Educating Little Soldiers and Little Ayşes: Militarised and Gendered Citizenship in Turkish Textbooks - PDF

Educating Little Soldiers and Little Ayşes: Militarised and Gendered Citizenship in Turkish Textbooks Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay A university student recently remembered her participation in a kindergarten

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Educating Little Soldiers and Little Ayşes: Militarised and Gendered Citizenship in Turkish Textbooks Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay A university student recently remembered her participation in a kindergarten play in the late 1980s: I was four and a half and attending the kindergarten of a public primary school. In one of the shows we put on stage, I got to be Little Ayşe. What I had to do was to sit on the ground with my doll in my arms, rocking her back and forth. My partner, Little Soldier, on the other hand, was standing beside me in military uniform, holding a gun and making a loud raprap noise as he marched like a soldier. Then we both sang the famous nursery rhyme with enthusiasm. The nursery rhyme was as follows: Little Ayşe, Little Ayşe, Tell me what you re doing, I am looking after my baby, Singing her a lullaby Little soldier, little soldier, Tell me what you re doing, I am looking after my rifle, Putting a bayonet on my rifle This nursery rhyme, which all children get to learn to sing, if not to perform as a stage show, points to the simultaneous processes of the militarisation and gendering of citizenship. Based on a historical analysis of textbooks, this chapter explores these processes in the context of the myth that the Turkish nation is a military nation. 1 1 We would like to thank Fatma Gök, Marie Carlson, and Annika Rabo for inviting us into this collaborative project. We are grateful to all of the participants of the Istanbul and Göteborg workshops for their constructive suggestions, to Marie Carlson, Annika Rabo, and Ove Sernhede for their follow-up comments, and to Seda Müftügil for her earlier contributions to our research. A part of this project, the analysis of the primary school textbooks used in Turkey from 1928 to 2000 conducted by Tuba Kancı, has been funded by the TR-Access Mobility Scholarship granted by Tubitak EU FP6 National Coordination Office, Ankara, Turkey. Education in Multicultural Societies Turkish and Swedish Perspectives, eds. Marie Carlson, Annika Rabo and Fatma Gök, Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, Transactions, vol. 18 (Stockholm 2007), pp The Turkish nation is a military nation is one of the foundational myths of Turkish nationalism. Since the early years of state formation, two state apparatuses have been crucial in the making of this myth: education and military service. This chapter explores the creation and the continuous reinforcement of the intricate link between the nation and the military in the Turkish nationalist project, by focusing on education. While searching for answers to how the Turkish nation has been imagined as a military nation in the textbooks, the chapter surveys the different roles assigned to men and women in this myth and explores the changes and continuities in these constructions from the 1920s up to the present. 2 Much has changed in the realm of education since the 1920s, yet there are major continuities in the centralised and nationalised character of schooling. The Ministry of National Education, to date, acts as a centralised body where all decisions regarding schools, administrators, teachers, students, and textbooks are made in the capital Ankara, regardless of the type of school and where it is located. Private schools, minority schools, technical schools as well as public schools have to operate on the national curricula set by the Ministry of Education, use the textbooks written or approved by the Ministry, have their teachers appointed by Ankara, organise their classrooms in the exact way that is written in the Ministry guidelines, (i.e. with the picture of Atatürk in the same position above the blackboard, the same speech by Atatürk framed and hung by the picture, together with the map, the flag, and the anthem) and seek approval for every decision they take regarding supplies, school events, and so on, either from the Ministry s offices in their province or, more likely, from Ministry officials in Ankara. In short, education in Turkey has been strictly defined and controlled by official policies through state-imposed guidelines. Nationalised education is a defining characteristic of most nation-states today (cf. Malkki 1995), but the degree of control and centralisation in the Turkish education system calls for special attention. 3 Due to state-centric curriculum development and textbook production/authorisation, textbooks in Turkey have been the major means of nationhood. In what follows, two sets of material are analysed: the national curricula that have shaped education, and the textbooks that have been officially designed and/or authorised to be used in education. Our analysis is limited to the Turkish language, life sciences, history and social studies textbooks used in primary public education, which by virtue of being compulsory reflects mass education in Turkey. 