Retrieving the new from the legacy of history: Discourse and symbols of history in Modern Turkey

Cakmak A.

Journal Of Language And Politics, vol.22, no.3, pp.85-106, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SSCI)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1075/jlp.19076.cak
  • Title of Journal : Journal Of Language And Politics
  • Page Numbers: pp.85-106


Contemporary Turkey has gone through many reforms that have been legitimized by country’s historical legacy. The constitutive elements of this legacy are images, historical figures, events, and symbolisms embedded in memory. It is through those elements that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the leader of the Justice and Development Party sets himself up as the appropriate narrator and appropriate doer, incrementally gaining an upper hand in the legitimacy struggles by telling stories from history, emerging as the new founding father of Turkey and introducing new policies rooted in the legacy of the past. How has he been able to occupy such a position of superiority through the struggles for legitimacy in Turkish politics? This paper critically argues that Erdoğan first set up his personality, imposing himself as the most appropriate narrator and finally showing himself to be the most appropriate doer, by crafting his political communication with symbols and figures from history.