From the “notable Syrians” to “ordinary Anatolians”: the politics of “normalization” and experiencing the exile during World War I

Çiçek M. T.

New Perspectives On Turkey, no.20, pp.1-29, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal)

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/npt.2021.10
  • Journal Name: New Perspectives On Turkey
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index, Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, ABI/INFORM, American History and Life, Historical Abstracts, Index Islamicus, Political Science Complete, Public Affairs Index, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-29


This article examines an important attempt at the political engineering undertaken in Syria during the Great War. It focuses on the experience of the Arabs exiled to Anatolia by Cemal Pasha to redesign Syrian society in line with the Committee of Union and Progressidea of empire, which imagined an authoritarian regime. The members of the Arabist parties were removed from Syria to eliminate their contemporaneous and future resistance to the emerging despotic regime. The article sets out to analyze what the exiles experienced in Anatolia using their  memoirs in Arabic and the Ottoman documents describing their conditions in Anatolia, and to what extent the aims could be realized. It argues that the purpose was to put a politics of normalizationinto practice by depoliticizing the Arab notable families through relocationto Anatolia, although the resistance of the exiles and varying attitudes in Ottoman bureaucracy  significantly differentiated outcomes. It also uncovers many untold stories with regard to the daily life of the exiles and adds much to our knowledge on the experience of Arab exiles in Anatolia. It is the first serious examination of the experiences of the Arab exiles using their own texts and narrative.