4 Secon- 2 Our study is limited to a discourse analysis of textbooks and does not address the important question of how these textbooks are perceived and utilised by teachers and students. For analyses focusing on reception, see Tekeli (1998), Altınay (2004), Gürtan and Tüzün (2005), and Dragonas et al. (2005). 3 This point is mentioned in the European Commission s reports on Turkey as well. The Turkey: 2005 Progress Report (p.118) suggests that generally, the education system should become more decentralised. 4 The analysis of primary school textbooks presented here draws from Tuba Kancı s Ph.D. dissertation research. Conducted at Sabancı University, this dissertation focuses on the (re)construction of men and women of the nation-state through primary education, and provides a multi-layered, historical analysis of the Turkish language, life sciences, history, social studies and family studies textbooks from 1928 to 2000, examining the workings of nationalism, modernisation, militarism and gender. 52 Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay dary-education textbooks are only taken into consideration with respect to a special course on the military. In the curriculum, this course best illustrates the elaborate link between the realms of education and military service. First made compulsory for male students in 1926 and later for female students in 1937, this course has remained in the Turkish national curriculum up to the present. Provided under different titles, currently named National Security Studies, this mandatory high-school course has been designed by the General Staff and is taught by military officers. In this chapter, we analyse curricula and textbooks from the 1920s till today, focusing on two main aspects of the myth of the military nation. First, we critically analyse the statement that Turks are soldiers by birth, as exemplified in the popular saying, Every Turk is born a soldier ( Her Türk asker doğar ). Second, we unpack the idea that Turkey needs to have a strong military and a strong state because it is surrounded by enemies. As an extension of this idea, it is often repeated in textbooks and the media that Turks have no friends but other Turks ( Türk ün Türkten başka dostu yoktur ). How do these suggestions shape the curricula and textbooks? What are their implications for the definition of the Turkish national self? In what ways do these myths contribute to a gendered self-understanding? Based on these questions and others, we discuss both the continuities and the changes in the national curricula and textbooks regarding the military character of the Turkish self, and suggest that, in order for education to become more pluralist, demilitarisation is a crucial step. The last part of the chapter discusses the recent debates on education and textbooks in Turkey and focuses on a new set of textbooks developed under a pilot programme. These textbooks differ significantly from the existing textbooks in terms of their content and form as well as the pedagogical approach that shapes them. We argue that this move has come as a result of two important processes: the growing domestic critique of the educational system by academics and civil society initiatives, and the European Union accession process. The combination of these internal and external dynamics has accelerated efforts to demilitarise and de-gender (in the sense of eliminating gender-based discrimination) education, curricula and textbooks in recent years, although significant problems still remain. Every (male) Turk is born a soldier: Educating the sons and the daughters of the Military Nation Most nation-states have been founded by armed struggles, if not by total wars. As sociologist Charles Tilly (1985) has shown, there is a strong connection between wars and state-making in the modern era, which means that militarisation and nationalisation should be regarded as parallel processes that have strongly informed and reinforced one another. As recent scholarship argues, imagined national pasts and presents, invented traditions and arguments of cultural uniqueness have been key tools in the processes of nation-building and state-making (Anderson 1983, Gellner 1983, Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983, Eley and Suny 1997). At the same time, nations and states have been imagined as masculine entities (Enloe 1983, Reardon 1985, Nagel Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay 53 1998). The constitution of compulsory male military service has played a key role in the masculinisation of the state and gendering of citizenship (Feinmann 2000). When it is only men who become soldiers, military service inevitably defines male citizenship and masculinity in opposition to female citizenship and femininity. Through continuous, compulsory and universal peacetime military service, masculinity, first-class citizenship, the state and the military are interwoven as parts of an intricate whole. Given equal suffrage rights, there is no other citizenship practice that differentiates as radically between men and women as compulsory male conscription (Altınay 2004: 34). The Republic of Turkey was formed after twelve years of constant warfare: from the Balkan wars in 1911 and 1912 to World War I, and to the Independence War in Anatolia between 1919 and The Independence War was led by a coalition of Muslim groups living under Ottoman rule in Anatolia (particularly Turks, Kurds, Circassians and the Laz). Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the leader of the independence struggle, had in fact defined the national self as one that included sibling nations in the early 1920s (Atatürk ün Söylev ve Demeçleri 1997: 30), yet he later took an active part in the ethnicisation of this definition. 5 The Turkish History Thesis developed in the early 1930s by the Turkish Historical Society was a major part of these attempts, treating Turks as a racial group that had originated in Central Asia and migrated to the West, bringing very simply put, Turks were seen as the creators of all civilisation (Ersanlı-Behar 1992). These arguments were supported with racial/racist research by anthropologists of the time 6 and the terms culture, nation and race were often used interchangeably (Altınay 2004). As we shall see below, the Turkish History Thesis and its accompanying themes have provided the major framework for textbooks throughout Republican history. 7 Military service: From necessity to tradition In the late 1920s, compulsory military service had been defined by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk himself as the necessity of our times (Altınay 2004: 27-30). With the 1930s and the introduction of the Turkish History Thesis, military service was turned into an invented tradition (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983) that combined the realms of culture and politics in the body of the military nation. The 1931 high school history textbook Tarih, the first public articulation of the Thesis, argued that Turks were the best soldiers because they possessed the cultural elements that make good soldiers (Tarih 1931: ). 5 See Zürcher (2000) for an account of the changes in the nationalist project. See Özdoğan (2001) and Yıldız (2001) for the ethnic elements in the writings and policies of the late Ottoman and early Republican elites. 6 See Maksudyan (2005) for a critical analysis of anthropological research in the early years of the Republic. A striking example is the doctoral research of Afet Inan (who was one of the adopted daughters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk), which was based on the measuring of the skulls of more than 60,000 Turks. 7 See Copeaux (1998) for a nuanced analysis of the influence of the Turkish History Thesis in textbooks since the 1930s. See Ersanlı-Behar (1992) for a detailed historical and conceptual analysis of the thesis. 54 Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay It was added that Turks love military service 8 and never despair, even when faced with the most powerful enemy. What is most striking here is that military service reformulated as a cultural practice, rather than a political citizenship practice (Altınay 2004). Hence, it placed beyond political debate and historical change. According to the textbooks of the 1930s, the Turkish nation was a soldier nation by birth (Çığıraçan 1934c: 26-27). Textbooks told the children that in order to understand the survival might of Turks, it was necessary to look at the number of Turkish heroes who died in war (ibid.: 27). A poem published in a 1933 described a group of students identifying themselves as soldier sons of soldiers by virtue of being Turks (Ertaylan 1933a: ). The Ancient Turks were often defined as a nation who loved to make war (Çığıraçan 1934b: ). In the primary school curriculum of 1936, soldiering became a required subject of the life sciences courses and was presented as the foremost accomplishment of Turks throughout history (1936: 80). The subject was introduced at grade two and involved soldiering games, presentation of guns and artillery and military hierarchies, as well as stories about soldiers in war (ibid.: 147). Similarly, being a scout was highly appreciated, and took the form of early preparation for military service. In 1934, a story entitled Scouts at Camp ends with the general who is visiting the camp proudly calling the boy scouts the soldiers of the future (Çığıraçan 1934b: ). Death and sacrifice were major themes in the textbooks, where dying in combat in order to protect the homeland was linked to being useful for the homeland (1936: 6). At the same time, these themes were culturalised, and war, set in relation to the history of the nation, was presented as natural and unavoidable. As stated in a language reader published in 1935, a Turk is the one who does not hesitate to give his life for exterminating those who look at his land with a wicked eye (1935: 43-44). 