By A.Holly Shissler
World-shaking revolutions in Russia in 1905 and 1917, in Ottoman Turkey in 1908, international conflict I, the defeat of the imperative Powers and triumph of the Entente, the Turkish warfare of Independence and the institution of the recent Turkish country kingdom less than Atatürk, and the institution of Azerbaijan: those occasions shape the backdrop to Ahmet Agaoglu’s existence, which spanned the momentous interval from 1869-1939. This highbrow biography of this significant participant is a impressive access aspect wherein those turbulent occasions are introduced sharply into aid.
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Extra info for Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey
The placement of the community within an overarching narrative of History and Progress is thus not merely defensive in the obvious way of creating an account of the local culture in the larger stream of history and projecting it into the modern world; 32 BETWEEN TWO EMPIRES the appropriation of the category of multistranded history and of typological thinking is itself genuinely, not only instrumentally, part of a project of modernization. This is the secularism of cultural nationalists, ethnic revivalists and, indeed, religious modernists; not (necessarily) the denial of religion or its importance, not unbelief, but the placement of, in our case, Islam, within a History containing categories of distinct yet commensurable religions, societies and histories.
In Eastern Europe there were no welldefined and wellestablished territorial nationstates such as England and France, the visible and external criteria of nationhood – land and state – were insufficient. In the continental Empires, there were Germans, Czechs, Poles and Hungarians, but no Germany, no Czechland, no Poland and only a shadow of Hungary. None of these nations could be defined in terms of sovereign states; none could even be defined, with any precision, by their territorial limits.
Rather he asserts that political and cultural nationalism exist in a recurring dynamic, where the two types of nationalism – cultural and political (or communitarian and stateoriented) – compete with each other and elicit each other. Quite often, he notes, cultural nationalist movements fail ‘in terms of their own communitarian goals’, that is, they fail to engender the new synthesis and national spiritual revival they advocate and they fail to reach or to mobilize the mass of the people, and so they have recourse to a stateoriented politics that seeks to seize power in order to ‘institutionalize their programme in the social order’.