From Empire to Republic : Turkish Nationalism and the Nation-State (HIST 589)

2022 Fall
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Ayşe Ozil,
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Doctoral, Master
Formal lecture,Interactive lecture,Seminar
Discussion based learning
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A dense survey course on the making of Modern Turkey with a special focus on the ideological dimension of nation-building. Moves from multiple backgrounds (in : the broad outlines of Ottoman history; the ?long? 19th century; the New Imperialism; Eurocentrism and Orientalism; racism and Social Darwinism), through Ottoman-Turkish elites? evolving love-and-hate relationship with the West, to the fashioning and grounding of a specifically Turkish (as against an Ottoman or a Muslim) identity in the throes of the protracted crisis of 1908-22. Makes considerable use of literature, too, to explore the myths of originism and authocthonism, as well as the ''golden age'' narratives, connected with both early and Kemalist varieties of Turkish nationalism. Also see HIST 489 for the possibility of being taken at the undergraduate level.


This course offers a survey of the history of the late Ottoman empire and the transition to republican Turkey. The focus will be on the main aspects of the political and social sphere from the 19th through the early 20th centuries. At the end of the course, students are expected to have a grasp of the central features of the late Ottoman and early republican state and society, including aspects of reform, mobility, war and urbanization. Students are also expected to familiarize themselves with discussions in scholarship on the period.


  • Students will be able to develop an understanding of the key moments in late Ottoman history and the transition to the Republican period.
  • Students will familiarize themselves with the "long 19th century" roots of Turkish nationalism through a series of political and social developments in the Ottoman Empire through Republican Turkey.
  • Students will be able to situate various political and social developments (such as Orientalism) within a wider historical frame and contextualize them in broader Eurasian history.
  • Students will develop a multi-faceted understanding of the transition to the Republican period and will be able to interpret this transition based on the principles of historical thinking, avoiding hindsight and teleological views.
  • Students will be introduced to the latest historical writing on the subject and will familiarize themselves with the recent discussions in the field for the period under discussion.


  Percentage (%)
Final 30
Assignment 20
Term-Paper 30
Presentation 20



Week 1, Oct 5-6: Introduction

Readings: Frederick Anscombe, State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) Ch. 2: ?The Premodern Islamic State and Military Modernization?.

Ali Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016): Introduction, Chs.1/II: ?The New Order?.

Week 2, Oct 12-13: Crisis and change at the turn of the 19th century

Ali Yaycıoğlu, Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016), Ch. 3: ?Communities: Collective Action, Leadership and Politics?, Ch. 4: ?Crisis: Riots, Conspiracies, and Revolutions, 1806-1808?.

Murat Şiviloğlu, The Emergence of the Public Opinion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), Ch. 2.: ?A Bureaucratic Public Sphere?.

Week 3, Oct 19-20 The empire?s first nation-state: the Greek war of independence (1821) and the Ottomans

Readings: Hakan Erdem, ? `Do not Think of the Greeks as Agricultural Labourers?: Ottoman Responses to the Greek War of Independence?, in Citizenship and the Nation-state in Greece and Turkey, eds. F. Birtek and T. Dragonas (New York: Routledge, 2005), 67-84.

Sophia Laiou, ?The Greek Revolution in the Morea According to the Description of an Ottoman Official?, in The Greek Revolution of 1821: A European Event, ed. P. Pizanias (Istanbul: The Isis Press, 2011), 241-255.

Mark Mazower, The Greek Revolution: 1821 and the Making of Modern Europe (London: Allen Lane, 2021), Ch. 6: ?Khurshid Pasha?s Harem?.

Week 4, Oct 26-27: The Tanzimat state I: The Gülhane edict

Readings: ?Gülhane Hatt-ı Hümayunu?, in Enver Ziya Karal, Osmanlı Tarihi (Ankara: TTK, 1995), vol. 5: 255-258.

Halil İnalcık, ?Sened-i İttifak ve Gülhane Hatt-ı Hümayunu?, in Halil İnalcık, Osmanlı İmparatorluğu (Istanbul: Eren, 1993).

Butros Abu-Manneh, ?The Islamic Roots of the Gülhane Rescript?, Die Welt des Islams 34/2 (1994), 173-203.

Frederick Anscombe, State, Faith and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) Ch. 3: ?The Breaking of the Premodern Islamic State? and Ch. 4: ?The Reconstructed Muslim State?.

Week 5, Nov 2-3 : The Tanzimat state II: The quest for parliamentary rule and the Young Ottomans

Readings: ?Islahat Ferman-ı Hümayunu?, in Enver Ziya Karal, Osmanlı Tarihi (Ankara: TTK, 1995), vol. 5: 258-264.

