Negating diversity: minorities and nationalism in Turkish law
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The management of diversity has been the chief dilemma of the Turkish state since the 19th century to the present day. This thesis explains, from a legal perspective, the ongoing dilemmas regarding the management of diversity in Turkey. The Turkish legal system is shown to have persistently failed to accommodate ethno-religious diversity in the country. This failure is attributable to the state’s founding philosophy - Turkish nationalism - and its influence upon legislation and judicial bodies. The concepts of ‘nation’, ‘citizenship’ and ‘minority’, formulated in line with this nationalist perception, are key coordinates of a policy on managing diversity in the Turkish legal system. The ‘civic’ language used in the Constitutions is therefore argued to be misleading if one takes into account the heavily loaded ethno-cultural and religious references in the constitutional preambles, legislation, and particularly the courts’ jurisprudence. In fact, as shown here, the state’s official stance of ‘civic/territorial nationalism’ has been used to justify the promotion of ‘Turkishness’ and the Turkification of ‘others’ in Turkey. Thus, one of the main concerns of this thesis is to examine the scope as well as the ethnic and religious coordinates of the notion of ‘Turk’ which is claimed by the state and judicial bodies to be an ‘umbrella’ identity. Lastly, this thesis argues that the Turkish state and legal system’s nationalist stance has created a legal discourse which has problems with the very justification for minority protection given in international law. Thus, the thesis further hopes to demonstrate that without a thorough reconstruction of the founding philosophy of the state and the legal system, which would also require a de-construction of history, education, legislation, jurisprudence, etc., any solution to dilemmas of managing diversity would be inadequate.
- Theses