11. Civil Society
Coffeehouses and Cooperatives
Coffeehouses: Forums of Public Life
During the 1960s, there were about ten coffeehouses (kahve) in the town of Of, some of which were also called reading rooms (kûraathane) or teahouses (çayhane). Despite the name commonly applied to them, the coffeehouses were not places where one went to drink a good or bad cup of coffee. They were the forums of public life, for the town, but also for the entire district. During the course of a week, thousands of villagers came down from their mountain hamlets to spend some time sitting and talking in a coffeehouse, exchanging pleasantries, making business deals, debating politics, learning the latest gossip, playing card games, or hearing newspapers read aloud. The coffeehouses in the town of Of therefore confirm the existence of a level of interpersonal association beyond the family and household, and even beyond the village or a group of villages. I shall first describe the usual pattern of encounters in coffeehouses and then examine the different kinds of coffeehouses in the town of Of.
I cannot recall ever hearing anyone make a speech to an audience in a coffeehouse. Such an event could conceivably take place, but it would have been unusual. The coffeehouse was not like an assembly room, a parliament, or a town square, where a single individual might address an audience. And yet those who sat and talked in the coffeehouses could be said to represent a general public. For example, I was strolling in the town one winter evening with an acquaintance. As we passed several coffeehouses, we looked through the fogged windows and saw unusually large crowds of men sitting at the tables. Moved to comment on the spectacle, my acquaintance observed, "The public is sitting" (millet oturur). My translation is a free one. The Turkish word in question, millet, can also translated as "community," "folk," "people," or "nation." In this instance, I think the translation "public" is appropriate. The interactions that occurred in coffeehouses were based both on the assumption of common public norms and the existence of a general public body. I shall give examples to illustrate these points.
One commonly sat with agnates, relatives, friends, and clients in coffeehouses. During these sittings, one exchanged salutations, offered and accepted hospitality, and made conventional inquiries. In this regard, many of the gestures and utterances on such occasions were part of what could be described as a normative performance. Such a performance usually involved only two to four individuals sitting at a single table, but sometimes extended to several tables. For example, a host might bring a guest of some prominence into the coffeehouse, and the guest might himself come with an entourage. On such an occasion, the guest might attract the attention of men sitting at several tables, seven, eleven, or fifteen people. The guest might even find that everyone in the room had turned to hear what he had to say. But he would address the room not as a speechmaker, but only as a conversationalist. His comments would be followed by the replies of others in the room, in accordance with an etiquette of conversation.
As the example implies, individuals who associated in a coffeehouse did not always know one another. Anyone sitting in a coffeehouse was ready for new encounters with persons he had not yet met. Some individuals went to coffeehouses hoping for just such a novelty to break the tedium of an ordinary afternoon or evening. These new encounters involved meetings among Oflus who could easily locate a thread of relationships or a set of experiences that linked them. Encounters between strangers followed a similar pattern as encounters between acquaintances, except they required a little additional work. Where are you from? Is your house the building just beyond the bridge on the hill to the left? Who is your father? Is he the Ahmet who married the daughter of İİsmail, the greengrocer whose shop is just before the mosque? These exchanges did not have to be invented on the spot. They were based on the norms of a public body. The stranger was not assumed to be a stranger, but rather someone who was intimate and familiar by a connection yet to be discovered.
The coffeehouses as forums of public life were not recent inventions. They were once the instruments of the regional social oligarchy of the post-classical period. To better understand their function in the 1960s, therefore, it is useful to situate them in the transition from Empire to Republic. In this respect, the relationship of the coffeehouse (kahve) to the salon (oda) is significant. In most of the villages and towns of rural Anatolia, not so very many decades ago, one or more individuals maintained salons in their houses where male friends and followers met. In these household settings, they conversed, drank tea or coffee, and sometimes shared a meal, pausing at appropriate times to perform their ablutions and prayers. The more prominent the individuals involved, the more spacious and elaborate the salon. Some featured carved ceilings, conical fireplaces, elevated daises, and cushioned benches (sedir). These gatherings can be considered the equivalent of the gatherings in the petition room of the palace complex (see chap. 4). The salon, like the petition room, featured normative performances of interpersonal association, the gaze of the agha being the equivalent of the gaze of the sultan.
The greater and lesser aghas of the eastern coastal districts maintained such salons in their governmental mansions during the period of decentralization (see chap. 1). And later, when they were no longer allowed to have governmental mansions, they continued to maintain salons in district centers (see chap. 8). However, there were relatively few salons in the villages of the eastern coastal districts by comparison with rural Anatolia. The paucity of salons in places such as the district of Of did not indicate a lack of social structure or organization, but rather the opposite, a more developed regional social oligarchy. The greater and lesser aghas did not allow ordinary villagers of prominence to build and maintain salons, even if they had the means to do so. The salons were places of interpersonal association, and hence the instruments of building a following, and therefore a move toward the assertion of sovereign power.
At the same time, the circles of interpersonal association in the district of Of involved many individuals, such that a single salon could not accommodate all of them. Accordingly, coffeehouses supplemented the salons in the eastern coastal districts. The aghas owned or sponsored coffeehouses, during and after the period of decentralization. Their followers were obliged to patronize them by sitting and talking there, if not also sleeping and eating there, since they sometimes included dormitories and kitchens. The immediate associates of the aghas, if not the aghas themselves, also appeared in the coffeehouses. The result was a greater separation of family and household from the forum s of public life than in the rural areas of Anatolia. The men of the eastern coastal districts, if they wished to be considered anybody at all, were obliged to leave their hamlets more or less every day to see and be seen in coffeehouses. In this respect, the coffeehouses stand to the salons much as the palace middle court stands to the petition room. They were devices for the staging and performance of an interpersonal association that was otherwise centered on a single individual.
During the 1960s, the coffeehouses in the district of Of still featured a legacy of the imperial period. The old aghas and mansions were gone, but leading individuals and circles of interpersonal association remained. So the coffeehouses, some more than others, remained the key sites of a regional social oligarchy. The absence of occasions when a speaker addressed a general audience in a coffeehouse is an example of this. Leaders were not related to followers by an impersonal and abstract framework of rules, the kind of setting usually associated with citizens and their assemblies. Rather, the interactions of individuals in the coffeehouses worked through an idiom of intimacy and familiarity, conventionally expressed if not emotionally felt. Although the most prominent individuals were sometimes referred to with an honorific, such as "Mehmet Bey," they were usually referred to by their first names alone, and sometimes even by nicknames, such as "Little Mehmet." They were never referred to by the title of their offices, such as "the mayor" (belediye reisi) or the "national assemblyman" (milli mebus).
Hierarchy and Coffeehouses
The idiom of intimacy and familiarity in social relations was associated with hierarchy as much as equality. For example, women were fully qualified citizens of the Turkish Republic, but they were never to be found sitting and talking in coffeehouses. Their exclusion was consistent with other features of the imperial period. Women were not household heads (hane reisi). They were not members of family lines, and so did not have family names. They could not represent households or family lines in public life. They could not be leading individuals, nor were they counted among the leading individuals' followers. They therefore did not go to coffeehouses, just as they did not go to the Friday prayers. Men represented their families and households in public life, and women were restricted to these represented families and households.
