Reading Social Change in the Early Republican Period through Postage Stamps


MILLI FOLKLOR, no.124, pp.230-245, 2019 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: Issue: 124
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.230-245
  • Kocaeli University Affiliated: Yes


The Republic of Turkey was an ambitious project aimed at creating a new culture and a new society alongside a new political system. This enormous project of transformation brought with it radical changes in all aspects of economic, political, cultural and social life. The preservation of these massive social changes was just important as their introduction. Therefore, Mustafa Kemal, the founding leader of the new nationstate, and his colleagues (who were trying to create a Western and modern country), attached great importance to explaining the transformation they designed in the form of cultural and legal modernization, to their people and the world public opinion. Every aspect of life was directly affected by this process of change and was at the same time utilized to promote further changes. Postage stamps are one of the tools that reflect social change as they can enter every house due to their widespread circulation and collectible quality. Stamps are important for countries as "small representatives" and "paper ambassadors" used to promote cultural heritage. This article deals with how the founding elite of the early Republican period used stamps as tiny representatives in explaining to the public and to the whole world the massive transformation that the country was going through. I analyze the stamps issued in Turkey between 1923 and 1938 using the content analysis method. This research has revealed that the subjects covered in the postage stamps were structured around the following four main themes: the Western, modern and liberating leader figure; a historical consciousness based on the nation's Central Asian Turkish origins and the ancient civilizations in Anatolia; the perspective of the new Turkish state on women and the place of women in social life; and the heavy industry move in the economic field and agricultural modernization. Thus, this fifteen-year process, which had the characteristics of a laboratory with the moments of radical ruptures in the usual flow of life, has gained a new and unique evaluation through a different medium.