Non-Muslim Minorities in the Historiography of Republican Turkey: The Greek Case
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First published in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill, Leiden/Boston/Köln, 2002. 

Non-Muslim Minorities in the Historiography

of Republican Turkey: The Greek Case  

Among the different ethnic groups resident in the Ottoman Empire, the Turks were one of the last to develop a 'national consciousness'. Yet with the breakaway of more and more provinces in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire, an emerging nationalist intelligentsia developed a project of asserting the Turkish presence within what was still a multi-ethnic empire.[1] After 1908, measures were taken to promote the use of Turkish even in the local administration of areas inhabited by non-Turks. This gave rise to some dissatisfaction, par­ticularly among the Albanians, and non-Muslims resident in the Empire frequendy reacted by refusing to learn Turkish at all.[2] On the economic level, representatives of the Committee for Union and Progress also adumbrated projects to create a Turkish bourgeoisie.[3]

     All these plans really came to fruition after the Ottoman defeat in World War I, when the Empire finally collapsed. After a major war, in which Greece and the Turkish nationalist forces centered in Ankara were the principal opponents, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923. During the following years, the formative stage of the Republic, establishing a unitary national state on the territo­ries still in Ottoman hands at the time of the Mudros armistice (1918) came to be the avowed aim of the new state's government. Quite a few of the nation-building projects which originally had been developed during the last years of the Empire were taken up once again at this time, including a reform of the alphabet and the writ­ten language.[4]

     All manner of nation-building projects were facilitated by the exchange of populations decided in Lausanne (1923), by which, with certain exceptions, the Greek—Orthodox population of Turkey and the Muslim population of Greece were forced to leave their respec­tive homelands. These population movements further reinforced the 'national' character of the new Turkish state. After 1923, only the Greeks of the former Ottoman capital were allowed to remain in Turkey[5] As for the Armenians, many had been victims of fighting and state repression during World War I; those who survived gen­erally emigrated after the war.[6]

     In the Republic of Turkey, the non-Muslim presence largely was limited to Istanbul. Salonica with its sizeable Jewish and Christian populations had been lost to the Empire already in 1912 and thus remained outside the borders of the Republic. The former Ottoman capital constituted a possible place of emigration for those Jews who did not wish to become Greek subjects. In addition, the Armenians resident in Istanbul largely had escaped deportation. Moreover, while the Catholic Assyro-Chaldean and the Orthodox Assyrian commu­nities were originally resident in eastern Anatolia, many of their members migrated to Istanbul in the course of time.[7] In consequence, during the 1920s and 1930s, Pera/Beyoglu retained some of its cos­mopolitan atmosphere.

     Yet the capital levy of 1942-1943, known as the Varhk Vergisi (Tax on Wealth), caused great losses to many non-Muslim busi­nessmen, and this fact contributed to the 'Turkification' of Istanbul's business life.[8] Moreover, in 1965 a series of measures against Greeks who lived in Turkey without possessing Turkish passports obliged a large number of Greek families to leave the country. This included numerous citizens of Turkey married or otherwise related to the expellees. As a result, after the mid-1960s the number of Greek speakers in Istanbul dwindled to almost nil.[9]

     'Turkification' also meant that the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants of the new national state were Muslims. Even though the constitution and the laws of the Republic do not permit dis­crimination against any citizen on the basis of his/her religion, the belief that Islam is a prerequisite of 'Turkishness' was and is wide­spread. This applied even in the late 1950s, when Istanbul still housed a compact group of Greek speakers. Moreover, with the virtual dis­appearance of Christians and Jews, this identification of 'being Turk­ish' and 'being Muslim' became even more convincing on an empirical level. Forty years ago, Bernard Lewis put this situation in a nutshell when he wrote that "a non-Muslim in Turkey may be called a Turk­ish citizen, but never a Turk".[10]



Nation-building, historiography and non-Muslims


Historiography had a significant role to play in the Turkish nation-building project, as was true in almost every national state forged during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Turkish historiogra­phy of the republican period recognized a special link to the Ottoman past. Thus, the Turkish-speaking Muslims of the defunct polity were cast as the 'imagined community', which after the establishment of the Republic continued to live on as the 'Turkish nation'.[11]

     Furthermore, historians who supported the early Republic were placed in the uncomfortable position of having to explain why the new state had limited the role of Islam in public life by defining itself as 'secular'. After all, for the mass of the citizenry, Islam continued to determine the parameters of their world. In addition, the new regime needed to alleviate the odium of having deposed not merely an indi­vidual sultan-caliph - that had happened many times previously - but the dynasty as a whole. After all, for over five hundred years, the loyalties of Ottoman subjects had focused on the house of Osman.[12] This meant that historians had to confront the recent past, includ­ing the end of the sultanate and the establishment of the Republic. They could not possibly avoid such a discussion as a methodologi­cally unwholesome mixture of 'scientific' history and 'politicized' cur­rent affairs.

     Now in the 1930s and even 1940s, the very recent past did hold a major war between Greece and Turkey. The Turkish national state had been forged in the course of this extremely bitter and destruc­tive sequence of campaigns. In consequence, the events of the period between 1919 and 1923 were crucial in defining the identity not only of the new state itself, but also the identities of many individ­ual people inhabiting this polity. As a result, the relationship between 'the' Greeks, on the one hand, and the Ottoman (and later Turkish republican) state, on the other, was drawn into the vortex of nation­alist polemics. The millets of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the non-Muslims of republican times, were and often still are viewed as 'parts' of some foreign nation.[13] That Ottoman millets were defined on the basis of religion and not of ethnicity was conveniently forgotten. Similarly, the fact that the Greeks under discussion might be subjects of Greece, the Ottoman Empire or later the Republic of Turkey, and that these different 'passports' might condition their attitudes, was not given due consideration by many such polemicists. However, even in these writings, there did appear some gradations of 'foreign-ness'. For instance, the situation of the Jews was somewhat special; even though Jewish immigration into Palestine had constituted a bone of contention in the late Ottoman period, the loss of Syria in 1917 made this a non-issue as far as the Republic of Turkey was concerned.

     With no possible or actual territorial conflict involved in the Jew­ish case, Turkish nationalist authors generally are inclined to reserve most of their polemics for Greeks and Armenians. This development also is linked to the fiercely contentious Greek and Armenian national historiographies, which have no parallel among Jewish historians in Israel or elsewhere.[14] Quite a few Greek and Armenian authors base their entire view of history on the notion that 'their' community in the course of its existence has been confronted with a 'national enemy'. This enemy is identified first with a 'Turkish' Ottoman Empire and later with its 'continuation', the Republic of Turkey. Greek historians, for instance, often will depict the Ottoman history of this or that province of modern Greece as a constant retrogres­sion of trade and crafts to 'primitive' levels.[15] Therefore, the very few 'bright spots' in an otherwise bleak picture will be those activities which Greeks were able to establish or maintain without major involvement on the part of the Ottoman state. As examples, one might mention the maritime trade of eighteenth-century Hydra and Psara, or the relatively autonomous community organization set up especially on the Greek islands.[16]

     On a different level, the accusatory stance typical of these histo­riographies has impelled the Turkish side to devise a propagandistic counteroffensive. Thus in his recent book Minorities and the Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, Salahi Sonyel does not deal with Serbs, Bul­garians, Rumanians or Christian Arabs. Yet it is undeniable that all these groups, alone or, in the Arab case, together with their Muslim neighbors, at one time or another broke away from the Ottoman Empire.[17] One might assume that Sonyel selected the Greeks and Armenians because they waged war against the Turkish nationalist forces in 1919-1923. Moreover, political rivalries and, due to the Cyprus conflict, even military confrontation occasionally occurred in the post-1923 period as well. Presumably Sonyel has included the Jews, normally of less importance in the context of Turkish nation­alist polemics, because the post-World War II Arab-Israeli conflict had conferred a retrospective importance on the political aims of Ottoman Jewry.[18]



Defining the aims of our study


To keep the present paper within manageable limits, I have selected only one case, namely the Greeks, from among the Ottoman millets, and republican minorities. Since the Greek minority, or millet as the case may be, typically is accorded more space than other non-Mus­lim ethnic and/or religious groups in Turkish historiography, this seems a rational choice. The following factors could account for the special attention Turkish authors pay to the Greeks: To begin with, in the Ottoman realm certain members of the Rum milleti were per­mitted access to positions of power. Not only the official translators of the Sultan's council, the tercümans or dragomans, but also the hospodars of Wallachia and Moldavia occupied places in the state hier­archy which were not normally accessible to other non-Muslims. Secondly, apart from the Serbs, the Greeks were the first ethnic group to mutate into a nation and stage an uprising with the aim of set­ting up a sovereign state (1821). Although the revolt was defeated, the Greeks, with the help of European states, ultimately were able to secede from the Ottoman Empire. Turkish historians therefore have tended to regard the Greeks as responsible for starting the eth­nic turmoil in the Balkans, which within less than a century resulted in the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. As a third point, the Greek state formed in 1830 repeatedly extended its frontiers by waging war against the Ottoman Empire (1881, 1908, 1912-1913). In addition, there were numerous attacks by irredentist bands on Ottoman ter­ritory which occurred frequently throughout the nineteenth century, even in times of peace.[19] In the perspective of Turkish scholars, these attacks appear as directed against 'Turkish lands', to cite a frequently used phrase. A fourth reason for viewing the Greeks with special, suspicious attention is doubtless the memory of the bitter war years (1919-1923) which we already have referred to. A fifth point is linked to the fact that Greece and Turkey even today have not resolved their political differences, which include a dispute related to sover­eign rights in the Aegean shelf and, more acutely, the Cyprus affair. Last but not least, to pass from the realm of events remembered to that of more explicit ideology, certain Turkish scholars passionately negate the view, espoused with equal passion by Greek national historiography, that the Greeks as the former inhabitants of much of Anatolia constitute the autochthonous inhabitants of the region. For within the nationalist paradigm, such 'anteriority' somehow con­veys special 'rights'. All these considerations have colored much of what is being written on Greeks and Greek history in the Republic of Turkey.

