These essays grapple with the widely “expended” words that characterize the era of the nationalist-conservative-populist Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, or AKP) in Turkey, which has been in power since 2002. Some of these words rest on a specified backdrop of nationalist and Islamist jargon. Others are words that have accrued meaning in tandem with the zeitgeist. Still others seem to have no particular political meaning, appearing rather “neutral,” though in fact they serve as reflections of a hegemonic zeitgeist. While the pointed political use of these words may be identified as “manipulative” and elicit reactions accordingly, the majority of the words are nonetheless perceived as entirely “neutral.” In any event, they are words that seize upon and configure public language, imposing a broad set of prejudices upon popular imaginaries. They function in society by reproducing the nationalist-conservative and authoritarianpopulist worldview as well as the ethos and pathos that sustain that worldview. Collectively, these essays clarify the historical and political background of the words at hand, examining their ideological function as well as their etymological and stylistic inspirations. By extension, these essays problematize these words, which, due to their standardizing effect, ensnare political communication and, moreover, powerfully corrode already weak sensitivities to the power of language.
Excerpts from Zamanın Kelimeleri: Yeni Türkiye’nin Siyasî Dili (Words of Our Times: The Political Language of New Turkey)
Tanıl Bora has been the editor of nonfiction at İletişim Publishing House since 1988. He was editor-in-chief of the social science journal Toplum ve Bilim (Society and Science) between 1993–2014. He is editorial coordinator of Birikim, a monthly journal of socialist culture. His predominant area of interest is political thought in Turkey.
Nicholas Glastonbury is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at CUNY Graduate Center. His dissertation project examines the social life and political history of Soviet Kurdish radio among Kurds in Turkey. He is a translator of Turkish and Kurdish literature, and a coeditor of the e-zine Jadaliyya.
Tanıl Bora, Nicholas Glastonbury; Excerpts from Zamanın Kelimeleri: Yeni Türkiye’nin Siyasî Dili (Words of Our Times: The Political Language of New Turkey). boundary 2 1 February 2021; 48 (1): 109–137. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-8821449
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