After World War I, Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points articulated a new vision for an international order based not on imperial ambition but on the self-determination of nations. Though empire persisted as a viable political form through the Second World War, the interwar years saw the breakup of some of the world's oldest dynastic empires into the much newer nation-state: the Austro-Hungarian Hapsburg Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and Imperial Russia all gave way to new political entities. At the same time, a transformation in the idea of political belonging occurred: citizenship now dominated the older concept of imperial subjects, and an idea of a national minority protected by an international regime of minority rights emerged. These ideas profoundly reshaped national and international politics.
This course focuses on the Armenians of Turkey across the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey, established in 1923. It uses the Armenians of Turkey as a case study in the emergence of secular nationalism as the dominant political ideal of the 20th century. Students will not only learn the history of the late Ottoman Empire, the Republic of Turkey, and the history of the Armenian minority in the Middle East, but will explore the transition from empire to republic at the end of the 19th century through the twin lenses of secularism and nationalism. Drawing on Ottoman and Turkish history, Armenian history, political science, and anthropology, the course introduces debates about nationalism, secularism, minority rights, and political belonging through the emphasis on Armenians in Turkey.