In 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Modern Turkish Republic rose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, proclaiming a new era in the Middle East. However, many of the contemporary issues affecting Turkish state and society today have their roots not only in the in the history of the republic, but in the memory of the state’s imperial history and decline. Here Fatma Müge Göçek draws on Turkey’s Ottoman history to explore current concerns of gender and ethnicity alongside its international position. At the end of World War I, the Great Powers at the time (mainly Great Britain, France and Italy), divided the Ottoman Empire up into their respective spheres of influence in the Treaty of Sèvres. For the defeated Ottoman state, this treaty represented the final attempt of the West to divide and destroy the empire. In ‘The Transformation of Turkey’, Göçek explores how the historical memory of the Sèvres Treaty has survived, impacting both state and society and penetrating national strategic culture, institutionalising itself in Turkey’s foreign and defence policies. The transformation of this history of defeat into modern political myth, the efforts to create a cohesive nation state and the rapid efforts to Westernise have all shaped ideas and concepts of nationalism and ‘Turkishness’. It is within this context of Western intervention in the fate of the Ottoman Empire that Göçek analyses attitudes to religion, Turkish relations with Armenian, Greek and Kurdish communities in and around Turkey, and attitudes to the EU and the West. This new perspective on history’s influence on contemporary tensions will contribute to the ongoing debate surrounding Turkey’s accession to the EU, and offers insight into the social transformations in the transition from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Nation-State. This analysis will be vital to those involved in the study of the Middle East Imperial History and Turkey’s relations with the West.
While Middle Eastern nationalism is most often examined from the political viewpoint, this book adds a fresh perspective by exploring the social and cultural dimensions. Although most scholars agree that nationalism is the most significant social and political phenomenon of the twentieth century, shaping individuals, societies, and states throughout the world, they often dispute the complex elements that form and transform it. This book provides a rare comparative analysis of the meaning systems created around nationalism in societies, groups, and the lives of individuals, and proves that these systems are, in fact, as significant in sustaining nationalism as the dominant political form of nation-states. Concentrating on three themes—narrative, gender, and cultural representation—the contributors address how nationalism transforms and is transformed by the lives of individuals and groups from the eighteenth century to the present, with examples ranging from Turkey to Egypt to Iranian immigrants in the United States.
While much of the international community regards the forced deportation of Armenian subjects of the Ottoman Empire in 1915, where approximately 800,000 to 1.5 million Armenians perished, as genocide, the Turkish state still officially denies it. In Denial of Violence, Fatma Müge Göçek seeks to decipher the roots of this disavowal. To capture the negotiation of meaning that leads to denial, Göçek undertook a qualitative analysis of 315 memoirs published in Turkey from 1789 to 2009 in addition to numerous secondary sources, journals, and newspapers. She argues that denial is a multi-layered, historical process with four distinct yet overlapping components: the structural elements of collective violence and situated modernity on one side, and the emotional elements of collective emotions and legitimating events on the other. In the Turkish case, denial emerged through four stages: (i) the initial imperial denial of the origins of the collective violence committed against the Armenians commenced in 1789 and continued until 1907; (ii) the Young Turk denial of the act of violence lasted for a decade from 1908 to 1918; (iii) early republican denial of the actors of violence took place from 1919 to 1973; and (iv) the late republican denial of the responsibility for the collective violence started in 1974 and continues today. Denial of Violence develops a novel theoretical, historical and methodological framework to understanding what happened and why the denial of collective violence against Armenians still persists within Turkish state and society.
In 1720, an Ottoman ambassador was sent to the court of the Child King Louis XV to observe Western civilization and report on what he saw and how it could be applied in the Ottoman Empire. Based on the accounts of this ambassador, East Encounters West studies the impact of the West on the Ottoman empire and the impact of this Ottoman embassy on the two societies. In France, the presence of the embassy yielded only a brief fashion of Turquerie, whereas in the Ottoman empire, it yielded the first official printing press, signalling an important step toward Western style. Göçek here assesses the reasons behind these differential impacts through three factors: the Western technological advances, consequent commercial expansion, and the different reactions of various social groups in the Ottoman empire to these developments. Her analysis reveals a far-reaching and complex Westernization process that permeated Turkish society as it was approved and imported by dignitaries and eventually passed onto average households. Sketching the process of Westernization from the perspective of Easterners, this unique book throws new light on the cultural differences between these two major civilizations and on the nature of cultural transmission and diffusion.