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By Abbas Kiarostami

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Here we encounter the more salient feature of historical legacy: it is not the tangible inheritance that really matters. Or, rather, it is important but 15 16 The Ottoman Educational Legacy not decisive, because it is subject to both historical and historiographical treatment that reflects later conditions and attitudes. The construction of a legacy is subject, in other words, to the manipulation, selective appropriation, creative remembering, and occasionally wilful misrepresentation of both the legatee and the historians and social scientists who invariably reflect, at least to some degree, the legatee’s version of events.

But few remember the punitive expedition against rebels in Dersim launched by the Young Turks in 1909. General Fahrettin Altay, a hero of the Turkish War of Independence, who, as a young officer, had taken part in operations against rebel tribesmen in Dersim, wrote in his memoirs: ‘The region of Tunceli [Dersim] had been of old a nest of brigands. After the proclamation of the Constitution, banditry increased considerably among its inhabitants. The time had come to put an end to it’. As I said, that was in 1909.

Benjamin C. Fortna 17 The aim of this chapter is to explore the contours of the Ottoman/ Republican juxtaposition with respect to the field of education. I approach this topic by first considering the ways in which it has been treated in the relevant existing literature and then attempting an overall assessment of the Ottoman/Republican relationship as viewed through educational change and continuity. Treatment in the literature I begin with an example taken from an early Republican-era reading primer, because it encapsulates an important aspect of the early Republican government’s stance towards the Ottoman period.

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A Wolf Lying in Wait (Selected Poems) by Abbas Kiarostami


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