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The History of the Social Constructions of Dönmes (Converts)

Authors

  • TÜRKAY S. NEFES

    1. Sociology Department of the University of Oxford and St Antony's College
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    • Türkay Salim Nefes is a research fellow at the Sociology Department of the University of Oxford and St Antony's College. He may be contacted by e-mail at turkay.nefes@sociology.ox.ac.uk. Mailing address Camlik cd. Cigdem sk. Mutlu ap. No: 7/5. 34182. Bahcelievler, Istanbul. Turkey.


Abstract

This paper investigates the history of social constructions, principally conspiracy theories, about a crypto-Jewish group, the Dönmes, in Turkey. It considers the socio-political reasons for the conspiracy theories and their significance by analysing their contents in different periods. The findings suggest that the fluid identity of Dönmes makes them stranger figures, in a sociological sense, creates public mistrust and encourages conspiratorial explanations. Moreover, the study shows that the conspiracy theories surrounding Dönmes are also fed by the ontological insecurities of Turkish politics, and that conspiracy theories tend to have appeal for alienated groups during major social transformations.

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