(Trans)formation of Kemalism, 1920s–1930s

  • Vahram Ter-Matevosyan
Part of the Modernity, Memory and Identity in South-East Europe book series (MOMEIDSEE)


This chapter examines turning points in the first two decades of the Republic from its foundation until the death of Kemal Atatürk in 1938. It focuses on major phases of ideological consolidation and delineates their distinctive features. Exploring ideological layers of the RPP congresses in the 1920s and 1930s, it offers a comparative analysis of the party programs. RPP rule, pervasiveness of the state, enduring authoritarianism, crackdown on dissent, leader cult, demographic and social engineering, and imposition of a new secular-republican identity constituted the core of the Kemalist politics and political system. Overturning old practices, discrediting values and habits of the old regime, imposition of radical social, cultural, and economic changes puzzled many in Turkey, although many, especially the young, fervently embraced them. Many facets of socio-political organization in the new state were indeed new, while the roots of many ideological features extended at least 50 years back. Formative in many regards, the Kemalist era also constituted a transformative phase and a springboard for ideals and insights that had long existed in the Ottoman Empire.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vahram Ter-Matevosyan
    • 1
  1. 1.American University of ArmeniaYerevanArmenia

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