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Advisors: ReynoldsPravilova, Micheal Ekaterina MA
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: Alevis
Subjects: History
Middle Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: When the Young Turks and Kemalists declared new regimes in 1908 and in 1923 respectively, they put forth grand narratives of radical change. This dissertation, by contrast, highlights the continuity across the Hamidian (1876–1908), Young Turks (1908–1923), and Early Republican (1923–1938) eras in state making by examining the history of Dersim, a Kizilbash/Alevi Kurdish–majority region in Eastern Anatolia. Due to its unusual geographic and demographic profile, Dersim toward the end of the nineteenth century became a domain where the Kurdish, Armenian, and Kizilbash/Alevi questions intersected and clashed with the project of Ottoman and Turkish state building. These interwoven questions placed foundational limits to the late imperial and early republican state in the realms of ethnicity, religion, and geography and turned Dersim into a battlefield for Turkish state making. Dersim remained largely outside the reach of the state until the Turkish state rendered Dersim accessible by building railways, roads, bridges, and military outposts inside Dersim and then utilizing novel technologies of war such as aerial bombardment and poison gas to subdue the region. Efforts to subjugate Dersimis began as part of early nineteenth century reforms and intensified when defeat in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 raised alarm among Ottoman authorities about their state’s future prospects of in Eastern Anatolia, among other places. After taming Dersim’s geography, which until then had served as a refuge for people evading state control, government forces killed a substantial number of its inhabitants, humans and livestock alike, in 1937–38; dissolved the local Kizilbash/Alevi socioreligious belief system embedded in Dersim’s natural environment; and imposed strict coercive measures over the remaining population to assimilate them into Sunni Turks. This study explores the myriad ways in which Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, and Kizilbash/Alevi histories overlap and diverge. It examines conflict and cooperation between Dersim Kurds and Armenians and qualifies the metanarratives of collective communal violence that treat ethnic and religious communities as monolithic entities. The dissertation also serves as an introduction to an environmental history of the region by highlighting the role of geography in the histories of Dersim’s inhabitants.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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