     The sources for my study consist of primary and secondary school textbooks, in addition to historical accounts directed at the non-specialist reader which, for the sake of brevity, sometimes will be referred to as 'popular' literature. Furthermore, I will focus on aca­demic works of history in which Greeks occur, often merely as one issue among others. According to the styles of argument and writing which, in my perspective, characterize these different publications, I have grouped them into four categories, one of which has been fur­ther divided into three sub-categories. First there are the textbooks written for the purpose of imparting an account of Ottoman and Turkish history to schoolchildren. In recent years, various compet­ing versions have come into existence. Yet given the fact that these textbooks, mostly on history and civics must be accepted by the Min­istry of Education, I assume that they reflect the official view of the government under which they were admitted for use in schools.[20] Secondly, there are books written for the general reader with little historical background beyond what he/she may remember of his/her school textbooks, and maybe from movies and comics dealing with more or less historical topics. As these books are produced for sale, they reflect what their authors assume to be the predilections of the 'ordinary' literate man/woman.

     In the third category, I place those studies which I would view as reflecting a 'traditional' academic outlook. Given the very small number of Turkish academics with a knowledge of Greek, the books in this category usually are written on the basis of Turkish sources, with or without an interlacing of source texts in English and French. According to the style of argument involved, I distinguish between three sub-categories, which I call 'confrontationist', 'moderate' and 'liberal'. As we will see, these categories, based on the style of debate, have very little connection to the place which the relevant author may occupy in the political spectrum. Authors in the first sub-category tend to not only emphasize the conflicts between 'Greeks' and 'Turks' to the exclusion of anything else, they also will assume some kind of 'hereditary enmity' of the type we have already encountered among Greek nationalist historians. As to the 'moderates', they also will side with the Ottoman or republican Turkish state through thick and thin, but they normally have a broader worldview than their 'con­frontationist' colleagues, and are less inclined to see the world in terms of 'black and white'. Thus their arguments will normally be more finely crafted and less emotional. To an even greater extent this applies to the 'liberals', whose inclination to 'defend the state' is less marked as well and who in addition pay greater attention to historical change. Last but not least, there is a category which I have named 'critical'. Again these people may profoundly disagree among themselves on many questions of political import, but many of these historians and social scientists do share the assumption that nations are not eternal, that they have come into being, often in the fairly recent past, and that having emerged, presumably they also can dis­appear. Moreover, these people also will assume that encouraging hatreds of people of differing religions, nationalities or ethnicities is profoundly dangerous politically, for such feelings easily can be mobi­lized by would-be dictators, as the example of Nazi Germany, among others, has clearly demonstrated.[21]    




'Tit for tat': refuting Greek claims in Turkish textbooks


In the Turkish context, the teaching of history recently has been subjected to a considerable amount of criticism. Thus Salih Özbaran, who practices history apart from reflecting on the methodology of teaching this discipline, has asked himself:


Is history a means of inciting to bitter rivalries, by foregrounding Reagan's wish that the XXI. century should be an American century, or, as Turkish nationalists rather would have it, the 'century of the Turks'? [Is history] a means of producing enemies where none existed before, of using the tensions inherent in racism and religious fanati­cism in order to prepare for future wars?[22]


A critical view of the role of history teaching, of course, involves criticism of the existing textbooks. Or maybe it would be better to say that once the principle was accepted that more than one set of history textbooks might be available for school directors, teachers and possibly even parents to chose from, the criticism of history text­books, which long had remained private, became part of public dis­cussion. In another work, originally published as a separate essay, Özbaran pointed out the weaknesses of history teaching which ensured mat children and young people, mildly speaking, generally disliked history classes.[23] Two congresses totally dedicated to the teaching of history and the role of schoolbooks followed. In both instances, the proceedings were published soon after. In these two volumes, history teachers on the secondary level as well as academics expressed their frustration with the current teaching of history.[24] In addition, the social scientist and regional planner İlhan Tekeli published an empir­ical study, in which the historical consciousness of European and Turkish students was investigated in a comparative perspective.[25] At a congress dedicated to the image of 'the other' in Turkish school-books, and in a separate volume as well, the present author, more­over, has tackled the thorny question of how the non-Muslim inhabitants of the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey have fared in modern Turkish schoolbooks.[26]

     Among the criticisms directed at these textbooks, accusations of 'conservative nationalism' are quite widespread. Throughout, the text­book accounts given of Greeks and Greek affairs reflect the tense relations between Greece and Turkey. Often the claims concerning the Greeks which are made in Turkish schoolbooks seem to have been conceived as responses to the claims which originate, or are thought by the textbook authors to have originated, in Greek nation­alist historiography. This implicit attempt at refutation is one possi­ble reason why children or juveniles, normally unfamiliar with the preceding polemics, often find their textbooks quite simply difficult to believe. Thus as we have seen, there exist Greek claims to his­torical priority on Anatolian soil and therefore to a 'right' to these lands. In Turkish schoolbooks, this claim will be countered by a vari­ety of argumentative devices. At least until 1993, many textbook authors still liked to state that all creators of the great civilizations of antiquity were of Turkish stock.[27] Or the Achaeans, Dorians and Ionians were all subsumed under a single catchall phrase, namely the 'Ionians'. The latter, as the creators of the western Anatolian towns and pre-Socratic philosophy, were positively evaluated by Turk­ish textbook authors. But supposedly these people had nothing in common with the Greeks. As one primary school textbook put it:


the name 'Ionians' belonged to the grandfathers of the native people who lived for a long time on the western coast of Anatolia. This name had no connection whatsoever with the 'Greek' tribes.[28]


Ignoring 'uncomfortable' periods also forms a common response; thus, for example, Turkish schoolbooks reserve at most a few sentences for the entire Byzantine period. Yet the latter lasted for almost a thousand years and at the time of its apogee, the Byzantine Empire controlled most of the territories forming the present-day Turkish Republic. Nor does the student receive much of an introduction to the major buildings of the Byzantine period, such as Aya Sofya, Aya Irini or the city walls of Istanbul, to say nothing of provincial struc­tures such as the churches of St John in Selçuk or St Nicholas in Kale (Demre) near Finike.

     When history textbooks 'reach' the nineteenth century, we witness a more obvious attempt to counter the claims of Greek national his­toriography. Here the Greek interpretation states that the uprising of 1821 and the events which followed it down to the foundation of an independent state in 1830 constituted an authentic revolution and a war of national liberation. In the Turkish schoolbooks I have analyzed, this subject is approached in an oblique fashion. As we have seen, the Greeks are passed over in silence throughout almost the entire account of Ottoman history, only surfacing in 1821, when they were in armed confrontation with the Ottoman government. However, there is no attempt to explain the conditions which had led up to the events of 1821. According to the textbook authors, the Greeks of the Ottoman Empire, a 'happy millet', had no reason what­soever for discontent. Not only were the Ottoman authorities toler­ant, permitting the Orthodox Christians freedom of religion, the latter even enjoyed a kind of self-government under the Istanbul Patriarchs. By contrast, the students learn nothing about the cen­tury-long conflicts in the eighteenth-century Peloponnese or the expan­sion of the Greek trading diaspora of that period, which in its wake brought about the prosperity of merchants and ship captains, as well as a broadening of political and intellectual horizons. As to the impact of the French Revolution, it is viewed in entirely negative terms, and the students are given no information at all about Romantic nation­alism and its vogue in Napoleonic and post-Napoleonic Europe.

     As no internal reasons are acknowledged which explain the Greek revolt, the entire blame comes to rest upon the foreign powers and their Philhellenism. As a result of the latter movement, so the ver­sion relayed to Turkish students runs, foreigners encouraged the Ottoman 'Rum' to believe that they were descendents of the ancient Greeks.[29] Thus it was the foreigners who originally conceived the idea of a Greek state. Admittedly such statements, while hyperbolic in form, do have some basis in the scholarly literature. Thus the account given of the Greek uprising and the subsequent war by the American historian Barbara Jelavich also stresses the role of the Great Powers of Europe, especially England, in securing statehood for Greece after the uprising itself had been put down by Muham­mad Ali Pasha's troops.[30] In the same context we must view the destruction of the Ottoman-Egyptian fleet at Navarino (1827) by a detachment of ships belonging to countries with whose government Sultan Mahmud II was not even at war.[31] Thus in terms of histor­ical accuracy, it is only fair to admit that Greece came into being in 1830 as a result of Great Power intervention. Yet neither from a scholarly nor from a pedagogical viewpoint does it make sense to leave the students with the impression that the Greeks of the Peloponnese and elsewhere had no grievances and did not fight for their statehood. Nor is it a good idea to leave the readers ignorant of the reasons which prompted many but by no means all Greeks to strug­gle for an independent state. The textbooks generally will limit them­selves to the assertion that the Greeks attempted to reestablish the Byzantine Empire under the banner of an expansionist policy called the 'Megali Idea'.[32]



The intellectual background of textbook writers: a few notes


One major avenue toward the refutation of the Greek claims, which occurs quite readily to the 'post-nationalist' political intellectual, remains closed to the authors of Turkish history textbooks. For regard­less of the ethnicity of the Ionians, Dorians and Achaeans, and admit­ting without hesitation the long Byzantine implantation in much of Asia Minor, it is in no way necessary to assume that these facts de-legitimize the present-day Turkish position. After all, it is perfectly possible to view nations in the modern sense as emerging in a process which began in the late eighteenth century. It is likewise an obvious fact that, the 1921-1922 episode apart, the Greek nation state never controlled any part of Anatolia. But this argument is convincing only if we assume that most nations have had a short history, and that is exactly the opposite of what Turkish textbook authors claim for their own nation. When, however, a perennial Turkish nation is assumed, then it makes sense that its 'ungrateful' opponent, the Greek nation, also has had a long existence. When and how the latter came into being the Turkish textbooks do not tell us, they only insinuate that the origins of the Greeks were rather less than glorious.

     This rather simplistic discourse has, however, fairly complicated antecedents. One is the 'official thesis' concerning Turkish history, which assumes a perennial Turkish nation, part of the 'white race', some of whose members migrated from Central Asia to Anatolia and later to the Balkans as well. Wherever they went, the Turks acted as bringers of civilization, and most of the peoples who founded the ancient civilizations of Anatolia were assumed to have been Turks.[33] This thesis was soon abandoned in scholarly discourse, but traces survived in school textbooks down to 1993.

