Childhood in the late Ottoman Empire and After


This volume explores the variety of ways in which childhood was experienced, lived and remembered in the late Ottoman Empire and its successor states. The period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a time of rapid change, and the history of childhood reflects the impact of new expectations, lived realities and national responsibilities on the youngest members of societies undergoing monumental change because of ideological, wartime and demographic shifts. Drawing on comparisons both within the Balkans, Turkey and the Arab lands and with Western Europe and beyond, the chapters investigate the many ways in which upheaval and change affected the youth. Particular attention is paid to changing conceptions of childhood, gender roles and newly dominant national imperatives.

Contributors include: Elif Akşit, Laurence Brockliss, Nazan Çiçek, Alex Drace-Francis, Benjamin C. Fortna, Naoum Kaytchev, Duygu Köksal, Kathryn Libal, Nazan Maksudyan, Heidi Morrison, and Philipp Wirtz.

This title, in its entirety, is available online in Open Access.
Open Access


Open Access

Biographical Note

Benjamin C. Fortna, Ph.D. (1997), University of Chicago, is Professor and Director of the School of Middle East and North African Studies at the University of Arizona. He has published on the history of education and reading in the late Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic. His latest book, a biographical study of a late Ottoman special operations officer, will appear soon with Hurst/Oxford University Press.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Preface Childhood In The Late Ottoman Empire and After
Benjamin C. Fortna
Introduction The Western Concept of Childhood
Laurence Brockliss


Chapter One The Interplay Between Modernization and the Reconstruction of Childhood: Romantic Interpretations of the Child in Early Republican Era Popular Magazines, 1924–1950
Nazan Çiçek
Chapter Two Child Poverty and Emerging Children’s Rights Discourse in Early Republican Turkey
Kathryn Libal
Chapter Three Nation-Building and Childhood in Early Twentieth-Century Egypt
Heidi Morrison


Chapter Four Becoming a Girl in Ottoman Novels
Elif Akşit
Chapter Five Conscripts into Soldiers, Peasants into Patriots: The Army and Nation-Building in Serbia and Bulgaria, 1878–1912
Naoum Kaytchev
Chapter Six A Triangle of Regrets: Training Ottoman Children in Germany during the First World War
Nazan Maksudyan
Chapter Seven Bonbons and Bayonets: Mixed Messages of Childhood in the Late Ottoman Empire and Early Turkish Republic
Benjamin Fortna


Chapter Eight Locating Remembrance: Regimes of Time and Cultures of Autobiography in Post-Independence Romania
Alex Drace-Francis
Chapter Nine Presenting Ottoman childhoods in post-Ottoman Autobiographies
Philipp Wirtz
Chapter Ten Escaping to Girlhood in Late Ottoman Istanbul: Demetra Vaka’s and Selma Ekrem’s Childhood Memories
Duygu Köksal


All interested in the history of childhood and youth, the late Ottoman Empire and its successor states in the Balkans, Turkey and the Arab world.