- Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II by Sarah D. Shields (review)
- Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association
- Indiana University Press
- Volume 4, Number 1, May 2017
- pp. 223-226
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Book Reviews 223 enabling him to present detailed descriptions of provincial life, which cannot be found in non-Armenian sources. He focuses on the region of Mamuret-ulAziz in the period 1908–15 and aims to reconstruct the daily life of the local Armenian community. Armenian-language primary sources open a window into the world of village and town life, as well as the rural and urban social milieus, describing changes in everyday life in impressive detail. In the final article, Uğur Ümit Üngör researches the relationship between central decision-making processes and the implementation of mass murder at the local level. Analyzing how genocidal processes evolved at the provincial, district, city, or even village level provides an important tool in understanding how local power definitions influence the course and intensity of genocidal processes. Taking the regional approach—considering territorial divisions beyond the provincial level but still within the state borders—Üngör’s piece attempts to develop a systematic examination of differences in the provinces of Adana and Diyarbekir in the Armenian genocide. While the CUP started the Revolution to restore the Ottoman constitution and parliament, the euphoria was short lived. Both domestic political developments and international power politics decided the failure of the Ottoman idea, and the Ottoman experience of total war sealed this failure irrevocably. The 1915 Armenian genocide was the end of Ottomanism and the viability of a multi-cultural, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic modern polity based on relations of mutual obligations between Ottoman communities and between the sultan and his subjects. The destruction of the Ottoman Armenians marked a definitive break and a point of no return to Ottomanism. This collective work is a valuable contribution to understanding and explaining this experience and its domestic and regional consequences for the empire and its demise. Umit Kurt Harvard University doi: 10.2979/jottturstuass.4.1.13 Sarah D. Shields. Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 320 pp. Cloth, $44.95. ISBN: 978-0195393316 Sarah Shields’ book analyzes the annexation of Alexandretta from French Mandate Syria to Turkey between 1936 and 1939. Reading this book during the present Syrian crisis will help us to see the magnitude of difference between today’s Syria and that of the 1930s. This book will ensure that 1930s Syria is not only irreversible in time, but it is also another political sphere. The view 224 Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association, Vol. 4.1 of Atatürk’s regime on Syria, under the effect of European-based racism, was Alexandretta-based and ethno-secularist. Whereas, the vision of Turkey under the AKP’s government on Syria, reshaped by European-based Islamophobia and anti-immigrant policy, is Kobane-based and ethno-sectarian. In other words, thanks to the book, one will be able to compare the AKP’s Turkey, which supports contradictory policies with Western values, with 1930s Turkey, which fought to be part of Western civilization, through the Syrian population and territorial problem within the global and regional equilibrium. The book analyzes the annexation of Alexandretta (İskenderun/Hatay, henceforth Sanjak) by Turkey, in the period when the French mandate regime was ending in Syria. The Sanjak was a relatively small region (about 4,700 km²) and included not more than 200,000 inhabitants, yet was very important in terms of its population’s composition and geographical location. The population was multi-ethnic and multi-religious, part of its Ottoman legacy, and its shore was like an oasis for the Syrian desert hinterland. The book brilliantly shows how such a numerically small region had played a large role in the global political system of the 1930s, namely in Turkey’s neutrality in the Second World War. The book actually reveals more details on the technical dimension (i.e., the plebiscite, population census, and election) of the process of “solving” the Sanjak issue, rather than diplomacy. The uniqueness of this work is that it reveals the “real” role of these techniques in the self-determination process. The book reveals that these techniques/methods were not the determinants, rather...