Imagined Turks: The Tatar as the Other in Halide Edip’s Novels

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“Tatar” and “Turk” have both been controversial terms in world literature. Western
literature has referred to Mongols as “Tatars,” while Russians have used the term
“Tatar” for their Turkic subjects. The name “Turk,” also, has been used by
Westerners for all Muslims living in Europe. Both terms have had an insulting
meaning since they were used to define the "other" group or nation. When ethnic
nationalism launched in the late Ottoman period, ideologists had long discussions on
the name of a new nation. They decided to call it Turk, but they did not know how to
define who the “Turk” was. Halide Edip got actively involved in discussions starting from 1911. Having been brought up in a cosmopolitan family setting, and having a liberal education, she welcomed all groups while she used “Turk” as an umbrella term to depict the characters in her novels. However, she needed an ethnic group to focus on since new nationalism was seeking its primordial ties within an ethnic Turkic community. She became acquainted with the Tatar community who came to Istanbul for education and settled there, as well as the Tatar community living in Anatolia, during her service to the Turkish army and the inspection after the War of Independence as well. She did not hide her admiration for modest, educated, and caring Tatar women. To uproot the negative image of Tatars and create a role model for Turkish women, she used the image of Tatar women in her two novels. This article explores Halide novels New Turan and Tatarcık, in which both protagonists are Tatar women.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOttomans – Crimea – Jochids
Subtitle of host publicationStudies in Honour of Mária Ivanics
EditorsIstván Zimonyi
Place of PublicationSzeged
PublisherUniversity of Szeged, Department of Altaic Studies
Number of pages144
ISBN (Electronic)978 963 306 748 2
ISBN (Print)978 963 306 747 5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020


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