In the preface of “Inside India”, Halide Edib mentions her promise to Dr. Ansari whom she met in 1913 at Constantinople, to write a book about his country after her visit. A powerful intellectual of the Muslim community in India, Dr. Ansari was present in Turkey during 1910’s, as the official of the Indian Muslims to help the Turkish army during the war-time, since their aim was to secure the institution of the Caliphate. Halide Edib went to India in a time when the Indian Muslims were still shocked due to the abolition of the Caliphate. Yet she wasn’t present there as the representative of the Turkish/Kemalist government. For example, in her accounts she cites Lenin and Gandhi as the two great leaders of the century whereas Mustafa Kemal doesn’t occupy her interests. It is probable that Edib’s autobiographical account “Inside India” remained doxic due to Edib’s disillusionment with the Kemalist regime, which can be characterized as an anticolonial nationalist movement.
And what’s more, in her lectures collected under the name of “Conflict of East and West in Turkey” she provides an alternative narrative of Turkish Independence movement and of the social reforms undertaken between 1919 and 1935, in which she doesn’t stress Mustafa Kemal as the leader who provided salvation for the whole country; she rather characterizes the independence movement and the reform acts as the work of “the people” as she states, regarding the foundation of Constituent Assembly in 1923, as if she was longing for a Gramscian national-popular for the revolution: “It was the first government in the East created by the people and acting for the people.” Edib’s insistence on “the people” throughout her lectures has two implications: First, as mentioned, she provides an alternative account of Turkish history which was mainly based on what Mustafa Kemal stated in “The Speech”, that is, history was basically constituted on the basis of the leader, Ataturk who founded the National Assembly and brought about the ways of salvation for the nation. Second, one should also bear in mind that the narrative of “Inside India” is also based on “the people” through the emphasis of “nationhood” instead of “nationalism”. Besides, her accounts consist of the different narratives of Indian intellectuals from the Hindu leader Gandhi to socialist leader Jawaharlal and also the ordinary agents from “the people” active during the process of the movement of independence whose lives Edib delve into throughout the first two chapters of her book, “India Seen Through the Salam House” and “India Seen on Highways and Byways”. In that regard, Edib highlights the very agencies of the individuals who were altogether involved in the independence movement. Accordingly, she prefers to use the word “nationhood” and not “nationalism” since “the former brings into play and harmonises inner forces in all their variety from a utilitarian and an aesthetic point of view, while the latter may cause inner disintegration and create conflict with the surrounding peoples.”
Edib’s critical stance toward Turkish anticolonial nationalist movement and her endeavor to re-narrativize the independence struggle of a nation in which the leader of that very anticolonial nationalism, Mustafa Kemal does not figure, triggers Edib to maintain an indeterminate position in terms of postcolonial theory and criticism. Halide Edib was an active struggler against colonialism during the Independence War of Turkey between 1919 and 1922. However, she remained an exile from her own country after the Kemalist republic was formed at 1923. At this point one should be reminded of the fact that Edib was not sent to exile, she left the country at her own will after the republic was formed by Mustafa Kemal. She was against colonialism, yet, she was neither not in favor of an anticolonial nationalist power formed by Mustafa Kemal.
Edib was on the side of nationalist movement to the extent that it enabled the detachment from the colonial domination by means of an active struggle. In that regard Fanon states; “the nation is not only the condition of culture, its fruitfulness, its continuous renewal, and its deepening. It is also a necessity.” For Fanon, founding a nationalist cause and following the nationalist movement is a necessary step on the road to the anticolonial struggle. According to him, the sense of a nation “is the fight for a national existence which sets culture moving and opens to it the doors of creation.” The door of creation which the nationalist struggle lead the anticolonial nationalist movement of the Turks was apparently not compatible with Edib’s perception of “the doors of creation” as she needs the urge to rewrite the history of the independence movement as her will and as she remains exile from the country for two decades until the death of Mustafa Kemal. On the other hand, the death of Mustafa Kemal marks a new era in which, following Chatterjee’s vocabulary, the reconciliation of the spiritual and the material domains in anticolonial Kemalist nationalism could be accomplished. Now let us explore Edib’s insights through reference to Chatterjee’s arguments on nationalism and thereafter open up a discussion on Edib’s idea of “nationhood” which she suggests as an alternative to the idea of nationalism.
