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While the Constitutional Revolution is positively evaluated, and the Young Turks are partly represented as ideological predecessors to the Kemalists, the authors also use the Second Constitutional Era as a dark contrast against which they can show the Republican reforms and successes more clearly. More than half of the authors writing about the recent past hold a political office, indicating an overlap between the political and the historiographical discourse.
And one of these revolutions regarded history. The country needed a new history. The case of early Republican Turkey lends itself to manifold research endeavors investigating the role of history in state-building and national identity formation.
Hence, numerous excellent works have appeared on this topic. The Kemalist historiography, sanctioned by the regime, shaped the contours of the Turkish national imagination not via this eccentric historic imagination, but via more subtle means and discourses. Belleten laid claim to setting the tone for the overall historico-political debate in the consolidating Republic of Turkey — a claim it succeeded to meet to a remarkable degree.
This renders the study of Belleten an important element within the larger research field of re-evaluating Republican historiography in the s and s. From within these volumes, I analyze the articles relating to the late Ottoman Empire, that is, the period beginning with the constitutional revolution in and ending with the demise of the last Ottoman Sultan in November Still, in all its diversity, the period from to is the last stage of the Ottoman Empire, the revolution of being widely recognized as a sizeable historical turning point.
I choose this period as an analytical category in this article, not because it represents a coherent entity, but because I am interested in analyzing how the authors in Belleten themselves come to terms with this disparate timespan, what episodes, events and actors they choose to highlight, and what implicit periodization we can deduce from their writings.
It will be shown that this specific timeframe is represented in Belleten in a highly ambivalent way: as a period that is integrated into a Republican genealogy, but also relegated to a distant past with a negative connotation. If we want to learn about the continuous implementation, development and practice of early Republican state historiography, Belleten provides a highly relevant case study. I hence treat the articles within Belleten not as coming from one unified, abstract, and cohesive imagined person, but as elements of a distinct controlled discourse with effective entry barriers Maasen It is beyond the scope of this article to provide detailed biographical narratives on the individual authors.
Rather, the aim is to identify certain characteristics shared by those who had the opportunity to shape the hegemonic discourse. The nationalist political discourse and the scholarly historiographical one are overlapping, their edges are porous. This closely links to the fact that the political and intellectual elite in the consolidating Republic of Turkey was generally not numerous, so that it was not unusual for one individual to fulfill multiple roles in the larger field of nation-building discourses.
Still, both texts mention the Second Constitutional Era only in passing: They do not choose it as their main research objective. The version in Belleten is a translation. All other authors seem to be Turkish, and none belongs to a recognized religious minority. Leaving Nedkov aside, seven more Turkish authors in the sample have been born outside the borders of Republican Turkey.
The two authors within the sample who are immediately identifiable as female are İnan, who, as the adopted daughter of Mustafa Kemal, assumes an exceptional position, both socially and academically, and the literary scholar Fevziye Abdullah Tansel.
Thus, probably three out of twenty authors are female, which reflects the general situation of early Republican academia: It was possible, yet still rare, for women to achieve an academic status that would allow them to publish in specialized journals. In fact, women are probably comparatively overrepresented in this specific sample. Still, with regard to writing about a recent past, it is interesting to keep in mind whether the respective author had active recollections of this era.
It should be noted that within both generational groups, we find authors examining the Second Constitutional Era in-depth. Therefore, we cannot discern a generational difference regarding the readiness to assume the late Ottoman Empire as a research topic. I chose the word mention , because not every article treats the Second Constitutional Era as its main topic or as a historiographical research subject in its own right.
However, I found it insightful to also include in this analysis articles that devote only introductory remarks to the very recent past, or that mention it only in passing. For comparison, 27 articles mention the Tanzimat Era and 29 articles mention the Hamidian Era This special issue exclusively contains texts on recent history, which was, as the numbers show, rather atypical for Belleten in those decades. As implied above, the focus of TTK, and of Belleten by proximity, lay on earlier historic periods, on archaeology and anthropology.
The politically sensitive recent past, in contrast, was not a favorite topic. It is all the more interesting to investigate what and how authors in Belleten did write about the post Ottoman Empire, when they chose to include it in their representations of the past. We may conclude that early Republican state historiography, as represented in Belleten , was Kemalist in the narrow sense of being person-centered and depended on the belief that single great individuals can — and, in fact, do — change and steer the course of history.
The rest of the texts tell the story of the Independence Struggle purely from the perspective of the Anatolian movement. Here, the Second Constitutional Era assumes a quality of biographic background noise.
It is not surprising that the number of texts on this topic is so small: It confirms the hypothesis that the First World War was for the most part overshadowed by the War of Independence in early Republican state historiography Turan Regarding the content of the articles, the successful battles of Gallipoli take pride of place, while unsuccessful campaigns, lost battles, and, indeed, the losing of the war, are treated in less detail.
It might go without saying, but I would like to note that the Armenian Genocide is not mentioned within these texts. What is more, it is only natural that the Second Constitutional Era should at least implicitly figure in almost every obituary, because it was a time span that people who died between and had typically lived through.
Figure 3. Frequency of different historiographical genres within the sample. Only two, namely those by Hikmet Bayur, 18 have the post Ottoman Empire as their central research objective. That such a text, which is floridly written as an embellished personal recollection, should find its way into the pages of a historiographical journal is striking — all the more so because it is one of the first texts in the very first issue of Belleten.
