Welfare Regime in Turkey,
Ankara, undp, 2003, p. 31.
101 C. Behar, A Neighborhood.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

279

obtain a green card that provided them with access to health services (roughly
twelve million beneficiaries.)102
The muhtar therefore plays a key role in the identification of those in
need.103 This role is even more important in a context where a significant
amount of workand revenue more generallyis undeclared, which makes it
complicated to evaluate poverty on purely formal criteria. Thus, even if rights
are established by the law, an individual cannot access them without certification by the muhtar who, in so doing, creates a legal basis for a divisible right.
Thus, it is often through the intervention of the muhtar that individuals
become beneficiaries.104 The production of this kind of certificate is far from a
simple formality, which increases the stakes of the interaction. In order to produce it, the muhtar is supposed to obtain information from financial authorities, from the municipality, the authorities of titles of property, but in practice
it happens that these certificates are provided without investigation.105
Knowledge of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood and their mode of life
is thus a key task, constitutive in a way to the role of muhtar. Contrary to a
rational-legal administration founded on impersonality, interpersonal knowledge is at the very foundation of the figure of the muhtar and leads to a specific
form of government.

Heterogeneous Horizons of Action
Thus we can see the muhtars as part of a long listat least in the Ottoman
Empireof institutionalised intermediaries. Like other intermediaries of the
Ottoman provincial administration, studied by Marc Aymes, the muhtars frequently dont fit into the frames of the authorised administrator.106 As a result,
the horizons of their action cannot be limited to the simple raison dEtat. We
could also apply the observation of Albert Hourani concerning the figure of
the Ottoman notable whose modes of action must in normal circumstances
be cautious and even ambiguous.107 This observation implies that their freedom of movement involves mobilizing heterogeneous registers of political
102 ar Yoltar, When the Poor Need Health Care: Ethnography of State and Citizenship in
Turkey, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 45, no. 5, 2009, pp. 769782.
103 A. Bura and . Keyder, New Poverty, pp. 3738.
104 C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 161164.
105 F. Ayta, Mahalle Muhtarlarnn, p. 75.
106 Marc Aymes, Dissipation de lEtat: limpens des institutions ottomanes, contribution to
the workshop Servir ltat en Turquie: la rationalisation des institutions en question,
Paris, cole des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales, December 5, 2008. url: http://halshs.
archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00723285/ (last accessed June 20, 2013).
107 A. Hourani, Ottoman Reforms, p. 46.

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action.108 What sets the muhtars apart is the fact that they are sui generis
semi-official agents. In other words, the advantage of studying the muhtars is
that among all the agents that can be described as institutionalised intermediaries (numerous during the Ottoman period) they alone operate a form of
institutionalisation of the semi-official, or even the unofficial.
Here we can use Ernst Kantorowiczs famous 1989 formulation to distinguish the two bodies of the muhtar. On one hand they are the incarnation of
the state, charged with applying norms that are intended to be universal in a
standardised and impersonal way; they mobilise objects (stamps, forms, computer) and language which erase the person behind the institutional belonging. On the other hand however, these are concrete individuals, who not only
have individual characteristicsexperiences, personal dispositionsbut also
(and this is what sets them apart from other street-level bureaucrats analysed
for example by Dubois109) who are socially situated in the neighbourhood. For
the resident, the muhtar is also a neighbour who one might run into in everyday life, and with whom one shares the same environment and a certain number of connections. Both the resident and the muhtar may mobilise either of
these two frameseither the administrative norms and neutral language of
the bureaucracy or the familiar personal language of ordinary existence, neighbourly or interpersonal relationswhich means they can increase their room
for manoeuvre.
Although this dilemma is shared by all intermediaries, as well as by streetlevel bureaucrats, the muhtars have a distinct degree and forms of engagement
that are different for two main reasons. Firstly, because of their social proximity and their position in the society that they operate in, the norms and practices that underlie the actions of the muhtars are close to those of the residents.
Secondly, the muhtars are in a relationship of dependency with those they
administer, because of the fact that the latter are also their electors. We thus
hypothesise that the muhtars horizon of action is dominated by these registers of proximity, community and interpersonal relationships. The institution
of the muhtarlk is characterised by the intentionally incomplete hold that the
state has over itwith no exclusive and unique allegianceand by the role
that it leaves to non-administrative social dynamics. Through this form of concession emerges a specific mode of government.

108 Marc Aymes, A Provincial History of the Ottoman Empire: Cyprus and the Eastern
Mediterranean in the Nineteenth Century, translated by Adrian Morfee, London/New York,
Routledge, 2014, p. 51.
109 V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, pp. 7980.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

281

From Circumvention to the Production of Consent

From what we have seen we can conclude that just as the muhtars cannot be
considered bureaucrats in the Weberian sense of the word, nor as street-level
bureaucrats, the relationship between the muhtars and the inhabitants is not
a classic bureaucratic relationship between an administrator and those who
are administered. Instead it reveals a form of government that is different from
the rational-legal model. Our hypothesis is that the muhtarlk institution is a
way of creating order but also compromise, that it produces consent as well as
ways of bypassing the state.

