MC: Kader Konuk: Eternal Guests, Mimics, and Dönme: Jewish Exile, Forced Migration and Assimilationism in Turkey
Jul 01, 2015
from 10:00 AM to 02:00 PM
|Contact Name||Jens Kugele|
|Contact Phone||(+49) 0641 99 30053|
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The place of Jews was highly ambiguous in the newly founded Turkish Republic: during the forced population exchange between Turkey and Greece in 1923, the so-called dönme (crypto-Jews) from Thessaloniki were deported to Turkey. While in 1928 the government launched an assimilationist campaign against ethnoreligious minorities, only a few years later, in 1933, German-Jewish scholars were hired to help Europeanize the nation. Turkish authorities regarded the German emigrants as representatives of European civilization and appointed scholars to prestigious academic positions that were vitally important for redefining the humanities in Turkey. In this class we will explore the country’s twofold assimilationist policies: on the one hand, the requirement from its citizens—regardless of ethnic or religious origins—to conform to a unified Turkish culture and, on the other, the equally assimilationist modernization project that was designed to achieve cultural recognition from the heart of Europe. A critical examination of the cultural dynamic propelling the deportations, migration policies, and modernization reforms reveals that there were three predominant figures or tropes applied to Turkish and German Jews: the figure of the mimic, dönme, and eternal guest. By linking historical and contemporary discourses, we will discuss how tropes of Jewishness have played—and continue to play—a crucial role in the conception of Turkish nationhood.