The Horrors of Adana
Revolution and Violence in the Early Twentieth Century
Bedross Der Matossian



ON THE NIGHT OF THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2019, TURKISH locals in the Seyhan District of Adana Province attacked and looted shops belonging to Syrian refugees in response to rumors that a Syrian man had tried to rape a Turkish boy. The rumor had spread very quickly on social media. The mob yelled, “Down with Syria, damn Syria!”1 The police later caught the suspect, who according to the Adana governor’s office, was a fifteen-year-old Turkish citizen with thirty-seven past criminal offences. The police detained 138 subjects for causing extensive damage to Syrian businesses, or instigating such acts on social media, and contained the situation. This was not the first time that Syrian businesses were targeted in Turkey; for example, in July of the same year, dozens of Syrian shops were looted by an angry mob over rumors that a Syrian boy had verbally abused a Turkish girl.2 With the arrival of 3.5 million refugees since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, intercommunal tensions in Turkey have been high.

Such violent outbursts are not solely the result of rumors; they represent underlying political and socioeconomic anxieties. Furthermore, they are endemic in more than just one society, religion, culture, or geographical region. In the course of history, similar acts of violence have taken place—in the form of blood libels, riots, pogroms, massacres, or, in extreme cases, genocides—in different parts of the globe. From the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre (1572) to the pogroms of Odessa (1905) and from the Sabra and Shatila massacre (1982) to the Gujarat massacres (2002), history is rife with such violent episodes. These acts of violence share similar societal stressors that become heightened due to major political or economic crises or upheavals. The outcome of these stressors is conditioned by local exigencies. The factors leading to the escalation of these tensions include, but are not limited to, competition over resources, xenophobia, wars, nationalism, influxes of refugees, land disputes, economic envy, and the proliferation of rumors. Specific events—minor or major, fabricated or true—can then become catalysts that mobilize dominant groups against vulnerable minorities.

More than one hundred years ago, the province of Adana, in the southern section of the Ottoman Empire and of present-day Turkey, witnessed a major wave of violence that took the lives of thousands of people. More than twenty thousand Christians (predominantly Armenian, as well as some Greek, Syriacs, and Chaldeans) were massacred by Muslims, and around two thousand Muslims were killed by Christians. Starting from the premise that no such horrendous act happens in a vacuum, the aim of this book is to understand the full complexity of these massacres. However, I would like to stress at the outset that this is not a definitive history of the massacres. The enormity and the complexity of crimes such as massacres and genocides make it impossible to write a definitive history; any scholar who claims to do so would do no justice to history. Each village, town, and district that was struck by the massacres could itself be the topic of a monograph. Hence, this book attempts instead to interpret these events through a thorough analysis of the primary sources pertaining to the local, central, and international actors who were involved in the massacres as perpetrators, victims, or bystanders. Unlike other works on the topic, this book analyzes the event through the lenses of both Ottoman and Armenian history and with an interdisciplinary approach. As Jacques Sémelin argues in his seminal work Purify and Destroy, “‘massacre’ as a phenomenon in itself is so complex that it requires a multidisciplinary examination: from the standpoint of not only the historian but also the psychologist, the anthropologist and so on.”3

Adana, located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Anatolia, was one of the most significant economic centers in the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. With a diverse population of Muslims (Turks, Kurds, Circassians, and Arabs) and Christians (Armenians, Greeks, Syriacs, Chaldians, and Arabs) and a large population of seasonal migrant workers, it was the hub of cotton production in the Ottoman Empire. At the end of April 1909, in a period of two weeks, brutal massacres shook the province of Adana and its capital, the city of Adana.4 Images of Adana after the massacres show unprecedented physical destruction of a once prosperous city. Local Armenian businesses, churches, residences, and living quarters were totally destroyed. The violence that began in the city of Adana soon spread across the province and poured beyond its borders eastward into the province of Aleppo. In terms of the number of victims, this was the third-largest act of violence perpetrated at the beginning of the twentieth century, following only the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901) and the genocide of the Herero and Nama between 1904 and 1907 in the German colony of Southwest Africa. The central Ottoman government immediately sent investigation commissions and established courts-martial to try the perpetrators of the massacres. However, these courts failed to prosecute the main culprits of the massacres—a miscarriage of justice that would have repercussions in the years to come.