These were unshakable rules in the 1960s, as suggested by my interlocutors' bizarre recollection of the "time of the waiter girls" (see chap. 9). One could ask the Oflus all kinds of questions about their lives, but one was expected to avoid the subject of the family and household, and certainly the subject of the women who were part of it. It is even possible that women were not considered to constitute the public body (millet) in the district of Of. The proper names of wives and daughters were not recorded in the census office. Men did not count their daughters when asked the number of their children. A number of circumlocutions were possible. One might inquire about the "family" of a friend or associate (çoluk çocuĞunuz iyi mi?), but an inquiry about the welfare of a spouse (eşiniz iyi mi?) was going too far. This explains why the reader can safely assume that every one of my directly quoted interlocutors was male (see figs. 10 and 11).
The hierarchy of gender relations was related to a hierarchy of age. When an older man entered a coffeehouse, it was not uncommon to see one, two, or three younger men leave the room. The latter would have been the junior kinsmen—brothers, sons, or nephews—of the old man. They left the coffeehouse out of recognition that he represented them in public life. If they had remained, thus presenting themselves as individuals in public life, this would have been a gesture of challenge or defiance. They would be saying, "I am also a competent public actor like you. I, too, can have friends and associates in public life. I am therefore free of the obligation to defer to you. I am not of your immediate family or household." For this reason, the obligation to leave was especially incumbent upon a younger man who was a member of the same household as the older man, then eased as the relationship became more distant.
Figure 11. A descendant of Ferhat Agha (in fedora), an elder (in turban), and women.
Figure 11. A townsman at home.
The two examples, hierarchies of gender and age, illustrate how the family and household were shaped by their connection with a certain kind of public life. It was not the other way around. A study of the family in the eastern coastal districts would uncover all kinds of differences among households, the traces of Turkic, Kurdish, Lazi, Armenian, Greek, Georgian, Circassian, Bosnian, and Albanian influences. At the same time, all these differences had been more or less submerged by the norms of a certain kind of public life. The circles of agnates, relatives, friends, and clients associated with coffeehouses were public rather than private formations. Older men did not have the privilege of sitting and talking in coffeehouses as a consequence of family and household structure. Distinctions of gender and age were rooted in public life, and these distinctions in turn had an impact on family and household structure.
If villagers no longer stooped and kissed the hands of leading individuals, the conduct of social relations in coffeehouses was precisely adjusted to express social precedence and standing. For example, the villagers in the town and district of Of almost never drank coffee in the coffeehouses. They bought themselves and their associates small glasses of tea for a few pennies, consuming numerous servings during an afternoon or evening. Coffee, served alaturka in small demitasses, was reserved for guests of some special distinction. So the choice of refreshment offered was just one way in which the conduct of social relation expressed hierarchy. Others included the arrangement of chairs, who was served first and last, who spoke most often and who listened most often, and whether a speaker received the attention of only one table or several tables. The idiom of intimacy and familiarity in coffeehouses was then an expression of a certain kind of civility, an ottomanism that had been adjusted to, even if was also partially dislocated by, republicanism.
A curious arrangement typical of most of the coffeehouses in the district of Of provides a striking illustration of this civility. A smaller room was set apart from the main room of the establishment by some kind of partition, so that it comprised an interior within the interior. These little rooms could be more effectively heated on a damp and cold winter day, but this was not really the reason for their existence. The small rooms were places for a more intimate and familiar kind of association, where sensitive matters could be discussed more freely. The arrangement of an interior within an interior was not restricted to coffeehouses. Shops and offices also featured a small room set apart from a larger room. The shopkeeper could receive a customer, and the official could receive a citizen, in a setting of intimacy and familiarity. They could therefore sit and talk in accordance with a discipline of sociability, even though business or government had brought them together. Some of the small shops were especially interesting because they had little partitions that could accommodate no more than two or three persons crammed inside, knee-to-knee, with a Primus stove and a pot of tea precariously poised on a shelf to one side. So one could enter a place of business or government and be treated as a customer or a citizen. But you could also enter the shop or office as "İİsmail of the MuradoĞlu from Balek village" or "Ahmet of the Ramoğlu from the town of Of" and be treated differently, after the exchange of greetings, drinking tea, and having a conversation. The interiors within interiors were then a feature of a discipline of interpersonal association. They were places devoted specifically to face-to-face interactions that differentiated those "further in" from those "further out."
One or more of the little rooms within the large rooms of coffeehouses may have originally been built by one of the aghas of the later imperial period. As Gunday informs us, the aghas from surrounding villages once directly maintained salons in the town of Of (see chap. 8). It seems likely that these aghas would have set themselves up in little meeting rooms that adjoined larger assembly rooms. If they did so, tea and coffee most certainly would have been served in the latter. These meeting and assembly rooms probably would have evolved into coffeehouses in some instances, if indeed they had not originally been built as such. And one might guess that the conversion of meeting and assembly rooms into commercial coffeehouses would have been a way to evade government restrictions.
I would not claim that these structures in the town of Of were explicit imitations of palace architecture, which also featured interiors within interiors (see chap. 4). Rather, I would claim they were the result of the dissemination of an imperial tactic, sovereign power through interpersonal association, from center to periphery. Accordingly, it also makes no sense to see the normative performances in the coffeehouses of Of as imitations of palace ceremony and protocol. They were the result of the spread of ethical practices of political authority, rather than the aping of palace formalities.
My interlocutors in the town of Of will have a good laugh when they learn that I have associated their coffeehouses with normative performances. I heard many criticisms from the Oflus regarding the bad manners of their compatriots in coffeehouses. Some sat akimbo and dressed badly. Some fell asleep in their chairs or on the table. Some spoke loudly and used coarse language. I was treated to praises of Oflu masculinity, punctuated by pistol shots, in a coffeehouse. I saw huge rolls of cash exchanged in the course of the purchase of a large Vabis truck. I sat at card games where each card was placed on the table with a sound resembling a fist blow or a pistol shot. I exchanged information on what were purported to be exotic sexual practices in the United States and Turkey. I heard discussions of how one went about bribing municipal officials in Istanbul. But then I also heard debates on the work ethic and its importance for national development. I was counseled about the terrible fate awaiting unbelievers in the afterlife. I heard detailed analyses of Turkish, Greek, and American foreign policies. I was questioned about the details of space travel.
Sometimes my interlocutors complained that the conduct of social relations in the coffeehouses had deteriorated in recent years. I heard the opinion that card playing, laughter, gambling, and drinking were once virtually unknown in the coffeehouses of Of. But other interlocutors affirmed that these practices had always taken place in at least some coffeehouses. The fact of the matter is that the normative standard of behavior among the Oflus, as well as their neighbors to the east and west, is probably more rough-and-tumble than elsewhere in Anatolia. Nonetheless, if the Oflus might sometimes have used coarse language and rough gestures, they also had a keen sense of a discipline of interpersonal association.
Coffeehouses of the New Versus the Old Republic
I have described the conduct of social relations in coffeehouses as a form of public life. But it was a nonofficial rather than an official form of public life. This had been the case during the Ottoman Empire, and it was once again the case in the Turkish Republic. The conduct of social relations in coffeehouses was a kind of work leading to the construction and maintenance of district networks. Neither the work itself nor the district networks as its result had ever been explicitly prescribed and enforced by official statutes or procedures. Its hegemony depended on a social system of gaze, discipline, and rule rather than the laws, courts, and police of the state system. Accordingly, the old republic could colonize the new republic even after the nationalist revolution had led to the suppression and replacement of the imperial state system.
Before examining how coffeehouses played an important role in this colonization, I shall first mention an important distinction in the types of coffeehouses in the town of Of. Some coffeehouses were places for elites of the new republic rather than elites of the old republic. The New City Club (Yeni şehir Kulübü) and the Municipal Reading Room (Belediye Kûraathanesi) were situated in the new center of the town, built after the declaration of the Turkish Republic (see chap. 1). Both of these coffeehouses attracted a select clientele from which villagers were altogether absent.
