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Reluctant Nationalists, Imperial Nation-State, and Neo-Ottomanism: Turks, Albanians, and the Antinomies of the End of Empire

  • Nader Sohrabi
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.

Nationalism's role in the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire is re-examined. Traditionalists blamed the breakdown on the extreme nationalism of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) while today's orthodoxy attributes it to the external contingency of the Balkan Wars and World War I instead. This article looks at the onerous state-building and mild nation-building demands put forth by the CUP toward the Albanians. The Albanian resistance created unstable coalitions that broadened to include north and south, and tempered religion in favor of ethnicity, but fell short of demanding independence. The First Balkan War forced a vulnerable Albania to reluctantly declare independence for which it had made contingent plans. The Ottoman center refused to change course and its pursuit of an imperial nation-state prompted other populations to think and act more ethnically than ever before and draw up their own contingent plans. The concept of ethnicity without groups (Brubaker) and the causal connection between state-building and nationalism (Hechter) are critically assessed in the Ottoman context.

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