White Turks, Black Turks? Faultlines beyond Islamism versus secularism
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According to popular views, contemporary Turkish politics is defined by the ideological conflict between Islamist and secularist parties. However, the focus on the Islamism versus secularism dichotomy, a common bias in the studies of Muslim countries, disguises a deeper faultline between the old urban elites and the newly rising provincial actors. This article highlights the need to see beyond the 'Islamism-secularism' divide and to consider the complex relations of power between alienated social groups in Turkey. It analyses the intricate and multilayered forms of 'othering' in the urban secularist discourse, which perpetuates the inequalities and contention in society. Instead of taking the 'Islamism-secularism' divide as given, the article analyses the construction of secularist and Islamic identities and considers how this dichotomous discourse has empowered the urban parties to control the provincial. Finally, implications for the reconciliation of antagonised social groups are presented.