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Occidentalism in Turkey, Meltem Ahıska
Metis Nonfiction
Sociology and Social Theory
13 x 19.5 cm, 376 pp
ISBN No. 975-342-517-1

Prints:
1st Print: April 2005
Meltem Ahıska
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About the Author
Meltem Ahıska was born in 1958 in Ankara. She studied sociology at Bosphorus University in Istanbul. After receiving her MA degree in communication studies at the University of Westminster, she completed her PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London in 2000. Her articles, essays and poems have appeared in various journals including Toplum ve Bilim, New Perspectives on Turkey and South Atlantic Quarterly and she was a member of the editorial board of Defter, a journal of cultural criticism published in Turkey from 1987-2002. She has published a book of poems, Havalandırma (2002), and curated several exhibitions, the most recent being "Aradığınız Kişiye Şu An Ulaşılamıyor: Türkiye’de Hayat Tarzı Temsilleri, 1980-2005" ("The Person You Are Calling Cannot Be Reached at the Moment: Representations of Lifestyle in Turkey, 1980-2005"). Meltem Ahıska is currently an associate professor of sociology in Bosphorus University.
Other Books from Metis
Havalandırma, 2002
Meltem Ahıska
Occidentalism in Turkey
Questions of Modernity and National Identity in Turkish Radio Broadcasting

Radyonun Sihirli Kapısı
Garbiyatçılık ve Politik Öznellik

Rights sold:
English: IB Tauris

Contents
Reviews
Excerpt
Occidentalism in Turkey is a study that focuses on radio broadcasting in Turkey during its first decades, namely from 1927 until the end of the 1940s. But it is not only that. It is also a groundbreaking contribution to discussions around nation-building and modernity in non-Western contexts. Ahıska coins and works with the analytic concept of Occidentalism as a framework for describing the set of practices and arrangements justified in and against the imagined idea of "the West" in the non-West. Hence she contests the dualisms that infiltrate virtually all studies of non-Western nation-building processes – dualisms such as East/West, modern/traditional and model/copy. She considers these to be symptoms of Occidentalism and offers in their stead a much more complex theoretical framework that takes into account the problems on the very boundary of the historical East-West divide. Considering the role of technology in imagining the nation, the focus of this study, namely radio broadcasting in a crucial era of Turkish nationalism, opens up a rich terrain out of which Ahıska spins an engaging narrative.
CONTENTS
Acknowledgements
Introduction – Nationalism, Space and Time: The Early Years of Radio
Occidentalism: History and Theory
The Studio and "The Voice of the Nation"
London Calling Turkey
Radio Talks: Be Joyful, Stay Young!
Radio Dramas: Women and Men
Conclusion – Occidentalism Today
Appendix: Parliamentary Debate Concerning Radio (1945)
Bibliography
Index
REVIEWS
Zafer Yenal, Virgül, July-August 2005
"In her book, Ahıska draws attention to the different kinds of subjectivities and their fragmentations, divisions, excesses and shortages that emerge in the process of creating a pure ‘national voice’. She shows that this process is not merely a matter of ‘fiction,’ ‘construction’ or ‘project’. Her analyses and discussions, especially in the chapters entitled ‘The Studio’, ‘Radio Talks’ and ‘Radio Dramas’, point to the fluctuations, vicissitudes and contingencies involved in this process, reminding us the extent to which the process is rife with politics and struggle. That is, the emergence and diffusion of a ‘national voice’ does not follow a unilinear path from West to East, or from above to below, but rather takes place in its own discordant history and historicity. Drawing attention to the centrality of Occidentalism as a discourse of power in understanding this very historicity, Occidentalism in Turkey is a crucial and abiding contribution to the study of nationalism and modernization."
EXCERPT
I utilize the concept of Occidentalism in a much more critical and broader perspective than either meaning a loyal "Westernism" or a spiteful "anti-Westernism". Hence Occidentalism does not only denote science and technology adopted from the West or a mere affect of hatred or revolt against it, as usually associated with the Middle East today. Occidentalism, in my perspective, points to both discursive and non-discursive strategies and tactics the "Orientals" employ in order to answer "the West". Hence Occidentalism is employed in this book to address both the desire for and denigration of what is essentialized as "the West," and also the re-codification and operationalization of a notion of "the West" within power relations in Turkey.
       First of all, I argue that the production and representation of the "knowledge of the Other" is not at all symmetrical in Orientalisms and Occidentalisms. One must attend to the unevenness in power relations, and consequently the definition and representation of the self and the other, and the articulation of the discourses of history and modernity within them.
       However, despite the obvious unevenness, there is a shared "superaddressee," which avails an "understanding" between Orientalisms and Occidentalisms. Interestingly the superadressee, used by Bakhtin in the sense of an imaginary listener "whose absolutely just responsive understanding is presumed, either in some metaphysical distance or in distant historical time" is not "modernity" but "national identity" in this frame: while the representation of modernity is coined in a binary of modern/traditional, and produced within an apparent hierarchy between the West and the East, it is the shared constitutive and justifying assumption that national identity is the most tolerable form of community in the modern world. Yet not all nations are equally modern; some, especially in the East are marked as "different". I would argue that Occidentalism dialogically responds to this very "difference" in a similar ambivalent manner. From the point of view of Turkish modernity, Occidentalism is the outcome of the attempt to destroy the undesired difference with "the West" in temporal terms by "catching up" with modernity, while maintaining the desired difference as authenticity in its national space.

Longer sample manuscript available in English