From Circumvention to Diversion
The heterogeneity of the muhtars horizons of action has an impact on the
application of public policies transmitted or even implemented by them.
Lipsky has shown the influence that street-level bureaucrats responsible for
carrying out public policies have on the way these policies are conducted. Scott
T. Moore goes even further in emphasising their decisive role, their ability to
choose, to prioritise and to strategise.110 Street-level bureaucrats who carry out
public policies cannot content themselves with the simple application of regulations; they play with the rules, take liberties with them and apply them
according to their own interests. What is true for the street-level bureaucrat is
probably even more so for the muhtars, given their close proximity to the population. This is notably the case for the main area in which the muhtar has
decisive power, the attribution of certificates and particularly poverty certificates. For example, the application of a directive from the Solidarity Fund for
the distribution of social assistance to the unemployed is left to the discretion
of the muhtar. One study has shown that muhtars did not apply this directive
because they considered that unemployment was the responsibility of the
individualaccording to the dominant representations of povertyand thus
did not warrant assistance. Many muhtars tended to suggest to the applicant to
first ask their family for help, and some even despised the very act of applying
for assistance because they considered it dishonourable.111 We can see the
force of mainstream social representations at the muhtars level, for example
the importance of family solidarity or discourses on honour, which short-circuit the application of social policy designed to get away from, or even oppose
or change, these representations.
110 Scott T. Moore, The Theory of Street-Level Bureaucracy: A Positive Critique, Administration
and Society, vol. 19, no. 1, 1987, pp. 7494.
111 A. Bura and . Keyder, New Poverty, pp. 40, 45.

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Moreover, the muhtars have specific vested interests in the interaction with
the inhabitants, who are also his or her electors. Indeed, the muhtar depends
for re-election on the same individuals for whom he or she establishes these
certificates. The real sanction takes place at the polls, whereas it is relatively
rare that a muhtar is relieved of their responsibilities by the administration. As
a result they can resist even less the demands that are made on them by
residentseven if they go beyond, or even contradict the official definition of
their role. Yet the muhtar incumbents who run for election are re-elected in the
great majority of cases. We can thus hypothesise that they satisfy their electorsor have managed to make themselves indispensable. This complex relationship can be seen particularly in areas where the muhtar has significant
power over the residents, especially in instances where he or she helps (or not)
to grant them access to social rights which may be extremely important for
them. Although the relationship between the muhtar and the residents is
clearly asymmetrical, it is more balanced than the classical administratoradministrated relationship. The resident is of course in the position of applicant but is also an elector. Vincent Dubois has shown that the personalisation
of the relationship between the bureaucrat at the desk and the applicant could
be a resource enabling the former to gently obtain the consent of the latter.112
In the case of the muhtar, the personalisation of the relationship can occur in
both directions, and we can hypothesise that the applicant can relatively easily
personalise this relationship if the administrative rules are not in his or her
favour.
These reciprocal dependencies allow us to better understand why the
muhtar is often reticent about refusing the delivery of a poverty certificate. It is
in their interests to provide themselves, and the inhabitants of their neighbourhood, small liberties regarding the institutional norms, which can be seen
in most administrations in fact. There are multiple ways in which the muhtar
may carry out arrangements in favour of residents: minor favours, the removal
of administrative obstacles, or specific errors or oversights to which he or she
turns a blind eye. Some even fail to collect the fee for the documents (or collect
smaller sums) with the goal of obtaining votes.113 Thus, during the 2014 electoral campaign, several candidates for the muhtarlk promised to issue the certificates for free.114 Moreover, because of their status as points of contact with
the municipality, mediators between shopkeepers, landowners and the
112 V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 125.
113 brahim Doan, Milletvekili Olacana Muhtar Ol [Instead of an mp, be a muhtar],
Aksiyon, January 5, 2004.
114 Observations, Istanbul, March 2014.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

283

administration, the muhtars have numerous contacts and informationfor


example about amnesties concerning the numerous buildings constructed
without permit, or about changes to urban plans. Information is a key resource
in a context of relative legal insecurity. Helping residents by providing them a
certificate, a guarantee or supposedly confidential information doesnt cost the
muhtar anything. On the contrary, it pays. These acts of tolerance towards a
particular individual made by a particular muhtar therefore reinforce his or
her personal credit with those he or she administers.115 Certain muhtars provide certificates to whoever asks for them, even to those they dont think have
a right to them.116 Some muhtars, who are reticent about putting themselves in
an awkward position with the authorities, provide the certificate, but call the
sub-prefecture afterwards to give them their real opinion on the individuals
concerned. Still others use a double language in their correspondence, hinting
that the certificates should not have been issued.117
This is not always the case however. Thus, the practices of falsifying documents involving muhtars are fairly frequent, and some are massive. In
December 2007 in Adana, a group of people caught falsifying green cards was
dismantled.118 Certain muhtars had vouched for individuals so they would
obtain these green cards when they did not meet the conditions required.
Three muhtars were arrested for their involvement in this falsification.119 It is
possible to understand these practices as a way of increasing revenue and
enlarging the circle of their supporters amongst their electors. It is also relevant that the delivery of these poverty certificates is among those attributions
that the muhtar cannot accomplish alone, but only with a majority of the
council of elders, in order to avoid any misdemeanour. The interests of the citizen and the muhtar thus come together against those of an impersonal administration. From as early as 1836, Musa adrc documented cases of muhtars
providing undue attestations to people who had committed offenses or been
banished, in exchange for payment.120 Similarly Cem Behar shows that the
115
116
117
118

V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 162.


