Research Article


DOI :10.26650/jos.1356076   IUP :10.26650/jos.1356076    Full Text (PDF)

The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi

Asiye Sezgin Tüylüİlknur Tatar Kırılmış

In 1852, French philologist and historian Ernest Renan delivered a lecture on Islam and Science in France. During this conference, he explored various factors contributing to the perceived “backwardness” of Islamic countries and, by adopting an orientalist perspective, linked the East’s lag in development to Islam. After surveying the East (which encompassed African nations), he posited that the inhabitants of these regions generally exhibited a mindset that was resistant to scientific advancements, harboring animosity toward Western ideas and spirituality. In this discourse, Renan’s assertions elicited numerous reactions in the Islamic world, prompting significant objections to his views/opinions. In 1883, Ottoman writer and scholar Namik Kemal vehemently expressed his dissenting opinions against Renan, culminating in the writing of “Renan Müdâfaanâmesi,” while imprisoned in Midilli (Greece) in 1908. This work has since been etched in history as one of the most impassioned refutations of Renan in the Islamic world. Specifically, it underscored Renan’s lack of understanding of Islam and Islamic thinkers, criticizing his numerous misguided judgments. Since then, prominent Islamic thinkers in the fields of science and philosophy have emerged to counter Renan’s negative perceptions of Islam, with “Renan Müdâfaanâmesi” serving as an Eastern response to the Western orientalist viewpoint. In this study, the conceptual framework of occidentalism will be drawn and Namık Kemal’s Renan Müdâfaanâmesi will be evaluated as an occidentalist discourse. The importance of Renan Müdâfaanâmesi in the context of the establishment of occidentalist discourse in Turkish literature will be revealed.

DOI :10.26650/jos.1356076   IUP :10.26650/jos.1356076    Full Text (PDF)

Tanzimat Dönemi’nde Oksidentalist Söylemin Kuruluşu: Namık Kemal Ve Renan Müdâfaanâmesi

Asiye Sezgin Tüylüİlknur Tatar Kırılmış

Fransız filolog ve tarihçi Ernest Renan, 1852’de Fransa’da İslam ve Bilim başlıklı bir konuşma yapmıştır. Bu konferansta Renan, İslam ülkelerin geri kalmışlığının sebeplerini sorularla tartışmış ve oryantalist bir bakış açısıyla Doğu’nun geri kalmışlığını İslam ile birleştirmiştir. Doğu’ya Afrika ülkeleri dâhil bakıldığı zaman o bölgelerde yaşayanların bilim ve gelişmelere kapalı bir düşünce biçimleri olduğunu, ayrıca Batı’nın fikir ve maneviyatına karşı nefret içinde olduklarını belirtir. Renan’ın bu konferansta dile getirdiği düşünceleri, İslam dünyasında pek çok tepki ile karşılanmıştır. Bu doğrultuda Ernest Renan’ın görüşlerine pek çok itiraz yapılmıştır. Namık Kemal, 1883’te, Ernest Renan’a karşı reflektif bir şekilde karşıt görüşlerini dile getirerek Midilli’de hapishanede Renan Müdâfaanâmesi’ni yazmıştır. Bu eser, Ernest Renan’a karşı yazılmış İslâm dünyasında görülen en ateşli reddiye olarak tarihe geçmiştir. Eserde, Ernest Renan’ın İslam’ı ve İslam düşünürlerini tanımaması ve yanlış yargılarda bulunması vurgulanarak İslam’ın bilim ve felsefe alanlarındaki önemli düşünürlerine yer verilmiş ve Ernest Renan’ın İslam hakkındaki olumsuz düşünceleri eleştirilmiştir. Renan Müdâfaanâmesi, Batı’nın oryantalist bakışına karşı Doğu’dan verilmiş bir cevaptır. Bu çalışmada oksidentalizmin kavramsal çerçevesi çizilerek oksidentalist bir söylem olarak Namık Kemal’in Renan Müdâfaanâmesi değerlendirilecektir. Türk edebiyatında oksidentalist söylemin kuruluşu bağlamında Renan Müdâfaanâmesi’nin önemi ortaya çıkarılacaktır.


EXTENDED ABSTRACT


Despite their geographical boundaries, the East and West fundamentally consist of two different realms, forming an intricately interconnected whole. These two concepts, emblematic of distinct civilizations, have historically embodied the epitome of progress. Specifically, while both the East and the West sought to monopolize the notion of civilization, they concurrently engaged in the process of acknowledging and defining the “other.” In a profound sense, this definition has become integral to self-definition. Meanwhile, the West, in defining itself, has coined the concept of “nonWesternness.” Conversely, the East’s perception of Western civilization (although comparable) lacks the demarcation of those situated outside the Eastern boundaries. As a result, the existential contest between the East and the West has manifested as a struggle for knowledge and power. Over the centuries, since the interactions between these two blocs have frequently materialized as economic and religious strife, it has become inevitable for each bloc to delineate the conceptual frameworks for one another. In this regard, orientalism and occidentalism are two cognitive frameworks that encapsulate the “concept maps” constructed by the Eastern and Western blocs.

Orientalism, representing Western-based institutional endeavors that scrutinize the Eastern world across various domains, such as religion, language, science, thought, art, and history, has long facilitated the development of diverse perspectives, particularly in the fine arts such as painting and literature. From the 16th century on, within the annals of Western literature, the exploration, understanding, and portrayal of the East have emerged as the key challenges in fictional texts. Meanwhile, when examining Turkey’s geographic context within the expansive Eastern bloc, the narratives often depict various subjects, such as the conquest of Istanbul, the assassination of ehzade Mustafa, Turkish triumphs, and the harem, painting a negative panorama.In contrast, occidentalism is a conceptual framework that encompasses the study of the West, including the generation of intellectual works resulting from reflections on the West. Distinct from the orientalist discourse that defines the West, occidentalism constructs a “roadmap” starting from itself, driven by a defensive instinct.

