Alevi Identity: Cultural, Religious and Social Perspectives by Tord Olsson

By Tord Olsson

Within the emerging momentum for brand new and reformulated cultural identities, the Turkish Alevi have additionally emerged at the scene, not easy due reputation. during this approach a few dramatic occasions have served as vital milestones: the clashes among Sunni and Alevi in Kahramanmaras in 1979 and Corum in 1980, the incendiarism in Sivas in 1992, and the riots in Istanbul (Gaziosmanpasa) in 1995. much less evocative, yet in the end extra major, has been the emerging curiosity in Alevi folklore and non secular practices. Questions have additionally arisen as to what this department of Islamic heterodoxy represents by way of outdated and new identities. during this booklet, those questions are addressed by means of one of the most sought after students within the box.

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Additional info for Alevi Identity: Cultural, Religious and Social Perspectives (Transactions (Svenska Forskningsinstitutet I Istanbul), V. 8.)

Sample text

Today, in 1998, the situation is different. Whilst there is no lack of journalistic interest, there have appeared in addition a spate of publications covering diverse aspects of Alevi society, their history, relations with the state, ceremonies and doctrines. These are not just articles but major publications, going through many editions. Unlike the previous accounts, many of them are written by the Alevi themselves. It is frequently said that these new works lack innovation. This is unfair. There is no doubt that they represent something very different from the hitherto periodic rediscovering of the existence of the Alevi people.

To their left, the hoca recites a prayer, and a verse is read from the Koran. I was unable to attend this brief ceremony, but I was kindly supplied the text of the prayer. It consists chiefly of repeated supplications to the one God, begging for mercy and asking for forgiveness. After the ceremony, the congregation partakes of a sacrificial meal. Nothing like this is found on the Sunni side, indeed it contains various elements: the dede who bless the sacrifice, and the men and women gathering together in a private ceremony are characteristic of the Alevi doctrines, whilst the prayer recited by the hoca is associated with orthodox Islamic practice.

A similar boom could be observed in the music sector, with masses of new cassettes and Compact Disks of ritual and traditional Alevi music placed on the market. A closer look at the publications indicates that much of the traditional segregations, affiliations and pressure groups still persist. Roughly two groups of authors oppose each other: religious-minded Sunni authors and Alevi, who advocate a self-determined presentation of their community and culture. Between these two stand a few secularists33 and leftists (Yürükoğlu 1990, Özkırımlı 1990) of Sunni origin.

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