     More long-lived was a second factor, which for the sake of con­venience we may call 'Anatolianism'. One version stems from the nov­elist Kemal Tahir (1910-1973) who in 1967 published a novel named Devlet Ana.[34] Its story is set in fourteenth-century Bithynia, at a time when the Ottomans had just formed a minor principality, and con­veys the author's conviction that in the Ottoman state, justice and tolerance reigned. The Ottomans had no truck with the violence and injustice of European feudalism. To the contrary, their state and society formed a prime example of the Asiatic 'mode of production', where land was not private property, but lay in the hands of the state. While much less satisfying from a literary viewpoint than many of the author's other works, Devlet Ana highlights the integration (and ultimate islamization) of a local Greek warrior into the emerging Ottoman state.[35] This figure, perhaps loosely patterned on the semi-mythical ancestors of the Evrenos- or Mihal-ogullan, is depicted in a very positive light, and so are the early Ottomans. On the other hand, those considered 'outsiders' to Anatolia, Mongols and Cru­saders alike, are cast as the villains of the story.

     Widely read during the 1970s, Kemal Tahir is not, however, the inventor of 'Anatolianism'. This notion previously had been pro­moted by the novelist Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (1886—1973), who from his exile in Bodrum, first imposed and later voluntary, wrote books which celebrate the beauties of the Aegean coast. Cevat Şakir gained literary fame under the pen name of Halikarnas Balıkcısı (the fisherman of Halikarnassos). Along with his younger associates the critic, essayist and one-time official Sabahettin Eyiiboglu (1908— 1973) and the classical scholar Azra Erhat (1915—1982), Halikarnas Balıkçısı popularized the notion that the Turks were heirs to the peoples and civilizations which had nourished in Anatolia before the great migrations of the eleventh century and after. With their empha­sis on the multi-cultural history of Anatolia, the members of this group for a long time were highly suspect in official circles, and both Eyüboğlu and Erhat lost their university and other official positions.[36] Moreover, with their emphasis on the peaceful joys of exploring the beauties of landscape and experiencing the magic of extinct civi­lizations, these writers appealed to a left-wing, pacifist segment of the Turkish readership.

     But even so, there were significant omissions. In her travel guide to southwestern Anatolia, for instance, Erhat gives prominence to the Greeks of the classical period, even acquainting the reader with Homeric verses in her own translation. Yet the Byzantine remains of the area are mentioned very briefly, if at all. It is worth noting that after the authors in question were safely dead, their views were appropriated by the Turkish prime minister and later president Turgut Özal, who in 1988 defended the 'European' character of Turkey because it had inherited the 'Ionian' civilization.[37]



Change-resistant textbooks


On a more mundane plane, however, the considerations of writers, historians and social scientists are only of very minor importance in determining the contents of textbooks. As is well known, the Turk­ish political scene is characterized by serious dissensions. The best known of these conflicts is the split between secularists and those who feel that a greater role should be given to organized Islam in public life. On the foreign policy level, we observe a serious divi­sion between those who think that Turkey should make great efforts to join the European Union, and those who assume that Turkey's 'natural' allies are to be found in other Islamic states. Lately, the majority of the Islamists is in favor of joining the European Union, because they believe they will be better protected within this com­munity. The contenders in these two disputes do not necessarily coin­cide; thus among secularists, there exists a current of opinion whose adherents opt not for integration into Europe, but view themselves as representatives of an 'anti-imperialist' tradition. On the foreign policy level, these people would appear to favor strict neutrality. In addition, the Kurdish rebellions also have given rise to a split between those who opt for a 'political' settlement and those who rely mainly on military repression. To further complicate the situation, the recent elections have shown that a party of extreme rightist leanings has captured significant sections of the electorate. In consequence of these deep divisions, the political equilibrium is quite unstable, and any­thing increasing stability and consensus will be welcomed by the political class.

     History textbooks provide just such a possibility. Of particular relevance to our study, the tendency to denigrate the Greeks, even if the most obvious instances now have been removed from the textbooks, will satisfy nationalists with a strong anti-western slant. 'Anatolianism', on the other hand, will appeal to people whose sym­pathies are, to a degree, with Europe, and, in the present-day con­text, Kemalist intellectuals and left-wingers also will assent, albeit with qualifications. A strong anti-western stance, as we have seen, can make both nationalists with Islamicist leanings and militant sec­ularists happy, and the same thing applies to the neglect of the Byzantines, who have found few defenders.


All these views compete and conflict within a tension-ridden search for national identity; every group will oppose all suggestions which it interprets as running counter to its own aims and ideologies. By objec­tions and delaying tactics, [each group] tries to ensure the victory of its own ideas.[38]




'Popular' historiography


Given the rarity of scholarly works on Greece and the Greeks in Turkey, the public must gain information almost exclusively from books and articles of no particular academic standing. For such pub­lications, we have decided to use the expression 'popular'. They strike the eye for their crude and sometimes even vulgar language, and at first glance, one is tempted to ignore these writings as unworthy of serious academic consideration. This, however, would be a mistake. Firstly, at some stage of their careers, some of these authors do gain academic positions. Moreover, quite a few intellectuals and public figures seem to gain their notions about Greece and the Greeks from literature of this type. And because the public is used to reading the epitheta 'ungrateful' or even 'our ex-slaves', some politicians will adopt them in their public speeches, especially at election time. The same thing applies to journalists, who, when in need of 'background information' in a hurry, also will turn to sources of this type.

     As an example, let us take a brief look at an older work con­cerning Greco-Turkish relations.[39] Here we find quite a florilegium of derogatory expressions to designate Greeks, which even includes 'plunderers and murderers'.[40] Racially speaking, the modern Greeks are depicted as being of Slavic origin; as to the ancient Greeks, from Homer to Heraclitos, they are all supposed to be Turks.[41] Unsur­prisingly, the Greek millet has owed its survival to Turkish tolerance.[42] Yet the most remarkable feature about this work is probably the fact that in 1967 it was recommended by the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Ministry of Defense as constituting a 'serious study'.[43]

     Quite a few of the 'popular' writings have been produced by mil­itary and secret service personnel, both on active duty and retired. Thus, General Faruk Güventürk published a book on the political aims of the Greek government, insofar as they were directed against the state of Turkey.[44] In a seminar on Greco-Turkish relations, whose proceedings later were published, many of the views characteristic of the 'popular' literature were voiced, even though academic par­ticipation was substantial. This volume has since become an impor­tant work of reference for students writing papers on Greco-Turkish relations.[45]

     To summarize, the statements found most often in the 'popular' literature, when combined, form a reasonably coherent account. Among the supposedly immutable characteristics of the Greek millet or minority, the following are given special prominence: the Rum milleti, that is, Ottoman subjects or republican Turkish citizens of Greek ethnicity, all form part of the 'Greek nation'. The tolerant Ottoman State had granted this millet all kinds of liberties. Thus the Greeks were able to practice their religion, build their own educational institutions, and enrich themselves through commerce.

     In consequence, this millet has lived a richer and more agreeable life than the average member of the 'in-group', that is, the Muslim Turks. These advantages, however, have been gained by 'unfair' means, that is, the Greeks have joined the foreign powers in exploit­ing the Muslim Turks. While the attitude of the Ottoman govern­ment to its Greek subjects never wavered, the latter did change their earlier and presumably more loyal attitudes. At one point in time, they revolted and tried to appropriate lands which by right belonged to the Ottoman state, that is, the Muslim-Turkish 'in-group'. As 'the West' supported this policy, 'our' Ottoman Empire collapsed. Even today, the modern Greek nation continues the same irredentist poli­cies against 'us', keeping alive the expansionist Megali Idea.

     Given this scenario, there are certain permanent - and negative - characteristics which, according to the authors of 'popular' writings, may be attributed to the Greek nation. Throughout, these authors seem to take the following approach: the Greeks are ungrateful, trai­tors to and aggressors of the Ottoman Empire and, at least poten­tially, the Republic of Turkey as well. Moreover, they are slavish, having willingly played the role of puppets to the western powers. To put it in a nutshell, 'they' are on a lower moral level than 'us'.



'Confrontationists', 'moderates' and 'liberals': 'traditional' academic views


A systematic discussion of the views of Turkish academics concern­ing the Greek uprising of 1821 has been undertaken in a previous study.[46] In the present paper, I hope to present rather broader, more encompassing observations in a much more succinct form. Unfortu­nately, the requirements of brevity frequently do not permit me to present the finer nuances and subtle differences of opinion which exist especially among those scholars who have worked extensively on topics related to Ottoman Greeks or the Greeks of independent Greece. All cases presented here are only intended as examples, and I do not claim to have identified the 'principal' representatives of any given trend.

     As stated already in the introductory paragraphs of this paper, I have divided the 'traditional' historians into three sub-categories, namely the 'confrontationists', the 'moderates' and the 'liberals'. Of course these categories are in no way absolutes, but denote positions on a continuous spectrum of attitudes. Thus certain authors of a 'confrontationist' bent have a good deal in common with the 'pop­ular' historiography, while the opinions of some of the authors classed here as 'liberal' shade off into the 'critical' section of our attitudinal spectrum. Between 'moderates' and 'liberals', there are also no hard and fast limits. Yet to a greater or lesser extent, 'confrontationists', 'moderates' and 'liberals' all aim at defending the Ottoman state and/or the Turkish Republic. However, it is noteworthy that the degree often differs according to the audience envisaged. When texts are published in Turkish, the apologetics are more obvious, while in many instances, they are considerably toned down when the author addresses an international audience.

     This combination of scholarly and apologetic concerns is typical for nationalist historiography in general, and our observations with respect to the Turkish case thus form part of a much larger pat­tern. As we have already noted in the case of the textbooks, some of the apologetics in the scholarly realm should equally be regarded as 'reactive'. In European historiography, there exists a long tradi­tion of denigrating the Ottoman Empire as an outmoded organiza­tion dominated by religion, as a land whose socio-political system impeded economic growth and political centralization.[47] In a sense of course, the anti-Ottoman criticism of early republican intellectu­als took up some of these motifs. But at the same time, Turkish republican authors viewed the Ottoman Empire's conquests and 'just' administration as a major source of legitimation of the Republic, or, as they often put it, 'the state' tout court. As a result, they were much inclined toward defending the Ottoman achievement against all com­ers, and for many of them, this meant a denigration of the non-Muslim millets.[48]

     Almost none of the historians under discussion here reads Greek; therefore they are able to study only that part of the Greek sec­ondary literature which has been published in French or English.[49] Moreover quite a few scholars limit themselves even further and use only Ottoman or Turkish primary sources. However, researchers such as Salahi Sonyel, Gulnihal Bozkurt and Ali Ihsan Bagi§ have worked extensively in the Public Record Office in London. This lim­itation in the use of sources makes it difficult to enter into a dialogue with scholars working outside of Turkey, in Greece or elsewhere.