A. Bura and . Keyder, New Poverty, pp. 3031.
Ibid., p. 40.
Muhtarl Yeil Kart etesi [The Green Card Gang that Involved a muhtar], Trkiye,
December 2, 2007.
119 We havent been able to reconstruct the outcome of this case but it does happen that
muhtars are trialed and condemned for abuse of power for such practices. See for example, Kylsne Yeil Kart Torpili Yapan Muhtara Ceza [Sanction for the muhtar Who
Had Pulled Strings for His Fellow Village Member to Get a Green Card], Hrriyet, June 26,
2008.
120 M. adrc, Trkiyede Muhtarlk Tekilatnn, pp. 414, 417418.

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muhtar of the Kasap lyas neighbourhood, in spite of taking his role very seriously, was in the habit of providing documents to those who were not in order.
Ultimately it is the network of trust and witnesses that is the source of authority, more than the official nature of the procedure.121 Through the plurality of
their horizons of action, the muhtars are characterised by frequent bending of
the laws that they are supposed to enforce.
These arrangements with the rules are necessary but by definition they are
not clearly laid out. Arbitration paves the way for the arbitrary, and also involves
numerous institutional weaknesses. Bureaucracy with a human face is also
that of favours and favouritism, especially for those who do not benefit from
these arrangements.122 Indeed, for a muhtar who is socially embedded in the
neighbourhood in many different ways, one inhabitant is not equal to another.
They can apply their prerogatives differentially, with no regard for the principle
of impartiality that would be mobilised in loyally serving the government and
treating all citizens equally and in conformity with the general interest.123 The
personalised nature of muhtarlk often gives rise to some suspicion of favouritism and nepotism.124 They are frequently accused of using their contacts,
information and influence to obtain income from real estate, or to help their
kin. Thus, through their complex position, the muhtars are often a means of
circumventing or bypassing the official rules that they are supposed to enforce.

Differential Operation Patterns
A means of circumvention, muhtarlk also constitutes an institution that operates very differently from one place to the next, and produces consent. The
sociology of institutions has emphasised that the latter only exist to the extent
that their roles are fulfilled by the uses that are made of them. Yet these uses
adapt the institution and redefine the roles. There is often a great distance
between the official ideal use of an institution and the actual way it is used.125
From this point of view, the definition of the muhtars role reveals a relative
uncertainty. The skills required of muhtars are numerous, but their means are
very limited; there is thus a significant gap between what the muhtars are supposed to do and what they actually do. A study conducted between 1967 and
121
122
123
124
125

C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 123128.


V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, pp. 159ff.
F. Dreyfus, Linvention de la bureaucratie, p. 219.
A. Bura and . Keyder, New Poverty, p. 47.
V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, pp. 145147; Jacques Lagroye and Michel Offerl, Pour une
sociologie des institutions, in J. Lagroye and M. Offerl (eds.), Sociologie de linstitution,
Paris, Belin, 2010, pp. 17ff.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

285

1971 by the Minister of the Interior lists 143 functions attributed to the muhtarlk
based on different legislative texts (laws, decrees, regulations and circulars)
and found that 47% of them were carried out and 52.9% were not.126 Even if
this quantitative method flattens out phenomena that are undoubtedly more
complex, this simple observation reveals the extent of the gap between the
official definition of the muhtarlk and its daily reality. Moreover, many of the
muhtarlks skills are not exclusive (or not any more); they have been transferred to state institutions (population administration, police)partly
because of the fact that their means are not adapted to these functions. This
doesnt mean that the distribution of these functions has been clarified, which
contributes to the uncertainty. We hypothesise that the muhtarlks have a relatively important degree of administrative autonomy, i.e. a limited degree of
conformity with institutionally prescribed practices.127 Finally, the muhtars
are scarcely controlled at all in their practices and no real administrative sanction exists.128 This situation contributes to the weak formalisation and standardisation of a role that is essentially defined by the practice of the person
who fulfils it.129 This particularity makes the divergences between muhtars
possible, in terms of the guiding principles of their role. Ways of doing things
and adopting the role are therefore markedly differentiated, and there are
significant divergences in the definitions of the role among the muhtars themselves. Existing studies show great variety in muhtars representations of
their position, as well as clearly different levels of importance awarded to the
different dimensions of their function. According to the study conducted
in 2004 by Seil evran in Ankara, most muhtars believed above all that they
represented the residents of their neighbourhood (66.7%), whereas 25.5%
of them believed that the muhtarlk represented the state above all, and
only 5.8% believed they represented the municipality. As far as residents
were concerned, 47.6% considered the muhtar as representing the neighbourhood first, 27.4% the residents and the state, 19.4% residents and the municipality and only 3.2% the state. None saw them as representing the municipality
alone.130
126 E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 126.
127 V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 5.
128 The rare cases where the muhtars were relieved of their functions concerned instances of
alleged manipulation of electoral rolls. Even the muhtars condemned for abuse of power
only received pecuniary sanctions and prison sentences (often suspended) but were not
stripped of their functions.
129 V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 81.
130 S. evran, The Place of Neighborhood Administration, pp. 105, 146.