The exploration of how poets (especially those residing in the same region and sharing common sentiments/thoughts) convey these emotions and ideas across different historical periods is noteworthy of investigation. In particular, the Turkish literature has been shaped by the literary genres of diverse nations rooted in its geographical context. Moreover, the East and West appear to persist in our intellectual world as two pivotal questions regarding the positioning of our literature within a historical framework.

From the 19th century to the present, attitudes toward the West have been generally described within a framework of either complementary or contrasting ideas. In this regard, an occidentalist discourse is discernible in various state policies or individual ideologies, originating before the Tanzimat period, but finding explicit expression with the Declaration of Tanzimat (Imperial Decree of Reformation). During the Tanzimat years, numerous poets and writers turned their attention to the West, translating several works and introducing Western genres and discourses into the Turkish literature. Consequently, this period not only included political, scientific, and technological changes, but it also witnessed the integration of Western influences into the literature.

During the post-Tanzimat era, poets and writers offered diverse interpretations of the West, often redefining it in a manner that defended their own cultural values within the realm of intellectual discourse. Hence, this study examines the foundation of orientalism and occidentalism, drawing inspiration from Edward Said’s “Orientalism” and Alkım Saygın’s “Garbiyatçılık.” Meanwhile, Ottoman writer and poet Namik Kemal is recognized as a “trailblazer of modernization” who closely acquainted himself with the West. This proximity also allowed him to draw comparisons between Eastern and Western civilizations. Despite being an advocate for innovation, Kemal’s idea of progress was selective. For example, while acknowledging the West for its “progress,” he criticized the corruption he perceived as being brought about by Western influences, openly opposing the imitation of Europe.

In 1852, French philologist and historian Ernest Renan delivered a lecture titled “Islam and Science” at the Sorbonne, sparking considerable objections and refutations in the Islamic world. In 1883, Kemal composed “Renan Müdâfaanâmesi,” offering a reflexive expression of his opposing views to those of Renan. This refutation also marked the inception of the occidentalist discourse during the Tanzimat period. In this context, the nature of Kemal’s work serves as a foundation for the perception of the East and West, which has evolved into a crisis within our realm of thought over the last two centuries.

Contrary to the fact that occidentalism emerged as a concept in the 1990s with philosopher Hasan Hanafi, it was actually discussed among Turkish scholars more than a century earlier. Furthermore, the nature of this discourse is not only a source of the perception of the East and West, but it also allows us to question the contents of occidentalism. For instance, is occidentalism the perception of the West by the East or a reflexive form of defense against the perception of the East by the West? In this regard, Kemal rejected the negative definitions of Muslims by using a defensive discourse. He also attempted to equate Eastern and Western civilizations. Consequently, the main reason why occidentalism did not become an institutional endeavor is that it initially rejected the values assigned to the East. Overall, in line with previous research, this study shows that the source of the comparisons between Renan and Kemal is orientalist and occidentalist in thought. Apart from Kemal, the views of thinkers of the period should be examined within the framework of occidentalism, while the accumulation of this concept in Turkey should be added to the world literature.


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APA

Sezgin Tüylü, A., & Tatar Kırılmış, İ. (2024). The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi. Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(44), 21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


AMA

Sezgin Tüylü A, Tatar Kırılmış İ. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi. Journal of Oriental Studies. 2024;0(44):21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


ABNT

Sezgin Tüylü, A.; Tatar Kırılmış, İ. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi. Journal of Oriental Studies, [Publisher Location], v. 0, n. 44, p. 21-39, 2024.


Chicago: Author-Date Style

Sezgin Tüylü, Asiye, and İlknur Tatar Kırılmış. 2024. “The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 44: 21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


Chicago: Humanities Style

Sezgin Tüylü, Asiye, and İlknur Tatar Kırılmış. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi.” Journal of Oriental Studies 0, no. 44 (May. 2024): 21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


Harvard: Australian Style

Sezgin Tüylü, A & Tatar Kırılmış, İ 2024, 'The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi', Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 44, pp. 21-39, viewed 18 May. 2024, https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


Harvard: Author-Date Style

Sezgin Tüylü, A. and Tatar Kırılmış, İ. (2024) ‘The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi’, Journal of Oriental Studies, 0(44), pp. 21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076 (18 May. 2024).


MLA

Sezgin Tüylü, Asiye, and İlknur Tatar Kırılmış. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi.” Journal of Oriental Studies, vol. 0, no. 44, 2024, pp. 21-39. [Database Container], https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076


Vancouver

Sezgin Tüylü A, Tatar Kırılmış İ. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi. Journal of Oriental Studies [Internet]. 18 May. 2024 [cited 18 May. 2024];0(44):21-39. Available from: https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076 doi: 10.26650/jos.1356076


ISNAD

Sezgin Tüylü, Asiye - Tatar Kırılmış, İlknur. The Foundation of Oxidentalist Discourse During the Tanzimat Period: Namik Kemal and Renan Müdâfaanâmesi”. Journal of Oriental Studies 0/44 (May. 2024): 21-39. https://doi.org/10.26650/jos.1356076



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Submitted06.09.2023
Accepted18.03.2024
Published Online30.04.2024

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