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Why Did Latife Cover Her Hair?

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This paper uncovers the Orientalist assumptions dominating studies of Ataturk reforms as to women's rights in Turkey and proposes an alternative approach, which drops messianic approach to Ataturk reforms and calls for situating them within a broader historical strategic context. It argues that Ataturk's clique was one of the many contenders competing for political power in post-WWI Turkey. In an effort to pacify and eliminate its opponents, the political regime pursued a policy of corporatist regime construction, by which no autonomous social institution was left alone. Such a reading of early Republican history suggests that granting women certain rights was part of authoritarian regime consolidation. This essay argues the case further; suggesting that being contained within an authoritarian regime caused the nascent feminist movement to lose its potential to reach to broader women groups in Turkey.

Affiliations: 1: Qatar University;, Email: b.baskan@qu.edu.qa

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