2015/ 2016

Erol Ülker

Allied Occupation, National Resistance, and Turkification in Istanbul, 1918-1923

Erol Ülker is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Istanbul Kemerburgaz University – Department of Social Sciences. His research interests include nationalism, labor and social movements in Middle Eastern, Ottoman and Turkish history. He has published several articles in English and Turkish on the Turkification policies of the late Ottoman state, the migration-settlement policies of early republican Turkey, and the socialist and labor movements in Istanbul under Allied occupation. Ülker obtained his BA in International Relations from Istanbul University (1999). He holds two MA degrees from the Political Science Department of Boğaziçi University (2003) and the Nationalism Studies Program of Central European University (2004).

He received his PhD in History from the University of Chicago in 2013, with a dissertation entitled “Sultanists, Republicans, Communists: The Turkish National Movement in Istanbul, 1918-1923.” 

Allied Occupation, National Resistance, and Turkification in Istanbul, 1918-1923

Ülker’s doctoral research deals with the formation of the Turkish national movement between the end of World War I and the founding of the Republic of Turkey in October 1923. His dissertation focuses on Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire’s cosmopolitan capital city, which was under the British, French and Italian occupation in this critical period of transition from empire to nation state. Examining the organization of a resistance movement among the various segments of the Muslim population, he argues that the power struggles between the rival factions of the movement were a significant factor in the rise of a nationalist campaign against the non-Muslim communities of the city. This grassroots mobilization provided the initial popular base of the Turkification policies implemented in Istanbul during the interwar period and beyond.  

As a EUME Fellow, Ülker will work on a book manuscript based on his dissertation. In the process, he will expand his research by exploring how Istanbul’s demographic and urban structure changed by the end of the occupation period. What policies did the Allied authorities pursue in the face of mounting inter-communal tensions in the city? Why did a great number of Ottoman Christians flee Istanbul despite the ongoing Allied military presence?