History, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in "L'ivresse de la liberté". La revolution de 1908 dans l'Empire ottoman. François Georgeon, ed. (Paris: Peeters, 2012), pp. 189-219.


© 2012 PEETERS.


Revolutionary theories are most useful when they attempt to define and interpret the causes and mechanisms of revolutions. However, when they attempt to forecast the outcomes and the impact of revolutions on their indigenous societies, they are largely unsuccessful. This article deals with the impact of the Young Turk revolution on three non-dominant ethnic groups in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Arabs, and Jews. It will argue that the revolution resulted in the creation of a multiplicity of public spheres among the ethnic groupS.1 This multiplicity of public spheres became the main medium through which these ethnic groups internalized the Young Turk revolution. In the case of the Armenians and the Jews, these public spheres resulted in the occurrence of micro-revolutions, whereas in the Arab case it led to the erosion of social and political stability. Nevertheless, these various subordinate public spheres cannot be viewed in isolation from one another. They were interconnected and influenced each other both directly and indirectly. Moreover, within these interconnected public spheres, new actors emerged, threatening the social and political stability of the existing orders not only to (re)define their identities in the post-revolutionary period by inventing their own ancien regimes, victories, and new orders, but more importantly by competing against each other over control of existing positions of power, and in some cases, creating new ones. We will notice that in ethnic groups where power was centralized, the revolution was more successful than those where power was decentralized. Furthermore, this paper will argue that ecclesiastic politics, a subject that is totally marginalized within the Ottoman historiography of the Young Turk revolution, was a crucial factor in defining the intra-ethnic politics in the newly emerging subordinate public spheres.