Between Two Empires: Ahmet Agaoglu and the New Turkey by A.Holly Shissler

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 relevant Powers and triumph of the Entente, the Turkish warfare of Independence and the institution of the hot Turkish kingdom country lower than Atatürk, and the institution of Azerbaijan: those occasions shape the backdrop to Ahmet Agaoglu’s lifestyles, which spanned the momentous interval from 1869-1939. This highbrow biography of this significant participant is a remarkable access element by which those turbulent occasions are introduced sharply into reduction.

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He was not alone in this concern and perspective, however. 47 This preoccupation manifests itself on two levels, methodologically in terms of identifying objects of study and substantively, in terms of the account given of those objects. First, the social scientist or historian must, as a good scientist, account for all human phenomena; no human manifestation, no matter how ‘irrational’, ‘emotional’, ‘primitive’, or ‘unjust’ may be dismissed as an object of analysis by virtue of being ‘unnatural’.

Therefore, whereas Hutchinson argues that ‘historical memory rather than language as such serves to define the national community’, I would rather say that language and religion, and to some extent folk traditions, are identified as markers of the community and then fitted into an historical framework that gives them a particular meaning as part of a project of modernization that includes a challenge to an existing ‘status order’. , ‘ossified tradition’, ‘corruption’ and ‘alien interjection’, and reset them in a ‘true’ history that connects to modernity and progress.

I was to become a halfway patched up thing. This patchedup quality is an endless drama. It is an inner drama, it is a spiritual tragedy. At no time now do I feel complete and whole. And you know, it is a torment of Hell to feel halfpatched. 3 The contrast between the two descriptions could hardly be more stark. The father is a man secure in his world, untormented by any doubts as to his role and proper place; the son is a juryrigged contraption, a mishmash of acquired tastes and views and habits, rattling around the world in search of something, but of what?

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