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Agents of an institution have room for manoeuvre but so do its users; it is


their practices and usages that transform it. Thus, users are involved in the
definition of the function of the institution. Residents are not passive victims
deprived of all latitude and devoid of tactics. They do not simply conform to
the role that the institution expects of them. They can adapt to the institution
but they can also adapt it. The degree of autonomy of the local population and
their ability to negotiate with state actors is at the heart of current Ottoman
historiography, often inspired by subaltern studies,131 but also by the work of
de Certeau.132 These studies come together in the affirmation of non-state
actors (who are often under-privileged) playing an active role in their relationship with the authorities by using the room for manoeuvre that is given to
them by the law and its enforcement.133
In the same way, the muhtarlk operates differently depending on the context,134 and the uses of the institution vary significantly from one place to
another. In certain neighbourhoods, particularly in older ones where the infrastructure is well established and inhabitants are relatively wealthy and welleducated, the lack of efficacy of the muhtarlk leads to its abandonment and the
institution practically becomes obsolescent. Those who have access to institutions that are henceforth equally competent do not bother with a visit to the
muhtar.135 But those who do not have these resources address the institution
that they have access to, and this for all kinds of requests. Social determination
in recourse to the muhtar already existed at the end of the 19th century; the
grand families of the Kasap lyas neighbourhood did not appear in the registers
of the muhtar.136 Thus, inhabitants make intensive use of the muhtarlk particularly in the more recent neighbourhoods and in the gecekondu. We can also see
differences in the way the institution is used within a given neighbourhood,
depending on thesometimes very diversesocio-economic status of the
inhabitants.137 In the study that Sema Erder conducted in mraniye in the
131 Donald Quataert, Doing Subaltern Studies in Ottoman History, International Journal of
Middle East Studies, vol. 40, no. 3, 2008, pp. 379381; Milen Petrov, Everyday Forms of
Compliance: Subaltern Commentaries on Ottoman Reform, 18641868, Comparative
Studies in Society and History, vol. 46, no. 4, 2004, pp. 730759.
132 Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, translated by Steven Rendall, Berkeley,
ca, University of California Press, 1984.
133 N. Lvy Aksu, Ordre et dsordres, p. 21.
134 S. Erder, Istanbula bir Kent, p. 74.
135 For identity documents, citizens can go to the Population Registration Office which provides them for free, whereas the muhtar charges for the same service.
136 C. Behar, A Neighborhood, p. 170.
137 E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 128.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

287

1990s, the muhtars declared that they had to carry out tasks that were not part
of their responsibilities and worked ten to twelve hours a day, their premises
were never empty. This might be partly explained by the numerous gaps in the
public institutions in these areas (lack of infrastructure but also remoteness
from administrative centres and lack of connection with them)138 and perhaps
also by the village origin of the inhabitants.139 The muhtarlk is sometimes the
only public institution in these areas. Even when this isnt the case, because of
its resemblance with the village muhtarlk, the muhtarlk is often the only institution that the inhabitants are familiar with and the muhtars thus find themselves the key contact in matters outside their competence.
In these recent and relatively impoverished neighbourhoods, the muhtars
declare that they are contacted for all problems and demands besides their
standard work. Firstly, the inhabitants come to them for individual or collective demands concerning infrastructures (installation of water or electricity,
roads, waterworks, schools, mosques, rubbish collection). When the demands
are urgent, the inhabitants sometimes even march on the muhtarlk to put
pressure on them.140 Secondly, in these areas, the muhtars take on a role of
administrative orientation. They take upon themselves to help the inhabitants
with their procedures and contact with the institutions (including the gendarmerie, school, municipality, sub-prefecture etc.). The muhtars explain the procedure to follow, the appropriate institution, or even follow up applications or
procedures.141 In particular for relatively recent rural migrants, who dont know
how the institutions work or how to have access to them, the muhtars take on
a pedagogical role in establishing their relations with the administration.
When they provide technical assistance, advice outside the institutional context, or help filling in forms,142 the muhtars provide services that extend well
beyond the bureaucratic definition of their role.143
Finally, the muhtars frequently take on a role of mediation and dispute
regulation. In these self-built neighbourhoods, they are confronted with dema
nds that are in fact the domain of social, educational or judicial institutions
(truancy, complaints about gambling husbands, demands for jobs or hospital
138
139
140
141
142

S. Erder, Istanbula bir Kent, p. 75.


A.H. Horasan, stanbul Mahalle Muhtarlarnn, pp. 8384.
S. Erder, Istanbula bir Kent, p. 77.
Ibid.
Another type of intermediary provides these services to the disoriented citizen, in
exchange for remuneration, the arzuhalc (public letter writers) who are found around
the administrations. They often come from these administrations, know them well and
have contacts in them.
143 V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 113.