Despite the massive bloodshed of the Adana massacres, most of the major books on late Ottoman and modern Middle Eastern history fail even to mention these events.5 Where the massacres are considered in the historiography, the contested nature of the events has led to competing narratives. While the Armenian historiography broadly argues that these massacres resulted from a deliberate policy orchestrated by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the leading Young Turk party, Turkish historiography generally claims that these events were the result of a well-planned Armenian uprising intended to reestablish the Kingdom of Cilicia.6 Many Armenian and European historians have agreed that the Adana massacres represent a “dress rehearsal” for the Armenian Genocide (1915–23).7 The prominent historian Raymond H. Kévorkian, in his monumental volume on the Armenian Genocide, discusses the background of the Adana massacres and, based on circumstantial evidence, incriminates the CUP. He concludes by saying:

Who gave the order? Who told high-ranking civilian and military officials, as well as the local notables, to organize these “spontaneous riots”? Was it the authorities, the state, the government, the CUP? Everything suggests that it was only the sole institution that controlled the army, the government, and the main state organs—namely, the Ittihadist Central Committee—that could have issued these orders and made sure that they were respected. In view of the usual practices of this party, the orders must have been communicated, in the first instance, by means of the famous itinerant delegates sent out by Salonika, whom no vali would have dared contradict.8

Kévorkian’s assessment of the massacres takes into consideration the viewpoint of the Armenian intelligentsia at the time. Many Armenian scholars adhere to his approach. This consensus notwithstanding, it is important to keep in mind that Armenians were not passive objects who lacked agency; on the contrary, they were active subjects in their own history, a perspective that is usually sidelined in the Armenian Genocide historiography.

With this book, I offer a necessary corrective to these narratives. Through a consideration of the Adana massacres in micro-historical detail, I also offer a macrocosmic understanding of ethnic violence in the Middle East and beyond. Outbreaks like the Adana massacres do not occur sui generis; they are caused by a range of complex, intersecting factors that are deeply rooted in the shifting local and national ground of political and socioeconomic life. In addition, I do not intend to privilege one factor over another in explaining these massacres. The most important factors leading to the Adana massacres were the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, which shook the foundations of the “fragile equilibrium” that had existed in the empire for decades; the emergence of resilient public spheres after three decades of despotic rule in which the public sphere was largely repressed; and the counterrevolution of April 13, 1909. The contestation of the legitimacy of the state’s power during the counterrevolution resulted in intense social violence that fed directly into the massacres.9 A major question that this book strives to answer is how and why public spheres in postrevolutionary periods become spaces in which underlying tensions surface dramatically, creating fear and anxiety about the future that manifests in violence.

Official narratives often attempt to explain such events as manifestations of “ancient hatreds.” They argue that these “ancient hatreds” manifest themselves in times of crisis when political or socioeconomic tensions ignite. In the case of the Middle East, rudimentary explanations of conflicts hinge on tropes such as sectarianism, Muslim-Christian conflict, or the clash of nationalisms. Such dull “explanations” only serve to perpetuate what authorities would like to hear. A question that every historian of this region should ask is, if “ancient hatreds” were the reasons behind conflicts and massacres, why did these episodes of violence begin in the nineteenth century? It is only in the second half of the nineteenth century, in the wake of internal and external transformations, that we see ethno-religious or “sectarian” violence manifest itself in the Ottoman territories. Hence, the “ancient hatreds” approach—as in the case of Yugoslavia—does not hold water in the case of the Ottoman Empire or the modern Middle East.

Furthermore, this book refutes the claim that certain cultures and religions are predisposed to violence—an idea that was and remains prevalent in the way some Western scholars and Orientalists view Islam. Even a prominent scholar of the Armenian Genocide did not shy away from certain Orientalist tropes in explaining the Armenian Genocide.10 The literature on genocide and massacres in recent decades has demonstrated that, in particular circumstances, ordinary men and women from many different religious and cultural backgrounds are capable of barbaric crimes.11 Instead of perpetuating the idea that certain human beings have a biological predisposition to commit crimes, I suggest that scholars should examine how and why a rationalized society suddenly erupts at a particular juncture in history to produce massacres. Having said that, it is important to highlight that scholars should be cautious about normalizing violence as an inevitable process in such cases.