The 'confrontationists'


Many of the 'confrontationist' authors will adopt an extremely emo­tional tone when discussing the 'Greek issue'. A good example is a work by Niyazi Berkes, a distinguished historian and social scientist, who for a long time, taught at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.[50] Among the myths Berkes propagated, in a book first pub­lished in the year of the 1974 Cyprus crisis, we find the claim that the patriarchate in Istanbul had fomented the Greek rebellion. Amus­ingly enough, Berkes shares this error with some of the most con­servative Greek historians. In fact, as can be seen from Barbara Jelavich's account, certain high church dignitaries did join the upris­ing in Moldavia and Wallachia, as did some of their colleagues officiating in the Peloponnese. Yet the Patriarch and his entourage are conspicuous by their absence from all preparations for the uprising. Only when military action just was about to begin did the head of the Orthodox Church intervene, declaring that all rebels were to be anathema.[51]

     But Berkes obviously did not much trouble himself with the - already quite substantial -secondary literature available at the time of writing. For Berkes it is the Orthodox Church which constitutes the source of all evil by introducing bribery into the Ottoman state. However, in this endeavor the church was not without competi­tion: in the second half of the sixteenth century, this dubious dis­tinction already had been attributed to Şemsi Pasha, who supposedly wanted to avenge the fall of the İsfendiyar-oğlu dynasty, from which he himself had issued.[52] Be that as it may, ecclesiastical bribery resulted in an ungovernable Ottoman Empire, and throughout, the Orthodox Church proved its visceral ingratitude: For all these mis­deeds were perpetrated even though "the Church was saved from the danger of Catholicism because of Turkish power".[53] In addition, both the Greeks and the Orthodox Church are described as 'mega­lomaniacs', and in the Greek context, politics is supposed to mean "robbery, political murder or conspiracy".[54]

     In The Development of Secularism in Turkey, destined for an interna­tional audience, Berkes uses a more restrained language. Even so, he claims that throughout Ottoman history, the Greek millet was antagonistic to the 'Turkish' side, both economically and politically. As the main reason for Turkish nationalism, Berkes views the Megali Idea and its avowed intention of resuscitating the Byzantine Empire.[55] It seems that Berkes was mainly concerned by the fact that the Greek presence in the Ottoman Empire impeded the emergence of a Turkish bourgeoisie; this worry probably was what caused him to quote at length a comment by the nationalist writer Yusuf Akçura from 1914:


... it was the native Jews, Greeks and Armenians who were the agents and middlemen of European capitalism ... If the Turks fail to produce among themselves a bourgeois class . . . the chances of survival of a Turkish society composed only of peasants and officials will be very slim.[56]



Berkes' tendency to equate the Ottomans and the Turks also can be found in Salahi Sonyel's book Minorities and the Destruction of the Ottoman Empire, which we already have encountered in a different context.[57] According to the author, the very existence of the non-Muslim minorities accounts to a large extent for the 'destruction' of the Ottoman state. By contrast, the Ottoman government's attitude with respect to the non-Muslim population was "socially egalitarian" and the sultan aimed at an "impartial dispensation of law between Muslims and non-Muslims".[58] The Greeks had no reason for com­plaint against the Ottoman administration, as the freedom of the Christians was secured.[59]59 In fact, the minorities


benefited enormously from the Ottoman leniency, magnanimity and tolerance, and from all the other benefits provided by a strong, just and benevolent Muslim state.[60]


     In actuality, Sonyel finds that the non-Muslims lived better than the Muslims, and even at the expense of the latter. For the power of the European states, and sometimes also the Greeks' trading partners from among the western merchants, protected non-Muslim Ottoman subjects from the tax demands of the Ottoman state. Yet the members of Greek families who in the eighteenth century were sent to govern Moldavia and Wallachia, the so-called Phanariots, fomented Greek nationalism, in close conjunction with the Orthodox Church. Once again, 'ingratitude' appears as the archetypical sin of 'the Greeks'.




The 'moderates'


If Berkes and Sonyel thus employ a terminology closely akin to that of the 'popular' literature, there are other studies in which the apolo­getic intention coexists with a will to produce a fair and realistic work. In this 'moderate' category I would place three studies, which have been authored by Gülnihal Bozkurt, Bilal Eryılmaz and Ali İhsan Bağış. Gülnihal Bozkurt's work constitutes a study in legal history, encompassing the period from the promulgation of the Tanzimat rescript in 1839 to World War I. Although in principle the study ends in 1914, the closing chapter does touch upon the Ottoman family law, which was only promulgated during World War I.[61] The author has consulted German and British diplomatic correspondence of the period; as to French source materials, she has studied selected materials in translation.

     At the beginning of her study, which has resulted from post-doc­toral work in (West) Germany and Great Britain, the author explains that in the last decades of its existence, the Ottoman government legislated on all problems related to its non-Muslim subjects with a constant attention to the international implications. Bozkurt's work therefore contains a detailed discussion of the political contexts in which individual laws were decided upon, and herein lies the value of her work. On the basis largely of consular reports, she attempts a close analysis of the reasons which caused Ottoman non-Muslims to be dissatisfied with the reform edicts of the Tanzimat. She thus concludes that given non-Muslim nationalism and Great Power pres­sures, the Ottoman government's attempts to gain the hearts and minds of its non-Muslim subjects by the Tanzimat and reform edicts of 1839 and 1856 resulted only in a fatal weakening of state structures.

     While Bozkurt has done, a considerable amount of work in the archives, the study of Bilal Eryılmaz, which covers more or less the same topics, is based on published sources, such as the writings of Ahmed Cevdet Pasha and Abdurrahman Şeref.[62] Similarly to Bozkurt, Eryılmaz opens his study with a chapter on the regulations concerning non-Muslims decreed at the time of Mehmed the Conqueror, which in their basic features constituted the legal framework for the status of non-Muslims down to the Tanzimat. Here Eryilmaz quite realistically recognizes that the political organization of the Ottoman Empire was based on a differentiation according to religious crite­ria, and that the Muslims held the dominant positions. Non-Muslims were supposed to 'avoid getting involved in polities', but were also subject to various disabilities in social life. These included not only the prohibition to ride horses (according to the author, horseback riding was a privilege which, at least in Istanbul, was not extended to many Muslims either), but also the obligation to wear special clothes, avoid walking on the sidewalks or use the public baths with­out protecting the feet by wooden pattens.[63] Moreover, Christians were not allowed to build new churches. Eryılmaz readily admits that some of these discriminatory measures, such as the prohibition to ride horses or use the sidewalks, were "wrong and unnecessary", their chief disadvantage being that they alienated the non-Muslims both from the state and their Muslim neighbors. In Eryılmaz's per­spective, nationalist movements thus can partly be explained on the background of such disabilities. Yet at the same time, Eryılmaz places a high degree of confidence in the ability of wronged non-Muslims to obtain justice through the intervention of the sultans. Even so, he himself admits that "financial corruption, confiscations and favoritism" played a role in augmenting the difficulties of the state and also of its subjects, both Muslim and non-Muslim.[64] Whether under these circumstances, the author's confidence in sultanic intervention is justi­fied remains another matter entirely.

     Ali İhsan Bağış's short book on the capitulations and their effects upon the status of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century non-Muslim Ottomans is based on his London dissertation for which he has consulted documents both in the Public Record Office and the Prime Minister's archives in Istanbul.[65] While today a number of studies exist concerning the problems of non-Muslim Ottomans and their links to the' foreign communities resident in the Empire, this was much less true at the time of writing, and thus Bağış genuinely broke some new ground.[66] It is probably fair to say that the author views the behavior of non-Muslims seeking the protection of for­eign embassies exclusively from the viewpoint of the Ottoman state administration; and from that perspective, obtaining spurious appoint­ments as 'translators' and other consular employees doubtless con­stituted a major abuse. But on the other hand, Bağış, himself admits that the non-Muslims who sought foreign protection did this in order to shield themselves from "confiscation, which was much feared by the [non-Muslim] Ottoman subjects" (and, although this is outside of Bağış’s topic, by the Muslims as well).[67] Moreover, Mahmud II’s attempt to create two special categories of privileged traders (Avrupa tüccarları for the non-Muslims, Hayriye tüccarları for the Muslims) in itself implies the admission that to compete successfully with Euro­pean merchants, Ottoman subjects needed special protection from the state. In the light of all this, it does not seem quite fair to place the major onus of responsibility for eighteenth-century abuses on the shoulders of the non-Muslims alone.[68]



The 'liberals'


In this group I would place some of the most distinguished figures in present-day Ottoman studies. Among these scholars, the tendency to defend the Ottoman Empire against all possible criticism is much less obvious than among the 'moderates', to say nothing of the 'confrontationists'. Praise for Ottoman statesmanship, as evidenced by the treatment of the Empire's Greek subjects, only is expressed in a muted fashion, often by pointing out the real advantages which the Greek Orthodox might expect from the Ottoman state. By contrast, the difficulties with which non-Muslims had to contend are rarely discussed.

     Thus when analyzing the resettlement of Istanbul after the Ottoman conquest, Halil İnalcık dwells on the 'equality' granted to Christian subjects of the Empire after they had paid the special capitation tax, to which Muslims were not liable.[69] This author stresses that after the conquest of the Byzantine capital, Mehmed II went out of his way to mitigate the consequences which, according to Islamic reli­gious law, should have befallen the inhabitants of the conquered city. The slaves who had fallen to the Sultan as his one-fifth share of the war booty gained in Constantinople, were not sent off to distant provinces, but settled in the city proper. Moreover, many of the for­mer Byzantine churches were, at least for the time being, left to the Orthodox.[70] In another work İnalcık points to the tax exemptions which readily were accorded to Christian subjects of the Ottoman Empire who did service in the sultans' armies, stressing that in the fifteenth century it was possible to enter the Ottoman military class without previously having accepted Islam.[71] Likewise, scions of certain great Byzantine families in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries were successful as Ottoman tax farmers on a grand scale:[72] "For the interests of their empire the Ottomans applied the Islamic prescrip­tions in a particularly liberal way in favor of their dhimmi subjects".[73]

     In İnalcık's perspective, what counts is the raison d'etat of the Ottoman state, whose policy, differently from the way in which Barkan usually perceived it, included a full-scale involvement in inter­national trade and the money economy. In an Ottoman state for which control of trade routes constituted a major issue, Muslims and in a less prominent role, the Greek Orthodox subjects of the Empire found their respective places. What the latter may have thought of their station in life is of much less import.

