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Ottoman Women during World War I
Everyday Experiences, Politics, and Conflict


  • Date Published: March 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316648391

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About the Authors
  • During war time, the everyday experiences of ordinary people - and especially women - are frequently obscured by elite military and social analysis. In this pioneering study, Elif Mahir Metinsoy focuses on the lives of ordinary Muslim women living in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. It reveals not only their wartime problems, but also those of everyday life on the Ottoman home front. It questions the existing literature's excessive focus on the Ottoman middle-class, using new archive sources such as women's petitions to extend the scope of Ottoman-Turkish women's history. Free from academic jargon, and supported by original illustrations and maps, it will appeal to researchers of gender history, Middle Eastern and social history. By showing women's resistance to war mobilization, wartime work life and the everyday struggles which shaped state politics, Mahir Metinsoy allows readers to draw intriguing comparisons between the past and the current events of today's Middle East.

    • Provides a concise, accessible overview of the lives of Ottoman women during the First World War, free of academic jargon, for both scholars and the general reader
    • Uses previously unseen archive sources to propose a new view of Ottoman and Turkish women's history, exploring the role of women from all social circumstances in shaping Ottoman history
    • Draws conclusions on life on the Ottoman home front, and the role of women in shaping social and political developments, that can be applied to the modern day events shaping the Middle East
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Meticulously researched and clearly written, Elif Mahir Metinsoy's new book draws on petitions, poems, and other sources to capture the battles of ordinary women on the home front. Moving beyond nationalist tropes celebrating 'mothers of the nation' who would be liberated by war, she details how a decade of mobilization proved to be a disaster for refugees, widows, soldiers' wives, and others. Often left with no means of support, these working-class and peasant women fought for their rights as they struggled against hunger, poverty, and homelessness. Their resistance and struggles to feed themselves and their children catapulted them into wartime politics. This is social history at its best, and Metinsoy is to be applauded for capturing the stories of ordinary women during extraordinary, and heartbreaking, times. This book makes a major contribution to the literature on World War I, women and war, and the Ottoman Empire and should be on the reading list of all Middle East scholars.' Beth Baron, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

    'This is a significant contribution to the existing lacuna of the social history of First World War in the Middle East. With Elif Mahir Metinsoy's richly textured and archivally grounded depiction of ordinary women's war experience, we are a step closer to a rigorous portrayal of the home front as experienced by Middle Eastern families. The book brings to life the wrenching burdens of total warfare, multiple dimensions of womanhood in wartime, the state's intrusion into citizens' lives, and the survival strategies of non-elite women, including negotiation and resistance.' Hasan Kayalı, University of California, San Diego

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316648391
    • length: 289 pages
    • dimensions: 150 x 230 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of maps
    List of tables
    List of abbreviations and archive references
    Part I. The Home Front:
    1. Women in Europe and the United States
    2. The Ottoman home front
    Part II. Women's Negotiation of Wartime Social Policies:
    3. Hunger and shortages
    4. Monetary assistance for soldiers' families
    5. The housing problem
    6. Motherhood
    Part III. Women and Working Life:
    7. Wartime work opportunities and restrictions
    8. Working women's problems
    Part IV. Women's Resistance to War Mobilization:
    9. Forced labor and overtaxation
    10. Discontent with Conscription
    11. State control of morality and marriage

  • Author

    Elif Mahir Metinsoy, Galatasaray University Istanbul
    Elif Mahir Metinsoy is a part-time lecturer at Galatasaray Üniversitesi, Istanbul. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Boðaziçi University, Istanbul and the Université de Strasbourg.

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