Conference: Not All Quiet on the Ottoman Fronts

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International Conference:
Not All Quiet on the Ottoman Fronts: Neglected Perspectives on a Global War, 1914-1918

Date: April 8-12, 2014
Time: 9.30-19.00
Place: santralistanbul Campus, ÇSM-4th floor

World War I constitutes the most important event of the twentieth century affecting a vast geographical span. This war brought about fundamental changes in the global order, social relations and cultural perceptions. Despite its global nature, it affected different geographies in different ways. The historiography of World War I has long been shaped and dominated by nationalist perspectives; current studies, however, have begun to eschew one-dimensional nationalist frameworks and instead present multilayered treatments of the experiences, results, and consequences of the war. Recent academic scholarship has thus developed more effective methodologies in addressing the diverse perspectives and experiences of World War I.

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the Orient-Institut Istanbul and the History Foundation in Turkey (Tarih Vakfı) are jointly organizing this conference dealing with the impact of World War I on the Ottoman Empire. The conference’s goal is to view once more the war experiences of the Ottoman state and society as reflected in the new currents of historiography, to compare the results of these new perspectives, as well as to evaluate their possible contributions to future research. The conference will focus on three main themes:

Experiencing the War:
The experience of the war varied greatly not only between different national (or proto-national) groups, but also according to the individual role people assumed during these years. Those groups, which were not integrated into the later national narrative of the war, such as, for example, deserters, ethnic minority soldiers, or even prisoners, have not received due attention. Groups, which are integrated into the national narrative, such as irregulars, on the other hand need to be reconsidered without a teleological bias. Also issues related to everyday life behind the front, including gender, labour, and sanitary conditions, are taken into consideration

Organizing the War:
Many techniques modern states use to organize, control, indoctrinate, punish, economically exploit, sanitarily protect, or demographically manipulate their citizenry were either introduced or mass-field tested in this period. These need to be analysed both in their original martial framework and in terms of their long-term impact on societies. On this basis, we can come to a more in-depth understanding of governance of the Ottoman state (and others) in wartime, its aims and methods. In the same way, possible manifestations of individual or group resistance vis-à-vis war-related social engineering need to be addressed.

Speaking about the War:
War on an unprecedented scale led those affected to search for novel ways to cope with their experiences, to communicate their feelings, hopes, despair in personal writings, to distract themselves in entertainment or to laud or criticize the war and what they saw as its underlying causes in art, literature, or other forms of culture and expression of self.

In subsequent periods, the public discourse on the Great War became increasingly selective. Certain aspects of the war, such as masculinity, heroism, the need for sacrifice for a greater good and religious or semi-religious devotion used to be commemorated, whereas issues failing to agree with hegemonic discourses were suppressed and forgotten. As a consequence, we encounter a set of established historical realities which need to be reviewed and deconstructed. A critical rereading of the discourses and their production processes allow us to determine the missing links, silences, and generalizations that have become common for general views of the war.

Marking the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the Orient-Institut Istanbul and the History Foundation in Turkey (Tarih Vakfı) are jointly organizing this important scientific event on the Great War.

Click for  the conference program.

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