Fatma Pelin Tiglay

  • Fellowship year:2022-2023
  • University: University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Early Modern Europe
  • Dissertation Title: Socialism à l'Ottoman
  • Socialism à l'Ottoman analyzes Ottoman socialists' dilemma between separaist nationalism and imperial integrity between the restoration of the constitution (1908) and the First Balkan War (1912). I argue that socialists from the predominant ethnic groups (Greek, Jewish, Macedo-Bulgarian and Turkish) in the Balkans and Anatolia were united in their endeavor to propagate class solidarity together with Ottomanism; or the pursuit of both the socio-political equality or all residents of the realm, irrespective of their ethno-religious origins, and the unity of the Ottoman Empire.

    Following the activities of these left-wing intellectuals, combatants and workers, in an age when the national question was inescapable, I focus on their decision to participate in a democratic yet imperial project. Moving away from the teleological approaches to Ottomanism and proletarian struggle in the Ottoman studies, which condemned both movements to the failure paradigm, I assert that Ottomanist socialism was a flourishing trend which achieved to unite diverse ethnic groups under the class umbrella and to pursue the territorial integrity of the empire.

    My sources consist of newspapers, memoirs, parliamentary minutes, correspondence and state memorandum. This is the first attempt in the historiography to bring together primary sources produced in five languages: Ottoman script, Ladino, Greek, Macedonian and French. My preliminary research exposes a burgeoning socialist scene in Istanbul and Salonica, the two most industrialized and cosmopolitan cities of the empire, and resolves around four groups: People's Federative Party (PFP), Workers' Federation of Salonica (WFS), Turkish Socialist Center (TSC), Ottoman Socialist Party (OSP).

    In my attempt to restore the history of this political faction which tried to preserve this multi-ethnic empire in its entirety, I elaborate the methods with which the socialists denounced nationalism and thereby challenge the widely acclaimed view regarding the uncontested hegemony of the nation-states in the twentieth century.