Hrant Dink Foundation will organize an international conference titled “Istanbul 1914-1922: War, Collapse, Occupation, and the History of Resistance” on 4-5 November 2022 in Istanbul.
The Ottoman State, which entered the First World War in the autumn of 1914, left the war on the side of the defeated. Its remaining lands were occupied by the armies of the Allied Powers which were victorious in the war after 1918. The inhabitants of the capital, who carried the burden of the war between 1914-1918, suffered under the oppressive policies of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) governments, military censorship, corruption, hunger, and poverty. For the Muslim and non-Muslim people of Istanbul, who were trying to get news from their husbands, fathers, and brothers who were recruited during the mobilization or exiled to some cities of Anatolia, the war years meant wear and tear in the face of high inflation and economic collapse.
For the Muslim and non-Muslim people of Istanbul, the war also created some new possibilities. For the first time, women from the middle classes participated in charity and educational activities organized by the Red Crescent and similar non-governmental organizations. Poor women, who also left their homes, started to work in factories that produced uniforms, ammunition, and war materials for the army. The elite women of the capital increased their presence in the society with the women’s magazines they published and the meetings they organized and attended. The war years also created a new segment called the “War Profiteers” who got rich with the political support of the Union and Progress government. In the literary works of the period, the themes of conspicuous consumption, waste, and moral indulgence of these war profiteers often come to the fore.
During the war years, the processes of exile, massacre, and genocide, which started with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals and politicians on 24 April 1915 and their expulsion to Anatolian cities such as Çankırı and Ayaş, resulted in the disappearance of the Armenian presence in Anatolia. In the same period, members of the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party were also put on trial in Istanbul and the party was shut down like other political organizations.
The escape of the CUP leaders from the country after the signing of the Armistice of Mudros on 30 October 1918 and the occupation of Istanbul by the Allied Powers were a turning point. During “the armistice” period between 1918-1922, journalists escaped the pressure of censorship. Opposition journalists in exile returned to Istanbul and took over their newspapers. Newspapers now described the destruction, exile, and massacres that took place at the frontlines and in Anatolia during the war. Meanwhile the tragedy that some non-Muslim children experienced during the war years was revealed. Thousands of orphaned children were given to Muslim families for adoption. During the armistice period, national and international organizations launched relief campaigns for the orphans and established orphanages. In the special courts established in 1919, the trial of those responsible for the deportation and massacre also took place.
After 1919, Istanbul became the center where the “National Struggle” movement that developed in Anatolia under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha was organized. The city was also a center for the provision of financial aid and recruitment of people for this movement. The Ottoman capital was the main source from which the new nation-state to be established in 1923 had been nurtured both intellectually and with human and material resources. This was a period in which different projects on Turkey were discussed, political polarization reached its peak, and at the same time foreign policy was a part of daily life. Intellectuals and organizations, which were pro or against all kinds of “political protection and Mandate regimes” engaged in a political struggle.
Lastly, during the armistice years, Istanbul welcomed White Russian émigrés of about 200,000. These Russian elites were formerly tied to the army of General Wrangel that was defeated by the Red Army. The novelties they brought to the social life of Istanbul had a lasting impact on the city. In addition to the White Russians, Istanbul has been a port where Armenians returning from exile or Muslim immigrants fleeing the regime changes in neighboring countries took shelter.
The conference titled ‘Istanbul, 1914-1922: War, Collapse, Occupation, and the History of Resistance’ is intended to serve as a platform where all these themes will be presented and discussed comprehensively and in a certain continuity.
• The working languages of the conference will be Armenian, English, and Turkish. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided. The abstract of applications should be submitted only in English.
• The presentations are limited to 20 minutes in order to have time for the Q&A session and the discussions.
• The conference will be streamed live on www.hrantdink.org.
• We kindly ask the participants to indicate their need of support for transportation and accommodation unless these are covered by their institutions.
• The conference will be of an ‘interdisciplinary’ nature. The conference is open to the participation of researchers studying Istanbul from various disciplines including history, history of economy, anthropology/cultural studies, sociology, political science, architectural history, and demographics.
• A selection of the papers presented at the conference will be published by the HDV Publications in the form of conference proceedings.
• Researchers who would like to participate in the conference are kindly requested to submit a 250-word-long summary of their original papers by specifying the major references along with a 150-word-long resume that includes their birth date, undergraduate, graduate, and PhD degrees, field of work, books published, and information on the ongoing work by 13 May 2022 with filling out the form.
Ayhan Aktar, Istanbul Bilgi University
Mehmet Ö. Alkan, Istanbul University
Suavi Aydın, Bilkent University
Ahmet Demirel, Marmara University
Bedross Der Matossian, University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
Ayşe Kadıoğlu, Sabancı University
Dimitris Kamouzis, Centre for Asia Minor Studies, Athens
Ahmet Kuyaş, Galatasaray University
Ayşe Ozil, Sabancı University
Vahé Tachjian, Director of Houshamadyan and Research Fellow, Freie Universitat Berlin
Arus Yumul, Istanbul Bilgi University