Minds of Passage: An Interpretation of the Memoirs of Young Turks (1908-1923)

Minds of Passage: An Interpretation of the Memoirs of Young Turks (1908-1923)

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This work represents an attempt to understand the frame of mind that the members of the Committee of Union and Progress bore through the Revolution of 1908 up to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. As such, it is largely based on the memoirs of Committee members and those of their contemporaries. The book’s main argument is that, along with the nationalism of the era and the rise of the “individual,” various related concepts such as gender and homeland were also being re-evaluated and re-valued in the minds of those who lived through this period. The book focuses on some of the ideas articulated most clearly and repeatedly in these memoirs, such as komitacılık (brigandage) and hope; as well as others that were crucial in defining an individual, such as one’s occupation and their understanding of the new concept of “liberty.” Noteworthy was conception and role of women in these memoirs, as it can be observed that, among other roles, women were often also seen as stand-ins for homeland. An exploration is also made of the boundaries of the “homeland,” as invented (and reinvented) by the Young Turk cadres, and the emotional investment in such a notion. Lastly, the work questions the new lens of nationalism that the memoirists employed to view the communities of the empire. By using the Arabs and the Armenians within the Ottoman society as case studies, the book shows that “nationality” then was not—or at least not yet--a fixed identity, but rather a variety of contextual roles that were performed on a daily basis.





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