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Missionary Influence and Nationalist Reactions: The Case of Armenian Ottomans

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 August 2020

D. Emre Amasyalı*
McGill University, Montreal, Canada
*Corresponding author. Email:


A significant body of literature argues that American evangelical missionaries working in the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century directly contributed to the rise of Armenian nationalism. While acknowledging that missionaries had an effect on Armenian nationalism, this article finds that the impact of missionaries was much more unintended than is commonly assumed and resulted primarily from Armenian reactions to growing missionary influence. Employing new data on the biographies of Armenian nationalist leaders as well as comparative-historical methods, the article offers evidence that missionary influence spurred a backlash among the Armenian community that intensified preexisting local initiatives, increased investment in mass education in the provinces, and modernized its schooling system, all of which popularized and strengthened Armenian nationalism.

© Association for the Study of Nationalities 2020

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