The New City Club was located behind the government building, away from the town, not far from the beach. It was usually patronized by officials, professionals, and businessmen who were often, but not always, from somewhere other than the district of Of. These included most of the higher government officials, such as the district officer, the public prosecutor, the district military officer, and the two judges. But it was also patronized by a certain segment of the town professionals, some of whom were Oflu, but most of whom were Rizeli, Bayburtlu, or Trabzonlu. They included two lawyers, a doctor, a banker, a pharmacist, a paint shop owner, and a major appliance dealer. This was a place where one could do some drinking, card playing, and backgammon playing, the latter not being a favorite pastime of villagers.
The Municipal Reading Room was located opposite the entrance to the government building, just across Atatürk Square. It included an adjoining room that was designated as the "Of Teachers' Association" (Of Öğretmen Derneği). This coffeehouse was part of a line of offices and apartments that included the residences of clerks and officials. Here one could play cards or backgammon, but no alcoholic drinks were served. It was frequented by a few lower-ranking clerks and functionaries, a number of primary and middle school teachers, and young men who had graduated from the high school or completed a university degree but were as yet unemployed. Most of these individuals were from the district of Of.
The atmosphere in each of these two establishments was distinctive. The patrons of the New City Club were secularist and nationalist. They might sometimes discuss national politics, but they usually avoided discussing individuals or incidents in the district of Of. As far as their dress, speech, and behavior were concerned, they would not havebeen out of place in one of the middle-class quarters of Trabzon, Ankara, or Istanbul. The patrons of the Municipal Reading Room, besides the teachers and functionaries, were mostly younger, educated youths who went there in order to avoid their elders who would be sitting in other coffeehouses. Their conversations were also oriented toward the world beyond Of, focusing on careers, sports, fashion, novels, and films.
I do not think that the conduct of social relations in these two coffeehouses could be described as the basis of a form of public life, whether nonofficial or official. This is not to say that those who attended them were free of a discipline of social thinking and practice. On the contrary, the clientele of the New City Club and the Municipal Reading Room had received extensive educations. Most had attended primary, middle, and high schools. Some had attended higher institutes, acquiring academic degrees or professional certificates. Because of such backgrounds, they too were members of circles of interpersonal association. But these circles, the nature of which lies beyond the scope of this study, had not been constructed and were not maintained in the conduct of social relations in coffeehouses.
In many towns in Turkey, including some along the eastern Black Sea coast, the sociopolitical groups who patronized coffeehouses like the New City Club and the Municipal Reading Room dominated public life in the 1960s. In the town of Of, however, these kinds of citizens were outnumbered by tens of thousands of other villagers and townsmen who were part of vertical and horizontal solidarities.
The town of Of was different from other towns only in degree rather than in kind; Of simply serves as an especially striking instance of the way in which the old republic inhabited the new. Taking advantage of this, I shall describe the relationship of coffeehouses and cooperatives to illustrate this double character of public life in the Turkish Republic. To do so, I shall focus on the three sons of the oldest son of Ferhat Agha.
Three Grandsons of Ferhat Agha in the Multiparty Period
During the 1950s and 1960s, Yusuf, Hüseyin, and Salih attempted to build a local political base in the district of Of so that one of them might be elected to the National Assembly (see fig. 2). Yusuf, the oldest brother, had become the first headman (muhtar) in the town, then the chairman of the Turkish Air Association. By the 1960s, he was described by my interlocutors as the most powerful man in the town of Of, the éminence grise of the descendants of Ferhat Agha. His reputation, which was also a kind of notoriety, was not due to his hold on a public office, but rather to his position in the vertical and horizontal solidarities of the old republic. Salih, the youngest brother, had become the director of the Agricultural Credit Cooperative as a youth in 1941. He was the first of the descendants of Ferhat Agha to hold a public office, and he would eventually serve as a civil servant for some fifty years, longer than any other member of his family line. In contrast to Yusuf, who was at the center of a nonofficial circle of agnates, relatives, friends, and associates, Salih was a leading individual because he managed an official public institution with a sizable budget.
Hüseyin, the middle brother, would become the candidate for national political office. He would have been in his early adulthood in 1946, when Mehmet Sayûn was "chosen" to represent the province of Trabzon in the National Assembly. At the time, his agnate's achievement appears to have deeply impressed him. More than any of the other descendants of Ferhat Agha, Hüseyin emulated the militant Kemalist orientation of his eminent kinsman. During the later 1940s, when he would have still been in his late twenties, he was an outspoken supporter of the Kemalist program of reforms. He even gave one of his children a Turkic, rather than an Islamic, name, an extraordinary gesture for a resident of the district of Of. It was probably during this same period that Hüseyin first adopted the dress and manners of RPP partisans. He always wore a suit coat, fedora, dress shirt, and cravat. He donned these items in such a way that they lost all their qualities as fashion to become entirely absorbed by their function as a uniform.
Also in the same manner as Mehmet Sayûn, Hüseyin began to accumulate public offices. At first, he was obliged to be content with relatively insignificant chairmanships, since his close agnates already held the really important posts. Just before the national elections of 1950, he became chairman of the Of People's House (Halkevi), a kind of culture club that had been designed to foster participation in official public life. Soon afterward, he became the chairman of the Red Crescent Society (Kûzûlay Cemiyeti), then chairman of the Primary School Parent-Teacher Association (Iİlk Okul Aile Birliği), and then chairman of the Middle School Parent-Teacher Association (Orta Okul Aile Birliği).
Otherwise, Hüseyin appears to have been more imaginative than Mehmet Bey was, perhaps too imaginative to be entirely successful as a practical politician. The Kemalist program of reforms had relied on control of the printed page, its script and its language, as an instrument for the revolution in public culture. Hüseyin seems to have been paying attention. During the later 1940s he had opened a shop in the town of Of that sold newspapers, magazines, books, and stationery. In doing so, he had political as well as commercial interests at stake. In the run-up to the national elections of 1950, he began to accompany Yakup, mayor of Of and RPP chairman, as he toured the villages in an effort to turn out the vote. Realizing that the elections were a battle for the minds of the voters, he began to bring out a weekly newspaper, New Of (Yeni Of), the first and perhaps still the only such publication to appear in the district of Of. The newspaper was published irregularly during periods of relative political calm, then regularly in the run-ups to municipal or national elections. Its columns often reported local social events, funerals, weddings, and so on, but it also included political commentaries, that took issue with provincial newspapers that favored the DP rather than the RPP.
For some years, Hüseyin achieved little more than visibility, and perhaps notoriety, as a figure in the public life of the town and the district. Then, in 1955, he managed to become the director of the first tea cooperative in the district of Of. At the time, the very first tea gardens in the district of Of were beginning to reach full production. Most were in eastern Of, where the Muradoğlu resided, rather than western Of, where the Selimoğlu resided. But somehow the three brothers, Yusuf, Hüseyin, and Salih, got the jump on their rivals, the sons of Reşat Agha (Muradoğlu). Moreover, they had done so even though this was the period when Menderes was prime minister, that is, a period when patronage and clientage were in the hands of the DP, not the RPP.
Soon afterwards, Hüseyin began to consider how he might use the cooperative as a means for repeating the feat of Mehmet Bey, election to the National Assembly. Eventually, he would do so by combining his "work" as directorship of the cooperative with his "work" as a leading individual in one of the coffeehouses.