Massacres, Riots, and Pogroms

In historical cases where violence has been used disproportionately against vulnerable groups, there is always a conceptual contention between the “perpetrators” and the “victims” in terms of labeling the event. Both the Ottoman state and Turkish revisionist historiography have employed what Edip Gölbaşı has called “Ottoman linguistic camouflage,” or the practice of referring to these massacres as “riots,” “events,” “revolts,” or “uprisings” in order to exclude them from the category of massacres.12 This “Ottoman linguistic camouflage” blankets the large number of Ottoman documents from the period that were consulted in writing this book. The effect of this rhetoric is to shift the blame for the violence onto the victims. Both the Ottoman and Turkish states have used what has been called “the provocation thesis” in an attempt to justify the violence of the Ottoman state. In short, they argue that the decision to attack the Armenians was a result of Armenian provocation.13 According to Paul Brass, the winning side in periods of mass violence is not only the one which “inflicts the most damage and suffers the least from crowd violence, but the one which succeeds in labeling it a riot.”14 Furthermore, as empirical surveys have shown, riots, pogroms, and lynchings are themselves not spontaneous forms of violence by a group; rather, they are planned by their leaders. According to Sémelin, the idea of spontaneous outbreaks of mass violence “is more often than not mere propaganda, wielded by the powers-that-be in seeking to mask their primary responsibility in the outbreak of violence.”15

In this light, I deem it necessary to clarify my choice of the word massacres over riots or pogroms in referring to the two waves of violence that took place in April of 1909 in the province of Adana. Riot is defined by the Oxford English dictionary as “violence, strife, disorder, tumult, esp. on the part of the populace,” and “a violent disturbance of the peace by an assembly or body of persons: an outbreak of active lawlessness or disorder among the populace.” Riots are triggered by grievances of certain sectors of society, ranging from poor working conditions to racial conflicts or injustice. As we will see in this book, due to the number of victims and the involvement of local government officials, riot is not a suitable term to describe the mass violence in Adana, although it was adopted by the local and central authorities in order to deny the events the status of massacres. Pogrom is a Russian word deriving from the word pogromit, meaning “to break or smash,” and “conquer.”16 Historically, the term is linked specifically to antisemitic violence that erupted against the Jews of the Russian Empire in 1881–82, 1903–6, and 1919–21 (although it was eventually used in describing all anti-Jewish waves of rioting in Eastern Europe).17

The term massacre was used in the nineteenth century by European governments and elites to indicate “the loss of innocent human lives on a vast scale caused by a deliberate act.”18 Its historical usage in the context of the Ottoman Empire has been discussed in depth elsewhere.19 What interests us here is its social-scientific definition. Philip G. Dwyer and Lyndall Ryan define a massacre as follows:

The killing [of] one group of people by another group of people, regardless of whether the victims are armed or not, regardless of age or sex, race, religion and language, and regardless of political, cultural, racial, religious or economic motives for the killing. The killing can be either driven by official state policy or can occur as a result of the state’s lack of control over those groups or collectives on the ground. Massacres, in other words, can occur with or without official state sanctions although the state, especially in the colonial context, often turns a blind eye to the killing of indigenous peoples by groups of settler-colonizers that are geographically removed from the center of power and over which it has little or no control.20

Dwyer and Ryan argue that massacres usually take place in a short period of time and tend to be confined in geographical space.21 They are not necessarily directed by the state; different cases of massacres show that the violent episode can be initiated from above and/or from below, attesting to the fact that it is “a dynamic process which can easily get out of hand.”22

Following Jacques Sémelin, I would like to emphasize that a massacre is not an aberration beyond rational discourse, as is accepted in some circles; rather, it is a rational act with its own internal logic and should be studied as such.23 It is important here also to distinguish between massacres and genocide. While the latter aims at eliminating a communal group from a social structure, the former seeks to change the behavior of the targeted group through intimidation.24 Although genocides may include one or several massacres, massacres are not synonymous with genocide.25

The violence examined in this book clearly falls into the category of political massacres. However, political bodies are not only confined to a state and its agencies but may also include non-state actors such as mobs, gangs, factions, parties, paramilitary groups, and communal groups. According to Robert Melson there are four types of political massacres: “massacres perpetrated by the state against domestic communal groups; massacres perpetrated by the state against foreign communal groups; massacres perpetrated by nonstate actors against domestic communal groups; and massacres perpetrated by non-state actors against foreign communal groups.”26 What interests us here are the first and the third categories. As we will see, in both phases of the anti-Armenian violence, massacres were perpetrated by some local government as well as non-state actors against an indigenous communal group. It is important to reiterate that the aim of a massacre is not the extermination of a communal group but the reinstatement of the status quo, to which the victimized group represents a challenge. It is also worthwhile to note that the act of massacre is not a manifestation of power by the perpetrator group; on the contrary, it is an expression of weakness, in which the perpetrator feels obliged to resort to mass violence.

