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Writing ReligionThe Making of Turkish Alevi Islam$
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Markus Dressler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969401

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969401.001.0001

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The Western Discovery of the Kızılbas¸-Alevis

The Western Discovery of the Kızılbas¸-Alevis

(p.31) 1 The Western Discovery of the Kızılbas¸-Alevis
Writing Religion

Markus Dressler

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the encounter of the Kızılbaş with Western observers, who lived and travelled in Anatolia since the second half of the 19th century. Speculations about the origins of the Kızılbaş soon led to theories about their close relation to Christianity and pre-Islamic Anatolian civilizations. Such theories were articulated in modernist and revivalist language, focusing on questions of religious and racial/ethnic origins and boundaries. The missionaries of the American Board, carried by a quest to revive the Christian heritage of Anatolia, were especially interested in clear religious classifications. Particular attention is given to the way in which the Kızılbaş were presented in relation to a Western and Christian concept of (world) religion. The chapter situates this Western discovery of the Kızılbaş within post-Tanzimat regional and international political contexts that were marked by heightened competition over sociopolitical and economic capital and contributed to a remarkable increase of intercommunal violence.

Keywords:   American Board, Anatolia, crypto-Christians, missionaries, modernism, origins, religion concept, revivalism, Tanzimat, world religion

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