The Town Square Coffeehouse and Teas Producers' Cooperative
The Town Square Coffeehouse (Meydan Kahvesi) stood at what had been the center of the town after its initial incorporation as a municipality around 1874. When I first resided in the district in the 1960s, the outlines of the old town square were still visible, despite encroachments by shops and warehouses. A municipal building had also previously been located on one side of the old square, just to one side of the coffeehouse. During the 1910s and 1920s, Ferhat Agha had sat in his offices in this municipal building. As mayor of the town, he would have received residents of the town and district, who had by then become citizens of the Empire, on official business. At the same time, he would also have sat with, hosted, and talked to a circle of agnates, relatives, friends, and clients in the coffeehouse next door.
By the early 1950s, the descendants of Ferhat Agha received residents of the town and district, now citizens of the Republic, in the offices of their various directorships and chairmanships. These offices, none located exactly on the old square, were scattered about the town. But during the afternoon or evening, when their offices were closed for business, they sat with, hosted, and talked to agnates, relatives, friends, and clients in the Town Square Coffeehouse. The latter included shopkeepers and merchants from the town, as well as a certain number of high and low government employees. In fact, it could be said that most of what transpired in the government building (hükümet) was exposed to the eyes and ears of the descendants of Ferhat Agha who gathered in the Town Square Coffeehouse. This means that the district officer in Of during the 1960s faced circumstances very similar to those faced by the provincial governors during the 1880s (see chap. 8).
In addition to the descendants of Ferhat Agha, some other leading individuals—especially those from the family lines once associated with the old Five Party—also sat and talked in the Town Square Coffeehouse. However, there were individuals from the town or district that never sat, hosted, and talked in its rooms. For example, members of the Muradoğlu family line, or their relatives and friends associated with the Twenty-five party, were never to be seen there. The latter had their own regular coffeehouses in or near Eskipazar, and during their visits to Of, they would go to a coffeehouse other than the Town Square Coffeehouse. A good number of my acquaintances also scrupulously avoided the Town Square Coffeehouse, but not always because they were close to the Muradoğlu. They did not want to be implicated in any of the circles of interpersonal association in the town or district. These uncommitted individuals would have certainly been welcomed by the descendants of Ferhat Agha in the Town Square Coffeehouse, but they did not want to incur the obligations that were part of the framework of vertical and horizontal solidarities. For this and other reasons, the district officer, the public prosecutor, the two judges, and the district military officer also avoided the Town Square Coffeehouse. They were obliged to meet regularly with the descendants of Ferhat Agha, since the latter held public offices, but they chose not to meet them in their coffeehouse. As for most of the schoolteachers and university students, they would have endured a thousand tortures before setting foot in the Town Square Coffeehouse.
The descendants of Ferhat Agha who held public offices commonly entertained distinguished visitors. But when they did so, they treated them to banquets in restaurants and never invited them to the Town Square Coffeehouse. So they dined with state officials and inspectors, provincial party leaders, and other public figures, and they also regularly included district officials and town professionals. Almost certainly, the descendants of Ferhat Agha deducted expenses for these banquets from the treasuries of the municipality, cooperative, or society in question. The banquets were not the same as sitting and talking in coffeehouses. The official and the nonofficial republic were visibly separated by clear and distinct boundaries.
The Town Square Coffeehouse featured the most elaborate example of an interior within an interior of any such establishment. A larger room accommodated fifty to seventy-five persons at tables for four. A smaller room accommodated sixteen to twenty persons, also at tables for four. The smaller room was set apart from the larger room by a windowed partition that appeared to be of recent construction, no earlier than the 1950s. In the smaller room it was not possible to conduct a private discussion between two or three people since it was so easy to overhear what was being said at every table. At the same time, it was impossible to overhear what was being said in the smaller room from the larger room, which was usually crowded and noisy.
The atmosphere of intimacy and familiarity in the smaller room discouraged anonymous individuals from entering it. One felt obliged to be invited to join the company of those who were already sitting there. The smaller room was also brightly illuminated by a single bare electric bulb of comparatively high wattage that hung from the center of the ceiling. So everyone in the room was fully present to one another by the absence of both shadows and compartments. Moreover, everyone in the larger room could see the occupants of the smaller room, but they could not hear what they were saying when the door was shut. So the occupants of the smaller room were a group that was "further in" on display to a public body that was "further out."
The smaller room could be considered a structure of the old imperial modernity; nonetheless, it was decked out as a structure of the new republican modernity. The portraits of national leaders Kemal Atatürk, İİsmet İİnönü, and Cemal Gürsel were hung near the ceiling of one wall. To the right of the three portraits there was a plaque inscribed with the words "People's House" (Halkevi). A large map of Asia Minor was located in the center of another wall. It represented what was to become the Republic of Turkey at the time of the Independence War, indicating the occupation zones of the European powers, Britain, Greece, Italy, and France. There was also a hat rack on the wall, a symbolic fixture since only Kemalist nationalists would have donned fedoras (Şapka) in Of.
The smaller room was usually not occupied during the day, and it was not always occupied in the evening. But the three brothers, Yusuf, Hüseyin, and Salih, were by far its most frequent users. One, two, or all of them might sit there together, always in the company of an inner circle of friends and clients. During the fall of 1966, they welcomed me to sit with them as a special favor, and I did so on many occasions, becoming one of the regulars. On the first occasion I entered the smaller room, the three brothers, in the company of others, were calculating the possible votes they could muster in certain villages in the upcoming local elections. On one of the last occasions I entered the smaller room, they were vigorously disputing the fairness of the distribution of the fertilizer annually allotted to the tea cooperative.
These two incidents, which involved the business of elections and cooperatives, were exceptional. The three brothers more normally assembled in the smaller room to socialize with their inner circle of friends and clients. When they were there, they almost always listened to the evening news broadcast, turning the radio on just before the news began and turning it off immediately afterward. The reactions that followed the news tended to conform to the current party line of the RPP. One man from one of the villages, considered to be a specialist in party ideology, provided guidance in this respect. He would also sometimes read aloud from a newspaper while others listened. For my benefit, perhaps, he sometimes read aloud from party tracts, explaining and justifying them. If I asked a question, he would occasionally be called on to give an "official" response. But the discussion was not always restricted to party politics. The topics of conversations included economics, religion, philosophy, and, perhaps more often than usual because of my presence, international affairs.
Often I found one of the brothers, most commonly Yusuf but often Hüseyin and sometimes Salih, in the larger room. Along with Yakup, the mayor of the town, they were the descendants of Ferhat Agha who were most likely to be found there. Hüseyin hosted his closest friends and clients at his table, but he also hosted ordinary villagers who were passing through town or attending the weekly market. He would even invite men he did not know to his table, offer them tea, ask them about news of their villages, and sound them out about their political opinions. This was the fashion for any leading individual of a family line who aspired to extend his contacts and influence among the villagers. They were obliged to sit in the same place at certain hours each day, afternoon and evening, ready to receive anyone who might wish to consult with them. The sons of Reşat Agha, for example, could also be found sitting and talking in customary places in Eskipazar. Hüseyin's behavior, however, is especially revealing. From time to time, he would leave his table to go to the old town mosque. There, he would remove his hat, coat, and shoes, roll up his sleeves and take off his socks, and then carry out his ablutions. Fully transformed from Kemalist to Muslim, he joined the ordinary villagers to perform the prayers. Afterward, he would return to his table in the Town Square Coffeehouse, where he appeared as a leading individual of the old republic. But he might be obliged to return to his office in the tea cooperative, where he appeared as a public official of the new republic.