Reforms and Violence

During the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire initiated a series of reforms to increase its political power and preserve its territorial integrity. This defensive developmentalism was intended to strengthen the state through centralization, radical military reform, and new legal norms rationalized along Western lines. These reforms extended rights to all Ottoman subjects, regardless of creed or religious affiliation, and had a profound impact on Christians and Jews by pledging equality among the empire’s subjects, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.27 But through these reforms, religious identity also became increasingly politicized. The economic, political, and social gains made by Christians challenged the traditionally dominant position of Muslims in Ottoman society. As a result, political and socioeconomic conditions on the ground changed dramatically, leading to the emergence of intercommunal tensions and culminating in violence, massacres, and civil wars in the region of the Fertile Crescent, Anatolia, and the Balkans.

In some regions, the violence became sectarian. Historian Ussama Makdisi has suggested that sectarianism in Lebanon was a by-product of “modernity.” The Lebanese attempted to work out their place in a rapidly transforming world order by adopting categories of identity that had been privileged and sometimes imposed by Western diplomats and missionaries.28 Makdisi’s work challenges the views that sectarian violence was simply an Islamic response to Westernization or an outcome of the social and economic inequalities among the different religious groups in Lebanon. In her study of the Ottoman Balkans, İpek Yosmaoğlu explains the shift from sporadic to systematic and pervasive violence in Ottoman Macedonia in the nineteenth century through a social history of the “Macedonian Question.”29 In her work, Yosmaoğlu demonstrates how national identities replaced the polyglot associations that had formerly defined people’s sense of collective belonging, although she argues that national differentiation was a by-product, and not the cause, of violent conflict in Ottoman Macedonia.

Economic changes in the nineteenth century also contributed to the escalation of interethnic tensions. Leila Fawaz has discussed the civil war that began in Mount Lebanon in 1860 and spread to Damascus. She argues that uneven economic growth affected not only inter-sectarian but also intrasectarian relations. She contends that the upsetting of the continuously renegotiated, finely tuned balance between the region’s central state power and the forces of regional autonomy resulted in the civil war.30 Fawaz argues that conflict in the region cannot be explained without analyzing the regional and international currents, and specifically their impact on local autonomy. Furthermore, she demonstrates the important role of the communal balance between social and political institutions in the region and the way it was disrupted by the intervention of Europeans.

A lack of in-depth academic analysis, beyond essentialist and rudimentary explanations, is especially evident in the limited scholarship of the Adana massacre at its centenary. This book follows in the footsteps of the fine works mentioned above by demonstrating that the violence in Adana was much more complex than dualistic and superficial analyses would have it. The dichotomy of Muslims versus Armenians encourages vast essentializations of the parties involved in the conflict and obfuscates a sound analysis of the socioeconomic and political factors that led to the massacres. By analyzing the changes in the sociopolitical, religious, and economic structures in the region, this book provides multicausal and multifaceted explanations of the events that unfolded in Adana. The book examines the violence and struggles for power in terms of failures and successes in the public sphere and more generally in relation to the 1908 revolution, using primary sources in a dozen languages. The Adana massacres are considered not as part of a continuum of Armenian massacres leading to the Armenian Genocide but as an outgrowth of the ethno-religious violence that was inflicted on the region in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. While much work has been done on understanding ethnic violence in the Ottoman Balkans and the Arab Middle East prior to World War I, there is a lacuna in such studies in the region of Anatolia.31 This project aims to fill this gap. This book analyzes the history of the massacres through four interrelated themes: dominant and subaltern public spheres, rumors, emotions, and humanitarianism and humanitarian intervention.

