Reflecting the socio-cultural realities of last years of Ottoman Sultanate and the foundation of Turkish Republic in his works, Mehmet Akif Ersoy is known as “the national poet” of Turkey and is among one of the prominent figures of man of letters in Turkey. Despite his irreplaceable position in literature, few is known about him on international academic fields. Testifying the corruption in society in early twentieth century, he struggles to keep the consciousness of his citizens alive against both, the enemies inside and outside by referring to Islamic unity and eliminating ignorance in society. Upon reading his life and his works, it appears that, called as a “national or nationalist” poet, his nationalism is a little bit different from the wide scale definitions of nationalism. Basically it can be proposed that there are three different approaches of nationalism; the first one is primordialism whose main focus is on ethnicity; the second one is modernism which argues that nation and nationalism are the subject matter of the last two centuries, namely they are modern concepts; and the third one is ethno-symbolism which refuses the modernity of nations and claims that the myths, symbols and morals dating back influence the context of nationalism today. So if he was a nationalist, what kind of a nationalist was Mehmet Akif? Was his main concern on ethnicity, modernity or some values dating back? The aim of this study is discussing his nationalism in his selected works, and attempting to contextualize his position among the various definitions of nation and nationalism, which mostly promote common kinship, territory, heritage and culture.
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