Soon after I began to attend the "salon" in the smaller room of the Town Square Coffeehouse, Hüseyin invited me to pay him a visit at his workplace. When I first went to the Of Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative (Of Çaycûlar Yardûmlaşma Kooperatifi), he received me in his private office, a spacious room furnished in the style of a high government posting. He was seated in a steel chair behind a steel desk, both of which were stationed on a raised platform. A large wooden frame enclosing a crimson quilted textile was attached to the wall behind the desk. Several large matching steel armchairs were just in front of and below his desk, facing the crimson quilted background. These were unusually luxurious furnishings for a town where most tables, chairs, and cabinets were locally made by carpenters and ironworkers.
I was invited to sit in one of the chairs. Doing so, I found myself in a position of lowness regarding Hüseyin in a position of highness. He appeared from behind his desk, framed by the crimson background. As I surveyed the office, other messages of bureaucratic and administrative eminence came into view. There was a portrait of Kemal Atatürk on the wall, as there would have been in virtually any state or public office at the time. More exceptionally, there was also a portrait of Mithat Paşa, the most eminent of the Ottoman bureaucratic modernizers. A telephone, a more or less rare instrument in the town of Of at that time, was on the desk and covered with an embroidered cloth. Soon after I sat down, the telephone rang. Hüseyin removed the cloth, picked up the receiver and spoke for a few moments, then put the receiver back and replaced the cloth. He then asked me what I would like to drink, and then called upon a servant (odacû) to bring my request. I relate these details for a reason, not to make fun of my amiable host.
Hüseyin had modeled his office on the style followed by higher government officials at the time. The elevated platform, steel furniture, quilted and framed fabric, and private telephone could not be matched as a combination by any district official, not the bank director, the two judges, or even the district officer himself. One would have to look to the offices of the provincial governors in Rize and Trabzon to find something that matched or exceeded the quality of these furnishings. So Hüseyin was presenting himself to the public in the district of Of, as well as to visiting dignitaries from elsewhere, as a person of importance. And, of course, he was doing this at the expense of the members of the tea cooperative.
More interestingly, Hüseyin's manner of presenting himself tells us how bureaucratic and administrative eminence in the Turkish Republic still bore the traces of the imperial system. The elevated desk, the cloth background, the cloth telephone cover, the large steel chairs, and the offering of refreshments in the republican office were the remainders of the elevated dais, the cushions, and the hospitality of the imperial salon. The hard-edge, high-tech qualities of the furnishings signified modernity, even as the comfortable qualities of the furnishings signified sociability. A state officialdom had once ruled through a tactic of sovereign power based on a discipline of interpersonal association. Hüseyin had gone to lengths to present himself in the guise of a state official of the republic (even though he was only the director of a cooperative), and in doing so he had combined the symbols of the new modernity with the symbols of the old modernity. That he had done so was hardly an accident, since the cooperative in the new part of town was coordinated with the coffeehouse in the old part of town.
The Of Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative
The membership of the Of Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative included from 2,500 to 2,900 tea producers in the latter part of 1967, the uncertainty of the total being related to a looming membership crisis. The cooperative had a staff of six employees, including the director, clerks, accountant, and janitor. Their offices were also well arranged and furnished, although not the equal of that of the director. The operating capital of the cooperative was almost one million Turkish lira, and its assets were valued at about two million Turkish lira. The accumulation and disbursement of these large sums was regulated by a special law pertaining to tea cooperatives. There were provisions for the regular auditing of accounts and the verification of conformity with its charter.
A producer joined the cooperative by committing himself to paying 1,000 Turkish lira into the common fund, beginning with a down payment of 250 Turkish lira. This fund was then supplemented with capital provided by special state funds through the Agricultural Bank (Ziraat Bankasû). Once a member, a producer was entitled to loans drawn on these funds, which were supposed to be used for purchasing fertilizer, agricultural implements, or insecticides. Some of these items, such as fertilizer, were also sold by the cooperative to their members at prices far below the market rate. Once each year, the tea cooperative was required by law to hold a meeting during which its members approved or rejected amendments to the articles of its constitutions and elected new representatives to its governing board. These occasions were witnessed by inspectors, who afterward submitted documents confirming that the meeting had been conducted properly.
The government sponsorship of tea cooperatives was intended to encourage farmers to expand production at their own initiative. The program was subject to abuses, but it succeeded in fulfilling its objectives, perhaps more effectively than intended, since the eastern coastal districts were producing more tea than the government could process in its factories by the early 1980s. Still, I have to say that the laws regulating tea cooperatives were violated, at least in the instance of this particular tea cooperative. I knew this to be the case by direct witness, indirect evidence, open admission, and persuasive hearsay.
The producers were not always required to pay the stipulated membership fees in order to induce them to join the cooperative. The interest-free loans that they were given for fertilizer, implements, or insecticides were not always so used, but misdirected into nonagricultural activities. The fertilizer allotments were not used on their tea gardens but resold on the black market at substantial profits. The funds of the cooperative were not always deposited in the Agricultural Bank as they should have been, and so accumulations and disbursements were not subject to proper accounting procedures. The nomination of officers was not free and open. The ballots for these officers were prepared before the annual meeting took place, and the ballot boxes were stuffed before the very eyes of the local and provincial inspectors. It is easy to disapprove of Hüseyin's machinations. But I appreciated his openness and generosity, and I admired his inventiveness and determination. He was trying to accomplish something important, and he was working with everything that had come to him. In one way or another, he was willing to use all sorts of strategies: Kemalist secularism, the public interest, family elitism, party politics, and social Islamism. From his twin bases in the coffeehouse and cooperative, he was attempting to do something for himself and his brothers, but also for his family line, and even, somewhere down the road, for the town, if not also the district. Any director of an agricultural cooperative in Of would have been under enormous pressure from agnates, relatives, friends, and clients. So it was to be expected that the regulations applying to cooperatives, based on the principle of equality before the law, would be compromised by favoritism and cronyism.
The shortage of capital in the district of Of, as in all of Turkey, only served to intensify the pressures on the directors of cooperatives. Disputes over which members would be given money or fertilizer were fueled by the capital shortage. Should the large growers receive funds to finance their existing gardens? Or should the small growers receive funds to convert more of their cornfields into tea gardens? The regulations favored the former; nonetheless, the latter had an argument that seemed just and won sympathy. Although tea cultivation could provide a handsome profit, trucking offered even greater returns at the time. If one could borrow enough cash, one could buy a truck, hire drivers, and run the truck from city to city anywhere in Turkey, making a profit while paying off interest and wages. Indeed, a number of individuals were engaged in tea cultivation, an activity that could be conducted entirely by the women of a household, in order to acquire capital for financing truck purchases.
The director of a tea cooperative was therefore in a position to adopt policies that favored a constituency, and the constituency so favored did not have to be limited to those members who were serious tea cultivators. As it happened, Hüseyin had been using the cooperative as a device for promoting his political career since the later 1950s, probably with the support of many of its members. Inevitably this involved stretching, if not breaking, the official regulations governing the management of cooperatives. Some members were receiving more money and more fertilizer than they deserved, and consequently others were receiving less. The only way to conceal this problem was to bring in more and more members, which was possible since the number of producers was rapidly expanding during the later 1950s and early 1960s. Hüseyin was therefore obliged to acquire and retain as many members as possible. This entailed waiving the fees that the capital-hungry members owed to the cooperative in order to prevent them from deserting to other cooperatives, while nonetheless drawing funds from the Agricultural Bank for their membership. But if the number of members were to decline, then Hüseyin's expenditures on lavish office furnishings, restaurant banquets for officials, and frequent trips to Ankara for conferences would all appear as shortages in the cooperative accounts.