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beds, etc.). Moreover, although they dont have the legal authorityalthough
they are listened to in the courtsthey are asked to arbitrate or mediate in
family disputes (which often makes it possible to avoid recourse to the legal
system), to financially assist the unemployed, or to intervene in property disputes.144 Certain muhtars even help inhabitants if they are burgled, or have
relationship problems, or are looking for a baby sitter.145 The inhabitants, who
consider the muhtar as one of their own (kendisinden grerek) also see him as
someone to whom any kind of problem can be presented, or even as a kind of
individual secretary (sr katibi).146 We can see here how personalisation may
facilitate the relationship of the inhabitants to the institution.147
Once again the parallel with Cem Behars study of the Kasap lyas neighbourhood at the end of the 19th century is striking. The muhtar overstepped
his legal prerogatives because he also fulfilled the role of witness, public scribe,
writer of petitions, and guarantor and intermediary in assisting his flock in
their official business. He even took on the role of unofficial notary to the
extent that inhabitants called on him as a witness, to register their legal and
commercial transactions, and as an authority before whom a personal or commercial transaction could be officialisedeven if this was not the right
address. Some contracts were then transferred to the relevant authority (land
registry, Koranic court, etc.), others were not.148
For Behar, illiteracy, poverty, and not knowing ones rights were among the
main reasons for turning to the muhtar.149 We can also assume a correlation
between the level of education or qualification and the means used to contact
the administration. For those who are less qualified, particularly those who
are socially not accustomed to writing, filling in a form or writing a letter to
the administration is not a straightforward task. Having someone to attend
physically and someone to speak orally to is the only possibility they can
envisage.150 The muhtar thus plays the role of the intermediary in converting
orality to script. Even for someone who is literate, administrative procedures
and forms may appear overwhelming. For example to obtain a green card, the
procedures were relatively complex and rarely within reach of potential
beneficiaries.
144
145
146
147
148
149
150

S. Erder, Istanbula bir Kent, pp. 7579.


A.H. Horasan, stanbul Mahalle Muhtarlarnn, pp. 8990.
E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 162.
V. Dubois, La vie au guichet.
C. Behar, A Neighborhood, pp. 161, 167.
Ibid., p. 169.
V. Dubois, La vie au guichet, p. 32.

The Incomplete Civil Servant?

289

In this respect it is interesting to observe that the inhabitants have more


confidence in the muhtar than in the other institutions. A questionnaire based
study conducted in 1995 on participation in local authorities throughout
Turkey found that respondents expressed weariness, remoteness and separation from local authorities but inversely the muhtar appeared among the main
figures responsible for the resolution of urban problems.151 To the question of
who represented their interests best in the resolution of problems in their
neighbourhood or town, the inhabitants placed the muhtar (36% and even
38% in the gecekondu areas) well above the mayor (32%).152
The muhtarlk represents an institution of non-external proximity where
one can preach ones cause, ask for advice, personal help or even a favour, without (or with reduced) shame. From this perspective the muhtarlk can be seen
as an apparatus that produces consent. The way the muhtars and the councils
of elders are selected, their election, contributes to this search for consent and
helps to legitimate them. Finally we can consider the muhtarlk institution as
an arrangement that reproduces the order itself co-produced by the state and
society, and in particular that helps integrate the social margins into the state
order, which tolerates its own circumvention to a certain degree.
Conclusion
Analysis of the role of intermediaries, which is widely developed in Ottoman
studies, has contributed to bringing their key role in the government to light.
The muhtars, institutionalised as part of the Ottoman administrative reform,
enable us to make a hypothesis of continuity: the reformed Ottoman state apparatus, but also the Republican oneup to and including the contemporary
periodhave continued to institutionalise these intermediaries alongside the
administration and at the same time. Far from having disappeared in the
Republic, in spite of the wishes of certain reformers, these intermediaries have
proved to have remarkable longevity and probably represent more than a vestige or an accident of history.
151 This research, aiming to raise awareness on participation in local authorities, was partly
financed by the International Research Institute and supported by the Marmara Union of
Municipalities as well as by two research foundations (the Foundation for Strategic Research
and the Foundation for Strategic research of Anatolia). Taciser Belge and Orhan Bilgin (eds.)
Yurtta Katlm/Sivil Toplum Kurulular ve Yerel Ynetimler Arasnda Ortaklk ve birlii
[Citizen Participation/Cooperation and Collaboration between Civil Society Organisations
and Local Authorities], Istanbul, Helsinki Yurttalar Dernei, 1997, pp. 107119.
152 E. Arkboa, Yerel Ynetimler, p. 131.

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Consequently, this observation encourages us to enlarge both our chronological and spatial scope. Whereas reflexion on Ottoman intermediaries has
been focused on their role in the integration and administration of provinces
in the Empire, the muhtars figure suggests that government by intermediary is
not limited to the far-off province but also operatesperhaps especially
operatesin urban centres, including Istanbul. For the recent period we have
seen that especially low socio-economic groups relatively marginal to the state
apparatus made an intensive use of the muhtarlk institution. However, the
stakes are not the same between politico-spatial margins and social margins
and it is important to avoid any overly hasty amalgamations and to reflect on
the implications of this distinction.
Because of their role as daily intermediaries between the state and society,
the muhtars enable us to better perceive the relations between the administration and society in terms of continuity and cross-investment instead of opposition. They also allow us to understand both how the state produces society and
the society produces the state. The muhtars reveal banal forms of interaction
between citizens and the administration frequently hidden from view and
considered illegitimate. Here we follow the analysis of Aymes who considers
the relative privatisation of public affairs153 as going unrecognised by
Ottoman institutions. This may be even more so for the Republican ones given
their aspiration to rationalism and universality. This encourages us to understand the government in terms of sociological efficacy and not simply from the
perspective of official codification. This institution reveals a form of vernacular government, to reuse the expression of Salzmann.154 The muhtars role as a
daily intermediary enables us to better apprehend the combination of order
and compromise in their routine functioning.
Like in the 1930s, the leaders in office are cultivating the project to abolish the
muhtarlk. It is true that the functions of the muhtar are dwindling; many documents previously delivered or certified by the muhtar are now provided by more
distant institutions. With identification by the Republic of Turkey Identity
Number (T.C. kimlik numaras), which is attached to ones address, and the
record system, the muhtars provide less residence certificates. The progressive
establishment of the digital state (e-devlet) is leaving less and less room for this
institution. Beyond the technical support it provides, it will be interesting to
observe how the administration functions once deprived of this government by
proximity, intermediation and personalisation embodied by the muhtar.
153 Following most notably Gilles Veinstein, Sur les nib ottomans, Jerusalem Studies in
Arabic and Islam, no. 25, 2001, p. 267.
154 A. Salzmann, Tocqueville, p. 127.

