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Fall 2018 | 1918: Calamity and Aspiration in the Ottoman Empire

The year 1918 stands out as a year of dramatic change in Europe. The end of the First World War entirely redrew the map of its Eastern and Central parts and toppled its last autocratic monarchies; the final death toll and suffering of a war waged with the most modern means of technology and logistics left a generation traumatised and desillusionised; the Spanish flu pandemic added to hunger and poverty brought about by a general breakdown in trade and infrastructure. In the Ottoman Empire, however, the year marked just one stage in a long series of crises that commenced with the Young Turk revolution in 1908 and ended with the foundation of the republic in 1923. The Mudros armistice and subsequent allied occupation of Istanbul in the fall of 1918 changed the field of play, but did not so much alter as accelerate an already ongoing transformation. Amidst both external and internal schemes, crises and interventions, the old capital at the Bosporus found itself at a tipping point: politically, culturally and intellectually. It is the dynamic and uncertainty of the year 1918 in the Ottoman Empire that this series of six lectures is setting out to explore.


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