In my estimation, many of the members of the cooperative had first considered Hüseyin's questionable activities as a kind of investment on future returns that they could expect as his political career advanced. Because of this same expectation, they had also turned a blind eye to his practice of using the cooperative to reward friends and clients in order to garner votes on the occasion of local and national elections. However, Hüseyin did not prevail when he first entered the national elections in 1961. And by 1965, it had become evident that his standing with provincial and national party leaders had slipped. More and more of his former supporters were having second thoughts. The result was a revolt within the Of Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative.
The Revolt of the Membership
As early as 1958, some of the members of the Tea Producer's Assistance Cooperative had split to form a new cooperative with its offices in Eskipazar. Hüseyin is said to have done all he could to prevent the flight. But the Muradoğlu, who were among the principals of the new cooperative, were not going to be stopped. Then, some years later, two other tea cooperatives were organized in other parts of the district of Of. But the real crisis in membership came just before my arrival in the town of Of during the summer of 1965. A dissident group from within Hüseyin's own tea cooperative had set up a new tea cooperative in the town of Of itself, and they had succeeded in attracting a large proportion of the membership of Hüseyin's tea cooperative. The director of the new cooperative was a leading individual from the Selimoğlu, but he was not one of the descendants of Ferhat Agha. The executive committee included leading individuals from other family lines once associated with the Five Party, as in the case of the old cooperative.
Backed by a loyal core of supporters, Hüseyin had done his best to manage all these difficulties. He had first attempted to oppose the organization of the new cooperative, just as he had opposed others in the past. Backed by his executive committee, he had then refused to grant the necessary papers or return funds to members who wished to join the new cooperative. Then, as the new cooperative was proving to be successful in attracting members, he had asked for the support of the descendants of Ferhat Agha. In response, the director of the Hazelnut Agricultural Sales Cooperative, his uncle, proceeded to seize all the warehouses in town so that the new tea cooperative had no place to store its fertilizer.
But these measures only impeded rather than prevented the membership growth of the new tea cooperative. When I returned to Of the next year, Hüseyin and his partners were bitterly denouncing the needless proliferation of tea cooperatives, even though they had themselves at one time deserted the tea cooperative in Rize to form their own association. As a more serious indication of crisis, Hüseyin's management of the tea cooperative had become openly controversial, bordering on the scandalous. In the winter of 1967, a number of townsmen complained to me about the management of agricultural cooperatives in Turkey. Naming no names, they said that cooperatives were run by "gangs" (Şebeke) who defeated their purpose as free and open associations of agricultural producers. They could have cited examples of problems in cooperatives up and down the coast, but they obviously had a particular cooperative in mind at the time.
One of my interlocutors specifically mentioned problems in the Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative, going so far as to say that Hüseyin lacked credibility. This interlocutor then launched into a condemnation of the laxness of government inspectors, improper use of agricultural loans, illegal membership in multiple cooperatives, and so on. From still another man, I heard that Hüseyin had been quarreling with the director of the Agricultural Bank. It was said that Hüseyin had withdrawn cooperative funds from the bank, keeping them in the cooperative safe. The gossip was especially impressive, not only as a hint of possible irregularities in cooperative finances, but also because the director of the bank was a regular of the Town Square Coffeehouse. I was surprised to hear these stories since it was common practice not to mention any local problem before an outsider, and certainly not before me, a visiting American. This suggested an absence of fear, in turn suggesting the anticipation of a fall.
The annual meeting of the Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative, which took place in late March of 1967, did not exactly bring a climax to all these problems, but it did offer an indication of just how serious they were. The following account that appears in my notes has been edited:
The three issues that most impassioned the general assembly were 1) the distribution of fertilizer to the membership, 2) the resignation of members who wished to join the new cooperative, and 3) the question of whether the funds of the cooperative would be deposited with the Agricultural Bank. All of the following violations were alleged. The directors did not want those who owed money to resign leaving their debts. The directors refused to return the deposits of those who did not owe money. The directors would not provide the documents indicating that a member had officially resigned. At one point, Hüseyin called on several angry villagers who had been shouting out such charges to come forward. There and then he gave them their official documents of resignation, but no one else dared to press him on this issue.
During the general assembly of the cooperative, the members were lively and outspoken. A crowd of men had jammed themselves into the rooms of the cooperative. Other men, who were unable to get inside, were standing in groups in the street. The crowd on the inside of the meeting room seemed to be divided into separate blocs. When a man would speak in one part of the room, he was noisily seconded by a group standing around him. In all there seemed to be four or five blocs. [By the insistent offer of a glass of tea as a gesture of hospitality], I was obliged to sit in a separate and adjoining room, the office of the director, indirectly observing and listening through a doorway to what transpired in the main meeting room. A number of the Selimoğlu and their supporters [names deleted] were with me, pretending to be disinterested in the discussion that was taking place. However, when a particularly harsh criticism of the cooperative was made by one of the members, one of them would remark, "Who said that?"
Hüseyin was leading the meeting, haranguing the crowd about this and that, occasionally assisted by Salih, and another relative from the home village of the family line. There was a good deal of shouting from among the members. At one point, Hüseyin stood on the table before the executive committee, waving his arms and shouting back in an effort to make his point over the din. The headman of [a village composed entirely of the members of a single family line, one that had formerly been associated with the Five Party] was carrying a stick that he occasionally used to silence those around him. I had the impression that he sometimes objected to the proposals of the executive committee. All in all, the polite consensus that usually characterizes such meetings was not in effect.
Yusuf stood toward the back of the room in the midst of a claque composed of the clerks and janitor of the cooperative. When Hüseyin, or one of the executive committee, made a proposal, Yusuf would lead the clerks and janitor in shouting out, "Accept! Accept!" (Kabul! Kabul!). Yusuf himself never attempted to hold the floor but muttered and glowered at the critics in the meeting room. Sometimes the reactions of the crowd were harsh and angry. But there were also moments when someone shouted out a joke of some kind, causing everyone to laugh together, including Hüseyin and his executive committee.
At the close of the meeting, Hüseyin asked for approval of fourteen new articles, and he received it. He then said that the terms of two members on the executive committee were expiring, and so it was necessary to elect two new representatives. Since the old members had done so well, however, he recommended they be renominated for another term. The twomembers in question were from two large family groupings that had once been associated with the Five Party. There were shouts from the crowd and then countershouts from the claque. Other nominations were offered, for a total of five. All these nominations were eventually accepted. At this point, Yusuf and two of his close associates came into Hüseyin's office, where I was sitting. Yusuf took a large number of envelopes from one of the drawers and began to stamp them, assembly line–style, with the seal of the cooperative. One of his associates, a district cooperative inspector (müfettiş), then produced a large number of slips with the names of the five nominated individuals already typed on them. They then began to stuff these slips into the envelopes and seal them. When they were finished, they took the envelopes and passed them out to members, who dutifully turned them over to one of the cooperative employees as they left the offices. This man then brought all the envelopes back into Hüseyin's office, where they were opened before both the district and provincial cooperative inspectors, who then verified the count of all these pretyped ballots. Each of the two men nominated by Hüseyin received some eighty-odd votes. The other three nominees each received forty-odd votes. The reelection of the incumbents was then confirmed by the inspectors, who filled out an official document testifying to this fact.
