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Authors: Ketsemanian, Varak
Advisors: Hanioğlu, Şükrü
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: Armenians
Ottoman Empire
Revolutionary Movements
Russian Empire
Subjects: Near Eastern studies
Modern history
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: In the 19th century blossoming constitutional movements in the Middle East drew participants from different ethno-religious and ideological backgrounds. They relied on debate and interaction with one another to form coherence out of movements from a range of disparate views. This dissertation explores constitutional reform and the politics of communal organization among Ottoman-Armenians. Contextualizing the Armenian National Constitution (Hayots’ Azkayin Sahmanatrut’iwn) of 1863 as an element within the wider changes of Ottoman Tanzimat, this work traces the development and the ways in which millet institutions functioned between 1840s and 1908. During this period of major imperial reshuffling, the Armenian Constitutional Order emerged as the primary structure and framework through and within which Ottoman-Armenians regulated their daily lives. Zooming in on various Anatolian regions, I trace how Armenian constitutional institutions legitimized the rule of local notables, often to the detriment of other social groups. Analyzing what constitutionalism meant for Ottoman-Armenians, I discuss how they contested, and shaped central directives and policies coming from Constantinople. Focusing on various cases that Armenian constitutional councils addressed ranging from marriage disputes to protesting corrupt Ottoman bureaucrats, I examine the mechanisms of constitutional governance on the micro level, its major debates, and the social conflicts it produced. Through their integration into this constitutional administration, Armenian provincial notables (religious and secular) tightened their grip over communal affairs, rendering the system impenetrable to exogenous and endogenous challengers and reifying thereby their local clout as regional power brokers and millet leaders. However, the Constitutional Order’s inability to resolve pertinent issues against the worsening of provincial Armenians’ socio-economic position, exacerbated with Sultan Abdülhamid II’s radical change of domestic policies, pushed some disenfranchised Armenians to seek other avenues for political participation and mobilization. Subsequently, they joined armed revolutionary committees and clandestine parties that fundamentally challenged the constitutional foundations of the community. Through the establishment of new militant institutions, a social configuration I call the Radical Order, the revolutionaries paved the way for an alternative institutionalization of communal administration. Under such pressure, the Hamidian Regime intensified its active involvement in communal affairs, leading to an unprecedentedly repressive and violent intervention and destruction of the Armenian Constitutional Order.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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