Turkish Awakening : A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey
Personal Exploration of Contemporary Turkish Life And Politics
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★★ The real inside story of Turkey’s economic, social and cultural boom – and the collapse into protest and violence.★★
★★ The Unexpected Insight on The Investigation Of Turkish New Mass Migration, Urbanisation & Economics Make-Over Towards A New Position On World Stage ★★
This Washington Post & The Guadian Bestseller in paperback edition is a bran-new book and nicely wrapped with protective book-wrapper. The original new book is sold at usual price RM86.57. Now here Only at RM24.
In recent years Turkey has become a boom place for tourism and business.
But in June 2013 the eruption of protests laid bare the tensions accrued over a decade of economically successful but increasingly autocratic rule by the religious Justice and Development Party.
Until recently, middle class Turks unhappy with Prime Minister Erdogan’s strongman-style of leadership have grumbled quietly while Turkey has grown in status and prestige on the international scene.
Now, they have awaken and are determined to have their grievances heard. The religious working class, on the other hand, insist that life has never been better.
From Mustafa Kemal Ataturk to the current President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish Awakening by Alev Scott is a colourful exploration of mass migration, urbanisation and economics in a country full of contradictions.
Born in London to a Turkish mother and British father, Alev Scott moved to Istanbul to discover what it means to be Turkish in a country going through rapid political and social change.
With an extraordinary past still linked to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and an ever more surprising present under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
From the European buzz of modern-day Constantinople to the Arabic-speaking towns of the south-east, Turkish Awakening investigates mass migration, urbanisation and economics in a country moving swiftly towards a new position on the world stage.
This is the story of discovering a complex country from the outside-in, a candid account of overturned preconceptions and fresh understanding.
Relating wide-ranging interviews and colourful personal experience, the author charts the evolving course of a country bursting with surprises – none more dramatic than the unexpected political protests of 2013 in Taksim Square, which have brought to light the emerging demands of a newly awakened Turkish people.
Mass migration, urbanisation and a growing awareness of human rights have changed the social, economic and physical landscapes of a powerful country, and the 2013 protests were just one indication of the changes afoot in today’s Turkey.
Threatened as it is by recent developments in Syria and Iraq and the approaching danger of ISIS.
Encompassing topics as varied as Aegean camel wrestling, transgender prostitution, politicised soap operas and riot tourism, this is a revelatory, at times humorous, at times moving, portrait of a country which is coming of age.
When Alev Scott moved to Istanbul to explore her family’s heritage, she didn’t know what to expect from this colorful nation at the edge of the Middle East.
By travelling around the country and talking to everyone from art dealers to camel breeders, Alex began to piece together a picture of modern Turkey.
Moving from booming Istanbul to the historically diverse villages of the south-east, and caught up in the protests of 2013, Alev saw from the inside how constantly surprising this remarkable country can be.
Turkish Awakening is essential reading for anyone travelling to, or simply interested in, this rapidly-evolving nation.
In her introduction, Alev Scott states that Turkish Awakening is as much about her personal discovery of the land of her mother’s birth as it is an exploration of contemporary Turkish life and politics, and she is true to her word.
She skilfully combines personal insights with an objective gaze to focus on a confusing and often contradictory culture, teasing out a much fuller picture of Turkey than is usually offered.
As a result Scott goes beyond the overused East meets West paradigm usually applied to writing about Turkey, to try to unravel the complex relationship between modernity and religion which is so much a feature of daily life in Istanbul.
From this first chapter she goes on to detail the ‘village in the city’ nature of many Istanbul neighbourhoods.
Most surprising is the way prostitution and transgender inhabitants coexist, albeit sometimes uneasily, alongside their devout Muslim neighbours who have relocated from the country.
She goes on to explore the influence of popular soap operas featuring the new rich, living in ostentatiously flashy homes most Turks can only dream of, and the way these surreal stories have brought Arab tourists to Turkey in search of their new heroes and heroines.
She even writes about her experiences teaching in a highly regarded government university.
Through her experience, we see how the respect with which teachers are regarded in Turkey clashes with low salaries, a serious lack of resources and students whose primary aim in learning is to know only the answers to the exam questions and nothing more.
Indepth academic research is shunned in favour of multiple choice based exams, and excellence for its own sake has become a sad remnant of a distant past.
The book is rounded out by looking at Turkey’s changing relationship with the EU, no longer seen as a positive aspiration, and the rise and rise of the ruling Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (AKP – Party for Justice and Progress).
Having initially been seen as a praiseworthy example of moderate Islam, Scott reveals how the AKP is now seen as the harbinger of a darker future facing Turkey.
Many of her observations were made against the backdrop of the 2013 Gezi Park protests. During that summer Istanbul, Ankara, Eskisehir and numerous other Turkish cities saw extraordinary displays of public unity against what many saw as an increasingly Draconian government.
Scott captures the vitality and hope of those days brilliantly, but her perspective is very much coloured by being in that particular moment.
Consequently the book ends on a high which could be misleading to readers unaware of more recent Turkish history.
Granted, Scott does offer some analysis of events from the perspectives of supporters of Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic, as well as those who continue to support the AKP.
Nonetheless this is a seriously good read which will see you turning the pages non-stop until you reach the end.
Scott gives us fascinating glimpses into her personal experiences in Istanbul and Turkey, breathing fresh life into modern history so that we live and feel it as we read.
Turkish Awakening A Personal Discovery of Modern Turkey is one of the most engaging histories of contemporary life in Turkey I have read for a long time. I highly recommend it.
Alev Scott explores the shifts in Turkish society in recent years, and the roots of the indelible patriotism that characterizes every Turk, whatever their politics.
From the European buzz of Istanbul to the strife-torn villages of the South East, Turkey is a country going through rapid change.
Mass migration, urbanisation and a growing awareness of human rights have changed the social, economical and physical landscapes of a powerful country.
The book delves into the Turkish psyche and looks ahead at the immediate future of a country the whole world is watching.
This updated paperback edition includes an additional chapter on the aftermath of the 2013 Gezi Park protests.
Review From UK Telegraph : by Elif Shafak
Each time I make a phone call from London to my husband in Istanbul we have a ritual. I ask him about himself and then I ask, as if it were another person we knew in common, “How is the country doing?”
“The country is fine, surviving,” comes the answer. We talk about Turkey like an oddball relative you could neither fully accept nor stop loving.
Outside observers often complain about their inability to comprehend Turkey. It is too fast-moving, they say. Little do they know that sometimes we natives feel the same way. Understanding Turkey is a lifelong effort.
A new book, Turkish Awakening by Alev Scott, tackles this question. Scott was born to a Turkish mother and a British father. When she moved to Istanbul a few years ago she was determined to discover her roots.
She learnt the language, observed the people, and wrote about her experience. She was about to finish the book when the Gezi protests broke out in May 2013, leaving more than 8,000 injured and six dead.
“No one expected the protests,” she writes, “but they have shown the world, and Turks themselves, that the country is far more complicated than it looks.”
Scott interprets the Gezi spirit as a belated enlightenment and investigates the culture and society that precipitated the movement.
The world’s media pays far more attention to Turkey’s politics and economy than to its people and culture. Turkish Awakening fills an important vacuum and helps us to probe the minds and hearts of a nation.
The book is replete with real observations on daily life in Turkey. “The way Turks talk about their country sounds like religious fervour,” Scott says. “Turkey is more than a country, it is a religion, and that is why anti-Turkish sentiments are equivalent to blasphemy.”
Through day-to-day anecdotes, Scott takes us on a cultural excursion. She alludes to the village-like interdependency of Turkish society.
On the positive side this leads to a sense of solidarity. On the negative, it triggers parochialism and a claustrophobic collective identity.
Language is the key to the soul of every culture and Scott offers thoughtful examples. She introduces her readers to people from different walks of life, from transvestites to documentary makers.
She guides us into “genuine fake” bag shops where one can purchase surprisingly successful imitations of designer brands. Turkish businesses, she reminds us, are better at imitating other people’s creations than designing their own.
Scott’s discerning eye catches the myriad contradictions in contemporary Turkey. “Turks can be totally selfless with individuals and totally selfish in a public domain,” she concludes.
A Turk might tell you that he abhors Kurds but should a Kurd knock on his door, she says, “he would be treated with the same boundless generosity all guests are shown”.
This, she believes, is the exact opposite of the situation in England. “The English are instilled with a sense of civic responsibility, binning rubbish and queuing…
When it comes to one-to-one interaction, however, it all gets rather embarrassing and no one looks anyone in the eye.”
Such cultural and geographical comparisons add to the richness of the book, but at the same time make it susceptible to criticism.
There are times when sweeping generalisations about “the Turks” weaken the strength of the narrative. “But which Turks?” one wants to ask. Of which class or region? One reason why it is difficult to fully grasp Turkey today is because it has become increasingly fragmented over the years.
Hence, the picture of Turkey that one gets varies depending on whom we talk to. The book is at its strongest when it goes into modern daily life.
None the less, Scott approaches her subject with an open-mindedness that we don’t often encounter in journalistic research on other countries. Without prejudice, she writes with both compassion and a critical eye.
Turkish Awakening provides testimony to the turbulent path Turkey has followed in recent years. From the prime minister’s problematic statements on abortion, to Interior Minister Idris Naim Sahin’s comments comparing artistic depictions of the police with “terrorism”, the book gives insight into the minds of politicians.
Scott underlines the chasm between those who grew up during Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s leadership and those who didn’t, and how the two sides fail to understand each other.
“Erdogan is in many ways a victim of his own success… During his leadership Turks have become, richer, better educated, and more connected to the world through the spread of the internet.”
Despite many flaws that Scott finds in Turkey’s youthful democracy she remains hopeful. Citizens who criticise Turkey are often portrayed as traitors but in truth, they are the most genuine in their patriotism, Scott says, “because they see Turkey’s faults and love it anyway”.
In this sense Turkish Awakening is a patriotic book. Alev Scott presents us with a sincere and straightforward analysis of a country that continues to bewilder many, East and West.
About the Author
Alev Scott was born in London in 1987 to a Turkish mother and a British father. She was educated at North London Collegiate School and New College, Oxford, where she studied Classics.
After graduating in 2009, she worked in London as an assistant director in theatre and opera before moving to Istanbul in January 2011, where she taught Latin at the Bosphorus University. She now works as a freelance journalist for the British press