The Critique of Turkish Modernization Literature with Reference to Eurocentrism


This article offers a limited evaluation of the literature on Turkish modernization (Türk Modernleşmesi Literatürü) with reference to Eurocentrism. In this regard, the article first starts with an analysis of the titles of the basic works in the literature. After this evaluation, the paradigms that have a certain weight and effectiveness in the field will be discussed. The conflict paradigm will be discussed first, and, here, Bernard Lewis’ and Niyazi Berkes’ works will be analyzed as examples. Basic assumptions of the conflict paradigm will be discussed and their relation with Eurocentrism will be explained. The conflict paradigm argues that there is a definite opposition and complete break between the Ottoman and Republican periods. It also adopts a top-down historical approach when making this argument. Next, we will look at the integration paradigm, which offers alternative arguments to the conflict paradigm. Erik Jan Zürcher’s work will be analyzed as a representative example of the integration paradigm, and the points where his work differs from the Eurocentrist ones in the Turkish modernization literature will be explained. In contrast to the conflict paradigm, Zürcher stresses the continuity between the Ottoman and Republican Modernization period, and opens up a space for the history-from-below approach. Finally, this article discusses the opportunities that the history-from-below approach provides the Turkish literature on modernization for reducing the dominance of Eurocentrism. In this regard, İsmail Kara’s works will be analyzed as examples of the history-from- below approach.


Turkish Modernization Eurocentrism Conflict Paradigm Integration Paradigm History From Below