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Title: Mysticism and identity amongst the Alevis in Turkey : a study of flexibility and adaptation in the aşık poetry of an eastern Alevi ocak
Author: Tee, Caroline
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 545X
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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In this thesis, I investigate a minority Muslim group in Turkey called the Alevis. Particularly, I explore the way in which one Alevi group, the Dervis Cemal Ocak from Erzincan, is currently in the process of reformulating its religious traditions and rethinking its identity as it seeks to define a place for itself in contemporary Turkish society. I explore and analyse the group's decision to align itself with one of the more state- conciliatory of the national Alevi organisations, the Cem Vakfi, and investigate how the Dervis Cemal Ocak is seeking to engage with, rather than distance itself from, the official criteria for belonging to the Turkish nation: namely, Turkishness and self-identification as Muslim. I investigate the oral history ofthe group, focusing on the lives and miracle stories attributed to its early forefathers and the sacred sites associated with them in western Anatolia, and consider the role these narratives are playing in the codification ofthe group's history and identity today. I approach the major part of my study through the medium of astk poetry, which is a central feature of the Alevi tradition. I explore the life-story and poetry of Ozan Seyfili, a prominent astk. from the Dervis Cemal Ocak, and analyse the changes that the Alevi community went through in the 20th century, as well as the current revival activities, through the lens of his poetry and associated commentaries. I consider the nature of Alevi mysticism, through analysis of the way in which Ozan Seyfili draws on Persian Sufi imagery in his poetry as well as through ethnographic research into the traditional religious practices of the Dervis Cemal Ocak before the fragmentation brought about by mass migration. I consider the way in which Alevi mysticism is changing in the urban setting and conclude with a discussion of the possibilities for how the Alevis might organise themselves as a socio-religious community in the future.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available