International Journal of Middle East Studies


The Black Sea Turks: Some Aspects of Their Ethnic and Cultural Background1

Michael E. Meeker

The social and cultural composition of Turkey's provincial society is still poorly understood, not only in the West, but in Turkey itself. Because of this situation, contemporary accounts of Turkish society have a tendency to underestimate the variety of provincial life and to discount the importance of this variety for the nation as a whole. Some events in recent decades, it is true, have certainly eroded the diversity of provincial society. The population exchanges after World War I virtually removed the entire Christian population from Asia Minor. As well, the development of a national polity and the accompanying acceleration of westernization established a new national culture and society which has affected even the most remote areas of the country. Despite this trend toward a greater uniformity, local traditions and local loyalties still retain a vitality that is seldom fully appreciated.


1 The fieldwork on which this paper is based was made possible by the National Institute of Mental Health. I would also like to express my appreciation to the Center for Advanced Study, University of Illinois, where a portion of the research leading to this paper was performed. I am especially indebted to Anthony Bryer of the University of Birmingham without whose help and advice this article could not have been written.