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Turanism, Pan-Turanianism or Pan-Turanism is a pseudoscientific[1] nationalist political and cultural movement which proclaims an ethnic/cultural unity for disparate people who are supposed to have a common ancestral origin in Central Asia, using the Iranian term Turan as the designation for this place.

This political ideology originated in the work of the Finnish nationalist and linguist Matthias Alexander Castrén, who championed the ideology of Pan-Turanism — the belief in the racial unity and future greatness of the Ural-Altaic peoples. He concluded that the Finns originated in Central Asia (in the Altai Mountains), and far from being a small, isolated people, they were part of a larger polity that included such peoples as the Magyars, Turks, Mongols, etc.[2] It implies not merely the unity of all Turkic peoples (as in Pan-Turkism), but also the alliance of a wider Turanid race, also known as the controversial Uralo-Altaic race, believed to include all peoples speaking "Turanian languages". Like the term Aryan, Turanian is used chiefly as a linguistic term, equivalent to Ural-Altaic linguistic group.[3] Although Turanism is a political movement for the union of all Uralo-Altaic peoples, there are different opinions about inclusiveness.[4] In the opinion of the famous Turanist Ziya Gökalp, Turanism is for Turkic peoples only, as the other Turanian peoples (Finns, Hungarians, Koreans, Japanese) are too different culturally. So he narrowed Turanism into Pan-Turkism.[5] The idea of the necessity of "Turanian brotherhood/collaboration" was borrowed from the "Slavic brotherhood/collaboration" idea of Panslavism.[6]

According to the description given by Lothrop Stoddard at the time of first world war:

"Right across northern Europe and Asia, from the Baltic to the Pacific and from the Mediterranean to the Arctic Ocean, there stretches a vast band of peoples to whom ethnologists have assigned the name of "Uralo-Altaic race," but who are more generally termed "Turanians." This group embraces the most widely scattered folk—the Ottoman Turks of Constantinople and Anatolia, the Turcomans of Central Asia and Persia, the Tatars of South Russia and Transcaucasia, the Magyars of Hungary, the Finns of Finland and the Baltic provinces, the aboriginal tribes of Siberia and even the distant Mongols and Manchus. Diverse though they are in culture, tradition, and even physical appearance, these peoples nevertheless possess certain well-marked traits in common. Their languages are all similar, and, what is of even more import, their physical and mental make-up displays undoubted affinities."[7]

Origins of Pan-Turanianism

Pan-Turanianism has its roots in the Finnish nationalist Fennophile and Fennoman movement, and in the works of linguist Matthias Alexander Castrén. The concept spread from here to the kindred peoples of the Finns. Friedrich Max Müller, the German Orientalist and philologist, published and proposed a new grouping of the non-Aryan and non-Semitic Asian languages in 1855. In his work "The languages of the seat of war in the East. With a survey of the three families of language, Semitic, Arian, and Turanian." he called these languages "Turanian". Müller divided this group into two subgroups, the Southern Division, and the Northern Division.[8] In the long run, his theory proved unsound, but his Northern Division was renamed and re-classed as the Ural-Altaic languages.

Traditional history cites its early origins amongst Ottoman officers and intelligentsia studying and residing in 1870s Imperial Germany. The fact that many Ottoman Turkish officials were becoming aware of their sense of "Turkishness" is beyond doubt of course, and the role of subsequent nationalists, such as Ziya Gökalp is fully established historically.

…they (the Turks) could form a political entity stretching from the Altai Mountains in Eastern Asia to the Bosphorus.

— [9]

The works of Orientalist and linguist Ármin Vámbéry contributed to the spreading of Turkish nationalism, and the Turanian idea among Turkish people.

Vámbéry was employed by the British Foreign office as advisor and informant. Vámbéry’s mission was to create an anti-Slavic racialist movement among the Turks that would divert the Russians from the “Great Game” which they were playing against Britain in Persia and Central Asia.[need quotation to verify]


Hungarian Turanism (Hungarian: Turanizmus) is a movement especially based on Hungarian national legends, such as the legend about Hunor and Magor (national founders), the legend about Curse of Turan or the legend about Turul (national animal of Hungary), which has been most lively in the second half of the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th century.[10] As a scientific movement, Turanism was concerned with the research of Asia and its culture in context of Hungarian history and culture. Political Turanism was born in the 19th century, in response to the growing influence of Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism, seen by Hungarians as very dangerous to the state and nation of Hungary, because the country had large ethnic German and Slavic populations.[10] Political Turanism was a romantic nationalist movement, which accentuated the importance of common ancestry and cultural affinity of the Hungarians with the peoples of the Caucasus, Inner and Central Asia, like the Turks, Mongols, Parsi etc., and called for closer collaboration and political alliance with them, as a means of securing and furthering shared interests, and to counter the imminent threats posed by the policies of Western powers like Germany, the British Empire, France and Russia.

