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Writing the History of Ordinary Ottoman Women during World War I

Writing the History of Ordinary Ottoman Women during World War I Ordinary women are among the least known subjects of Ottoman Turkish historiography. One of the most important reasons for this lack of information is that the Turkish archives are not organized in such a way that researchers can easily access documents on ordinary women. However, the difficulty in finding women’s voices in historical documents is only one part of the problem. Whereas conventional Ottoman-Turkish historiography prioritizes the acts of those holding power, most Turkish feminist historiography focuses on the organized activities of elite and middle-class women rather than ordinary women due to various paradigmatic and methodological restrictions. This article explains these limitations and proposes less conventional methods for conducting research on ordinary Ottoman women, who were important actors on the home front during World War I. It discusses theoretical approaches, methodology, and alternative sources that can be used to conduct research on women in the Turkish archives. It also presents some examples of ordinary Ottoman women’s voices and everyday struggles against the violence they suffered during World War I, using new, alternative sources like women’s petitions and telegrams to the state bureaucracy as well as folk songs. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Aspasia Berghahn Books

Writing the History of Ordinary Ottoman Women during World War I

Aspasia , Volume 10 (1): 22 – Mar 1, 2016

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Publisher
Berghahn Books
Copyright
© 2022 Berghahn Books
ISSN
1933-2882
eISSN
1933-2890
DOI
10.3167/asp.2016.100103
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ordinary women are among the least known subjects of Ottoman Turkish historiography. One of the most important reasons for this lack of information is that the Turkish archives are not organized in such a way that researchers can easily access documents on ordinary women. However, the difficulty in finding women’s voices in historical documents is only one part of the problem. Whereas conventional Ottoman-Turkish historiography prioritizes the acts of those holding power, most Turkish feminist historiography focuses on the organized activities of elite and middle-class women rather than ordinary women due to various paradigmatic and methodological restrictions. This article explains these limitations and proposes less conventional methods for conducting research on ordinary Ottoman women, who were important actors on the home front during World War I. It discusses theoretical approaches, methodology, and alternative sources that can be used to conduct research on women in the Turkish archives. It also presents some examples of ordinary Ottoman women’s voices and everyday struggles against the violence they suffered during World War I, using new, alternative sources like women’s petitions and telegrams to the state bureaucracy as well as folk songs.

Journal

AspasiaBerghahn Books

Published: Mar 1, 2016

Keywords: ordinary women; Ottoman feminism; Ottoman women; Turkish archives; violence; women’s history; World War I

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