chapter 12

Military Domination by Donations


Anouck Gabriela Crte-Real Pinto
The Turkish army is often presented as a tutelary body, operating above society, and working in particular for the rationalisation and secularisation of
society. Yet donations to the army would appear to indicate that the b oundaries
between it and society are in fact porous, revealing a diversification in the both
arts of government and the legitimisation of military power.1
The aim of this chapter is to examine the charity sector, which has been
largely neglected in studies of military domination, so as to apprehend the
reversible modes by which the forms of overarching military domination are
able to annex donations.2 The aim, in other words, is to criticise the idea of a
linear and univocal routinisation of military power and emphasise instead the
ambivalent process of military powers everydaylifization (Veralltglichung3)
as evidenced by donation practices and the links these practices have with the
armywhere this is taken as a form of objectification and adaptation of the
charismatic authority of the military institution to economic conditions. This
makes it possible to go beyond the traditional theoretical dichotomies and
hence reveal the simultaneity and interdependence of inverse processes
namely the increasing state control exerted over donations taking place in

1 For a discussion of theories that praise the modernising role of the military, see Manfred
Halpern, Middle Eastern Armies and the New Middle Class, in John Johnson (ed.), The Role
of the Military in Underdeveloped Countries, Princeton, nj, Princeton University Press, 1962,
pp. 277315; Lucien Pye, Armies in the Process of Political Modernization, in J. Johnson
(ed.), The Role of the Military; and on Turkish historiography see tienne Copeaux, Espaces et
temps de la nation turque. Analyse dune historiographie nationaliste 19311993, Paris, cnrs
ditions, 1997.
2 For a theory of the links between donation and domination, see Batrice Hibou, Anatomie
politique de la domination, Paris, La Dcouverte, 2011, pp. 4249.
3 Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, G. Roth, C. Wittich (ed.),
Berkeley and Los Angeles, ca/London, University of California, 1978 [1922], vol. 1, pp. 246255.
According to a footnote from French translator, sociologist and Weber expert Jean-Pierre
Grossein, nothing had been more detrimental to the comprehension of Weberian analysis
than the term of routine or routinisation, imported from the American translations.
The notion of Alltag is foreign to any pejorative intent; it means the system of everydaylife or

koninklijke brill nv, leiden, 2015|doi 10.1163/9789004289857_013

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tandem with the privatisation of the army, the secularisation of donations


occurring alongside the sacralisation of military power, and the militarisation
of society accompanied by the civilianisation of the military.
And so after providing a brief genealogy of the legal measures governing religious donations and an analysis of two Real Governmental Organisations4
Trk Hava Kurumu (thk, Turkish Airforce Corporation) and the private legal
foundation Trk Silahl Kuvvetler Mehmetik Vakf (tskmev, Mehmetik
Foundation of the Turkish Armed Forces), dedicated respectively to aviation and
the families of conscripts who died or were injured in combatthe first part of
this chapter will emphasise certain instruments and approaches the public
authorities use to manage religious donations, and on occasions the appropriation of these Islamic resources by the military. In particular we shall see how these
institutions are set up in such a way as to reduce their scope for political autonomy, and how they can be instrumental in both the secularisation of Islamic charity and in the Islamic sacralisation of the army. The second part of this chapter

daily, during which ordinary activities take place, particularly economic ones. [] The fact
that the notion of charisma according to Weber is less centered on its extra-everydaylife
than on its adaptation to everydaylife realitywhich is the meaning of Veralltglichung,
which I translate to make it short by everydaylifization, has been largely underestimated. In
any case, it does not mean routinisation, but it rather indicates a process of objectivation,
traditionalisation, legalisation or adaptation. In M. Weber, Sociologie des religions, Paris,
Gallimard, 1996, p. 123124. This Weberian term of Veralltglichung has also been translated as quotidianisation (everydaylifization) and analysed by Catherine Colliot-Thlne in
M. Weber, Le Savant et le Politique, translated by Catherine Colliot-Thlne, Paris, La
Dcouverte, 2003, p. 201; Etienne Balibar, La quotidianisation du charisme selon Max
Weber, seminar presented at Lille 3 University, France, 3 November 2004.
4 The term real governmental organisation (rgo) designates institutions which are part of
so-called civil society but which are in fact invested with central authority. This is not an
unprecedented phenomenon. In particular it is reminiscent of the Jordanian Royal ngos
analysed by Quintan Wiktorowicz, The Political Limits of Non Governmental Organizations
in Jordan, World Development, vol. 30, no. 1, 2002. For a comparison of rgos around the
world see the study of Angolas Eduardo Dos Santos Foundation in Christine Messiant, La
fondation Eduardo Dos Santos, Politique africaine, 1999, no. 73; for Russia and the organic
links existing between the Ministry of Defence and certain associations see Franoise Dauc,
Le mouvement des mres de soldats la recherche dune place dans la socit, Revues
dtudes comparatives Est-Ouest, vol. 28, no. 2, 1997, pp. 121154; and for discussion of the
Tunisian 2626 Fund see the study by Batrice Hibou, La Force de lobissance. conomie politique de la rpression en Tunisie, Paris, La Dcouverte, 2006, pp. 4249. It is worth noting
however that for Angola and Tunisia the two rgos are both based on obligatory
donations.