     While İnalcık has authored a major and extremely influential arti­cle on the 'capitulations' granted to the subjects of foreign rulers residing on Ottoman territory, he has been less interested in the internal organization of non-Muslim Ottoman subjects, the so-called millet system.[74] Nor has he been greatly concerned by the role which these organizations played in the perpetuation of the Ottoman state. On this matter, however, we possess an important study by Kemal Karpat.[75] The author attempts to construct a model of the eigh­teenth and nineteenth-century changes in the Ottoman millet system, which is intended to explain why in the former Ottoman lands, national identity did not become divorced from religion as was the case in western Europe. It is Karpat's thesis that


nation . . . formation was conditioned to an important extent by the socio-ethnic structure and the religious identity engendered by the millet system.[76]


In Karpat's perspective, Ottoman non-Muslims divided their loyal­ties, of course under the Sultan who alone could command undi­vided allegiance. One claimant to non-Muslim loyalty was their millet, mat is the officially recognized religion/denomination, to which the person in question happened to belong. Another such focus of loy­alty was the ethnic and cultural group of which every Ottoman sub­ject constituted a member—there might be many such communities within one and the same millet. Finally, not the least among the claimants to the loyalty of any Ottoman subject was his family, the setting where religious and cultural values were inculcated in each new generation. Linguistic differences were of limited political signi­ficance until the eighteenth century, when the leaders of the Greek Orthodox church attempted to 'byzantinize' and thereby 'grecicize' the multi-cultural organization under their control.[77]

     In the nineteenth century, non-Muslim nationalisms were strongly colored by the experience of religious community which Greeks, Serbs, Bulgarians or Armenians had gone through within their respec­tive millets. On die one hand, the millets lost much of their previous importance, as the central state of the Tanzimat now claimed to be the fountainhead of people's civic rights. On the other hand, the 'small groups' which had existed within the millets, with predominantly familial and parochial values, now 'de-universalized' religion. In the form of a particular denomination, 'parochialized' religion came to be seen as the apanage of one or the other ethnic group. In Karpat's view, the Ottoman elite committed a serious policy error when, instead of legitimizing the mosaic of different religious and cultural entities which had emerged after the decline of the millets, it attempted to impose a unitary Ottoman nationhood, of the kind which at the time had become popular in western Europe.

    According to Karpat's model, Ottoman millets were transformed during the eighteenth century, not only because of the policies of the Greek Orthodox hierarchy, but also due to the rise of local notables, both Muslim and Christian. The conflicts between these latter two competing elites encouraged disaffection among the non-Muslims, who, on the whole, could count on less support from the central state. Economic factors, such as the enrichment of many Balkan merchants, also had a role to play, as wealthy traders reacted against an underdeveloped school system shaped by clerical priorities and demanded a say in the business of the millet. And last but not least, it was the centralizing Tanzimat bureaucracy which, by its attempts to direct and control, succeeded in transforming and, in the end, fatally weakening the millet as an institution.

     All this explains only the genesis of nationalism in a non-Muslim context, for instance the Serbian, Greek, or Bulgarian cases. In Karpat's view, Muslim nationalisms were, at least to a great extent, mere responses to developments within the non-Muslim millets. Mus­lims reacted to the loss of religiously motivated privilege which had been theirs during the Ottoman heyday and to the foreign protec­tion upon which so many non-Muslims now could rely. Thus, as in a game of dominoes, changes in one section of the gameboard ulti­mately led to changes in the total configuration. However, this model does not help us to account for the fact that the Muslims also adopted a division into different nations according to linguistic allegiance. Within the framework of Karpat's model, asserting a unified Mus­lim identity probably would have made more sense.

     Karpat makes another important point when he states that the position of a given person vis-à-vis the Ottoman state was more impor­tant in determining his tax status than even his religious affiliation. He thus demonstrates that the millets were part of an interlocking political system, and not an absolute and isolated 'given'. In the pic­ture drawn by this author, the internal balance within a millet  might be disturbed if


the representatives of a millet attempted to tailor religion according to the political aspirations of an ethnic group.


In such cases, certain members of a millet might sever their ties to the organization to which they had originally belonged.[78] However, given Ottoman political organization, for the individual person who did not leave the sultan's domains abandoning one such group always meant that he or she came to join another.



The 'critical' historians


These ideas have been carried further by a number of historians, sociologists and political scientists who, from the 1960s onward, have begun to pioneer a different understanding of both the Ottoman state and its non-Muslim subjects. These academics constitute a minority within the Turkish intellectual community, but their pro­fessional standing is often high. For the scholars sharing this out­look, the practices and policies of the Ottoman Empire have lost much of their relevance for the present. Often they see themselves as part of an international community of scholars, which makes them less inclined to defend the Ottoman elite as their own 'ancestry'. As will have become clear in the course of this chapter, these are the people who view nations as comparatively recent creations, so that the history of the present is not too closely connected to what hap­pened in the fifteenth or even the nineteenth century. Unfortunately however, none of these 'critical' scholars has written a major study of the Greek Orthodox or any other millet. Therefore, their critical comments mostly are made 'in passing' and very few of them have actually tackled the complex of 'traditional' attitudes which have been discussed in the present study.

    However, in spite of these limitations, the critical stance adopted is worth noting.[79] Thus for example, the highly respected archeologist Ekrem Akurgal, who has taught an entire generation of Turkish archeologists and ancient historians, at the very General Staff con­ference already referred to, warned against naive and chauvinistic attitudes toward the Greeks. As Akurgal put it, Greeks had inter­mingled considerably with Turks, even if this fact did not please many of his compatriots.[80]

     The economic historians Zafer Toprak and Çağlar Keyder, who focus on Turkish-republican history while taking late Ottoman devel­opments into account, both have pointed the way to a more bal­anced evaluation of the Greek role. The same can be said of the economic and monetary historian Şevket Pamuk, whose publications span the entire Ottoman period; and the political scientist Taner Timur forcefully has expressed his impatience with the 'apologetic' historiography which has occupied us here.

     As we have seen, most Turkish historians view Turkish national­ism during the late Ottoman period as a reaction against minority nationalisms. While this is certainly justified, there is another side to the coin: Zafer Toprak points out that during the last years of the Empire, and especially during the war years, eliminating the non-Muslims from economic life became an avowed government policy.[81] By implication, this cannot have had a favorable impact on the loyalty of non-Muslim businessmen still active in the Empire, of which, at least in principle, they were considered subjects.

     In his influential introduction to Ottoman economic history, Şevket Pamuk is critical of eighteenth and nineteenth-century official poli­cies, which did not aim at protecting local merchants and produc­ers against competition on the part of European traders. Here the effects were felt by Muslims and non-Muslims alike; and Pamuk strongly qualifies the 'traditional' notion of non-Muslim merchants as the 'collaborationist' associates of European traders. The author points out that from the eighteenth century onwards, non-Muslim merchants played an important role also as the associates of the Ottoman administration, whose activities they helped to finance. As to the relations of non-Muslim merchants with their European counterparts, they were based on competition, particularly in regional trade, more than on subservient association. By this differentiated explanation, Pamuk has thus proposed a rational analysis of the role of Ottoman non-Muslims, instead of the emotional moralism so fre­quent in 'traditional' historiography.[82]

     Çağlar Keyder first made a name for himself by 'situating' Ottoman and Turkish history within the 'world systems' framework of Immanuel Wallerstein. In 1987 he brought out a synthetic work on this topic, which focused on the relationship between 'the state' and 'social class(es)', a problematique very much favored by historians of a Marxian background.[83] In Keyder's perspective, 'incorporation' of the Ottoman territories into the European world economy permit­ted the emergence of a bourgeoisie, which in Keyder's perspective had been absent from the Ottoman Empire during its 'classical' period. However, this bourgeoisie was mainly non-Muslim; it was unable to secure state support, and subsequently was eliminated dur­ing the upheavals of World War I and its aftermath. This disap­pearance of the bourgeoisie allowed the state bureaucracy, which had been the dominant class during earlier centuries, to gain a new lease on life. Only after World War II had 'bourgeoisie formation with state aid', whose beginnings Toprak had noted for the late Ottoman Empire, proceeded far enough that the bureaucracy was obliged to renounce its exclusive control of the state. In this con­text, it is worth noting that Keyder views the Greek, Armenian and Jewish merchants, compradors though they may have been, as an integral part of a 'peripheralized' Ottoman society, and not as some 'foreign' element which ultimately 'had to' be excluded.


When merchants and manufacturers, in their overwhelming majority Greeks and Armenians, became politically committed, the inter-state system had already condemned the Empire to dissolution. Under dif­ferent conditions, with higher odds in favour of the survival of the Empire, they might have taken a different tack. As it was, their politics gam­bled on the breakup of the Ottoman realm.[84]


The political scientist Taner Timur has analyzed Ottoman history as a process leading from 'primitive' (or 'early') feudalism to a 'semi-colonial economy'. In this context he emphasizes that down to the middle of the nineteenth century, and in some instances even beyond, the Ottoman state structure involved a 'caste-like' separation between rulers and ruled. Moreover, the ruled themselves were further div­ided into the Muslim 'first class' subjects, and the 'second-class' non-Muslims. Even after all subjects had been rendered legally equal by the Tanzimat and reform rescripts of 1839 and 1856, the integra­tion of the non-Muslim subjects was a problematic process. Timur also stresses that Ottoman liberals evinced scant sympathies for the non-Muslims. Even the oppositionist poet Namık Kemal (1840-1888) did not demand a political order in which Muslims and non-Muslims would be legal equals; if anything, he criticized the Tanzimat bureau­cracy because the latter did not take Islamic religious law seriously enough. Timur concludes that


A [political] movement occurring a hundred years after the French Revolution and not aiming at the removal of legal privileges cannot be regarded as a 'struggle for freedom', and [this deficiency] cannot be excused by the 'conditions of the times'.[85]


Presumably a notable improvement of the quality of historical stud­ies, at least at the elite universities, constitutes a major precondition for the emergence of the 'critical' historiography. Toprak, Pamuk, Keyder and Timur all work at such elite universities, or, as in Keyder's case, principally abroad. Their discourse thus is directed at 'educated readers' familiar with the major debates going on in the social sciences on an international level. Among these readers, stu­dents and fellow professionals probably make up a fairly high per­centage. But given the number of university students and graduates, this is already a reading public of appreciable size. At the Founda­tion for Turkish Social and Economic History, with its headquarters in Istanbul and branches in Ankara and the major provincial cities, the 'critical' scholars have found a forum where their ideas can be discussed.

