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The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Ataturk's Turkey

The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Ataturk's Turkey
Erik J. Zurcher

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The grand narrative of "The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building" is that of the essential continuity of the late Ottoman Empire with the Republic of Turkey that was founded in 1923. Erik J. Zurcher shows that Kemal's 'ideological toolkit', which included positivism, militarism, nationalism and a state-centred world view, was shared by many other Young Turks. Authoritarian rule, a one-party state, a legal framework based on European principles, advanced European-style bureaucracy, financial administration, military and educational reforms and state-control of Islam, can all be found in the late Ottoman Empire, as can policies of demographic engineering. The book focuses on the attempts of the Young Turks to save their empire through forced modernization as well as on the attempts of their Kemalist successors to build a strong national state. The decade of almost continuous warfare, ethnic conflict and forced migration between 1911 and 1922 forms the background to these attempts and accordingly occupies a central position in this volume. This is a powerful history reflecting and contributing to the latest research from a leading historian of modern Turkey.

It is essential for all readers interested in the history of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, and for an understanding of a key player in the politics of the Middle East and Europe.

Author Info

Erik J. Zurcher is Professor of Turkish Studies at the University of Leiden and Director of the International Institute of Social History at Amsterdam. He is the author of numerous books on Turkey, including Turkey: A Modern History (I.B.Tauris), which has been translated into seven languages; Arming the State: Military Conscription in the Middle East and Central Asia, 1775-1925; Identity Politics in Central Asia and the Muslim World; and Men of Order: Authoritarian Modernization under Ataturk and Reza Shah (all I.B.Tauris).


'This study of the social dimensions of early Turkish nationalism, along with its author Y. Dogan Çetinkaya, marks an extraordinary achievement by a representative of the emerging generation of Turkish historians who are transforming Ottoman and modern Turkish historiography. Çetinkaya broadens and deepens what we understand of the Young Turks, taking the reader beyond intellectual and political history, the story of committees and 'Great Men', into the mass activities of mobilized protestors. The boycott movement with its dramatic eruptions, port workers refusing to offload goods or crowds tearing up foreign-made fezzes, has largely been neglected up to now. By telling this story Çetinkaya gives us a revealing lens into the social history of the last years of the Ottoman Empire.'
Ronald Grigor Suny, Charles Tilly Collegiate Professor of Social and Political History, The University of Michigan

'Y. Dogan Çetinkaya’s important and careful analysis of the boycott movements in the late Ottoman Empire shows us important stages of a process in which the shared euphoria of Turks, Greeks and Armenians immediately after the constitutional revolution of 1908 would lead to expulsions and massacres only six years later. He demonstrates a clear pattern of escalation and convincingly shows that it was not just the nationalist economic policies devised at the center, but also the active involvement of local Muslim entrepreneurs and workers, who managed to exploit and steer those policies, that determined the outcome.'
Erik J. Zürcher, Leiden University, Chair of Turkish Studies

'This book provides an in-depth narrative of the boycott movement during the Young Turk period, initially directed against Austria-Hungary, then against the Kingdom of Greece, and finally against non-Muslims (mostly Greek-Orthodox) within the Ottoman empire. Differing from the conventional historiography on the subject, Y. Dogan Çetinkaya highlights not so much intellectual currents as the motor of the rising Muslim/Turkish nationalism, but rather the agency of social groups –workers, merchants, urban notables, civil servants and officers – that formed the backbone of numerous initiatives and organizations which succeeded in imposing the boycott on an empire-wide scale and thus exercised a direct influence on the political process. Although the ruling elite swiftly learned how to manipulate the population and control its reactions, the author argues persuasively that it was basically the interests of the Muslim middle class, articulated increasingly in the context of mass politics, which effected the shift from the Ottomanist discourse of 1908 to a radical nationalism that demanded the elimination of non-Muslims from the economy from 1914 onwards. On the whole, the book represents an important contribution to the history of Islamization and Turkification of Asia Minor in the twentieth century.'
Fikret Adanir, Ruhr University, Bochum

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Series: Library of Modern Middle East Studies

ISBN: 9781848852723
Publication Date: 29 Jul 2010
Number of Pages: 368
Height: 231
Width: 155

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