chapter  2
27 Pages

The formation of citizenship in Turkey

WithI . BRAHIM SAYLAN

Citizenship denotes a politico-legal link between state and people. In other words, it refers to membership of a political community, which provides members with a set of rights and obligations. In principle, membership to polity is universal, that is, open to everybody living within the territorial boundaries of the state. Nevertheless, the connection between people as nation and the state makes membership criteria highly contentious. Modern citizenship expresses membership to the nation-state. Although rights and duties associated with citizenship have changed in the course of history, nation-state has thus far remained the fundamental political unit defining borders and content of citizenship. On the other hand, a number of factors have brought about questioning,

or even crisis of modernist convictions, including the assumption of an indissoluble link between nation and state, which substantiated nation-statebased modern political structure. This questioning has naturally drawn attention to the institution of citizenship that has been closely bound with the state and nation in the age of nation-states. As a part of modernity, nationalism claimed congruence of nation and

state. In reality, nation was a goal to be achieved (Alter 1989). For this purpose, cultural, ethnic, religious identities were disregarded in the name of progress, prosperity, and democracy, which were defined within the context of national identity and interests. Hence, the nation-building process relegated some groups in society to minority positions in terms of religion, ethnicity, culture, and political ideology. And, unsurprisingly homogenizing attempts by the nation-states have met immediate reactions by especially autochthonous ethnic, cultural groups. Until the end of the Cold War, discontent could be hardly expressed or heard. However, for about two decades, ethnic, religious, and cultural identity claims have challenged nation-states in remarkable ways. All these demands have unavoidably related to the existing formation of citizenship, and the need to reconstruct it so to meet these diverse demands under new circumstances. Its repercussions have been more critical for the states in which the connection between nationhood and citizenship was stronger.