Ayşe Saktanber’s article focuses on the Islamic youth in Turkey and analyses the Islamic youth from different points of view with the aid of examples from several cases. Even the title of the article includes the phrase ‘Islamic youth’, the article is indeed more about the young Islamic girls in Turkey. Saktanber’s study consists of three different parts and this paper will explain what these parts are about separately, the methodology of the article, how the article is important in terms of an anthropological point of view and how the author engages with the topic from a critical point of view.
As mentioned above, Ayşe Saktanber’s article consists of three main parts in which the study is carried. The first part of the article is given to the reader as an introduction to the topic. This part of the article includes several cases from the history of Turkey and it gives an understanding of the Islamic youth in Turkey from past to the present. The first instance given in the article is the protests of students from several political views about the Ministry of Education which banned headscarves and beards in Universities on 25 February 1998. This event is given by the author one of the most important social situations in Turkey because until and after that event on 25 February 1998, there are not many examples where students from different political and ideological views gathered together to protest a common situation or a topic. In addition to this, the protest on 25 February 1998 is seen important because of showing the ideas and views of the Islamic students about Atatürk. The ideas of Islamic students about Atatürk are investigated as the PTT plane threw leaflets with the pictures of Atatürk on it. The flight of the PTT plane happened all in a spontaneous way and it is stated by the author that this issue is what makes the incident interesting. After sharing instances from the protests and the PTT event, the writer finishes the introduction by stating her views about analyzing the Islamic youth in Turkey. The writer states that the Islamic youth movement in Turkey cannot be explained just by giving political and ideological actions and discourses. Saktanberk states that “In order to distinguish any subcultural form from Islamic youth, I argue that first and foremost we should develop a perspective through which the general characteristics of Turkish Islamic youth can be portrayed, since, although that grouping constitutes one of the most central issues of Turkish public life, it has not yet been studied as a culture in its own right – or more specifically as what I call a panaromic narrative, produced by Islamic youth to express and represent an identity oscillating between intellectualism and popular culture” (Saktanberk, 256).
Islamic Youth and Popular Culture
After giving an introductory information about some certain incidents about the Islamic youth in turkey and the way of distinguishing the Islamic youth from the other subcultures, Saktanberk goes on with the second part of the article which has the heading of “Intellectual purity and joy of faith: safe ways of posing social distinction”. In this part of the article, the writer again heads away from a case but this time the case is about a study that the writer contucted by herself. The title of the article, which is “we pray like you have fun” comes from this part of the article as well, so the second part of the article is important for the whole article because of its context. The four university students, who are all females, gives the main idea behind this part of the article and by the aid of these university students, the writer makes some statements about the Islamic girls and differences between Islamic male students and Islamic female students. In this part of the article, the most important statement made by the writer is that the Islamic female students are criticized by the other students and these Islamic students stand against the criticisms but on the other hand the behaviors of these students do not complement with the rules of Islam. This issue is seen in the part where the writer states that “These girls, like other whom I met later, were not, hovewer averse to light chat and giggling, which usually take place among female peer groups, over boys, fashion, beauty, soup operas and goings-on in Turkish magazine life…” (Saktanberk, 260). This quotation from the article shows that while the Islamic youth tries to be isolated from the habits of the opposite group which are called secular, they are actually away from the rules of Islam which they believe. In addition to these, the writer claims that the Islamic girls are under pressure and this pressure is more than the pressure on the Islamic males because both are taken under pressure by the groups of other views but the Islamic females are also taken under pressure by the Islamic males.
The third part of the article is given with the heading “Negotiated pleasures: images, sounds and motions mediated by Islamic cultural codes”. In this part of the article, the main idea is that the Islamic females try to have a view of aesthetics which is more appropriate to the city life. In this sense, the Islamic females are seen as they are in a struggle between the rules of the city life and the rules of Islam in terms of their life styles and their understanding of aesthetics. The writer believes that, because of the transition of the Islamic youth from Islamic life to the city life created an Islamic popular culture and the consumers of the products of the Islamic popular culture are the Islamic youth, especially the Islamic females. The overall result that the writer approaches as a result of the third part of the article, the Islamic youth is in a struggle of creating the own popular culture for their ideology, namely Islamic popular culture, but while doing this they are in between the modern life and the Islamic way of life.
