Mustafa Çapar: ‘The Others’ in the Turkish Education System and in Turkish Textbooks
‘The Others’ in the Turkish Education System and in Turkish Textbooks Mustafa Çapar, Mustafa Kemal University, Turkey Modern nation-states, in general, tend to assume that “internal homogeneity” is or should be the norm, and therefore, that heterogeneity – particularly in terms of ethnicity, culture, language, and also religion – constitutes a problem. Differ- ent strategies to deal with this “problem” can be observed in different national contexts. In the case of Turkey, a nationalist and essentialist ideology has par- ticularly alarming effects because this nation-state has not as yet internalized democracy, so the nationalism that pervades the state means that the protection of minorities is tenuous. Just like any other country, Turkey is a multi-ethnic society whose minority groups have been historically constructed and continue to be re-constructed as ‘the Other’ against the ‘Turkish norm’. In Turkey, these groups include non- Muslims (e.g. Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Yezidis, Assyrians), ethnic minorities (e.g. Kurds, Gypsies, Lazs), Alevis, street children, socialists, gays, to name but a few. However, non-Muslims and Kurds, in particular, are considered danger- ous elements who threaten the integrity of the nation-state. This is reflected in their representation within the national education system. Since the late 1800s, the content of textbooks used in schools has been heav- ily influenced by nationalist ideology. These books have contributed to raising children in a strict essentialist-nationalist ideology. When people educated in this ideology come to power, they consider this policy as natural, rightful and necessary. Therefore I argue that the Turkish national education system is...
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