When describing the advance of anticolonial nationalisms, Chatterjee distinguishes the “material domain” from the “spiritual domain” at which anticolonial nationalisms declare their sovereignty. On the contrary, the material domain is occupied with the Western ideals of economy, statecraft, science and technology; the spaces where “the West had proved its superiority and the East had succumbed.” As opposed to the material domain dominated by those Western ideals, Chatterjee argues that anticolonial nationalisms reserve room for the “spiritual” in order to maintain its own domain of sovereignty. For Chatterjee, the spiritual is “an ‘inner’ domain bearing the “essential” marks of cultural identity.” What he further proposes as the fundamental feature of anticolonial nationalisms in Asia and Africa is that; “the greater one’s success in imitating Western skills in the material domain, therefore, the greater the need to preserve the distinctness of one’s spiritual culture.” In this respect, she illustrates the ways in which the spiritual domain is constituted and maintained by means of three main areas; language, school and family.
Halide Edib’s theoretical approach in “Conflict of East and West in Turkey” is similar to Chatterjee’s. She distinguishes the Eastern mind from the Western mind as the former maintains spirituality while the latter’s unique characteristic is materiality. Moreover, according to Halide Edib, “the individual of the East is the possessor of a marked and unique personality.” The individual of the East managed this “simply by detaching his mind from material worldly realities.”  The “uniqueness” that she underscores corresponds to what Chatterjee defines as “the essential marks of cultural identity” within the spiritual domain.
Halide Edib adds further to Chatterjee’s arguments when she acknowledges that the East and the West should cooperate. She intends to reconcile the two notions, materiality (of the West) and spirituality (of the East), which for Chatterjee mark the crucial distinction between the East and the West. According to Edib, this cooperation can occur when the East “feels itself equal with the West…” In addition to the necessity of equality, the two “must also possess mutually valuable things to exchange.” Halide Edib further remarks that this reconciliation or cooperation is taking place since a group of people in the West began to realize the superiority of Eastern philosophy while at the same time the East began to take steps for improvement of its material life due to its realization of the lack of materiality as opposed to the West. Therefore she champions the policies of Gandhi, who is “trying to regenerate the Eastern villager economically and morally, while he is fighting against a too rapid industrialization.” Gandhi founds his anticolonial nationalism on the basis of not only spirituality but also economy which for Chatterjee is a material domain dominated by the West. Yet Edib insists that Gandhi’s operation within that material domain is a unique one indeed; Gandhi not only operates within the domain of the spiritual in his revolutionary ideals but also within materiality to the extent that it excludes and alters Western domination and power. Gandhi proposes a new understanding of materiality, which is distinct from the Western one; and for Edib, it resembles the “Ahi” organization in 13th century Anatolia. The ideal figure of an anticolonial revolutionary is depicted by Halide Edib as the leader who combines the materiality of the West with the spirituality of the East. Moreover, Gandhi is more than an anticolonial revolutionary for Halide Edib when she states:
Both the Eastern and the Western world should study him seriously for he is offering one of the ways which may lead to the salvation, not only of the East but also of the West, by enabling it to cooperate with a free, strong, moral and peaceful East.
 Halide Edib. “Inside India”, Oxford University Press. New Delhi. 2002. p.201
 (Italics mine)Halide Edib. “Conflict of East and West in Turkey”, Jamia Press. Delhi. 1935. p.110
 Ibid., p.243
 Frantz Fanon. “Reciprocal Basis of National Culture and the Fight for Freedom” in Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2001. p.1592
 Partha Chatterjee, “The Nation and Its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories” Princeton University Press, Princeton New Jersey. p.6
 Halide Edib. “Conflict of East and West in Turkey”, Jamia Press. Delhi. 1935. pp.224-225
 Ibid., p.3
 Ibid., p.242
 Ibid., p.245
 Ibid., p.246
Picture retrieved from: http://browse.deviantart.com/?q=revolutionary&order=9&offset=0#/dyo9z7
Full article published at International Journal of Humanities and Social Science: