Conference Recommendation: “Not All Quiet on the Ottoman Fronts: Neglected Perspectives on a Global War, 1914-18”
The Orient-Institut Istanbul and the History Foundation in Turkey (Traih Vakfi) will hold a conference titled “Not All Quiet on the Ottoman Fronts: Neglected Perspectives on a Global War, 1914-18” in Istanbul April 8 -12, 2014.
This year commemorates the centennial of the start of World War I, a war which brought fundamental changes to the global order, cultural perception and social relations. Although it was the first truly international war, it affected regions differently which is often neglected in the nationalist historiography. The aim of this conference is to look beyond the borders of the Ottoman Empire and compare and evaluate new perspectives.
The conference will be organized around three main themes: Experiencing, Organizing and Speaking about the war. It will take the experience of often marginalized groups into account, such as ethnic minority soldiers and explore the everyday life of civilians, ranging from gender relations to sanitary conditions. Furthermore, the conference will look at the ways in which the Ottoman Empire (amongst others) organized, controlled and indoctrinated its citizens and the long-term impact of such practices. Bridging academic disciplines, literature, art and other forms of expression will also be considered in an attempt to deconstruct the established historical realties and narratives and give insight into the suppressed and forgotten issues.
Apart from Workshops about documentary filmmaking and theater the conference will feature three keynote speeches. Simultaneous translation English – Turkish will be provided at all sessions.
For more information see ottomanfronts1914-1918.org.
Background information about the Ottoman home front :
For additional background information about the lived experience of the civilians during WWI we recommend a podcast by Chris Gratien and Seçil Yılmaz who interview Yiğit Akın, Assistant Professor of History at Tulane University, New Orleans. He was 2012/2013 EUME-Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin.
During the war, 2.9 million men served in the troops of the Ottoman Empire, leaving behind their families. Many of them returned wounded. Since the Empire was an agricultural society this had a huge impact on food production: Not only was the workforce impacted heavily but the military also took animals from the villages to use them for transportation. These factors, in connection with locust plagues and harsh winters, lead to a famine.
At the home front, women had to take care of the household and the fields. Although administrative roles within the villages were still occupied by older men, the importance of women grew. Their telegrams and petitions, urging the state to help them as a redemption for taking their male family members, give insight into the everyday life during the war and are well documented in the Ottoman Archives.
The podcast and additional sources are available here.