     In addition, one should not underestimate the importance of the fact that the Republic of Turkey is now over seventy-five years old, and the tense period of nation formation is largely over. With tele­communications widespread and relatively cheap and access to the internet increasing, certain sections of the academic milieu and big city readership in general are also more attuned to intellectual trends outside of Turkey. In the long run, some of the young people who have attended school abroad as the children of Turkish workers and who now have entered into the Istanbul or Ankara milieu presum­ably also will also increase the readership of the 'critical' historians.

     Some indications of this trend well may be visible even today. In a few cases, the views of the 'critical' academics have been taken up by authors whose style is more journalistic; it remains to be seen whether this trend will continue.[86] Books on the cosmopolitan cul­ture of the nineteenth-century Ottoman capital, as well as pho­tographs which allow us to visualize the same milieu, enjoy a fairly wide appeal in present-day Istanbul. Beyoğlu, the former Pera, where many Greeks used to live, has become a major focus of the 'nos­talgia culture' of the last twenty years or so. It also is notable that many Istanbul cultural institutions currently are establishing them­selves in this same area. A cynic might add that the absence of real-life non-Muslims probably has added to the appeal of this old town quarter and its 'intercultural' history.[87] Whatever the causes, a new interest in 'minority culture' is perceivable.



A provisional conclusion


Intersecting with scholarly concerns, the desire to 'defend' the Ottoman Empire thus plays a significant role in all writings concerning Ottoman non-Muslim millets and Turkish-republican minorities, at least if we disregard the small number of scholars belonging to the 'critical' group. This apologetic tendency, by the way, is by no means lim­ited to Turkish scholars. To many American, Dutch, French or Ger­man Ottomanists, refuting various and sundry accusations directed against the Empire also constitutes a significant reason for their schol­arly endeavors. This 'slant' goes far to explain certain lacunnae in Turkish Ottomanist historiography. To begin with, the early Ottoman period until 1453 receives very little scholarly attention as far as the Greek subjects of the Empire and their Byzantine opponents are concerned.[88] Such a neglect doubtless is due in part to the lack of sources. But more must be involved; for in the 'transition studies' which deal with the end of Byzantine and 'Latin' ascendancy in the Mediterranean and the concomitant rise of the Ottomans, the par­ticipation of Turkish Ottomanist historians is limited indeed.[89] Bar­ring oversight, only İnalcık, Necipoğlu, Delilbaşı and Kafadar have made major contributions to this noteworthy sub-field of late medieval studies. Linguistic problems apart, presumably the fact that the early Ottomans were imbricated to such a degree with their non-Muslim neighbors has contributed toward making this field less than attrac­tive to historians of lingering nationalist inclinations.

     As a second 'gap' in Turkish Ottomanist studies relevant to Greeks, one might point to the extreme rarity with which documents ema­nating from Ottoman Greeks themselves are taken into account. Again, there is a trivial reason, namely, that so few historians active in Turkey know modern Greek. But beyond this simple fact, one could point to more profound motives. Identifying the 'voices', that is, the self-interpretation of Ottoman subjects, of the non-members of the ruling elite, is still very much a minor concern among Turk­ish historians. And when attempts of this kind are undertaken, they are usually limited to the early twentieth, or at most, the late nine­teenth century.[90] It is to be hoped that recent efforts, still rather iso­lated, to 'place' the non-Muslims of the late Ottoman period in their Istanbul context will inspire the specialists on earlier periods as well.[91]

     As a third 'blank spot' in the history of Ottoman Greeks, and of non-Muslims in general, the slave status of many members of this group rarely is taken into consideration. Yet this situation also is beginning to change. In a recent book, Hakan Erdem has developed the hypothesis that at least during the fifteenth to seventeenth cen­turies, most Ottoman zimmis were not 'really' zimmis at all, but, at least in principle, slaves of the state by law of conquest. Their orig­inal status was, so to say, reactivated when their sons were recruited into the levy of boys (devşirme) - by this hypothesis, Erdem resolves the contradiction that cizye-paying subjects legally could not be enslaved, while devşirme recruits definitely bore certain marks of slav­ery.[92] It is still too early to say whether this hypothesis will gain general acceptance, but it does have the merit of highlighting the significance of slavery for many Ottoman non-Muslims in the early centuries of the Empire. On a more empirical level, the existence of agricultural slaves in the vicinity of fifteenth-century Istanbul, some of whom tried to pass themselves off as free non-Muslim subjects, recently has been emphasized by the historian Stephane Yerasimos.[93] But these few swallows do not necessarily make a summer.

     Another problem, the fourth, is linked to what might be called a tendency toward excessive simplification, which means that regional and local specificities are lost from view. Thus we may note the absence from the Turkish historiography on Ottoman Greeks of those people who were not under the jurisdiction of the Orthodox patri­arch. Albeit grecophone, these men and women were Roman Catholics. Yet particularly on the Mediterranean islands, Greek-speaking Catholics formed a small but by no means insignificant group. Presumably a simplistic understanding of late medieval history lies at the root of the problem. As we have seen, 'popular' Turkish historiography makes much of the, claim that the Ottomans 'saved' the Greek-Ortho­dox from being overwhelmed by the Catholic church; the existence of grecophone Catholics disturbs this tidy picture. Another example of such excessive simplification can be discerned when Greeks are viewed as constantly forming a 'minority' within die Ottoman Empire. Of course, this is accurate if the Empire is being considered as a totality. But on the regional or sub-regional plane, die Peloponnese or the Aegean islands constituting prime examples, Greeks in fact might form a majority. Yet as Karpat has pointed out, local dynamics played a significant role in the emergence of non-Muslim nation­alisms, so that it is not a good idea to limit one's study to the empire-wide perspective alone.[94]

     A fifth and final point concerns the tendency of many Turkish scholars to place a possibly excessive confidence in the good-neigh­borly relations between Muslims and their Greek fellow townsmen or villagers. Doubtless numerous cases of this sort existed, and if only because Greek nationalist historians have so often claimed the contrary, such cases deserve close analysis. Yet especially at times of external tension, such as the Russo-Ottoman conflict of 1768-1774, pogroms did occur. Moreover, similarly to other non-Muslims, the Orthodox could get chased out of their homes and churches. Some­times the houses were deemed too close to a mosque, or churches were converted into mosques because a ruler or vizier sought to gain support by a show of piety. Such events did not happen every day, but a working historian should not try to persuade him/herself that they did not happen at all.

     Despite these deficiencies, especially the 'liberal' historians dealing with the Greeks in Ottoman history also have some solid achieve­ments to their credit. To begin with, these historians have substi­tuted historical analysis for mere assertions of moral superiority. In addition, the work of İnalcık and Karpat has made it clear that Ottoman millets were not immutable institutions within an unchang­ing Ottoman state. Quite to the contrary, the status of every millet, including of course the Greek-Orthodox, changed according to polit­ical conjunctures. Thus even though certain ground rules were laid in the time of Mehmed the Conqueror, the Greek millet of the six­teenth century differed substantially from that of the post-Tanzimat period.[95] Thus a concern with social and political dynamics in Ottoman history in general has revitalized the study of the Greek Orthodox millet. Moreover in the last two decades, 'critical' historians, with little stake in the 'defence of the state', are attempting to take the Greek perspective into account when working towards an historical synthesis. Much remains to be done, but at least a beginning has been made.













[1] Taha Parla, The Social and Political Thought of Ziya Gökalp 1876-1924 (Leiden, 1985), 15.

[2] A. L. Macfie, The End of the Ottoman Empire (Harlow/Essex, 1998), 61

[3] Gündüz Ökçün, "1909-1930 yılları arasında anonim şirket olarak kurulan bankalar" in Türkiye iktisat tarihi Semineri, Metinler—tartışmalar, ed. By Osman Okyar and Ünal Nalbantoğlu (Ankara, 1975), 409-84. For the larger context, see Çağlar Keyder, State and Class in Turkey. A Study in Capitalist Development (London, New York, 1987), 60 ff.

[4] For the reforms of the Kemalists and their antecedents under die Committee of Union and Progress, see Erik Jan Zürcher, Turkey, A Modern History (London, 1994), 181 and elsewhere.

[5] The same thing applied to Greece, where only the Muslims of western Thrace were permitted to remain.

[6] According to the Lausanne treaty of 1923, the existence of the non-Muslim minorities inhabiting Turkey at that time was acknowledged. The Turkish govern­ment accepted the obligation to protect all its citizens regardless of creed, but no special rights or foreign interference were recognized in the case of Greeks, Armenians and Jews. See Zürcher, Turkey, 170.

[7] Today, the Suryanis have largely disappeared from Turkey. See H. Poulton, Top Hat, Gray Wolf and Crescent. Turkish Nationalism and the Turkish Republic (London, 1997), 114-29 and 272~84. On die Greek community compare Alexis Alexandris, The Greek Minority of Istanbul and Greek-Turkish Relations 1918-1976 (Athens, 1983).

[8] For an eyewitness report by a finance director involved in this affair, see Faik Ökte, The Tragedy of the Turkish Capital Tax, transl. by Geoffrey Cox (London, 1987). On the capital levy as a means of eliminating minority businesses, see p. XII; compare also Rıdvan Akar, Varlık Vergisi. Tek parti rejiminde azınlık karşıtı politika örneği (Istanbul, 1992).

