By Nicholas Doumanis

It's normal for survivors of ethnic detoxing or even genocide to talk nostalgically approximately previous occasions of intercommunal concord and brotherhood. After being pushed from their Anatolian homelands, Greek Orthodox refugees insisted that they 'lived good with the Turks', and yearned for the times after they labored and drank espresso jointly, participated in every one other's fairs, or even prayed to an identical saints. Historians have by no means confirmed critical regard to those stories, given the refugees had fled from terrible 'ethnic' violence that looked as if it would replicate deep-seated and pre-existing animosities. Refugee nostalgia appeared natural myth; possibly contrived to minimize the soreness and humiliations of displacement.

Before the Nation argues that there's greater than a grain of fact to those nostalgic traditions. It issues to the truth that intercommunality, a method of daily residing in line with the lodging of cultural distinction, used to be a standard and stabilizing characteristic of multi-ethnic societies. Refugee reminiscence and different ethnographic resources supply considerable representation of the ideals and practices linked to intercommunal dwelling, which neighborhood Muslims and Christian groups likened to a standard ethical atmosphere.

Drawing mostly from an oral archive containing interviews with over 5000 refugees, Nicholas Doumanis examines the mentalities, cosmologies, and price structures as they relate to cultures of coexistence. He additionally rejects the typical assumption that the empire used to be destroyed through intercommunal hatreds. Doumanis emphasizes the position of state-perpetrated political violence which aimed to create ethnically homogenous areas, and which went a way in remodeling those Anatolians into Greeks and Turks.

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Additional info for Before the Nation: Muslim-Christian Coexistence and its Destruction in Late-Ottoman Anatolia

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Rather, the Greeks were seen as the detritus of the ancient Greek world and the Byzantine Empire, and what was left after Turkish butchery and conversion had run out of steam. g reat cur se of babe l 29 It was also generally agreed at the time that the Romioi were the modern face of the Ottoman Empire, for they were seen as the most adept at exploiting the opportunities of the modern era. Westerners saw these Greeks everywhere: in the ports, at the railway stations, banks, restaurants, and archaeological sites.

That trend was reversed by the nineteenth century, as conversions became rarer, and as the Romioi began to prosper economically and enjoy high birth rates. The most significant source of growth, however, was immigration from the Greek islands and the Balkans. In Smyrna, where the Romioi represented a mere 20 per cent of the population in 1800, they had come to form a slight majority by 1900. 66 Other significant concentrations of Romioi were located in the eastern Black Sea region, from Sinope to Rize, as well as in central Anatolia, near Kayseri, Nevşehir, and further afield near Konya.

The passages that I have translated and reproduced in this book are taken from these notes, although occasionally the interviewers make it clear they are quoting the interviewees by using Greek quotation marks (<<>>). The second problem is language. The notes are in standard demotic Greek and thereby give the impression that the interviewees represented a coherent cultural unit. In not being written in Anatolian Greek or Turkish dialects, the transcripts lack the nuance that is usually inscribed poetically in the vernacular.

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