Dominant and Subaltern Public Spheres

The concept of the public sphere, which is very much associated with the experience of Europe and North America, was introduced by Jürgen Habermas in The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Habermas’s study of the public sphere (Öffentlichkeit) focused on what he calls its modern “bourgeois” form, or the “liberal model of the bourgeois public sphere,” which emerged and flourished in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe before going into decline during the remainder of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.32

Since its translation into English in 1989, which coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere has drawn the attention of many scholars from a variety of fields who have criticized and modified the theory in different ways. Habermas himself has revisited his approach and admitted that his theory of the bourgeois public sphere is a “Eurocentrically limited view.”33 Some scholars have argued that the public sphere came into play well before the late eighteenth century, while others have pointed out that Habermas failed to examine other, nonliberal, non-bourgeois, competing public spheres.34

Geoff Eley and Mary Ryan have provided historians with crucial and influential formulations by rejecting Habermas’s idea of the public sphere as being confined to the bourgeoisie and by analyzing the political and public activities of other social groups in nineteenth-century Europe and America.35 For Eley, the public arena was a place in which different and opposing publics maneuvered for space and from which certain publics (including women, subordinate nationalities, the urban poor, the working class, and the peasantry) may have been excluded altogether. In the case of Adana prior to the Revolution of 1908, the most significant of such marginalized publics was the Armenians.

Eley has also demonstrated that the participation of these counter-publics in the public sphere was fragmented, contested, and competitive: “this element of contest was not just a matter of coexistence, in which such alternative publics participated in a tolerant pluralism of tendencies and groupings. Such competition also occurred in class-divided societies structured by inequality.”36 Nancy Fraser has elaborated on this issue of subordinate groups in stratified societies, which she terms “subaltern counter-publics,” in order to indicate “parallel discursive arenas where members of subordinated social groups . . . formulate oppositional interpretations of their identities, interests and needs.”37 This definition aptly describes the counter-publics of the post-revolutionary period in the Ottoman Empire.

Furthermore, whereas Habermas presumed that identities would be formed in private before their entry into the political public sphere, scholars have subsequently argued that this is not the case. In particular, Craig Calhoun has criticized Habermas’s treatment of public activity as rational-critical discourse posterior to identity formation or expression.38 He argues that the identities of groups are in part formed and revised through their participation, rather than settled in advance.39 Hence, public spheres provide an important medium for the enactment of social identities and, for the purposes of this discussion, can be seen as a medium that precipitates ethno-religious tensions between dominant and nondominant groups—tensions that may manifest as violence, including massacres.

Thus, the critique of Habermas’s theory has elicited new dimensions of understanding the public sphere. First, it revealed the exclusionary nature of the Habermasian public sphere in its classical liberal form and argued for the existence of multiple public spheres or publics as opposed to one dominant public sphere. It further pointed out that, because of historiographic biases, historians had considered only the politics and history of the dominant public sphere. Second, these new approaches argued that counter-publics or subaltern counter-publics exist in competition, both against and within the dominant public sphere. Third, this modified theory indicated that the public sphere is an arena not only for rational-critical discourse, but also for the formation and enactment of social identities. These approaches will help us to better understand the formation of dominant public spheres as well as subaltern public spheres in the postrevolutionary period.

The Public Sphere and the Ottoman Empire

The discussion of how the public sphere operated in the Ottoman Empire and continues to operate in the Middle East remains in its infancy, and this study will not attempt a comprehensive history.40 Both the premodern and the modern forms of the public sphere existed in the Ottoman Empire, but they appeared against a different background and were affected by different factors from those in the European milieu. In particular, autonomous institutions that did not exist in the European milieu functioned as the ultimate mediums for the creation of the Ottoman premodern public sphere. For example, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, waqfs (religious endowments) constituted important elements of the public sphere and of the social organization that gave substance to civil society in the Ottoman Empire. Haim Gerber argues that the waqf was so pervasive in Ottoman society “that one is almost tempted to view it as a key institution in the way the cockfights were seen by Geertz to be a key institution in Balinese society.”41 Another example would be the coffeehouses of the early modern period, which played a significant role in forming “the cultural public sphere.”42 According to Selma Akyazıcı Özkoçak, in addition to providing the only public space for poorer inhabitants of the cities, the coffeehouses “served as a principal location for the social, political, and cultural discourses of the Ottoman elite.”43

The Ottoman public sphere entered its modern form during the nineteenth century with the development of peripheral capitalism and the construction of urban spaces, which was accompanied by the proliferation of scientific and literary societies. As a result, literary public spheres emerged, including the press, in general, and newspapers, in particular. These outlets dominated the expansion of Ottoman public sphere(s).44 In tandem with the development of an official Ottoman press in the nineteenth century, the private press flourished, helping to create subaltern public spheres and counter-publics. Through these private, ethno-religious publications, non-dominant groups began to discuss issues pertaining both to their communities and to Ottoman politics.45 This transformation of literary public spheres into political public spheres in the modern sense among both dominant and nondominant groups reached its peak with the promulgation of the Ottoman Constitution in 1876.46