Şerif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1962), Ch. 2: ?The Young Ottomans?; Ch. 4: ?Turkish Political Elites in the Nineteenth Century?.

Erdem Sönmez, ?From Kanun-ı kadim (ancient law) to Umumun Kuvveti (force of people): Historical Context of Ottoman Constitutionalism?, Middle Eastern Studies, 52/1 (2016), 116-134.

Aylin Koçunyan, Negotiating the Ottoman Constitution 1839-1876 (Leuven: Peeters 2018), Ch. 3: ?Drafts and the Final Version of the Ottoman Constitution: Textual and Political Analysis?.

Week 6, Nov 9-10: Ottoman society in the 19th century: Histories of migration

Readings: Reşat Kasaba, A Movable Empire: Ottoman Nomads, Migrants and Refugees (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2009), Ch. 2: ?A Movable Empire? and Ch. 4: ?Building Stasis?.

Foti Benlisoy and Stefo Benlisoy, ? `Karamanlılar?, `Anadolu Ahalisi? ve `Aşağı Tabakalar?: Türkdilli Anadolu Ortodokslarında Kimlik Algısı?, Tarih ve Toplum, no. 11 (2010), 7-22.

Week 7, Nov 16-17: Mid-term examination during class hours on Wednesday for 489 and paper abstract preparation and submission for 589. No class.

Week 8, Nov 23-24: Language, politics and culture in the 19th century

Readings: Özgür Türesay, ?The Political Language of Takvim-i vekayi: The Discourse and Temporality of Ottoman `Reform?? (1831-1834), European Journal of Turkish Studies, no. 31 (2020) (online journal)

Johann Strauss, ?Linguistic Diversity and Everyday Life in the Ottoman Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (late 19th-early 20th century), History of the Family, no. 16 (2011), 126-141.

Week 9, Nov 30-Dec 1 Orientalism in the Ottoman Empire

Readings: Ussama Makdisi, ?Ottoman Orientalism?, The American Historical Review 107/3 (2002), 768-796.

Edhem Eldem, ?An Ottoman Traveler to the Orient: Osman Hamdi Bey?, in Poetics and Politics of Space: Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism, eds. Z. İnankur, R. Lewis and M. Roberts (Istanbul: Pera Museum Publications, 2011), 183-195.

Week 10, Dec 7-8 Urbanization and society

Readings: Zeynep Çelik, The Remaking of Istanbul: Portrait of an Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press), Ch. 2: ?The Nineteenth Century Background?; Ch. 3: ?Regularization of the Urban Fabric?.

Ceylan İrem Gençer, ?Dualities in the Transformation of the Urban Realm: Smyrna and Salonica 1840-1900?, Mediterranean Historical Review 31/2 (2016), 139-163.

Week 11, Dec 14-15 Aspects of Mobility in the early 20th Century

Readings: Ramazan Hakkı Öztan, ?The Last Ottoman Merchants: Regional Trade and Politics of Tariffs in Aleppo?s Hinterland?, in Regimes of Mobility: Borders and State Formation in the Middle East 1918-1946, eds. J. Tejel and R. H. Öztan (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2022).

Ebru Akcasu, ?Migrants to Citizens: An Evaluation of the Expansionist Features of Hamidian Ottomanism, 1876-1909?, Die Welt des Islams, vol. 56, no. 3, 4 (2016), 388-414.

Week 12, Dec 21-22 War and society

Readings: Mehmet Beşikçi, ?Between Acceptance and Refusal ? Soldiers? Attitudes Towards War (Ottoman Empire/Middle East)?, International Encyclopedia of the First World War, 2017:

Yiğit Akın, When the War Came Home: The Ottomans? Great War and the Devastation of an Empire (Stanford: Stanford University Press), Chs. 4 and 5.

Week 13, Dec 28-29 Education from the empire to the nation-state

Readings: Amit Bein, Ottoman Ulema, Turkish Republic: Agents of Change and Guardians of Tradition (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), Ch. 4: ?The Remaking and Unmaking of Religious Education?.

Murat Şiviloğlu, The Emergence of the Public Opinion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), Ch. 4.: ?The Schooling of the Public?.

Benjamin Fortna: Learning to Read in the Late Ottoman Empire and the Early Republic (NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), Introduction, Ch. 3: ?Context and Content?.

Week 14, Jan 4-5 Architecture from the empire to the nation-state

Readings: Ahmet Ersoy, ?Architecture and the Search for Ottoman Origins in the Tanzimat Period?, Muqarnas 24 (2007), 117-139.

Sibel Bozdoğan and Esra Akcan, Turkey: Modern Architectures in History (London: Reaction Books, 2012), Introduction, Ch. 1: ?Architecture of Revolution?; Ch. 2: ?Building for the Modern Nation State?; Ch. 3: ?The Modern House? (IC: online access).