Bound Together

The Secularization of Türkiye’s Literary Fields and the Western Promise of Freedom

Barış Büyükokutan

Secularization in a nonwestern context


Bound Together takes a new look at twentieth-century Türkiye, asking what it will take for Turkish women and men to regain their lost freedoms, and what the Turkish case means for the prospects of freedom and democracy elsewhere. Contrasting the country’s field of poetry, where secularization was the joint work of pious and nonpious people, with that of the novel, this book inquires into the nature of western-nonwestern difference.

​Türkiye’s poets were more fortunate than its novelists for two reasons. Poets were slightly better at developing the idea of the autonomy of art from politics. While piety was a marker of political identity everywhere, poets were better able than novelists to bracket political differences when assessing their peers as the country was bitterly polarized politically and as the century wore on. Second, and more important, poets of all stripes were more connected to each other than were novelists. Their greater ability to find and keep one another in coffeehouses and literary journals made it less likely for prospective cross-aisle partnerships to remain untested propositions.