Kanzan visiting professor to give talk on conscription of Armenians into the Ottoman Army

Dr. Ohannes Kılıçdağı on left side of image and Armenian officers in reserve of Ottoman Army, 1914 on right

Dr. Ohannes Kılıçdağı, the 2020-21 Henry Khanzadian Kazan visiting professor, will give his first public talk at Fresno State “‘Living together requires dying together’: Conscription of Armenians into the Ottoman Army after the 1908 Revolution” at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 18 on Zoom. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

After three decades of Hamidian despotism, the July 1908 revolution that restored the constitution and parliament was greeted with joy and hope as people, especially Armenians, regarded it as the end of oppression and the beginning of a new era where different ethnoreligious groups would live freely as equal citizens. One of the essential indicators and necessity of equal citizenship was the conscription of Christians and Jews. They had been exempted from military service in exchange for paying a special tax until that date. Eventually, in July 1909, the Ottoman parliament abolished all exemptions, and military service became compulsory for all males. 

This talk focuses on these debates and how different Armenian circles, including Armenian MPs, reacted to this idea, what they said and did before and after the conscription law’s promulgation. Armenian opinion leaders, both civil and clergy, were quite enthusiastic about the conscription of Armenian youth. The primary sources are articles, news pieces in the Armenian press, speeches of Armenian deputies in the parliament, and official Ottoman documents. 

Kılıçdağı will give two more public lectures during the Fall 2020 semester. The second lecture, “Subjects or Citizens?: Armenians from the Ottoman Empire to the Turkish Republic” will be held on Friday, Oct. 16. The final lecture will be announced soon.

Kılıçdağı, received his Ph.D. in 2014 from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, with his dissertation “Socio-political Reflections and Expectations of the Ottoman Armenians after the 1908 Revolution: Between Hope and Despair.” Between 2003 and 2017, he lectured in the Sociology Department of Bilgi University (Istanbul) on the social and political history of the late Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. From 2017 to 2019 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for the Middle Eastern Studies of Harvard University. 

For more information contact the Armenian Studies Program at 559.278.2669.

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