It thus helps setting the scene for the program of the new journal. Certain early reforms of the Second Constitutional Era are depicted as real improvements, such as the abolition of the military tax for non-Muslims and the consequent introduction of general compulsory military service Nedkoff In her assessment, it is obvious that in the Ottoman army — and in the state system more generally — the wrong people made it to the top, and that the real ingenuity of the Turkish people could only be found in the lower ranks İnan — But, in the dark days of the armistice, mindless individuals bereft of national feeling, who came to power by relying on their dark souls and on foreign states, saw it as their first task to suffocate this innocent activity and to have those who worked in this field removed from their positions.
Here is an example of this discursive strategy:. Although during the Great War, he did not do anything to distinguish himself, after the armistice he was deemed to be the greatest statesman and capable commander among those who stayed faithful to the sultan, come what may.
The idea of structurality is not restricted to negatively evaluated fields. The closer we come to the proclamation of the Republic, however, the more reprehensible the central Ottoman state actors are portrayed. When the revolutionary character of the Republican reforms and innovations is at stake, ideas of continuity and genealogy, cautiously voiced in other contexts, are left aside.
One example is a zoology class that teaches a religious conception of the soul and quotes hadith literature in relation to the effects of alcoholic beverages Sungu — Furthermore, Sungu quotes a passage from a zoology textbook that vociferously and sneeringly rejects evolutionism. Because it provides a significant example for the representational choices Sungu makes in his text, I will replicate the quote here:. And after that, it becomes a monkey!!
And supposedly the monkey becomes a human being!!!!! This harmful thought […]. However, these views are not true. Past-as-history has to be demarcated from the present. The line between both is not self-evident, especially when a recent past is the focus. This brings us to the question of how historicity is marked within Belleten , and how ruptures and continuities are constructed.
The decline is contrasted with the re birth of a Turkish nation of prehistoric essence. Sungu quotes Mustafa Kemal of , stating:. The past is rhetorically devalued, but at the same time, national history and national character are idealized. Often, however, the lines are not as clear-cut, and it is not as easy to determine which parts of the past should be dismissed and which could be appropriated. With this assessment, he acknowledges the revisionist character of nationalist historiography.
The historiographical shift to prehistory and protohistory might thus not only have been an avoidance of the politically sensitive immediate past, but also a departure from former scholarly standards, that is, a paradigm shift Blanke 39—41 , albeit one that had already been prepared in the Young Turk era Kafadar and Karateke We also find a logic of continuity in biographical narratives such as obituaries: In those texts, the historical break between Empire and Republic is not even marked separately.
The almost melancholy narrative evokes a sense of continuity and belonging: The Ottoman pain is appropriated; the suffering reverberates until the present day. In general, we encounter the notion that the continuity lies in the Turkish people or nation , not in the ruling elite or in the state system.
It is thus history he is talking about, not contemporaneous history, but a definitely concluded past. Nota bene: Bayur, himself being only 47 at the time of writing, writes about the year , which dates back only fifteen years. His contemporaries of the age of 35 would have been twenty years old at that time, and thereby fully capable of grasping the situation as adults. Chances were that they were even, in one way or another, personally involved in the struggle that accompanied the Turkish nation-building process.
Another interesting point is that Bayur mentions books as the only possible source of information about this era: He thereby excludes the possibility of gaining knowledge by speaking with some of the innumerable contemporary witnesses.
Still, even he cautiously points to a certain notion of continuity when he notes:. Ottoman and Republican history are thereby each relegated to watertight compartments.
Articles on Mustafa Kemal constitute a clear exception within Belleten : Only here is personal memory valid as a legitimate source. Ottoman history, even if it concerns the very recent past, is written with exclusive reference to written and archival sources, and is thereby historicized methodologically.
The periodical forms a discursive space whose agents are closely linked to the realm of formal political decision-making; the nationalist and the scholarly discourse are porous and overlapping. The nationalist historiography practiced in Belleten fulfills a discrete function within the nation-building process of constructing a new reality and a nationalist relationship with the past by trying to clearly differentiate Turkish from Ottoman history. Still, an ambivalent approach to the recent past is not unique to Belleten.
It connects to a larger phenomenon of state historiography. Further research could investigate to what extent the compartmentalization of late Ottoman history still reverberates today.
There is also much room for studies examining the discursive space of Belleten more thoroughly, and with regard to other analytical categories or thematic foci: Belleten provides a gateway into the continuous creation and re-negotiation of what state historiography meant and means in Republican Turkey. It should not remain understudied. Bayur, Hikmet Bilsel, Cemil Blanke, Horst Walter Bouquet, Olivier Brandenstein, Wilhelm Danforth, Nicholas Eberhard, W.
Harp tarihi vesikaları dergisi.
While the Constitutional Revolution is positively evaluated, and the Young Turks are partly represented as ideological predecessors to the Kemalists, the authors also use the Second Constitutional Era as a dark contrast against which they can show the Republican reforms and successes more clearly. More than half of the authors writing about the recent past hold a political office, indicating an overlap between the political and the historiographical discourse. And one of these revolutions regarded history. The country needed a new history. The case of early Republican Turkey lends itself to manifold research endeavors investigating the role of history in state-building and national identity formation. Hence, numerous excellent works have appeared on this topic.
Harp Tarihi Vesikalari Dergisi
Catalog Record: Belgelerle Türk tarihi dergisi | HathiTrust Digital Library