Beginning in the 1960s, when the political, cultural, and economic demands of various social groups began to be more strongly reflected in the public sphere, the totalitarian policies of nation-states began to falter. In particular, authoritarian practices aimed at creating a common national identity and a single national language began to meet with significant objections. Groups that had been at odds with the prevailing majority on ethnic, linguistic, and religious grounds and that had up to that time been kept at a distance from the administrative centre began to demand the preservation and protection of their identities and cultures.
These demands were also reflected in Turkey. The concept of citizenship developed by the Republican regime and the imposition of a common identity and lifestyle for people of varying languages, religions, and ethnic origins met with significant objection from the late 1980s onwards. After the partial easing of the oppression arising from the coup d’état of 1980 especially, ethnic and religious groups thought of as damaging to national identity established by the capital, Ankara became more visible within society and began to participate more actively in politics. Groups that had not considered themselves part of acceptable society began to put forth demands for their unique character to be socially accepted and preserved. Women re- belled against the dominant male culture and adopt a variety of methods to fight sexist discrimination. Homosexuals drew attention to their oppression; they began to fight to gain equality as citizens with a different sexual orientation both in the private and the public sphere. Islamic circles also became involved, with their demands that women not be deprived of their rights because of their headscarves and that children be brought up in line with their faith. The Alawis challenged the Sunni character of the regime and put pressure on both political and legal mechanisms for the abolishment of obligatory religious lessons in schools. Non-Muslims expressed the necessity of coming to terms with the discrimination they have been subjected to in the past and present and to solve current issues deriving from this discrimination.
The demand for the recognition of Kurdish ethnic and cultural identity is of distinctive importance among these demands, which over the years have increased in type and variety. In this context, the most-emphasized demand and the one that forms the predominant part of the cultural rights claim consists of the use of the mother tongue – Kurdish – in education. Kurds base their demands in this area on three main principles.
“Scar of Tongue” aims to contribute to deepening the current debates on mother tongue-based education and to the development of an understanding of multilingual education – involving the use of Kurdish in education – in Turkey.
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