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293

analyses a donation campaign for the 1995 war effort and examines the
increased number of military relays, thereby questioning the frontiers and existence of civil society whilst throwing light on how military networks can
acquire greater density across the country over time due to the diversification
of their points of insertion within society. But donating does not necessarily imply believing, and the final part of this chapter examines the multiple
meanings of patriotic donations and the surprising effects this can have on
military domination. We thereby seek to emphasise how donations and real
military government organisations, qua financial and symbolic resources, can
in fact cut both ways, as donations and quasi-military charities, qua objects of
multiple appropriations and subversions, can both legitimise and delegitimise
military power. And so ultimately it is a matter of using the optic afforded by
donations to emphasise how the military domination of daily life is both
reversible and incomplete.

The Partial Increase in State Control of Religious


Donations in Turkey

Before examining the ways in which the state appropriates and regulates private religious donations in Turkey, it is first necessary to briefly examine the
practices, symbolic meanings, and political and economic issues associated
with the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice.

The Feast of Sacrifice: A Total Social Fact
In addition to the obligatory Muslim almsgiving after Ramadan, known as the
zekat fitre, there are voluntary forms known as sadaka that all Muslim notables have to perform due to social pressure and their status.5 Donations made
during the Feast of Sacrifice, known in Turkey as the Kurban bayram, fall into
this category. The traditional sacrifice of an animal during the last month of
the Muslim calendar, on the tenth day of the ritual pilgrimage to Mecca (hac),
serves as a reminder of Abrahams devotion to God who, to satisfy His
demands, accepted to sacrifice one of his sons who was ultimately saved by
Allah and replaced by a goat.6 This ritual sacrifice symbolises the horizontal
5 Amy Singer, Charity in Islamic Society, Cambridge/New York, Cambridge University Press,
2008, pp. 6579; see also on evergetistic practices Paul Veyne, Le Pain et le cirque. Sociologie
historique dun pluralisme politique, Paris, Seuil, 1995.
6 Zakaria Rhani, Les rcits abrahamiques daprs les traditions judaque et islamique, Archives
de sciences sociales des religions, no. 142, 2008, pp. 2746.

294

Corte-Real Pinto

and vertical alliance between God and the faithful, as well as between the
faithful, via the redistribution of meat to the most needy in the community. In
other words this act of generosity is at the intersection between individual
obligations towards God and the material responsibilities towards the temporal community, and it therefore links up various religious, social, and economic
dimensions within society.7
This period corresponds to a moment of large-scale circulation of people
and wealth, visits to the dead, sick, and orphans, the purchasing of clothes,
and the distribution of food and money.8 In Turkey the total amount spent
during this religious festival on sacrificial animals, the purchase of food and
clothes, and gifts and donations amounted to nearly $2 billion in 2007,
according to an estimate by the Ankara Chamber of Commerce.9 Two million
sheep, valued at between $192 and $307 each, and 600,000 calves, whose
prices varied between $1,154 and $2,307, were sacrificed via the intermediary
of numerous certified associations and charities. Among the leading charities
involved in 2007 are: the tsk Mehmetik Vakf (tskmev), a hybrid military
institution dedicated to the families of conscripts injured or killed while on
service; the Diyanet Vakf, a foundation operating at the interface between
society and the Directorate of Religious Affairs which is controlled by the
Prime Ministers cabinet and tasked with running compulsory religious education and the management of all the officially registered mosques on
Turkish territory; the Deniz Feneri Association, the media/charity arm of
political Islam; the Lsev Foundation, dedicated to combating leukaemia;
Trk Hava Kurumu, an institution dedicated to the aeronautics industry; and
finally the Red Crescent (Kzlay). It is however difficult to come up with any
exact estimate of the circulation of goods and capital, due in particular to the
large number of direct sacrifices carried out in private spaces and hence outside police oversight. Even for the organisations authorised by the public
authorities, there are no public statistics pooling data for all the official collections during Kurban bayram in Turkey.10

8
9
10

Roger Caillois, LHomme et le sacr, Paris, Gallimard, 1991 [1939], p. 166; see also Fariba
Adelkhah, Franois Georgeon (eds.), Ramadan et politique, Paris, cnrs ditions, 2000,
p.150; Fariba Adelkhah, conomie morale du plerinage et socit civile en Iran: les voyages religieux, commerciaux et touristiques Damas, Politix, no. 77, 2007, pp. 3954.
A. Singer, Charity in Islamic Society, p. 79.
Kurban Bayram etkisi [The effect of the feast of sacrifice], Ankara Ticaret Odas, 2005
and 2007.
Interview with a member of the Directorate General of Foundations, Istanbul, June 2010.

