Date of Award

2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes Said Nursi's revivalist discourse and mobilization strategies in the context of the development of secularism in Turkey. This study starts with the exploration of the development of the secularist movement and its discourse with regard to philosophical foundations of (1) the construction of reality, (2) the self and (3) the society. This is followed by the analysis of Said Nursi's discourse of revivalism before and after the establishment of the Turkish Republic with respect to these three areas and by the exploration of the discourse and mobilization strategies of the Nur Movement (established by Said Nursi) vis-à-vis the mobilization strategies of the secularist establishment.

This study is based on discourse analysis of the texts produced by the secularist movement, and the texts produced by Said Nursi and the letters he exchanged with his followers. I also analyze material and non-material mobilization strategies of these two movements.

One of the main conclusions of this dissertation is that secularism and revivalism do not have fixed boundaries and natures. Sociopolitical contexts, socio-economic and educational backgrounds and ideological orientations of actors, their relationships with the state, with religious forces played significant roles in the emergence of substantial variations in the discourse and mobilization of the secularist movement. Said Nursi's approach to religious revival, too, showed considerable

variations. Although he first advocated macro level societal reform for reversing the decline of the Muslim World, Said Nursi started developing a dialectic approach to religious revival after the introduction of explicitly secularist ideas (e.g., materialism and naturalism). Following the establishment of the secularist Turkish Republic, Said Nursi started writing treatises with the purpose of challenging the philosophical foundations of secularism rather than directly engaging the secularist establishment. In so doing, he embraced a micro-level mobilization strategy which aimed at appealing to and transforming individuals. By challenging its philosophical bases and not developing a politically intonated discourse against secularism, Said Nursi and the Nur Movement embraced an effective mobilization strategy of "simultaneously engaging and disengaging" the secularist establishment.

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