"Figures that Speak is an impressive contribution to the study of political rhetoric in the making of Turkish nationalism. De Tar presents the compelling argument that several key discursive figures—religion, minority, the military, the founding father, and Europe—have structured the possibilities and limits of nationalist political speech. The book should be read by anyone interested in the rhetorical underpinnings of modern politics."—Kabir Tambar, Stanford University
"Brings new texture and complexity to a field that all-too-often assumes that the particular rhetorical histories and practices of the United States are universal."—Christa Olson, University of Wisconsin
"Figures that Speak is an important account of the rhetoric of nationalism in Turkey, demonstrating that the way the nation was seen - figured - was and is crucial to its very existence and its transformations. deTar’s analysis speaks to the study of nationalism more generally, breaking new ground in understanding figural reasoning and representation"—Craig Calhoun, Arizona State University
If the surface of Turkish politics has changed dramatically over the decades, the vocabulary for sorting these changes remains constant: Europe, Islam, minorities, the military, the founding father (Atatürk). This familiar vocabulary functions as more than a set of descriptors of institutions, phenomena, or issues to debate in public. These five primary “figures” emerge from national identity, public discourse, and scholarship about Turkey to represent Turkish history and political authority while also shaping history and political authority. These figures unify disparate phenomena into governable categories and index historical relations of power that define Turkish politics. As these concepts circulate, they operate as a shorthand for complex networks and histories of authority, producing and limiting ways of knowing Turkish modernity, democracy, and political culture. These figures not only are spoken and discussed in public, but they also produce the context into which they are projected, in a sense speaking on their own. In Figures That Speak, deTar explores the diverse mobilization and production of history and power in the primary figures that circulate in discourse about Turkey.
Matthew de Tar is assistant professor of rhetoric and culture in the School of Communication Studies at Ohio University.
6 x 9, 296 pages, 3 black and white illustrations