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Tormented by History: Nationalism in Greece and Turkey

Umut Özkırımli and Spyros A. Sofos

Columbia University Press April 2008 Cloth, 220 pp   9780231700528

Oxford University Press Hardback,  220pp 9780199326648

Hurst Publishers January 2008 Paperback,  220pp   9781850658993 Hardback, 220pp     9781850659051

Tormented by History traces the emergence and development of the Greek and Turkish nationalist projects over the past two hundred years. Grounded in an extensive critical review of the historiography and literature on Greek and Turkish nationalisms, this volume challenges the common belief that the rise of a “Greek” and a “Turkish” nation was inevitable. Umut Özkırımli, a Turk, and Spyros A. Sofos, a Greek, acknowledge the complexity of the relationship between the two nationalisms and examine issues concerning the politics of language, religion, memory, history, territory, and landscape. They address the complex processes of homogenization, marginalization, and minoritization of populations and cultures as well as institutional support of Greek and Turkish nationalism. They also discuss the place of “constitutive violence,” both physical and symbolic, in the nationalist imagination, and the ensuing trauma and sense of loss that came out of the consolidation of Greek and Turkish identities.

Reviews

Tormented by History is a unique study of nationalism in Greece and Turkey that analyses the dynamics of nation-formation processes in each country, studied as “parallel monologues”1 in the methodological framework introduced by the authors, Özkırımlı and Sofos. — Insight Turkey

This is a most impressive text, drawing together, and in a very fluent and integrated way, the histories and debates on nationalism in Greece and Turkey. […] I have never seen a comparative study of this kind, let alone one that draws on material in both languages to great effect. […]  It is also a remarkable example, too rare in this world, of collaboration by intellectuals from two rival states and also, given the sensibilities involved, a most courageous and valiant intervention. —  Professor Fred Halliday, London School of Economics

This is not the first book to look at Greek and Turkish nationalisms in tandem, but it has the great advantage over its predecessors of tackling its subject on a thematic rather than country by country basis, avoiding the usual disjointed account. It is critical and objective, in a field in which, until recently, most single-country accounts have uncritically accepted nationalist orthodoxies. — Middle East Journal


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