Military Domination By Donations

295

The circulation of wealth and the initiatives to be accorded the legal privilege of making public calls for donations and of receiving mandates to carry
out sacrifices (vekalet) in the stead of sacrifiers11 are all part of the competition between (mainly Muslim) private charities and Real Governmental
Organisations (rgos) wishing to monitor and appropriate private economic,
political, and symbolic resources. But this significant increase in intermediation and the commoditisation of sacrifices is also inseparable from the
ongoing standardisation of sacrificial practices. Hence since 1996, once the
donations have been collected, the mandated association operating in accordance with Quranic and Turkish laws and in partnership with a subcontracted
abattoir must organise the sacrifice of the animals during one of the three holy
days of Kurban bayram, under the triple supervision of a representative of the
charity, a veterinary surgeon to ensure compliance with hygiene standards, a
notary to ensure legal compliance, and optionally in the presence of an imam.12
In addition to respecting the traditional Muslim sacrificial rite (helal in
Turkish), additional religious rules must systematically be respected during
this festival, such as the period of sacrifice, and the reading of a morning prayer
on the day of the sacrifice. Once the animal has been killed and cut up, some
of the meat is sent to the most needy. A copy of the report drawn up by the
notary and a letter of thanks written by the head of the association are then
sent out to the donors. Lastly, the skins of the sacrificed animalsthe value of
which ranged in 2007 from $4 to $7 depending on the size and raceis then
the object of considerable political wrangling, not only because of their direct
financial value but especially because they offer a way of checking remotely
and ex-post the accuracy of the expenditures recorded on the charities
invoices by comparing them to the number and sort of animal skins recorded.13
This is why it is so important for the state to be able to draw on legal means to
ensure that the skins of sacrificed animals are pooled centrally so as to reduce
tax evasion and the illicit acquisition of non-redistributed donations.

11
12

13

Citizens bearing the offering.


For an analysis of the diverging interpretations and of the technical and legal adaptations
for the practice of sacrifice in the Muslim religion, see Constant Hames Le Sacrifice animal au regard des textes islamiques canoniques, Archives des sciences sociales des religions, no. 101, 1998, pp. 525.
See Table1; Eti benim derisi de benim [Its meat is for me and so is its skin], Aksiyon, 6
May 1995; Mehmetikleri helal kurban derilerinin tamamn thk teslim edecek olan
Mehmetik Vakf [The Mehmetik Foundation will deliver the skins of sacrificial animals
to the Turkish Airforce Corporation], Sabah, 19 December 2005.

296

Corte-Real Pinto

Attempts to Establish Military and Police Frameworks


for Religious Donations
There are many techniques for the state to monitor and control religious donations as symbolic and economic resources accessible to potential political
rivals. These techniques involve classic legal restrictions directly imposed on
calls for donations, as well as the technique of inserting Trojan horse associations (with a private civil legal status but organically linked to the army)
amongst the competing religious charities.
Amongst the numerous associations involved here, institutions such as
the tsk Mehmetik Vakf and the Trk Hava Kurumu stand out due to their
status as unidentified political objects14 (upos) and to their political and
financial strength. In 2007 the tskmev is thought to have been one of the
main beneficiaries of public donations during Kurban bayram. This factor
explains why it accounted for nearly of these revenues during this religious
feast in 2008.15 Set up respectively in 1925 by a special law promulgated by
Mustafa Kemal to promote the aeronautics industry and in 1982 by the generals involved in the coup during a state of [military] emergency16 to help the
families of conscripts who died or were injured in combat the thk and the
tskmev arevia their mission, sociological composition, and exceptional
conditions in which they were set uptwo rgos reminiscent of certain
institutions such as the 2626 National Solidarity Fund in Tunisia, the
Committee of Soldiers Mothers of Russia, and the Eduardo dos Santos
Foundation in Angola.17 From a historical perspective too these two Turkish
partially military charities are an extension of Ottoman quasi-state charity
practices. In the days of the Young Turks, public calls to make donations to
associations were not only controlled but also used by the elite of the Union
and Progress Committee in order to better penetrate society and take hold of

14

15
16

17

Denis-Constant Martin, A la qute des opni [objets politiques non identifis]. Comment
traiter linvention du politique? Revue franaise de science politique, vol. 39, no. 6,
1989.
Kurban Bayram etkisi; Interview with an employee, tsk Mehmetik Vakf, Istanbul, May
2009.
The state of emergency is not defined as a fullness of powers, a pleromatic state of law, as
in the dictatorial model, but as a kenomatic state, an emptiness and standstill of the law
(translated from the French): Giorgio Agamben, tat dexception. Homo Sacer, II, 1, translated by Jol Gayraud, Paris, Seuil, 2003, p. 82.
For discussion of the hybrid nature of the thk see article 11 of Regulation 2008/14307
(R.Gn27074, 4/12/2008); tsk Mehmetik Vakf is run exclusively by retired Generals.
About other rgos cited see footnote number 891.

Military Domination By Donations

297

private capital. Three semi-public and quasi-military associations were set up


as the main instruments for this strategy of charities penetrating society,
including the Ottoman Navy National Association (Osmanl Donanma-y
Milliye ane Cemiyeti) and the National Defence Society (Mdafaa-i Milliye
Cemiyeti), dedicated respectively to shipbuilding and defence, and dissolved
after the return of the Sultan, and the Ottoman Red Crescent (Osmanl Hilal-i
Ahmer Cemiyeti), which is still active.18 Once again, a few decades later the
decree-law known as the law on collecting aid (Yardm Toplama Kanunu)
passed on