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Occidentalism in Turkey

Questions of Modernity and National Identity in Turkish Radio Broadcasting

Occidentalism in Turkey by Meltem Ahiska
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NJR do not use blurb in raw formThis book aims to re-think the question of ‘nation building’ in Turkey in connection to the use of modern technologies, such as radio broadcasting. However, rather than looking for universal tendencies or deficiencies and errors in Turkish history, as most accounts of modernisation theories do, it brings to attention how a particular subjectivity and the accompanying truth claims are dialogically produced and historically sustained. Through the analysis of the organization, programmes, missions and criticisms of radio broadcasting, the book raises the question: what happens when the ‘Orient’, that supposedly silent Other, placed outside of history, and marked as ‘backward’, speaks and answers back? ‘Orient’ is not only represented by the Western subject as in Orientalism. The Other’s inhabiting the space of the Other and speaking for itself produces Occidentalism of the non-west. Then, the locus of enunciation of modernity shifts from West to non-West generating dialogic yet competing truths. The book offers Occidentalism as an alternative way of reading non-Western modernities in connection to the Western constructions of modernity. Occidentalism is re-defined in this context, as different from its current usages in existing literature, to mean both Westernism and anti-Westernism at the same time. Occidentalism provides the aspiration to catch the time of modern history, but at the same time promises to restore the lost authenticity brought by ‘modernization’. But the promise is impossible to keep. Occidentalism can only offer authenticity in nation form, which is maintained by the denial of the past and the present as lived experience. Therefore, Occidentalism also functions as a discourse of power, which creates its own ‘orientalised’ Others within the society. The study of radio broadcasting, which exists in a temporally redefined space in between public and private spheres, provides an important opening to go beyond the monolithic expressions of the official discourse. Instead, the case of radio shows that other voices and desires are always on the air, and that the national-political subjectivity is a site of fragmentation and splitting
I.B.Tauris; June 2010
281 pages; ISBN 9780857718136
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Title: Occidentalism in Turkey
Author: Meltem Ahiska