The Turkish Studies Project (TSP) at the University of Utah titled “The Origins of Modern Ethnic Cleansing: The Collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Emergence of Nation States in the Balkans and Caucasus” will enter its fifth year this fall. Established in 2009 through a multi-year grant provided by the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA), the TSP continues to advance scholarship on Ottoman/Turkish studies and the shaping of modern Turkish identity under the leadership of its Director, Dr. Hakan Yavuz. Since its inception the TSP has carried out this mission through the organization of interdisciplinary conferences, the publication of scholarly works and the provision of graduate fellowships.
The first interdisciplinary conference organized by the TSP was held in April 2010 in Salt Lake City on “The Empire to Nation-State: The post-Berlin Treaty and its Political Consequences”. These conference proceedings resulted in the publication of a 600-page volume book War & Diplomacy: The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Treaty of Berlin. The same year in July a conference on “The Sociopolitical Implications of the Dissolution of the Ottoman State: Causes of the Balkan Wars and the Role of the Ottoman State” was held in Salt Lake City. The selected papers were published in a 884-page long boon War and Nationalism: The Balkan Wars, 1912-1913, and Their Sociopolitical Implications. In May 2012, a conference on “The Ottoman Empire and World War I” was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The proceedings of this conference are soon to be published by Feroz Ahmad and Hakan Yavuz. This past June, the fourth TSP conference titled “The Caucasus at the Imperial Twilight: Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Nation-Building, from 1870’s to 1920’s” was held in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Since its inception the TSP has also made great strides in publishing support having assisted the publication of several scholarly works including Justin McCarthy’s study on the construction of the Turkish image in the U.S., The Turk in America: The Creation of an Enduring Prejudice (2010); as well as The Armenian Rebellion at Van (2006) by Justin McCarthy, Esat Arslan, Cemalettin Taskiran and Omer Turan. The program has also supported a lecture series at the University of Utah and some of these lectures were also published such as the Turkish-Armenian scholarly debates featured in the Middle East Critique (Vol. 20, No. 3, Fall 2011). In addition to these books, the TSP has been active in supporting and promoting alternative perspectives on the events of 1915.
Today, the program continues to provide support to graduate and post-graduate students whose work is being undertaken in several languages, Turkish, Azeri-Turkish, Armenian, and Arabic. In this manner, the TSP has helped the advancement of a new cadre of scholars making original contributions to the study of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey and its surrounding region.
Commenting on the success of the program, TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy said “the TCA is proud to have played a significant role in encouraging a new generation of historians and researchers to engage in open discussion and exchange of ideas on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. In particular, the renewed interest in documenting the sad history of the century-long ethnic cleansing of Ottoman Muslim populations in the Balkans and Caucasus has added immeasurably to the world’s historical knowledge and perceptions of the late Ottoman Empire and all of its inhabitants.”