By Markus Dressler

Within the overdue Eighties, the Alevis, at the moment considered principally assimilated into the secular Turkish mainstream, started to assert their distinction as they by no means had ahead of. The query of Alevism's origins and its relation to Islam and to Turkish tradition grew to become a hugely contested factor. based on the dominant realizing, Alevism is a part of the Islamic culture, even though situated on its margins. it really is additional assumed that Alevism is intrinsically regarding Anatolian and Turkish tradition, wearing an historic Turkish historical past, major again into pre-Islamic relevant Asian Turkish pasts.

Dressler argues that this information concerning the Alevis-their demarcation as "heterodox" yet Muslim and their prestige as vendors of Turkish culture-is in truth of particularly fresh origins. It used to be formulated in the advanced old dynamics of the overdue Ottoman Empire and the 1st years of the Turkish Republic within the context of Turkish nation-building and its aim of ethno-religious homogeneity.

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Extra info for Writing Religion: The Making of Turkish Alevi Islam

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This work of integration was extremely complex since roughly 20–30% of the Alevis are Kurdish and therefore the Alevi question represented both an ethnic and a religious challenge for a state with strong centralizing and homogenizing aspirations. The conceptualization of Alevism as “heterodox” Islamic and Turkish within early republican, state-oriented Turkish nationalist academic discourse, which has henceforward been paradigmatic for studies of Alevism as a historical formation, cultural practice, and religious tradition, has to be understood from within this context of nation-building and social engineering.

Köprülü’s scholarship and his nationalist and secularist politics was characterized by a complex dynamic of companionship and critique. His ambivalent stance with regard to the Turkish History Thesis, which was formulated in the early 1930s and marked the Kemalist regime’s attempt to increase its control over the contested question of Turkish history and identity, illustrates this particularly well. While he was due to methodological reasons, Genealogies and Significations 27 and probably also on a personal level, critical of the revisionism that the new thesis represented and unwilling to entirely discard the Ottoman period or convert its role to that of a negative other of the new nationalist ideal, he was certainly not opposed to the modernizing quest of Kemalism as such.

Both the initial Western/Orientalist discovery of the Kızılbaş-Alevis and their re-signification by Turkish nationalists are cornerstones of the modern genealogy of the Alevism of Turkey. Clarification of the genealogy of the concept of Alevism will also enable us to situate its more recent transformations since the second half of the 20th century in a broader historical framework. , Alevis as preservers of pre-Islamic Turkish traditions and culture, Alevism as pre-Marxist class-fight ideology, as Turkish philosophy, as secular Turkish Islam, or as post-Zoroastrian Kurdish religion) are part and parcel of the complicated dynamics of Turkish identity politics in which religious, ethnic, nationalist, and class-based concerns relate and clash.

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