The directors had triumphed, receiving approval for all the articles and the reelection of the two representatives they had wanted. But they were not reassured by the outcome, which had only been achieved by an unseemly process that carried the risk of a flight of the membership. When I encountered Hüseyin coming out of the meeting and asked him how he was, he replied, "I am covered in sweat. I am not well" (Terliyim. İİyi değilim.). He then left for one of the town restaurants, where he and the other members of the executive committee feted the district and provincial cooperative inspectors. Later that evening, in the smaller room of the Town Square Coffeehouse, some of his concerns came to light. Yusuf, Hüseyin, and Salih were all there, hosting their guests who had come down from the villages for the annual meeting. When I entered the smaller room, I understood something was wrong. The aforementioned headman (of the village composed of a single family line) was dissatisfied and complaining. The producers in his village had not received their fair share of the fertilizer allotment. To make his case, he cited the amount of fertilizer that had been allotted to the producers of the home village of the Selimoğlu. At this point, most of the men sitting in the smaller room became silent, since they were not from either of the two family lines. The principals began to argue with one another, vigorously but not angrily. Yusuf, who had no official capacity in the tea cooperative whatsoever, reminded the headman that he had himself received a very large amount of fertilizer, concluding, "We have always loved you!" (Seni severdik!). The headman admitted that he could not say that he had received less than his full share, but he would not be able to explain to his villagers why they had received so little.
Reconfiguring the Old Republic in the New Republic
Hüseyin had run the cooperative as a resource for a circle of agnates, relatives, friends, and clients. But once his political prospects dimmed, his associates had begun to recalculate. These events were indications that the configuration of the old and new republic was shifting during the 1960s. In conclusion, I will explain this shift.
The office of the new tea cooperative, the one that had been organized in the town itself by dissidents from the old cooperative, was located in a building of no special distinction in the older part of town. The rooms were not particularly large. Their floors consisted of bare wooden planks. The walls lacked any kind of decoration, save for a calendar. The desks and chairs were wooden, secondhand, and rickety. The staff consisted of just three individuals, a director, an accountant, and a janitor. I was not able to see the books of the cooperative, but I was told by a man on the executive committee that they had almost five hundred members, and would have had many more were it not for the restrictive measures taken by the other cooperative. It was as though the new cooperative had been specifically designed to emphasize frugality, that is, how little had been spent on rent, furnishings, and decor, and therefore how little the director wished to aggrandize himself.
The director, Süleyman Selimoğlu, had himself been the accountant of the old cooperative. When I met him, he was unshaven, tieless, and coatless. He explained to me how the new cooperative had resulted from quarrels (geçimsizlik) about the distribution of loans and fertilizer. He took care not to criticize specific individuals. But he did say that those producers who had developed excellent tea gardens were not favored by the directors of the old cooperative. Instead, the resources of the cooperative had been needlessly squandered or diverted. His group of founders had therefore resigned from the old cooperative in order to organize a new one that would focus solely on encouraging tea cultivation. The gossip in the town agreed with the director. The administration of the new cooperative was said to conform with government regulations, heretofore a novel procedure.
The old and new tea cooperatives held their annual meetings on the same day at the same time, so I was only able to attend the meeting of the former. According to a report, there was no shouting at all during general assembly of the new cooperative, although there were some points of contention. One of the members of its executive committee laughed with pleasure when I gave him my account of the brouhaha during the general assembly of the old cooperative. Still, the new cooperative was not entirely different from the old. Süleyman, the director of the new cooperative, was still a leading individual from the Selimoğlu, although of a set (takûm) distinct from both that of Ferhat Agha and Rasih Efendi. The members of the executive committee of the new cooperative also included individuals from the same sets of large families as the members of the executive committee of the old cooperative. So the founders of the new cooperative were not ordinary villagers and townsmen.
Both the old and new cooperatives were founded by individuals who represented the old republic in the new republic. But the two cooperatives were not administered by the same methods or for the same objectives. The old cooperative had been run in a way that recalled the late imperial period. Local elites, with the support of a circle of agnates, relatives, friends, and clients, set about to colonize the state system. They did so with the understandable intention of subverting the ends of the centralized state system so that it served the ends of the local state society. The new cooperative had been set up as it became apparent that the old methods and objectives were no longer working. Leading individuals from large family groupings were now obliged to recognize that their clients possessed more economic alternatives than ever before. They were still able to monopolize all public offices open to local residents, but they were now forced, if not inclined, to run local institutions in a manner that was more compatible with the economic interests of their membership. This was the situation whose logic came to light during the annual meetings of the two tea cooperatives in late March 1967.
In the analysis of coffeehouses and cooperatives in this chapter, I have repeatedly pointed to the role of the old republic in the new republic, that is, to the imperial legacy of the district of Of. In doing so, I do not mean to suggest that nothing had ever changed in Of, Trabzon, or Turkey. Indeed, change has always been a prominent feature of public life, from earlier, during the Empire, until now, during the Republic. So the echo of the past in the present is not inconsistent with displacement and dislocation. Let us return briefly to the coffeehouses, which were taken to be a measure of the old republic in the new republic at the outset of this chapter.
In the old days, the government had occasionally burned down the mansions, coffeehouses, and markets of aghas, just as the aghas had occasionally burned down the mansions, coffeehouses, and markets of their rivals. The resort to violence was a consequence of the dissemination of sovereign power through interpersonal association. By the logic of such a regime, circles of interpersonal association were under the constraint of military necessity. As a consequence, aghas from agha-families owned and sponsored coffeehouses, and the ordinary villagers and townsmen who constituted their followings were obliged to sit and talk in these coffeehouses. From the later imperial period, however, new kinds of coffeehouses had begun to appear, ones in which a discipline of social thinking and practice had no strong connection to the leading individuals from large family groupings. Perhaps in fits and starts, but nonetheless inexorably, new kinds of circles of interpersonal association had been gaining ground, especially during periods of greater economic activity and opportunity. The transition from a one-party to a multiparty system had led to a resurgence of leading individuals from large family groupings in public life. Nonetheless, the Town Square Coffeehouse was the only coffeehouse in the town of Of that had a strong connection with leading individuals and large family groupings. Otherwise, ordinary villagers and townsmen could elect to sit in one of at least seven other coffeehouses in the older part of town, including the "teahouse" (çayhane) managed by my companions in the Crystal Palace (see chap. 2). This was a gathering place for villagers and townsmen who were "not from the aghas" (ağadan değil). Leading individuals from large family groupings were never to be seen there. So ordinary villagers and townsmen were able to form their own circles of interpersonal association, more or less independently of leading individuals from large family groupings. They did so in the course of all kinds of economic engagements, labor migration, entrepreneurial adventures, and business dealings, which were not limited to Of, but extended to Trabzon, Erzurum, Adana, Istanbul, Munich, and Berlin. Income from tea cultivation was rapidly rising as gardens first planted some years before became increasingly productive. Transportation and construction firms run by Oflus in various cities had become increasingly profitable with increasing urbanization. Cash remittances sent home from Germany by migrant workers had become substantial.