The movement received impetus after Hungary's defeat in World War I. Under the terms of the Treaty of Trianon (1920.VI.4.), the new Hungarian state constituted only 32,7 percent of the territory of historic, pre-treaty Hungary, and lost 58,4 percent of its total population. More than 3,2 million ethnic Hungarians, one-third of all Hungarians resided outside the new boundaries of Hungary, in the successor states, under oppressive conditions. Old Hungarian cities of great cultural importance like Pozsony (a former capital of the country), Kassa, Kolozsvár were lost. Under these circumstances no Hungarian government could survive without seeking justice for Magyars and Hungary. Reuniting the Magyars became a crucial point in public life and on the political agenda. Outrage led many to reject Europe and turn towards the East in search of new friends and allies in a bid to revise the unjust terms of the treaty and restore integrity of Hungary.

Turanism was never embraced officially, because it was out of accord with the Christian conservatist ideological background of the regime. But it was used by the government as an informal tool to break the country’s international isolation, and build alliances. Hungary signed treaties of friendship and collaboration with the Republic of Turkey in 1923,[11] with the Republic of Estonia in 1937,[12] with the Republic of Finland in 1937,[13] with Japan in 1938,[14] with Bulgaria in 1941.[15]


The Ottoman political party of the Young Turks, the Committee of Union and Progress, espoused the notion of Turanism, a mythic glorification of Turkish ethnic identity, and was devoted to restoring the Ottoman Empire's shattered national pride.[16]

Turanism forms an important aspect of the ideology of the modern Turkish Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), whose youth movement is informally known as the Grey Wolves. Grey Wolf (the mother wolf Asena) was the main symbol of the ancient Turkic peoples.


Japanese Turanism is based upon the same footing as its Western European counterparts.

In the 1920s, Turanism was popular in Japan. Japanese Turanists claimed that Hungarians and Japanese have shared ancestry, and that the forefathers of the Japanese had originated in the Euro-Asian region and resettled in the main island of Japan. In Japan, such Turanist organisations as Turanian National Alliance – Tsuran Minzoku Doumei (1921) – Turanian Society of Japan – Nippon Tsuran Kyoukai (early 1930's) – Japanese-Hungarian Cultural Association – Nikko Bunka Kyoukai (1938) – were founded.

A pro-Finnish activity was carried in Japan in the Inter-War period by some Japanese nationalists influenced by Turanism. It found theoretical expression in, for example, a book entitled "Hann tsuranizumu to keizai burokku [Pan-Turanism and the Economic Bloc]," written by an economist. The writer insists that the Japanese should leave the tragically small Japanese islands and resettle to the northern and western parts of the Asian Continent, where their forefathers had once dwelt. For this purpose, they had to reconquer these ancestral lands from the Slavs by entering into alliance with the Turanian peoples. The Finns, one of those peoples, were to take a share of this great achievement.[17]

