Ottoman Armenians and the Politics of Conscription

Episode 382

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The history of Ottoman Armenians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Ottoman Empire is inevitably in the shadow of 1915. In today’s episode, we explore new approaches to this history with Dr. Ohannes Kılıçdağı. We speak in particular about the hopes that the empire’s Armenian citizens attached to the 1908 Constitutional Revolution, which were high indeed. On the basis of research utilizing Armenian-language periodicals from across the empire, Kılıçdağı explains how the Armenian community enthusiastically embraced military conscription, and how this phenomenon connects to the theme of citizenship in the late Ottoman Empire more generally. We conclude by considering what use there is for history in the politics of the present.

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Contributor Bios

Ohannes Kılıçdağı is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He has a PhD in History from Boğaziçi University, and was previously a research fellow in Near Eastern Studies at the University of Michigan. In addition to his research on non-Muslims in the late Ottoman Empire and the citizenship of Armenians in particular, Ohannes is a columnist for Agos, a Turkish-Armenian newspaper in Istanbul.
Sam Dolbee completed his Ph.D. in 2017 at New York University. His book project is an environmental history of the Jazira region in the late Ottoman period and its aftermath.


Episode No. 382
Release Date: 2 October 2018
Recording Location: Harvard University
Audio editing by Sam Dolbee
Music: Zé Trigueiros
Images and bibliography courtesy of Ohannes Kılıçdağı


Antranik Zinwor (Elder Soldier), published in 1911 under the name of Anmerug (Immortal), was an anonymous collective memoir of Armenians detailing their military service for the Ottoman Empire. 
İzmirli, İzmir, 9 October 1909.
Antranik newspaper of Sivas, independent. 21 January 1909.
Haraç/Haratch newspaper of Erzurum, semi-official periodical of local Tashnak branch. 31 May 1909.

Select Bibliography

Avagyan, Arsen and Gaiz F. Minassian. Ermeniler ve İttihat ve Terakki: İşbirliğinden Çatışmaya [Armenians and Union and Progress: From Cooperation to Conflict]. Istanbul: Aras, 2005.

Campos, Michelle. Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

Cora, Yaşar Tolga, Dzovinar Derderian, and Ali Sipahi. “Ottoman Historiography’s Black Hole.” In The Ottoman East in the Nineteenth Century: Societies, Identities and Politics, ed. Yaşar Tolga Cora, Dzovinar Derderian, and Ali Sipahi. London: Tauris, 2016: 1-15.

Der Matossian, Bedros. Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2014.

Ekmekçioğlu, Lerna. Recovering Armenia: The Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016.

Gülsoy, Ufuk. Osmanlı Gayrimüslimlerinin Askerlik Serüveni [The Military Service Adventure of Ottoman Non-Muslims]. Istanbul: Simurg Yayınları, 2000.

Heinzelmann, Tobias. Cihaddan Vatan Savunmasına: Osmanlı Imparatorluğu’nda Genel Askerlik Yükümlülüğü 1826-1856 [From Jihad to Defending the Nation: The Obligation of General Military Service 1826-1856]. Istanbul: Kitap Yayınevi, 2009.

Kaligian, DM. Armenian Organization and Ideology under Ottoman Rule 1908-1914. London: Transaction Publishers, 2009.

Kılıçdağı, Ohannes. “Social and Political Roles of the Armenian Clergy from the Late Ottoman Era to the Turkish Republic.” Philosophy and Social Criticism 43.4-5 (2017): 539-547.

_____. “Ottoman Armenians in the Second Constitutional period: Expectations and Reservations.” In The Ottoman East in the Nineteenth Century: Societies, Identities and Politics, ed. Yaşar Tolga Cora, Dzovinar Derderian, and Ali Sipahi. London: Tauris, 2016: 199-220.

_______. “Kılıçdağı’nın hikâyesi” [“The Story of Kılıçdağı”]. Agos, 24 August 2017.

Janet Klein, The Margins of Empire: Kurdish Militias in the Ottoman Tribal Zone. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011.

Tunaya, Tarik Zafer. Hürriyet’in İlani [The Announcement of Freedom]. Istanbul: Bilgi Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2004.

Yıldız, Gültekin. Neferin Adı Yok: Zorunlu Askerliğe Geçiş Sürecinde Osmanlı Devleti’nde Siyaset, Ordu ve Toplum, 1826-1839 [The Soldier Has No Name: Politics, Army, and Society in the Ottoman Empire During the Transition Period to Compulsory Military Service, 1826-1839]. Istanbul: Kitabevi, 2009.


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