From the mid-nineteenth century onwards, and particularly during the First World War, children were one of the main stakes of nationalist, social and religious upheavals. The multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and multi-lingual structure of the Ottoman Empire, as well as the divisions over the idea of nation, has made the representation of Ottoman children more complex to apprehend. From street fights to boy scout organisations, from child protection awareness campaigns to the creation of orphanages, Ottoman children from different communal identities embodied and reproduced the internal political crisis as agents of the latter and targets of nationalist politics. Based on research founded on Ottoman police records, the contemporary press, school books, and youth organisations’ publications, this paper focuses on the politicisation and socialisation of Ottoman children and youth along overtly ethnic, religious and nationalist lines.
By Nazan Maksudyan