In 1878, Sultan Abdülhamid II dissolved the Ottoman Parliament, derailed the constitution, and established one of the most sophisticated espionage systems in the history of the empire in an attempt to put an end to the political public sphere. Despite his efforts, weak forms of both dominant and marginal public spheres nonetheless continued to exist, the latter strengthened by political activists in exile and their clandestine cells in the empire. By the beginning of the 1880s, journalistic activities had shifted from the Levant and Anatolia to Paris, Geneva, London, Tbilisi, and Cairo. In those cities, an exilic Ottoman public sphere formed, in which exiles of different ethnic backgrounds debated the future of the empire, using means of expression ranging from print media to public gatherings.47 Influenced by the European intellectual and political currents of the nineteenth century, they strove to reform the empire’s political system by adopting the tool that had transformed the West into a successful political entity: namely, constitutionalism and parliamentary rule.

After the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, this exilic public sphere transitioned into a homeland public sphere as political exiles returned home. The revolution allowed for an immediate boom in serial publications among the empire’s many ethnic groups.48 The press played the most important role in this new public sphere, with more than two hundred periodicals published in İstanbul alone during the first year after the revolution.49


1. “Syrian Shops Attacked in Turkey,” Middle East Eye, September 23, 2019,

2. Omer Faruk Gorcen, “As Turks Clash with Syrians, a Dangerous Spark Is Lit in Istanbul,” Middle East Eye, July 2, 2019,

3. Jacques Sémelin, Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 5.

4. Bedross Der Matossian, “From Bloodless Revolution to a Bloody Counterrevolution: The Adana Massacres of 1909,” Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal 6, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 152–73.

5. See, for example, William L. Cleveland and Martin Bunton, A History of the Modern Middle East, 5th ed. (Boulder.: Westview Press, 2013); James L. Gelvin, The Modern Middle East: A History, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); M. Şükrü Hanioğlu, A Brief History of the Late Ottoman Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); and Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire, 1700–1922, 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

6. For example, see Vahakn N. Dadrian, “The Circumstances Surrounding the 1909 Adana Holocaust,” Armenian Review 41, no. 4 (1988): 1–16. In the historiography written in Armenian, the continuum approach is much more prevalent. For example, see Hrachik Simonyan, Hayeri zangvadzayin kotoradznerě Kilikiayum: (1909 t’. April) (Erevan: EPH Hrat., 2009). The book appeared in English in 2012; see Hrachik Simonyan, The Destruction of Armenians in Cilicia, April 1909, trans. Melissa Brown and Alexander Arzoumanian (London: Gomidas Institute, 2012). See also the special issues of Hask: Hayagitakan taregirk‘, vol. 12 (2010) and Ts ʻeghaspanagitakan handes 1, no. 1 (2013). For the Turkish narrative, see Esat Uras, Tarihte Ermeniler ve Ermeni Meselesi (Ankara: Yeni Press, 1950); Salahi Sonyel, İngiliz gizli belgelerine göre Adana’da vuku bulan Türk-Ermeni olayları (Temmuz 1908–Aralık 1909) (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 1988); Cezmi Yurtsever, Ermeni terör merkezi Kilikya kilisesi (İstanbul: C. Yurtsever, 1983); Kemal Çiçek, 1909 Adana olayları/makaleler-The Adana Incidents of 1909 Revisited (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2011); and Yusuf Sarınay and Recep Karacakaya, 1909 Adana Ermeni olayları (İstanbul: İdeal Kültür Yayıncılık, 2012). Turkish diplomat Yücel Güçlü recently published a book promoting the narrative of the Armenian uprising; see Yücel Güçlü, The Armenian Events of Adana in 1909: Cemal Paşa and Beyond (Lanham: Hamilton Books, 2018). For more nuanced approaches, see Ronald Grigor Suny, “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else”: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 194–200; Michelle Elizabeth Tusan, The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide: Humanitarianism and the Politics of Empire from Gladstone to Churchill (London: I. B. Tauris, 2016), 94–118; Raymond H. Kévorkian, with the collaboration of Paul B. Paboudjian, “Les massacres de Cilicie d’avril 1909,” in “La Cilicie (1909–1921): Des massacres d’Adana au mandat français,” ed. Raymond H. Kévorkian, special issue, Revue d’Histoire Arménienne Contemporaine 3 (Paris: La Bibliotheque Nubar, 1993): 7–248; Raymond H. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011), 71–118; Aram Arkun, “Les relations arméno-turques et les massacres de cilicie de 1909,” in L’Actualité du genocide des Arméniens: Actes du colloque organisé par le Comité de Défense de la Cause Arménienne à Paris-Sorbonne les 16, 17 et 18 avril 1998, ed. Hrayr Henry Ayvazian et al. (Paris: Eidpol, 1999). In Turkish, see Meltem Toksöz, “Adana Ermenileri ve 1909 ‘İğtişaşı,’” in Tarih ve Toplum, Yeni Yaklaşımlar 5 (Spring 2007): 147–57. See also Matthias Bjørnlund, “Adana and Beyond: Revolution and Massacre in the Ottoman Empire Seen through Danish Eyes, 1908/9,” Haikazean Hayagitakan handēs 30 (2010): 125–55.

