By A.Holly Shissler

World-shaking revolutions in Russia in 1905 and 1917, in Ottoman Turkey in 1908, global conflict I, the defeat of the significant Powers and triumph of the Entente, the Turkish warfare of Independence and the institution of the hot Turkish country kingdom less than Atatürk, and the institution of Azerbaijan: those occasions shape the backdrop to Ahmet Agaoglu’s lifestyles, which spanned the momentous interval from 1869-1939. This highbrow biography of this significant participant is a extraordinary access aspect wherein those turbulent instances are introduced sharply into aid.

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Extra resources for Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey

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Closer examination reveals they do not constitute a rejection of ethnonational identification; rather they form part of a more general insistence on limited borders. In fact, the selection from Atatürk’s Speech often cited in this regard belongs to a larger passage that embraces and validates ethnocultural considerations and specifically questions the notion of civic polities based on ‘humanitarianism’ and ‘brotherhood’. 30 The insistence on Anatolian borders and national sovereignty, the repeated criticisms of Ottoman multinationalism and Islamic unity and the minimizing of the role played by Unionists in the National Struggle, however, did make it easy for later historians to assert that the new regime represented an absolute break with the Turkism of the previous era and constituted the emergence INTRODUCTION 25 of a completely new kind of national ideology.

This polycentric view of nations or societies, each with its own history, moving through a unidirectional time, corresponds rather well with Benedict Anderson’s account of the discovery of comparative civilizations and the substitution of a horizontal world full of types or serialities set in homogeneous, empty time for a prior vision of a hierarchical, centripetal world set in a telescoped or messianic time of prefiguring and fulfilment. In this new worldview, everything – people and objects – exists in a mundane, as opposed to a metaphysical, place and time.

Folk traditions, generally lacking any ‘high culture’ account of their origins and past, are easily put to such use. Religion, among the most powerful and widespread varieties of social glue, becomes a set of eternal truths, denied an independent history. The truths are unchanging, but religion in history becomes the history of nations in their interaction with religion, not the history of religion. 42 As for language, ethnic revival movements very often include language reforms that touch on vocabulary, literary styles and sometimes grammar and constitute a substantial break with tradition, that is, with recent history.

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