Islamic Youth in the World
To sum up the main themes of the all three parts of the article, it can be stated that the three parts of the article all have some arguments related to their theses. From the first part of the article, when the leaflets of Atatürk are thrown from the plane to the area where the Islamic youth is protesting, their mood slacken and this shows that the Islamic youth does not have very positive feelings towards Atatürk. In addition, the writer argues that the Islamic females are under pressure both by the society and by the Islamic males because of their actions and way of life. Moreover, it is argued in the article that the Islamic youth is in a transition phase and there are trying to create a culture for themselves but they are stuck between the so-called modern city life and the Islamic way of life.
While the writer creates her hypothesis about the struggle of Islamic youth while creating a popular culture and their lost identity, she uses certain methods in order to support what she argues. The first way that the writer collects data for the article is collecting secondary data. Secondary data means the already collected information on a topic and this type of data is collected by people other than the user of the data. The use of secondary data in the article is in the part where the writer shares the events happened in İstanbul while a group of students protested against the headscarf rules of the Ministry of Education. This information is categorized as secondary because the writer already had it in her hands and did not collect it by herself. In addition to this, the writer uses secondary data from surveys. She acknowledges that data from some existing surveys created by her former students were used in the article. In addition to the secondary data, the writer uses primary data as well. The primary data that the writer uses is the observations and the interviews that Saktanber makes with the four girls who are part of the Islamic youth. These observations and the results of the interviews occupy a high portion of the article and this shows us that the use of primary data is very important for the writer in order to support her hypothesis and come up with a result at the end of the article. Apart from the use of the primary and the secondary data, the reliability of this data should be taken into consideration as well. This is because, in order to strongly support the hypothesis and to come up with results that should be considered as reliable, the data used in the research should be precise and accurate. At this point, in my opinion, the data used by the writer is not reliable enough. Especially, the primary data used in the article is away from being reliable. This is because of the reason that the writer makes her observations all by herself and since Islamic popular culture is a delicate topic and the observer may face some difficulties while coming up with objective results with the observations. This is, the writer may have been biased by her personal view on Islamic youth while observing them, so the reliability of the data should be increased. In order to increase the reliability of the data used in the article, the writer may focus on having some interviews that will create some data that can be shared with the reader as an appendix or the observations should be done via having observers that have different points of view about the Islamic youth. In that case, the observations can become more objective with the common understanding of observers from different views and ideologies.
In addition to all these, the relationship between anthropology and the article should be analyzed as well. The article is important for the study of anthropology for several reasons. Firstly, apart from popular culture and all the other things, the article deals with the actions and behaviors of human beings which is one of the main areas of anthropology. In addition to this, the article revolves around the idea of creating a new subculture for a certain group of people and how these subculture is used, or in other words consumed, by the same group of people. The cultural changes that result from the actions of human beings is also a matter of fact for anthropology and so a huge amount of importance is attached to the article. Moreover, the article explains one of the most important and most current events in the Turkish society which is the change in the Islamic culture. In daily life, as the members of the Turkish society, we see the effect of the cultural changes on the Islamic youth on social media all the time. So the topic is important in terms of being explanatory about the changes in the Islamic culture in Turkey.
To conclude, the article consists of three parts where the first part has an introductory aim while giving examples from different cases about the Islamic youth, the second and third parts are the parts where the writer proposes her main arguments. The arguments of the writer are firstly the Islamic youth feels under pressure and especially the Islamic females are under more pressure compared to the males. Secondly, the Islamic popular culture is in a transition phase and the culture does not have rules which strongly coincide with the rules of Islam but these rules are in between the rules of city life and the Islamic way of life. In addition to the arguments of the writer, the methodology of the article should be changed because the observations made by the writer may not be objective and this may decrease the reliability of the article. Lastly, this article is important for the field of anthropology because it deals with culture, cultural changes, the rise of a new popular culture and behaviors of human beings.