7. Dadrian, “The Circumstances Surrounding the 1909 Adana Holocaust.”

8. Kévorkian, The Armenian Genocide, 113.

9. Jacques Sémelin, “In Consideration of Massacres,” Journal of Genocide Research 3, no. 3 (2001), 381.

10. Vahakn N. Dadrian, The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (New York: Berghahn Books, 1995), 121–27.

11. Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, rev. ed. (New York: Harper Perennial, 2017) and James Waller, Becoming Evil: How Ordinary People Commit Genocide and Mass Murder (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

12. See Edip Gölbaşı, “The Official Conceptualization of the Anti-Armenian Riots of 1895–1897,” Études Arméniennes contemporaines 10 (2018): 33–62. Samples of denialist literature include Edward J. Erickson, Ottomans and Armenians: A Study in Counterinsurgency (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Michael Gunter, Armenian History and the Question of Genocide (New York: Palgrave, 2011); Justin McCarthy, The Armenian Rebellion at Van (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2006); and Guenter Lewy, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005). For an extensive study of denial in Turkey, see Fatma Müge Göçek, Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians, 1789–2009 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

13. The provocation thesis has been debunked by Robert Melson, who sees provocation by Armenian revolutionary groups as “merely one aspect of a more generalized threat that the government imputed to its Armenian population.” Melson also argues that the provocation thesis falls short of “being a credible explanation for the massacres because it neither convincingly demonstrates that the revolutionary parties were a serious threat nor does it address itself to the question of why they were seen as a threat.” See Robert Melson, “A Theoretical Inquiry into the Armenian Massacres of 1894–1896,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 24, no. 3 (July 1982): 486, 494.

14. Paul Brass, ed., Riots and Pogroms (London: Macmillan, 1996), 34.

15. Sémelin, Purify and Destroy, 167.

16. Johne D. Klier, “The Pogrom Paradigm in Russian History,” in Pogroms: Anti-Jewish Violence in Modern Russian History, ed. John D. Klier and Shlomo Lambroza (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 34.

17. Ibid., 13.

18. Davide Rodogno, Against Massacre: Humanitarian Interventions in the Ottoman Empire, 1815–1914 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2012), 31.

19. Ibid., 31–38.

20. Philip G. Dwyer and Lyndall Ryan, eds., Theaters of Violence: Massacre, Mass Killing and Atrocity throughout History (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), xv.

21. Ibid.

22. Jacques Sémelin, “In Consideration of ‘Massacre,’Journal of Genocide Research 3 (2001): 378.

23. Ibid.

24. Melson, “A Theoretical Inquiry,” 484.

25. Sémelin, “In Consideration of ‘Massacre,’” 379.

26. Melson, “A Theoretical Inquiry,” 484.

27. On the reform period, see Roderic H. Davison, Reform in the Ottoman Empire, 1856–1876 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1963); Moshe Ma‘oz, Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine, 1840–1861: The Impact of the Tanzimat on Politics and Society (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968); Selim Deringil, The Well-Protected Domains: Ideology and the Legitimation of Power in the Ottoman Empire, 1876–1909 (London: I. B. Tauris, 1998); Selçuk Akşin Somel, The Modernization of Public Education in the Ottoman Empire, 1839–1908: Islamization, Autocracy, and Discipline (Leiden: Brill, 2001); Kemal H. Karpat, The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Benjamin C. Fortna, The Imperial Classroom: Islam, the State, and Education in the Late Ottoman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Itzchak Weismann and Fruma Zachs, eds., Ottoman Reform and Muslim Regeneration (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005).

