Wanted: 'Authenticity' in Turkish Modernization
The concept of ‘authenticity’ has become an important theme for social theory in the recent years. Theodor W. Adorno saw the search for authenticity as one of the latest moral manoeuvres of bourgeois ideology. Just as the reproduction capacity of capitalist development has reached a peak, the desire for ‘real’ or ‘genuine’ seems to reach its own heights. Although this desire is not limited to the specific, so-called ‘developing countries’, Turkey has a different quality in that the object of desire has usually been codified in terms of Western societies. For Turkey ‘authenticity’ has various social, political and historical dimensions connected to the modernization project dating back to late 19 th century. Accordingly, specific dimensions of Turkish history and society have to be taken into account combining it with the global capitalist development. Within this project the desire for authenticity will be addressed by referring to a notion of Raymond Williams: a ‘structure of feeling’. The Turkish modernization process has often been described as a Westernization project. As a result, the West has become a model for Turkish society: a model of Truth. In the struggle to keep up with the model, Turkish society has always had the feeling of being a ‘secondary’, ‘fake’, ‘derivative’ society. The duality of real/fake seems to encourage a desire for genuineness while nourishing a feeling of fakeness. The observation that a search for authenticity or originality has been a permanent motif in Turkish literary studies became the starting point for this PhD project. However this search is not exclusively limited to the field of literature; a desire for authenticity has become a pervasive theme in almost all areas of social life, including cinema, television, music industry and everyday social practices. In order to identify the desire for authenticity and analyze its implications in the context of Turkey my primary object of analysis will be a number of selected texts from Turkish literature. The analysis may also be directed towards Turkish movies. This decision will be taken after reviewing the textual and visual materials. In any case the method of this project will be text analysis.