On the Social Origins of Turkish Nationalism


in: Social Transformation and Mass Mobilisation in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean Cities 1900-1923, Andreas Lyberatos, Editor, Crete University Press, Heraklion, pp.251-266, 2013

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Publisher: Crete University Press
  • City: Heraklion
  • Page Numbers: pp.251-266
  • Editors: Andreas Lyberatos, Editor


Turkish historiography, to a great extent, considers the nationalisation process in the late Ottoman Empire and the early period of the Turkish Republic as an outcome of an elitist initiative. The various social groups and classes, such as the merchants, the notables, the low-ranking bureaucrats or the working class, do not play any significant role in the historical narrative. On the contrary, the political, social and economic transformation of the Ottoman Empire is presumably based on the deeds and acts of a few great men. In this article, I will try to challenge this approach. I will first deal with the issue of the emergence of mass politics and the transformation of the public sphere in the Ottoman Empire. Secondly, I will show how this new phenomenon paved the way for the participation of different social groups in politics. Finally, in contrast to the nationalist tendency of Turkish historiography that ignores social movements altogether, I will focus on the anti- Greek movement in the Ottoman Empire from 1910 to 1914, a movement comprised of the actions of different social classes, and I will examine the patterns of social mobilisation of the Muslim population against the Greek-Orthodox population of the empire.