An earlier version of this paper was presented in Workshop 9: ‘Changing Party Political Constellations and Public Policy
Reform in Southern Europe’ at the Tenth Mediterranean Research Meeting, Florence & Montecatini Terme, 25-28 March
2009, organised by the Mediterranean Programme of the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European
University Institute.; The purpose of this paper is to explore the question of small and incremental reform in Turkish
minority policies over the last two decades, contrasting with the dramatic economic, social, and
political changes that the country has experienced over the same period. The main focus will be on
two partly overlapping groups living in Turkey (Alevis and Kurds); comparison with other Southern
European countries will be made as background reference. The reason for this focus is analytical:
these two groups are structurally different from minorities found in Italy or Greece in that they are
both large enough to carry great electoral weight and politically salient enough to affect Turkey's EU
Minority policy is an often overlooked realm of public policy, either because it is considered too
sensitive or too case-specific, as opposed to fiscal...
This thesis will argue that one of the main challenges Alevis experience in Turkey is the lack of adequate historical credit afforded to them within Modern Turkish society. Though Alevis have a much older history than the Republic of Turkey, having occupied the region for centuries before the inception the modern Turkish nation-state, they still have a very specific relationship with the development of the secular Kemalist-Turkish identity. In fact, Alevis began to develop a novel and unique political identity, which embraced secularism in spite of deeply rooted religious convictions, during Turkey's National transition from the late Ottoman Empire (early 1900s) to the early multi-party era (late 1950s).
Existing scholarship on Alevi identity often exclusively focuses on how they were perceived as a religious group during the Ottoman Era or on their increasingly marginalized political identity after the 1970s. However, this thesis will argue that these approaches fail to appreciate the "transition period" of Alevi identity, and how the transformation from being considered a strictly religious/ethnic identity within the Ottoman Empire to becoming viewed as vocal and political advocates of secularism from the early Republic is crucial to understanding contemporary Alevi identity. It will argue that past research has not paid enough attention to this transition...