Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Southeast European History

Veronika Hager

“Thinking about the Ottoman Empire in the Early Republic of Turkey”

This PhD project examines the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey from the point of view of a history of historiography. The main focus is on analyzing historiographical texts that were produced partly still in Ottoman, partly already in Republican times, and that explicitly treat the late Ottoman Empire as a historiographical topic.
The aim of the thesis is to identify breaks and continuities, and to integrate them into a broader context of Intellectual History. The following research questions form the core of the project: What values or being transported in the historiographical texts? What imagined structures of society are implied? How do loyalties change during the transformation period? And in what ways does historical research contribute to the building of a national identity in the early Republic of Turkey?
These questions are being discussed with regard to the writings of three historians: İbnülemin Mahmud Kemal İnal, Osman Nuri Ergin, and İsmail Hami Danişmend. All of them have been active and productive both in late Ottoman and in early Republican times. By writing about the late Ottoman Empire, they are clearly located outside the historiographical mainstream discourse of the newly founded Republic. Still, none of them is being perceived as oppositional or reactionary.
The PhD project places special emphasis on the history of terms and concepts, especially regarding the impact of the Turkish script and language reform.