turkeys-regulations-of-religious-schooling copy.pdf

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Harmon 1 Heather Harmon 7/25/14 Pr. Linda Racioppi MC325 Turkey’s Regulation of Religious Schooling and its Implications for State-Society Relations Anthony Smith defines nationalism as an ideology that binds an otherwise diverse population to a sovereign state. The nation itself can be defined as being a population that shares a mass culture, common myths and historical memories, and common rights and duties for its members. It is widely known that regardless of the format of a state or its political operations, education has long been used as a means to transmit the above unto new generations. Since the founding of the Turkish state and the launching of the modernization project, public education has been used as a means to inculcate nationalist ideals into society. Kakizaki’s “Determinants of Political Confidence in a Time of Political Realignment: Religion, Economy, and Politics in Turkey” analyzes and studies the decline in political confidence among Turkish voters since 1990. Kakizaki argues that the foremost reason for this drastic decline in confidence, and increase in no confidence, is the continued polarization of secular and religious political actors. On the one hand, secularists have felt that the Turkish government has undermined laic Kemalist principles; on the other, Islamists have felt threatened by secular policies (chiefly, the headscarf debate). Education policy and the strict regulation of religious schooling can be included among the divisions furthering political polarization between laicists and Islamists.
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Harmon 2 In the following examination of the history and implications of Turkish education policy, I hope to illuminate the ways in which such policies have caused the aforementioned political polarization of Turkish society. I will first summarize the history of Ottoman and Turkish education policies and examine the emergence of current policy (chiefly, the post-1997 restructuring policy) in the context of the ongoing Turkish nationalization project. I will then spend some time discussing the emergence, mission, and significance of the Fethullah Gülen charter school project. Finally, I will contextualize current and suggested education reforms within the scope of current Turkish politics, with particular attention to popular arguments for multicultural religious education. History of Education Policy in the Ottoman Empire and Turkish Republic For much of the Ottoman Empire’s history, intellectuals not studying Islam received their education in Western Europe. Though there was no public education system, civil servants and military officers were trained in strictly regulated Ottoman academies; Ottoman emperors themselves studied in Palace academies that sought to produce a sultan from amongst the pool of suitable male heirs. Religious madrasas, however, were run autonomously by the ulema –the Muslim religious elite. Future Imams and jurists were produced in secluded madrasas, whilst Sufi dervishes were raised in tariqas- brotherly orders of Sufi followers. At their height, Islamic clerics and qadis
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