[9] Hülya Demir and Rıdvan Akar, İstanbul'un son sürgünleri (İstanbul, 1994).

[10] Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford, London, 1961), 15.

[11] The term 'imagined communities' is owed to Benedict Anderson, Imagined Com­munities. Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London, New York, 1983).

[12] As the work by Johann Strauss “Ottoman Rule Experienced and Remembered: Remarks on Some Local Greek Chronicles of the Tourkokratios” in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill,  2002, shows, in the seventeenth century, this also applied to many provincial Greeks.

[13] By the term millet we mean the officially recognized organizations of die differ­ent non-Muslim religious groups, which mediated the relations of their members with the Ottoman state. To what extent these organizations formed part of the 'classical' Ottoman state system, and to what extent they were a nineteenth-century innovation, still is a contentious matter among Ottomanists. For some perti­nent studies see Bernard Lewis and Benjamin Braude eds., Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, 2 vols. (New York, London, 1982).

     In the present paper, we will use the term millet when dealing with the non-Muslim groups of the Ottoman period. The term 'minority' will be reserved for the republican years.

[14]  On the Jews of the Ottoman Empire, compare Stanford J. Shaw, The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (London, 1991).

[15] Molly Greene, A Shared World, Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediter­ranean (Princeton, 2000), 153-54, 167.

[16] On this debate compare Eleni Gara, "In Search of Communities in Seven­teenth-century Ottoman Sources: the Case of the Kara Ferye District", Turcica 30 (1998), 135-162.

[17] Salahi Sonyel, Minorities and the Destruction of the Ottoman Empire (Ankara, 1993).

[18] Yet this explanation does not account for the fact that the Bulgarians are omit­ted from Sonyel's account. After all, Bulgarian activity in Macedonia, to say nothing of the early twentieth-century Balkan wars and the post-World War II mistreatment of the Turkish minority in Bulgaria, combine to make for rather a conflictual history.

[19] John S. Koliopoulos, Brigands with a Cause. Brigandage and Irredentism in Modem Greece, 1821-1912 (Oxford, 1987).

[20] For a list of the textbooks examined see Herkül Millas, "Türk ders kitaplarında 'Yunanlılar': Bütünleştirici bir yaklaşım", in Tarih eğitimi ve tarihte ‘Öteki’ Sorunu (Istan­bul, 1998), 262-63.

[21] Ian Kershaw, The 'Hitler Myth': Image and Reality in the Third Reich (Oxford, 1987), 229-40.

[22] Salih Özbaran, Tarih, tarihçi ve toplum (İstanbul, 1996), 9.

[23] Salih Özbaran, "Öğrenci Değerlendirmesiyle tarih öğretimi," in idem, Tarih ve öğretimi (İstanbul, 1992), 205-20.

[24] Salih Özbaran (ed.), Tarih öğretimi ve ders kitapları. Buca Sempozyumu 29 Eylül - 1 Ekim 1994 (İstanbul, 1995); Editor anonymous, Tarih eğitimi ve tarihte "Öteki" sorunu. 2. Uluslararası Tarih Kongresi, 8-10 Haziran 1995, Istanbul (İstanbul, 1998).

[25] İlhan Tekeli, Tarih bilinci ve gençlik (İstanbul, 1998).

[26] Herkül Millas, Yunan ulusunun doğuşu (İstanbul, 1994) and idem, "Türk ders kitaplarında 'Yunanlılar'".

[27] The new textbooks published after 1993 no longer contain many of the neg­ative stereotypes previously attributed to the Greeks. On these improvements com­pare Millas, "Turk Ders Kitaplarında 'Yunanlılar'" and idem, Türk-Yunan ilişkilerine bir önsöz (İstanbul, 1995).

    Since however there seems to be no silver lining without a cloud, these new text­books all but exclude the ancient civilizations of Anatolia: Recep Yıldırım, "Tarih ders kitaplarında Anadolu uygarlıkları", in Özbaran ed., Tarih öğretimi ve ders kitapları, 161-66.

[28] Ferruh Sanır, Tarık Asal, Niyazi Akşit, İlkokul Sosyal Bilgiler -4, p. 192 (İstan­bul, 1986). For details see Millas, "Türk Ders Kitaplannda 'Yunanlılar'". Amus­ingly enough, from an etymological point of view the word 'Yunan', an ancient term which in modern Turkish denotes the Greek citizens of Greece, is actually derived from the term 'Ionian' (Ottoman subjects and citizens of the Republic of Turkey with a Greek ethnic affiliation are known as 'Rum').

[29] Here we can discern an echo of the claims of the German-language scholar Jacob Philipp Fallmerayer (1790-1861), author of a history of the 'empire' of Trapezunt. Fallmerayer, who had traveled extensively in the Ottoman lands, defended the thesis that Slav and later Albanian immigration virtually had swamped the Greek population of medieval Greece. It was therefore meaningless to claim that the Greeks of his own time were descended from the Greeks of antiquity.

    Of course Fallmerayer's claims, whatever their historical accuracy, are important only if national or racial 'purity' are important considerations. This seems to apply to certain authors of Turkish textbooks, who, in a derogatory sense, call the Greeks 'half-cast' (melez).

[30] Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans, vol. 1: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (Cambridge, 1983), 220-29.

[31] Jelavich, History of the Balkans, 226.

[32] The 'Great Idea' as proclaimed by expansionist circles in the Greek state appa­ratus did in fact involve the conquest of an empire encompassing both the west­ern and the eastern coastiands of the Aegean and of course Istanbul itself. For details see Michael Llewelyn Smith, Ionian Vision. Greece in Asia Minor 1919—1922 (London, 2nd ed., 1998), 3-7.

[33] For further details, see the article by Büşra Ersanlı “The Ottoman Empire in the Historiography of the Kemalist Era: a Theory of Fatal Decline” in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill, 2002. For the racialist implications of this theory, compare Afet Inan, L'Anatolie, le pays de la 'race' turque (Geneva, 1941). Publication was sponsored by the Republic of Turkey.

[34] For information on the writers and works mentioned in this section, compare Atilla Özkırımlı, Türk edebiyatı ansiklopedisi (İstanbul, 1982). Herkül Millas, Türk romanı ve "Öteki"—Ulusal kimlikte Yunan imajı (Istanbul, 2000). On Azra Erhat, see also the relevant entry in the Büyük Larousse sözlük ve ansiklopedisi (Istanbul, 1986).

[35] Kemal Tahir, Devkt Ana (Ankara, 1971) (first edition 1967).

[36]In 1971 Eyüboğlu was imprisoned under the accusation of having formed a secret organization. The charges were finally dropped.

[37] Turgut Özal, La Turquie en Europe (Paris, 1988), 21.

[38] Millas, "Türk ders kitaplarında 'Yunanlılar'", 261.

[39] S. Salışık, Türk-Yunan ilişkileri tarihi ve Etniki Eterya (Istanbul, 1968).

[40] Salışık, Türk-Yunan ilişkileri, 11.

[41] Salışık, Türk-Tunan ilişkileri, 300.

[42] Ibid., 139.

[43] Ibid., 7.

[44] Faruk Güventürk, Türklere karşı Yunan milli hedefleri ve genel politika, stratejileri nedir? (Ankara, 1976).

[45] Genelkurmay Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt Başkanlığı, Türk-Tunan ilişkileri ve Megalo (sic) İdea (Ankara, 1985).

[46] Millas, Yunan ulusunun doğuşu, 201—243.

[47] Ariel Salzmann has critiqued this attitude: "An Ancien Regime Revisited: 'Pri­vatization' and Political Economy in the Eighteenth-century Ottoman Empire," Pol­itics and Society 21, 4 (1993), 393-423.

[48] As an example of this tendency one might mention an article by Ömer Lütfi Barkan, which was published as the author's contribution to a Festschrift celebrat­ing the one hundredth anniversary of the Tanzimat. Here Barkan discusses the land law of 1858, which, under certain conditions, sanctioned private property in land. Barkan was profoundly skeptical of the commercial sector of the economy in general, which he tended to regard as a potential enemy of the peasant and, more importantly still, of 'the state'. Barkan thus viewed the right to purchase land, which the 1858 law granted to anybody with the requisite means, "Greek and Armenian money changers" included, as "one of our unpardonable errors of neglect and one of the sad necessities to which we have bowed": Ömer Lütfi Barkan, "Türk toprak hukuku tarihinde Tanzimat ve 1274 (1858) tarihli Arazi Kanunnamesi", reprinted in Türkiye'de toprak meselesi, Istanbul, 1980, 349. For a criticism of Barkan's 'statism' see Halil Berktay, "Der Aufstieg und ie gegenwartige Krise der nationalistischen Geschichtsschreibung in der Türkei", Periplus, 1 (1991), 102—125.

    Moreover Barkan was not unique. Thus for example the influential nationalist historian and publicist Yusuf Akçura, and also the historian İsmail Hakkı Uzunçarşılı, blamed the oppressive and dishonest Ottomano-Phanariot rule in Wallachia and Moldavia solely on the Phanariots, and not at all on the Ottoman administration which had appointed these governors. Compare Yusuf Akçura, Osmanlı Devletinin dağılma devri, (reprint of 1940 ed., Ankara, 1988), p. 13 and İsmail Hakkı Uzuncarşılı, Osmanlı tarihi (reprint Ankara, 1988), vol. IV, 2, p. 108.

[49] Among the rare Turkish historians reading modern Greek, the Byzantinist Melek Delilbaşı is a pioneer. Modern Greek was first taught at a Turkish univer­sity in 1990, when a program in Modern Greek language and literature was insti­tuted at Ankara University's Faculty of Languages, History and Geography. Among the younger generation knowledge of Modern Greek is becoming more frequent; in this context one might mention Nevra Necipoglu, Engin Berber, Levent Kayapınar, Melek Firat, Şükrü Ilıcak and Elçin Macar.

[50] Along with his colleagues the sociologist Behice Boran and the folklorist Pertev Naili Boratav, Berkes had lost his teaching position at Ankara University in 1948 due to conservative opposition to his views. See Mete Çelik ed., Üniversitede cadı kazanı, 1948 DTCF tasfiyesi ve Pertev Naili Boratav'in müdafaası (Istanbul, 1998).

