The legal notion of nationality in the Turkish Republic: from Ottoman legacy to modern aberrations

Oktem E.

MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, vol.53, no.4, pp.638-655, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/00263206.2017.1281125
  • Title of Journal : MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES
  • Page Numbers: pp.638-655


Shortly after its emergence, the Turkish Republic adopted legislation inspired by European legal systems and traditions, including a law on nationality. The implementation of this law was affected by the staunchly nationalistic early republican policies which were not immune from the influence of the concept of race', as well as by the Ottoman legal conceptions on nationality based on religion, both of which guided the application of the new laws by the judiciary and the administration. This article proposes a critical legal approach to the issue of Turkish nationality, based on historical reflections. After a survey on the laws on nationality since the foundation of the Republic, it addresses the major confusions in connection with the concept of nationality in the light of textbooks from the relevant period, in order to observe, in conclusion, inherent and insolvable inconsistencies within the law, and a tenacious survival of Ottoman conceptions within the current law on nationality, especially with regard to religious minorities, which are assimilated to dhimmis in the legal subconscious and often equated to foreigners in practice.