Chapter

Introduction

Sarah D. Shields

in Fezzes in the River

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195393316
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894376 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393316.003.0001
Introduction

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The government of Turkey claimed that the population of the Sanjak of Alexandretta was Turkish and insisted that the territory could therefore not become part of the predominantly Arabic-speaking Syria. This connection between language, identity, and state reflected new European ways of thinking about communities that were inconsistent with the historical experiences of the people of the multi-linguistic, multi-religious, even multi-“national” Ottoman empire of which the Sanjak had been part for the preceding four centuries. Saydo’s argument illustrates the irony of European statesmen’s insistence that Sanjak residents were composed of mutually exclusive identity groups: as onlookers watched, Saydo and his neighbor argued, gestured, and brandished their weapons as each shouted about whether the other should register as a Turks or an Arab, all the while speaking in Kurdish.

Keywords: Turk; Kurd; Arab; identity; Special Tribunal; appeasement; Ottoman Empire

Chapter.  4388 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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