#036 – Political Opposition from the Ottoman Empire to Republican Turkey

with Christine Philliou

hosted by Zeynep Ertugrul and Jovo Miladinovic


Portrait of Refik Halit Karay in Aleppo (1928). Courtesy of the Taha Toros Archive

Refik Halid Karay was a satirical writer whose life can help us rethink the transition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republic of Turkey. After 1908, Refik Halid opposed the regime established by the Committee of Union and Progress while remaining a staunch believer of constitutionalism and of a multi-confessional imperial polity. This also provoked a conflict between him and the nationalists gathered around Mustafa Kemal in the aftermath of World War I. Shortly after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the government forced hin into exile. Through his biography, we discuss the Turkish notion of muhalefet, which refers to opposition and dissent within the margins of the political system.



Christine Philliou is associate professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. She specializes in the political and social history of the Ottoman Empire and modern Greece and Turkey. Her first book, Biography of an Empire: Governing Ottomans in an Age of Revolution (University of California Press, 2011), examined the changes in Ottoman governance resulting from the Greek Revolution and leading up to the Tanzimat reforms of the mid-nineteenth century. She is currently working on a book project on post-Ottoman Greece and Turkey. Her new monograph, discussed in this podcast, is entitled Turkey: A Past against History and it is out at University of California Press.

Book Cover, Turkey: A Past Against History


To cite this episode: Christine Philliou, Zeynep Ertugrul, Jovo Miladinovic (2021): Political Opposition from the Ottoman Empire to the Republican Turkey. The Southeast Passage #036, http://thesoutheastpassage.com/philliou-political-opposition-ottoman-empire-republican-turkey/


Seyyan Hanım: “Yıldızların Altında”

İbrahim Özgür: “Neden”


Further reading:

Karay, Refik Halid, Minelbab İlelmihrab (İstanbul: İnkılap Yayınları 2009)

Karay, Refik Halid, Kirpinin Dedikleri. (İstanbul: İnkılap Yayınları 2009)

Karay, Refik Halid, Memleket Hikayeleri. (İstanbul: İnkılap Yayınları 2009)

Karay, Refik Halid, Guguklu Saat (İstanbul: İnkılap Yayınları 2009)

Zürcher, Erik Jan, The Unionist Factor: The Role of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Turkish National Movement, 1905-1926 (Leiden: Brill 1984)<

Zürcher, Erik Jan, Political Opposition in the Early Turkish Republic: The Progressive Republican Party, 1924-5 (Leiden: Brill, 1991)

Ahmad, Feroz, Young Turks: The Committee for Union and Progress in Turkish Politics, 1908-1914 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969)

Koroglu, Erol, Ottoman Propaganda and Turkish Identity: Literature in Turkey during World War I (London: I.B. Tauris, 2007)

Ozoglu, Hakan, From Caliphate to Secular State: Power Struggle in the Early Turkish Republic (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2011)

Birinci, Ali, Tarihin Alacakaralığında : Meşahiri Meçhuleden Birkaç Zat (İstanbul: Dergah, 2010)


Refik Halid as general director of the Post and Telegraph Service(1919/1920). Courtesy of the Taha Toros Archive.

The Southeast Passage
The Southeast Passage
#036 - Political Opposition from the Ottoman Empire to Republican Turkey