Reassessing Turkish National Memory: the AKP and the Nation. An analysis of the representation of Turkish national memory and identity by the AKP.
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Since the Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi (Justice and Development Party – AKP) has been elected into office in 2002, it has often been questioned in what way the party posits itself vis-à-vis Turkish national memory and nationalism. In this thesis the continuity and discontinuity of the interpretation and manipulation of national memory and nationalism during the successive AKP-governments in Turkey will be investigated. The AKP claims to be a non-ideological ‘conservative-democratic’ party, which has broken with the ideological heritage of its Islamist predecessors. There are, however, strong continuities between the Islamist parties of the 1990s and the AKP in the way they consider and manipulate Ottoman history in the political arena as a means towards political legitimation. Apart from demonstrating an ideological indebtedness to Turkish Islamist parties, continuities and discontinuities between the AKP’s style of governance and that of the preceding – Kemalist, Atatürkist or Republican – governments are being analysed. The conclusion of this thesis is that, adjoining continuities with its Islamist predecessors, the AKP is still embedded within the boundaries of the nationalist framework set out by the Kemalists with regard to the party’s stance on Turkish citizenship, national identity, traumas in national history and leader-centred politics.