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Title: The Persistence of the Periphery: Domination and Change in the Anatolian-Caucasian Borderland
Authors: Balistreri, Alexander E.
Advisors: Reynolds, Michael A
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: Armenia
Ottoman Empire
Russian Empire
Subjects: Middle Eastern history
Russian history
Modern history
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation presents a modern political history of Kars, a province located today on Turkey’s border with Armenia. Sharing the fate of contested Eurasian and Middle Eastern borderlands, the region around Kars has experienced an exceptional number of invasions and annexations. In the first decades of the twentieth century alone, it came to be ruled by the Russian and Ottoman Empires, a British occupation, a locally proclaimed Southwest Caucasian Republic, and the Armenian and Turkish Republics. Soviet claims to the region, a foundational moment in the Cold War, accompanied a process of sealing the border, which today remains partly closed. The few scholarly accounts of this complicated history have privileged particular states or population groups. It is true that each change of sovereignty brought widespread trauma for the population, while each new sovereign nourished lofty aspirations for the transformation of its border zone. Nevertheless, this dissertation questions the assumption that handovers in sovereignty represented definite breaks in state-society relations, instead arguing for a broad continuity in the ways various state centers interacted with borderland society. This work describes a contest for authority between central states, borderland elites, and borderland populations whose parameters changed only incrementally across the modern period. Regardless of regime type or titular nationality, states displayed similar motivations, techniques, and justifications for rule at their borders. Likewise, borderland elites and populations relied on a similar tactical repertoire in order to entrench their claim to authority in the borderland against the state. Drawing on examples from several fields of state-society relations, including land tenure and mobility regimes, this research speaks to broader discussions on comparative state-building in the modern era. This dissertation draws on archival sources collected from Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, and the United Kingdom. First, it traces the contest between imperial centers and borderland elites until the twentieth century. The central chapters of the dissertation focus on the first decades of the twentieth century, when borderland populations became a more prominent feature of this contest. The final chapters, meanwhile, examine Turkish administration in Kars and the effects of the closure of the Soviet border.
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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