All these special factors were compounded by the effects of a general economic expansion during the 1960s. Ordinary villagers were making money as never before. As a consequence, the total value of commercial transactions in the town market was soaring, inflating land prices and building rents. The sociopolitical hegemony of leading individuals from large family groupings was then compromised by market differentiation and expansion during the 1960s. Such a phenomenon was not unprecedented. There had been earlier rises and falls in economic activity in the eastern coastal districts, and hence earlier rises and falls in the claims of aghas and agha-families on ordinary townsmen and villagers. Nonetheless, the sheer scale of the increase in economic opportunities in the twentieth century was unprecedented, especially after the beginning of the multiparty period. Whether these opportunities are judged to represent a new kind of liberty or a new kind of subjection, they unquestionably eroded the hegemony of leading individuals from large family groupings.
Already by the time of the general assembly of the tea cooperative, Hüseyin had begun his long and slow descent from a position of prominence. He was still chairman of the Red Crescent Society at the time, but the number of his other public offices was dwindling. He had been replaced as chairman of the RPP. The new chairman was a lawyer from a merchant family of local origin rather than from one of the large families. And Hüseyin had also been replaced as the chairman of the Middle School Parent-Teacher Association. The new chairman was a lawyer who had moved to Of from Bayburt who had no standing with the large families of the district. At the annual meeting of the Parent-Teacher Association in the spring of 1967, Hüseyin had stood up to deliver a speech, but he was not well received. The audience of about a hundred fathers (no mothers) began to grumble as he continued to declaim, and he was eventually asked to sit down by the new chairman before finishing what he had to say.
One or more circles of professionals and merchants would continue to assert themselves in the public life of the town, for the most part, in the sphere of educational endowments and institutions. But there were other segments of public life that would for a long while remain closed to them. If, for example, the founders of the new tea cooperative had not been who they were, if they had not been leading individuals from large family groupings, their office equipment and records might well have ended up in the river one dark night. So the old republic would continue to inhabit the new republic in the district of Of, as it does even to this day, but only insofar as its representatives adopted new methods and objectives in order to cope with new political and economic realities.
1. For an exception, see my account in chap. 2 of the school secretary, who transformed our coffeehouse conversation into a kind of sermon, but on an occasion when the audience was composed mostly of youths. For another exception, see my account of the rehearsal speech for Liberation Day, given in the Town Square Coffeehouse. [BACK]
2. In translating the Turkish word millet as "public," I have in mind similar usages in Of. On the occasion of the departure for the pilgrimage, when hundreds of Oflus were boarding buses in the town square, I heard the remark, "the public is going on the pilgrimage" (millet haca gider). On an occasion when large crowds of men were strolling along the coastal highway, I heard the remark, "the public is taking its pleasures" (millet keyfeder). To emphasize how Oflus associated with one another when they left the district to work in cities, an interlocutor observed, "We stick together" (milletçileriz). [BACK]
3. When I attempted to use census records in the government building as the basis of family genealogies, I discovered that most daughters and wives were registered under one name, "Eve" (Hawa). [BACK]
4. Some now claim that anthropologists overstated the significance of this practice because they did not understand that the word for "child" (çocuk) was gendered, referring only to boys. So they had unwittingly asked, "How many boys do you have?" While the point is well taken, it remains the case that a common word used to inquire about children was gendered as male rather female. [BACK]
5. Otherwise, my wife was able to pass on to me valuable observations about the social relations of townswomen. [BACK]
6. I have not determined when he opened this shop. I am assuming that it preceded his publication of the newspaper, which is mentioned below. [BACK]
7. The newspaper continued to appear sporadically until 1957. It consisted of two to six pages, each about half the size of the page of a regular daily newspaper. [BACK]
8. The province of Rize began to be an important center of tea cultivation sometime around 1938. I was told that the Of Tea Producers' Assistance Cooperative had first been organized by ten individuals, four of whom were Selimoğlu. They had all been members of a large tea cooperative in the town of Rize that had once had fifty thousand members. I was told that this tea cooperative had been left with only twenty thousand members after splits in the 1950s. [BACK]
9. The sons and grandsons of Ferhat Agha benefited from more extensive experience as public officials, while the sons of Reşat Agha had benefited from more experience as farmers. This probably explains why the former were able to organize the first cooperative, and the latter were able to develop the best tea gardens. [BACK]
10. I mistakenly wrote in an earlier paper (Meeker 1994a) that Ferhat Agha had himself received petitions in the Town Square Coffeehouse. I have since discovered an entry in my notes that indicates otherwise. However, it is probable that Ferhat Agha did receive visitors nonofficially in the Town Square Coffeehouse. [BACK]
11. Umur (1949, 18–19) noted that some individuals and families chose not to affiliate themselves with parties (fûrka) even during the period of decentralization, "the time of the aghas" (see chap. 1). [BACK]
12. General Cemal Gürsel was the leader of the military coup in 1960 and the president of the Republic from 1961 to 1966 (Zürcher 1993, 356–57). [BACK]
1. Since its founding in 1955, four other cooperatives had been organized in the district of Of. Three of these were located in areas that were not under the influence of the Selimoğlu (Eskipazar, Taşhan, and Dumlusu). The fourth, organized in 1965, was located in the town of Of by a group of members who were separating from Hüseyin's cooperative. I shall eventually have more to say about this schism, which was taking place at the time of my residence. [BACK]
14. The organizing capital of the cooperative was officially listed as 2,247,000 Turkish lira by obligation. Of this, 784,000 Turkish lira had been paid by the members as of the last accounting before January 1967. These were very considerable sums of money at the time. See chap. 1, note 8, for currency equivalents and annual per capita income estimates. [BACK]
15. I was told that the market price of a bag of fertilizer was about 80 Turkish lira in Akçaabat, where it could be used for growing tobacco, while the subsidized price in Of was about 20 Turkish lira. The reselling of cooperative fertilizer was another way of raising cash, but not necessarily for investment. Some claimed that the profits from illegal fertilizer sales were used for frivolous purposes, saying "They eat it." [BACK]
16. A young member of the Muradoğlu was able to win election to the National Assembly some years later by a different strategy than that adopted by Hüseyin. He resided in Ankara for several years, worked as a bureaucrat, and had connections in the national party headquarters. The support of his agnates, relatives, friends, and clients could win him electoral support in the district of Of, but this was not enough. He needed a broader political backing and experience in order to attract voters elsewhere in the province of Trabzon and gain a seat in the National Assembly. [BACK]
17. These family lines were agha-families and merchant-families whose members had been part of the core of the coalitions traditionally composed by leading individuals from the Selimoğlu. When I visited the offices of the new cooperative I found a son of Rasih Efendi (Selimoğlu) lounging about the office, but neither he nor his two brothers appear to have been in the leadership. [BACK]
18. During the meeting, I heard one man shout, "Fertilizer, fertilizer, we don't want anything else but this" (Gübre, gübre, başka bir şey istemiyoruz). [BACK]
19. Süleyman had replaced Yusuf as headman of the central quarter of the town in 1952, continuing to serve until 1960 (see fig. 2). During my residence, his first cousin, also of the Selimoğlu, but not of the descendants of Ferhat Agha, had become the headman of the central quarter of the town. As for Süleyman, he would remain the director of the new cooperative for many years, after which he would follow in the footsteps of Yakup Selimoğlu, successfully running for mayor in 1984. [BACK]
20. One successful trader in the market spelled out this analysis for me in 1967 (almost thirty years before I realized the significance of what he was telling me). He explained that political power and influence had become diffuse in Of. It was no longer possible for one man or a group of men to gain control of the affairs of the town, and certainly not the district. He said this was an entirely new development that had only recently come about and would have not been true twenty years previously. [BACK]
21. Actually, the owner of the Crystal Palace Hotel was "from the aghas," but he had chosen to lease his property to my companions. [BACK]