9 The curriculum of 1948, like the 1936 one, presented soldiering as a required subject (1948: 70). The aim was again not limited to inculcating affirmative ideas and positive feelings about military service, but extended to making minds and bodies conform to the working practices of the military. In fact, walking drills, imitating soldiers marching, imitating horse riding, gun firing, and lying down to spy on the enemy were presented as physical education exercises for the students (Ötüken 1959: 20, 105). In this period, too, military service was presented in textbooks mainly as a national/cultural attribute. A poem published in 1953 asked the students to identify themselves as the soldier son who glorifies history (İrge 1953: 24). In the words of a history textbook published in 1954, which was also used in the 1960s, Turks are first of all a military nation (Akşit and Eğilmez 1954a: 60). Turks being the 8 The same year (1931), Atatürk expressed this belief in a speech: The Turkish nation loves its army and considers it the guardian of its ideals (quoted in Parla 1991: ). In 1938, a publication of the Ministry of Culture used a more threatening version of this statement: the Turkishness of anyone who does not love our soldiers and military service should be suspect (Yaman 1938: 38). 9 This passage can also be seen in the language readers of the following years. See, for example, T. C. Milli Eğitim Bakanlığı (1952). Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay 55 best soldiers the world was regarded a cultural fact, defined by both history and geography (see Unat and Su 1954: 121). By this time, the Turkish History Thesis with its emphasis on race had been abandoned, but the rationale of the thesis continued to structure the textbooks. In history textbooks, the birth of Islam and the services of Turks to Islam and Islamic civilisation were included in this framework, and explained within the boundaries of state-making and war-making. War-making was regarded as the main element of civilisation in the textbooks. The Turkish conquests of Anatolia and the conquests of the Ottomans, as well as the War of Independence, were also given ample attention (see Unat and Su 1945, 1947, Akşit and Eğilmez 1954a, 1954b, Oktay 1958a, 1958b, Oran 1954a, 1954b). In some textbooks, the children were asked to draw pictures of certain battle scenes (İrge 1953: 23) and/or of military artillery (Ötüken 1959: 105). The theme of sacrifice continued to be central in all textbooks. In parts of the readers entitled Do you do these? the lists included statements such as I will willingly give my life (ibid.: 19), and the flag was described as being painted in the blood of the martyrs (1952: 36). In the post-1968 curriculum, the national account of history as built upon wars did not change, even though the history textbooks were changed into social studies textbooks. The line of reasoning, maintaining military character as the major historical achievement of the nation, stayed the same (1968: 69, Sanır et al and 1979). A 1974 textbook asked the following questions: Why do Turks love soldiering so much? and Why do we, as a nation, give so much significance to military service? The answer was unequivocal: There is no one in the world who knows and does this duty better than Turks (Ötüken 1974: 44-45). Although some changes occurred after 1980 in the primary school curriculum, the general arguments presented above were hardly altered. Military service was still regarded as a national/cultural attribute, and at the same time presented as a primary and sacred duty of citizenship (1988: 160). In 1986, one of the subjects under the title subjects related to Atatürkizm was added as mandatory to the curriculum and textbooks by a special decision of the Board of Education and Discipline and the High Council on Education. Among these subjects, one entitled Elements of National Power in Atatürkist Thought ( Atatürkçü Düşüncede Milli Güç Unsurları ) presented military power element and explained it with respect to the significance and duties of the Turkish armed forces and the sacredness of the duty of military service. This sacredness was specified by a single sub-entry: The attribute of the Turkish nation being soldiers by birth (ibid.: 171). These were the focus of education until 1995, when they were replaced with new ones There was no significant change in the subjects and their contents, but this time the objective of each subject was specifically defined. The expected acts, behaviours and feelings that should be observed in the students with respect to these subjects were signified. Military power was once again included among these subjects as an element of national power. Similar to the prior era, military power was defined in relation to the significance and duties of the Turkish Armed Forces, the sacredness of the duty of military service, and the attribute of being soldiers by birth (ibid.: 19, 46-47). 56 Tuba Kancı and Ayşe Gül Altınay Military officers and student soldiers meet in the classroom An important tool for raising strong soldiers and creating a sense of connection with soldiering in general has been the mandatory high-school military course, introduced into the curriculum in Tau
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