Regina Galustyan

A Step towards Identity Construction or Genocide? 
Ideological Transformations in the Ottoman Empire in 1911-1913

 

The years from 1911-1913 were crucial in the history of the Ottoman Empire. The defeats in Italo-Turkish and Balkan wars of the period and further territorial losses created a favorable environment for the Turkish nationalist elite to draw the borders of Turkish nationalism, and to propagate it to the society. After the shift in the political ideology the governing Committee of Union and Progress and party ideologists led the country towards the war and committed genocides of native ethnic-religious minorities.
The presentation will focus on two main ideological shifts in pre-genocidal period of 1911-1913:
• Construction of “us” and “them/other”
• The glorification of Turkic past
The differentiation between “us” and “them/other” was started by the party ideologists trough fierce attack against the Christian, not only on the other front, but the citizens of the country. Pro-governmental newspapers were labeling them as ‘treacherous elements’, ‘microbes on the body of the state’, etc. This division was a prerequisite not only for the national identity formation by alienation from the ‘other’, but also for the commitment of genocide, as in the process image of the enemy was clarified. In addition to this, the studies of Turkic historical past and revealation of the Turkish heroes started. Special historical characters of Turkic origin (Genghis Khan, Attila) had an impact on the newly emerging collective perception of the morality of Turkish ethnos. The aim of these narratives was also to show that Turks were a nation chosen to rule over Cristian subjects and to punish them in case of disobedience.