    The volume at issue here is Niyazi Berkes, Teokrasi ve laiklik (Istanbul, 1974); how­ever the book to which the author principally owes his reputation is The Develop­ment of Secularism in Turkey (Montreal, 1964).

[51] Barbara Jelavich, History of the Balkans, 204-17. In a frequently used French work of reference (Georges Castellan, Histoire des Balkans, XIV'-XIX' siecle, Paris, 1991, 260-70), the bishop Germanos of Patras is given a prominent role, but once again the Patriarch himself appears only at the moment of his execution. For a Turkish translation of the 'Paternal Admonition' issued by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Anthimos in 1798, according to which those who 'dreamt of liberty' had been seduced by the Devil, see Millas, Yunan Ulusunun Doğuşu, 133-134. According to Castellan (p. 261) this text had been issued by Patriarch Gregorios himself.

[52] Cornell H. Fleischer, Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire, The Histo­rian Mustafa Ali (1541-1600) (Princeton, 1986), 259.

[53] Berkes, Teokrasi ve laiklik, 119.

[54] For a lengthy selection of Berkes' phraseology, see my Yunan ulusunun doğuşu, 213.

[55] Berkes, Secularism, 432.

[56] Berkes, Secularism, 426. On Akçura as an historian compare the study by Ersanlı “The Ottoman Empire in the Historiography of the Kemalist Era: a Theory of Fatal Decline” in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill, 2002 while a more ample treatment can be found in François Georgeon, Turk milliyetçiliğinin kökenleri –Yusuf Akçura (1876-1935), transl. by Alev Er (Ankara, 1986).

[57] This work was published, in English, by the Turkish Historical Society, known for its close relations to the Turkish government. For the sake of fairness, it should be noted that throughout the nineteenth century and even earlier, the confusion between 'Ottomans' and 'Turks' was very common in the secondary literature writ­ten by Europeans.

[58] Sonyel, Minorities, 7 and 17.

[59] Sonyel, Minorities, 98 and 102.

[60] Sonyel, Minorities, 445.


[61] Gülnihal Bozkurt, Gayrimüslim Osmanlı vatandaşlarının hukuki durumu (Ankara, 1989).

[62] Bilal Eryilmaz, Osmanh devletinde gayrimüslim teb'anın yönetimi (Istanbul, 1990).

[63] Eryılmaz, Gayrimüslimler, 48-49.

[64] Eryılmaz, Gayrimüslimler, 216-18.

[65] Ali İhsan Bağış, Osmanh ticaretinde gayri müslimler (Ankara, 1983).

[66] 66 Kemal Beydilli, "Ignatius Mouradgea D'Ohsson (Muradcan Tosuniyan)," İstan­bul Üniversitesi Edebiyat Fakültesi tarih dergisi, 34 (1984), 247-314; Elena Frangakis-Syrett, The Commerce of Smyrna in the Eighteenth Century (1700-1820) (Athens, 1992); Marie-Carmen Smyrnelis, "Les Armeniens catholiques de Smyrne aux XVIIIe et XIXe siècles", Revue du monde armenien modeme et contemporain, 2 (1995-1996), 25-44. Marie-Carmen Smyrnelis' book (Smyrne: la ville oubliee?, Autrement, 2006) on the eighteenth and nineteenth-century French community of Izmir, whose members often entertained close links to local Greeks and Armenians.  

[67] Bağış, Gayri müslimler, 103.

[68] Thus the legal historian Ahmet Mumcu in Tarih içindeki gelişimiyle birlikte Osmanh devletinde rüşvet (Istanbul, reprint 1985), p. 108, holds the "ambitious and money-loving" character of the Greeks responsible for the spread of bribery in the Ottoman Empire.

[69] Halil İnalcık, "The Policy of Mehmed II toward the Greek Population of Istan­bul and the Byzantine Buildings of the City," Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 23-24 (1969-70), 231-249, see particularly p. 234.

[70] İnalcık, "The Policy", 235.

[71] Halil İnalcık, The Ottoman Empire, the Classical Age 1300—1600 (reprint London, 1994), 114.

[72] Halil İnalcık, "Greeks in Ottoman Economy and Finances, 1453-1500", reprinted in idem, Essays in Ottoman History (Istanbul, 1998), 379-89. For more recent work on these ex-Byzantine businessmen, compare the study by Klaus-Peter Matschke “Research Problems concerning the Transition to Tourkokratia: the Byzantinist Standpoint” in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill, 2002.

[73] İnalcık, "Greeks", 380.

[74] Compare the article "İmtiyazat" in The Encyclopedia of Islam, 2nd edition.

[75] Kemal Karpat, "Millets and Nationality: The Roots of the Incongruity of Nation and State in the Post-Ottoman Era," in Benjamin Braude and Bernard Lewis (eds.), Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire (London, New York, 1982), vol. 1, 141-70.

[76] Karpat, "Millets", 141.

[77] In a recently published work: Christianity under Islam in Jerusalem (Leiden, 2001),
Oded Peri has shown that this process actually began in the seventeenth century.

[78] Karpat, "Millets and Nationality", 148-49.

[79] Critics of the apologetic stance of Turkish historians dealing with Greek affairs can look back upon a distinguished 'ancestor' in the person of Osman Nuri Ergin (1883-1961), whose knowledge of Istanbul's urban administration remains unrivalled even today. In his Tüirkiye Maarif Tarihi (repr. Istanbul, 1977, 740) the author draws a realistic picture of the "educational system of the minorities". He also criticizes implicitly various state policies with respect to the millets, and explicitly the execution of many official translators, who in the eighteenth century, were usually Greeks.

    Another critical voice comes from the analysts of Turkish schoolbooks, whom we already have encountered in a different context. Apart from the previously cited works by Salih Özbaran, see Mete Tunçay, "İlk ve orta öğretimde tarih," in Felsefe Kurumu seminerleri (Ankara, 1977), 276-285. Türker Alkan, The Political Integration of Europe (Ankara, 1982), 68—69, also contains some pertinent remarks.

[80] Ekrem Akurgal, "Eski Anadolu'da Yunanklar", in Tarih boyunca Türk-Yunan ilişkileri, III. Askeri tarih semineri (Ankara, 1986), 61.

[81] Zafer Toprak, Türkiye'de "Milli İktisat" (1908-1918) (Ankara, 1982), 19.

[82] Şevket Pamuk, Osmanlı-Türkiye iktisadi tarihi 1500-1914 (Istanbul, 1988), 179-81.

[83] Çağlar Keyder, State and Class in Turkey (London, 1987), published in Turkey as Türkiye'de devlet ve sınıflar (Istanbul, 1989).

[84]  Keyder, State and Class, 47.

[85] Taner Timur, Osmanh Çalışmaları. İlkel feodalizmden yarı sömürge ekonomisine (Ankara, 1989), 299.

    An even sharper formulation of similar views is found in Taner Akçam, Türk ulusal kimliği ve Ermeni sorunu (Istanbul, 1993), 66. Akçam's criticism apparently is directed at the Turkish political left, namely when he remarks that the non-Mus­lims have been equated with the capitalist class, "nourished by the capitulations". In the struggle against this class, every means seems to become legitimate, and even "the principle of general equality becomes suspect as if it were an imperialist trick".

[86] Yelda (Yeldağ Özcan), İstanbul'da, Diyarbakir'da azalırken (Istanbul, 1996). Leyla Neyzi, İstanbul'da hatırlamak ve unutmak - Birey, bellek ve aidiyet (Istanbul, 1999).

[87] In this context, it is worth noting that a few Greeks resident in Istanbul, or formerly resident in this city, also have become interested in the affairs of the Rum milleti. The present author apart, one might point to Y. Benlisoy and E. Macar, Fener Patrikhanesi (Ankara, 1996) and Stephane Yerasimos, Azgelişmişlik  sürecinde Türkiye. Bizans'tan 1971’e, 3 vols, in one (Istanbul, 3rd printing 1980).

[88] As a major exception, however, there is Cemal Kafadar's sophisticated book Between Two Worlds. The Construction of the Ottoman State (Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1995).

[89] For the new directions taken in 'transition studies', compare the article by Klaus Peter Matschke “Research Problems concerning the Transition to Tourkokratia: the Byzantinist Standpoint” in The Ottomans and the Balkans – A Discussion of Historiography, (Edit) Fikret Adanır & Suraiya Faroqhi, Brill, 2002.

[90] As document publications in this vein, one might mention Ertuğrul süvarisi Ali Bey'den Ayşe Hanm'a mektuplar, ed. by Canan Eronat (Istanbul, 1995) and Ahmet Nedim Servet Tör, Nevhiz'in günlüğü, Defter-i hatırat, ed. by Kaya Şahin (Istanbul, 2000).

[91] On the employees of the Osmanlı Bankası around 1900, where many non-Muslims were employed, see Edhem Eldem, 135 Yıllık bir hazine, Osmanli Bankasi arşivinde tarihten izler (Istanbul, 1997), 261-94. On the Armenian artistic milieu of Istanbul in the late nineteenth century, there is much information in Engin Özendeş, Abdullah Freres, Osmanli sarayının fotoğrafçıları (Istanbul, 1998).

[92] Hakan Erdem, Slavery in the Ottoman Empire and its Demise, 1800-1909 (London, 1996), 2-17.

[93] Stephane Yerasimos, "15. Yüzyılın sonunda Haslar Kazası", in 18. Yüzyıl kadı sicilleri ışığında Eyüp'te sosyal yaşam, ed. by Tülay Artan (Istanbul, 1998), 82-102.

[94] Karpat, "Millets and Nationality", 153-54.

[95] In the volume in which Karpat's article on millets appeared, we also find a study by Benjamin Braude which casts doubt on the entire history of the millets as commonly accepted in die secondary literature: "Foundation Myths of the Millet System", in Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire, ed. by Braude and Lewis, vol. 1, 69-88. On pp. 77-81, Braude concludes that the Greeks of Mehmed IPs time pos­sessed an institution of their own, namely the Orthodox Church, and a communal leader, namely Patriarch Gennadios, but that the grant of formal privileges to the latter is not well attested. It is therefore doubtful whether the institution of the Greek millet really goes back to the Conqueror's time. However, we find little reference to Braude's work in the studies of Turkish historians dealing with Ottoman Greeks.


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