#024 – Kemalism and the Making of Modern Turkey

With Erik-Jan Zürcher



Cover of the revue published in French“La Turquie Kamaliste” used in 1935 and 1936

In this episode, we discuss the emergence of the Turkish nationalist movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the establishment of a sovereign Republic of Turkey in 1923. As our guest Prof. Erik-Jan Zürcher notes, Kemalism can be studied both as a political transformation from armed struggle to a one-party state administration system and as a repertoire of discursive symbols based on the imaginary of nation, civilization, and modernity. This installment is structured along a series of lectures that Prof. Zürcher has given at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, in which he has framed Kemalism’s activism and worldview within its contemporary international context as well as along a broader chronological axis continuing into the 1950s.


Erik Jan Zürcher is Professor of Turkish Studies at the University of Leiden. He has published widely on the period of transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey from the point of view of social, economic, and political history. Professor Zürcher is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hosted by Andreas Guidi and Elif Becan.

To cite this episode: Zürcher, Erik Jan; Guidi, Andreas; Becan, Elif (2017): Kemalism and the making of modern Turkey, The Southeast Passage #024, 06.07.2017, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/podcast/zurcher-kemalism-making-modern-turkey



Turku, Nomads of the Silk Road – Ah bir ataş ver (Creative Commons)


Further reading:

Georgeon, François (1995): Des Ottomans aux Turcs. Naissance d’une nation. Istanbul: Éd. Isis.

Gingeras, Ryan (2016): The fall of the Sultanate. The Great War and the end of the Ottoman Empire 1908-1922. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hanioglu, M. Sukru (2011): Ataturk. An intellectual biography. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Meeker, Michael E. (2002): A nation of empire. The Ottoman legacy of Turkish modernity. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Robinson, Richard D. (1963): The First Turkish Republic. A Case Study in National Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Rostow, Walt W. (1959): The stages of economic growth. A non-communist manifesto. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Yilmaz, Hale (2013): Becoming turkish. Nationalist reforms and cultural negotiations in Early Republican Turkey 1923-1945. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Zürcher, Erik Jan (1984): The Unionist factor. The rôle of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Turkish National Movement, 1905 – 1926. Leiden: Brill.

Zürcher, Erik Jan (2003): The Young Turks – Children of the borderlands? In International Journal of Turkish Studies 9 (1-2), pp. 275–286.

Zürcher, Erik Jan (2010): The Young Turk legacy and nation building. From the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk’s Turkey. London: I.B. Tauris.

Zürcher, Erik Jan (2017): Turkey. A modern history. Fourth edition, new paperback edition. London, New York: I. B. Tauris.


Mustafa Kemal Atatürk delivers a speech for the 10th anniversary of the foundation of the Turkish Republic (October 1933)

Mustafa Kemal meets Henry Franklin-Bouillon, 1921. The French diplomat signed a treaty with the emerging Ankara government which marked the first prominent act of international recognition of the Turkish Nationalist institutions

Peasants waiting for the arrival of Kemalist troops in Edirne, 1923



The Southeast Passage
The Southeast Passage
#024 - Kemalism and the Making of Modern Turkey