BELMONT, Mass. — Dr. Bedross Der Matossian will present a talk titled “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire,” on Friday, November 7, at 8 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave.
The Ottoman revolution of 1908 is a study in contradictions — a positive manifestation of modernity intended to reinstate constitutional rule, yet ultimately a negative event that shook the fundamental structures of the empire, opening up ethnic, religious, and political conflicts. Der Matossian’s just-published Shattered Dreams of Revolution (Stanford University Press) considers this revolutionary event to tell the stories of three important groups: Arabs, Armenians and Jews.
The revolution raised these groups’ expectations for new opportunities of inclusion and citizenship. But as post-revolutionary festivities ended, these euphoric feelings soon turned to pessimism and a dramatic rise in ethnic tensions.
The undoing of the revolutionary dreams could be found in the very foundations of the revolution itself. Inherent ambiguities and contradictions in the revolution’s goals and the reluctance of both the authors of the revolution and the empire’s ethnic groups to come to a compromise regarding the new political framework of the empire ultimately proved untenable. The revolutionaries had never been wholeheartedly committed to constitutionalism, thus constitutionalism failed to create a new understanding of Ottoman citizenship, grant equal rights to all citizens, and bring them under one roof in a legislative assembly.
Der Matossian is assistant professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and holds a PhD from Columbia University.