The Transformation of Turkey: Redefining State and Society from the Ottoman Empire to the Modern Era

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Bloomsbury Academic, Feb 28, 2011 - History - 310 pages
In 1923, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the modern Turkish Republic rose from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, proclaiming a new era in the Middle East. However, many of the contemporary issues affecting Turkish state and society today have their roots not only in the history of the republic, but also in the memory of the state's imperial history and decline. Here Fatma Muge Gocek draws on Turkey's Ottoman history to explore current concerns of religion and ethnicity alongside its international position.

At the end of World War I, the Great Powers at the time (mainly Great Britain, France and Italy), divided the Ottoman Empire up into their respective spheres of influence in the Treaty of Sevres. For the defeated Ottoman state, this treaty represented the final attempt of the West to divide and destroy the empire. In The Transformation of Turkey, Gocek explores how the historical memory of the Sevres Treaty has survived, impacting both state and society and penetrating national strategic culture, and in the process institutionalising itself in Turkey's foreign and defence policies.

The transformation of this history of defeat into modern political myth, the efforts to create a cohesive nation state and the rapid efforts to Westernise have all shaped ideas and concepts of nationalism and `Turkishness'. It is within this context of Western intervention in the fate of the Ottoman Empire that Gocek analyses attitudes to religion, Turkish relations with Armenian, Greek and Kurdish communities in and around Turkey, and attitudes to the EU and the West.

This new perspective on history's influence on contemporary tensions will contribute to the ongoing debate surrounding Turkey's accession to the EU, and offers insight into the social transformations in the transition from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Nation-State. This analysis will be vital to those involved in the study of Middle East Imperial History and Turkey's relations with the West.

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About the author (2011)

Fatma Müge Göçek is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and the Program in Women's Studies, University of Michigan. She is the co-editor of A Question of Genocide: Armenians and Turks at the End of the Ottoman Empire (2010) and editor of Social Constructions of Nationalism in the Middle East (2002).

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