The role of religion in the formation of nationalism, two case studies: Turkish and Armenian nationalisms

2011 2011

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Abstract (summary)

Nationalism provides a rational framework for the formation of a national identity for societies by associating that identity with territory, religion, and/or language. This study takes the association of nationalism with religion into account in the Turkish and Armenian cases with the aim of providing a new perspective to the Armenian question. Instead of ignoring the economic and political reasons, this study seeks the role of religion in the conflict which witnessed violence and resulted in a service of tragedies.

Nationalism aiming at building an independence nation-state was a threat for the Ottoman Empire, which consisted of various ethnicities and religions. The Ottoman political and social formation was based on religious identities, which enabled its subjects to keep their ethnic identities, and these gained priority with the influence of nationalism. In order to prevent the dissolution of its millets into essentially national entities, the Ottoman administration tried various policies, namely, Ottomanism, Islamism, and Turkish nationalism, whose common element was to be Islam, which provided the social base and justified the arguments of the ideologies. It was Islam that motivated people to fight against infidels in order to defend the homeland (vatan).

The “self-isolation” process that began with the separation of the Armenian Church from the Greek Church in the fourth century transformed into an Armenian identity characterized by religious and ethnic attachments under the hegemony of foreign powers. In the context of the Armenian question, the Armenian Gregorian Church contributed to Armenian nationalism by transforming the historical attachments of Armenian identity into nationalist discourses.

Religious motivation of people toward nationalistic goals by the religious leaders, such as Mkrdich Khrimian, a member of the Armenian clergy, can easily embrace violence by mobilizing people to sacrifice themselves. Violence has been unavoidable when the politicization of religions, namely Islam and Armenian Gregorian Orthodoxy, toward nationalistic goals takes a place in the same territory. In the context of the Armenian question, the role of religion needs to be examined within the framework of politicization with nationalist discourses, which will provide an understanding of the origins of the conflict and its tragic results.

Indexing (details)

Middle Eastern Studies;
Political science
0318: Religion
0555: Middle Eastern Studies
0615: Political science
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Armenian nationalism; Nationalim; Religion; Turkish nationalism
The role of religion in the formation of nationalism, two case studies: Turkish and Armenian nationalisms
Tekkoyun, Ali
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
MAI 49/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Yavuz, M. Hakan
Committee member
Baktiari, Bahman; Sluglett, Peter J.
The University of Utah
Languages and Literature
University location
United States -- Utah
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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