Ottoman women and the state during World War I
Kutluata, Zeynep (2014) Ottoman women and the state during World War I. [Thesis]
This dissertation is about the ways in which Ottoman women related to the state during World War I. Focusing on printed press, petitions, and telegrams, it analyzes the discourses and practices defining women as citizens within a context of military crisis. It offers a close reading of articles on women’s responsibilities during the war that appeared on the pages of periodical press, specifically women’s journals. It then discusses the content of petitions and telegrams written by Ottoman women to the state between 1914 and 1918. Ottoman women with different ethnic, religious and class identities wrote petitions to the state on financial matters, to complain about military officers, civil servants and local notables, about their relatives who were arrested and deported or those who were kept as prisoners of war in foreign lands, and finally, to apply for religious conversion or to become Ottoman subjects. All of these women identified themselves as “mothers”, “wives”, “sisters” or “daughters” in the petitions and the telegrams they sent to the state. The relationship between Ottoman women and the state during WWI in terms of citizenship practices is complex and complicated. Focusing on this relationship, on the one hand, highlights the hegemonic perspectives about women and womanhood of the period. On the other hand, war circumstances reveal the already existing tensions while at the same time opening up new possibilities of relationship between women and the state. The discourses defining “ideal” citizenship for women by stressing women’s duties as mothers of “the nation”, point at a gap between women as “ideal” and “real” citizens.
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