A Politics of Comparative Conceptualizations and Institutions: Two non-European Images on European Secularity in the Writing of the 1961 Turkish Constitution

by Murat Akan

Working Papers WP 13-02
January 2013
ISSN 2192-2357 (MMG Working Papers Print)

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Multiple conceptualizations of laiklik were pronounced in the writing of the 1961 Turkish Constitution. Based on an analysis of the records of the writing of the 1961 Constitution as well as on memoirs, newspapers, and interviews, this paper seeks to answer the question: Which conceptualizations of laiklik were put to the defense of which institutional arrangements and for what political goals? Then, the paper explores a possible critique from the narrative of the questions of laiklik and religions in the writing of the 1961 Turkish Constitution to (1) some liberal and multicultural assumptions prevailing in the contemporary literature on secularism and religion; (2) some aspects of Charles Taylor’s hermeneutical approach; (3) some aspects of the rising multiple modernities approach.  


urat Akan is a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity from September 2012 till September 2013 on a scholarship from the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University in 2005. His past work has appeared in the British Journal of Sociology, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, and Studies in Comparative International evelopment.