Key personalities

See also

References and notes

  1. Vági, Zoltán; Csősz, László; Kádár, Gábor (5 September 2013). The Holocaust in Hungary: Evolution of a Genocide. AltaMira Press. p. 34. ISBN 0759122008. Retrieved 14 May 2015. ... "Turanism" came into being. This pseudoscientific ideology strove to prove the existence and superiority of...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. EB on Matthias Alexander Castrén. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/98799/Matthias-Alexander-Castren
  3. M. Antoinette Czaplicka, The Turks of Central Asia in History and at the Present Day, Elibron, 2010, p.19
  4. http://www.nihal-atsiz.com/yazi/turancilik-h-nihal-atsiz.html
  5. Türkçülüğün Esasları pg.25 (Gökalp, Ziya)
  6. http://www.britannica.com/bps/search?query=turanism
  7. STODDARD, T. Lothrop. “Pan-Turanism”. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 11, No. 1. (1917) p.16. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/1944138.pdf?acceptTC=true
  8. MÜLLER, Friedrich Max: The languages of the seat of war in the East. With a survey of the three families of language, Semitic, Arian and Turanian. 1855.https://archive.org/details/languagesseatwa00mlgoog
  9. Paksoy, H.B., ‘Basmachi’: TurkestanNational Liberation Movement 1916-1930s - Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union, Florida: Academic International Press, 1991, Vol. 4
  10. 10.0 10.1 "FARKAS Ildikó: A magyar turanizmus török kapcsolatai ("The Turkish connections of Hungarian Turanism")". www.valosagonline.hu [Valóság (2013 I.-IV)]. 2013. Retrieved 7 March 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. 1924. évi XVI. törvénycikk a Török Köztársasággal Konstantinápolyban 1923. évi december hó 18. napján kötött barátsági szerződés becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=7599
  12. 1938. évi XXIII. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Budapesten, 1937. évi október hó 13. napján kelt magyar-észt egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8078
  13. 1938. évi XXIX. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Budapesten, 1937. évi október hó 22. napján kelt magyar-finn egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8084
  14. 1940. évi I. törvénycikk a Budapesten, 1938. évi november hó 15. napján kelt magyar-japán barátsági és szellemi együttműködési egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8115
  15. 1941. évi XVI. törvénycikk a szellemi együttműködés tárgyában Szófiában az 1941. évi február hó 18. napján kelt magyar-bolgár egyezmény becikkelyezéséről. http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=3&param=8169
  16. Caravans to Oblivion: The Armenian Genocide, 1915 (Hardcover) by G. S. Graber
  17. MOMOSE Hiroshi: Japan's Relations with Finland 1919-1944, as Reflected by Japanese Source Materials. http://eprints.lib.hokudai.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2115/5026/1/KJ00000112960.pdf

Further reading

  • Arnakis, George G.. 'Turanism: An Aspect of Turkish Nationalism'. In Balkan Studies, Vol. 1 (1960): 19-32.
  • Atabaki, Touraj (2000). Azerbaijan: Ethnicity and the Struggle for Power in Iran.
  • Farrokh, Kaveh (2005) Pan-Turanianism takes aim at Azerbaijan: A geopolitical agenda.
  • Landau, J.M. (1995). Pan-Turkism: From Irredentism to Cooperation. London: Hurst.
  • Lewis, B. (1962). The Emergence of Modern Turkey. London: Oxford University Press.
  • Lewis, B. (1998). The Multiple identities of the Middle East. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Macdonell, Arthur Anthony (1922). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1922_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FPan-Turanianism "Pan-Turanianism" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Paksoy, H.B. (1991). ‘Basmachi’: TurkestanNational Liberation Movement 1916-1930s. In Modern Encyclopedia of Religions in Russia and the Soviet Union (Vol 4). Florida: Academic International Press. [1]
  • Poulton, H. (1997). Top Hat, Grey Wolf, and Crescent: Turkish Nationalism and the Turkish Republic. London, England: Hurst.
  • Richards, G. (1997). ‘Race’, Racism and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History. Routledge.
  • Richards Martin, Macaulay Vincent, Hickey Eileen, Vega Emilce, Sykes Bryan, Guida Valentina, Rengo Chiara, Sellitto Daniele, Cruciani Fulvio, Kivisild Toomas, Villerns Richard, Thomas Mark, Rychkov Serge, Rychkov Oksana, Rychkov Yuri, Golge Mukaddes, Dimitrov Dimitar, Hill Emmeline, Bradley Dan, Romano Valentino, Cail Francesco, Vona Giuseppe, Demaine Andrew, Papiha Surinder, Triantaphyllides Costas, Stefanescu Gheorghe, Hatina Jiri, Belledi Michele, Di Rienzo Anna, Novelletto Andrea, Oppenheim Ariella, Norby Soren, Al-Zaheri Nadia, Santachiara-Benerecetti Silvana, Scozzari Rosaria, Torroni Antonio, & Bandelt Hans Jurgen. (2000). Tracing European founder lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA pool. American Journal of Human Genetics, 67, p. 1251-1276.
  • Said, E. (1979). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.
  • Searle-White, J. (2001). The Psychology of Nationalism. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Toynbee, A.J. (1917). Report on the Pan-Turanian Movement. London: Intelligence Bureau Department of Information, Admiralty, L/MIL/17/16/23.
  • Stoddard, T. Lothrop. “Pan-Turanism”. The American Political Science Review. Vol. 11, No. 1. (1917): 12-23.
  • Zenkovsky, S. A. (1960). Pan-Turkism and Islam in Russia. Cambridge-Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Zeman, Zbynek & Scharlau, Winfried (1965), The merchant of revolution. The life of Alexander Israel Helphand (Parvus). London: Oxford University Press. See especially pages 125-144. ISBN 0-19-211162-0 ISBN 978-0192111623

External links