While most recent historiography on Turkish secularism has distanceditself from earlier European attempts to equate it with American understandingsof religious freedom, scholarship on Alevis—Turkey’s largest religious minoritygroup—remains stalled in this older tradition. Historians need to take a more critical approach to how Turkish Alevis experienced the secularization reforms of the 1920s with the understanding that not all aspects were emancipatory. In this paper, I will examine how Alevi communities responded to theenactment of Law 677 “Concerning the Closure of Tekkes, Zaviyes, and Türbes and the Prohibition andAbolition of a Series of Titles Related to the Maintenance of SufiInstitutions” in 1925. I argue that while Alevissupported some aspects of secularism, their vision for what the secular state shouldbe constituted an alternative vision to Kemalist laicism. This differencemarked Alevis as “secular heretics” in the eyes of the state. Just as religions seek to enforce uniformity of practice and belief, I argue that the Turkish state targeted alternative conceptualizations of secularism in order to promote conformity to the ideological "orthodoxy."
Keywords: Turkey, Secularism, Alevis
How to Cite:
Wickersham, A., (2022) “Secular Heretics: Exploring the Affects of Turkish Secularization Reforms on Alevi Communities in Anatolia (1923-1938)”, Footnotes: A Journal of History 5, 77-91.