28. Ussama Samir Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).

29. İpek Yosmaoğlu, Blood Ties: Religion, Violence, and the Politics of Nationhood in Ottoman Macedonia, 1878–1908 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013).

30. Leila Fawaz, An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860 (Berkeley: University of California Press; London: I. B. Tauris, 1994).

31. See Stephan H. Astourian and Raymond H. Kévorkian, eds., Collective and State Violence in Turkey: The Construction of a National Identity from Empire to Nation-State (New York: Berghahn Books, 2021) and Ümit Kurt, The Armenians of Aintab: The Economics of Genocide in an Ottoman Province (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2021).

32. Craig Calhoun argues that Habermas does not mean to suggest that what made the public sphere bourgeois was its class composition. Rather, he asserts, society itself was bourgeois, and therefore produced a certain form of public sphere. See Craig Calhoun, ed., Habermas and the Public Sphere (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992), 7.

33. Jürgen Habermas, “A Philosophico-Political Profile,” interview by Perry Anderson and Peter Dews, New Left Review 151 (May–June 1985): 104, cited in Fawwaz Tarablousi, “Commentary: Public Spheres and Urban Spaces: A Critical Comparative Approach,” New Political Science 27, no. 4 (December 2005): 529–541.

34. For critiques of Habermas’s public sphere, see the articles by Geoff Eley, Nancy Fraser, Craig Calhoun, and Mary Ryan in Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere.

35. Mary Ryan, “Gender and Public Access: Women’s Politics in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere, 265; and Geoff Eley, “Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures: Placing Habermas in the Nineteenth Century,” in Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere, 306.

36. Eley, “Nations, Publics, and Political Cultures,” 326.

37. Nancy Fraser, “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy,” in Calhoun, Habermas and the Public Sphere, 123.

38. Craig Calhoun, “Nationalism and the Public Sphere,” in Public and Private in Thought and Practice: Perspectives on a Grand Dichotomy, ed. Jeff Weintraub and Krishan Kumar (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), 88.

39. Ibid., 100.

40. One of the best existing studies is Miriam Hoexter, Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, and Nehemia Levtzion, eds., The Public Sphere in Muslim Societies (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press; Jerusalem: Van Leer Jerusalem Institution, 2002). See also Dale F. Eickelman and Armando Salvatore, “The Public Sphere and Muslim Identities,” European Journal of Sociology 43, no. 1 (2002): 92–115 and Srirupa Roy, “Seeing a State: National Commemorations and the Public Sphere in India and Turkey,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 1, no. 48 (2006): 200–232.

41. Haim Gerber, “The Public Sphere and Civil Society in the Ottoman Empire,” in Hoexter, Eisenstadt, and Levtzion, The Public Sphere in Muslim Societies, 75.

42. Selma A. Özkoçak, “Coffeehouses: Rethinking the Public and Private in Early Modern İstanbul,” Journal of Urban History 33, no. 6 (2007): 965–86.

43. Ibid.

44. See Ami Ayalon, The Press in the Arab Middle East (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).

45. In the Armenian case, the newspapers Masis and Meghu, among others, played an important role in the intra-ethnic political discourse of the mid-nineteenth century onward.

46. However, it is important to note that the emergence of the political public sphere did not take place simultaneously for all ethnic groups.

47. The Pro-Armenia, Meşveret, Şura-yı Ümmet, and Al-Muqat. t. am newspapers are the best examples of such tools.

48. For the best study on the postrevolutionary press, see Palmira Brummett, Image and Imperialism in the Ottoman Revolutionary Press, 1908–1911 (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000).

49. For example, during the first two years after the revolution, approximately eighty new Armenian newspapers were published in the Ottoman Empire: forty-nine in İstanbul, eight in Van, six in İzmir, and the rest in Diyarbekir, Erzincan, Trabzon, Erzurum, and Sivas. See Amalya Kirakosyan, Hay parberakan mamuli matenagrutʿiwn (1794–1967) (Yerevan, 1970), 488–89.