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Title: The intellectual's dilemma : the writings of Ahmet Rıza and Mehmet Sabahettin on reform and the future of the Ottoman Empire
Author: Taglia, Stefano
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 9945
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation explores the intellectual development of two leading members of the Young Turk organisation during its early phase - that is, the period before the organisation turned into the militarist nationalist group that carried out the 1908 Revolution and ruled Turkey until the end of WW1. The thesis argues that the two intellectual activists, Ahmet Riza and Mehmet Sabahettin, have been central figures in the theoretical emergence of an Ottoman synthesis, which responded to the geopolitics of the empire and aspired to provide an intellectual bridge between the Empire and Europe. My main object of analysis are Young Turk journals published mainly in France between 1890s and 1907, of which Riza and Sabahettin were editors or contributors, as well as the thematic volumes they authored. I contend that an understanding of the arguments put forward by these activists is crucial in constructing a more accurate picture of the historical continuum between nineteenthand twentieth-century Ottoman/Turkish politics. This new picture enriches the narrative of a Kemalist debate on modernity as rupture with the Empire's past and confronts nationalist frames of looking at the Ottoman past that have been very prevalent in modern Turkish historiography. Throughout this research, I present a fresh reading of an intensely-studied period. I claim that the periodisation of Young Turk history is, besides few exceptions, misrepresented and that the early phase of the organisation has not been given the attention and analytical depth it deserves. I suggest that a comparative interrogation of the varied visions of Ottoman opposition groups, which has not been done before, sheds light on the much-debated transition from Empire to Republic and acknowledges an ideological bridge between the political and social ideas of pre- and post- Republican period.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral