Cover of Island and Empire by Uğur Zekeriya Peçe
Island and Empire
How Civil War in Crete Mobilized the Ottoman World
Uğur Zekeriya Peçe


June 2024
272 pages.
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Hardcover now $55.00 (50% off)
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Hardcover ISBN: 9781503638723
Paperback ISBN: 9781503639232
Ebook ISBN: 9781503639249

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In the 1890s, conflict erupted on the Ottoman island of Crete. At the heart of the Crete Question, as it came to be known around the world, were clashing claims of sovereignty between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. The island was of tremendous geostrategic value, boasting one of the deepest natural harbors in the Mediterranean, and the conflict quickly gained international dimensions with an unprecedented collective military intervention by six European powers. Island and Empire shows how events in Crete ultimately transformed the Middle East.

Uğur Zekeriya Peçe narrates a connected history of international intervention, mass displacement, and popular mobilization. The conflict drove a wedge between the island's Muslims and Christians, quickly acquiring a character of civil war. Civil war in turn unleashed a humanitarian catastrophe with the displacement of more than seventy thousand Muslims from Crete. In years following, many of those refugees took to the streets across the Ottoman world, driving the largest organized modern protest the empire had ever seen. Exploring both the emergence and legacies of violence, Island and Empire demonstrates how Cretan refugees became the engine of protest across the empire from Salonica to Libya, sending ripples farther afield beyond imperial borders. This history that begins within an island becomes a story about the end of an empire.

About the author

Uğur Zekeriya Peçe is Assistant Professor of History at Lehigh University.

"Among the many achievements of this extraordinary book are its lessons in why and how turn-of-the-century imperial interventions in culturally intimate Greek and Turkish communities contributed to the entrenchment of narratives of unbridgeable clash of civilizations. Uğur Peçe's Island and Empire is an essential read to make sense of the roots of the disorder in the contemporary world."

—Cemil Aydin, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"An eloquently written and exhaustively researched analysis of two connected episodes of displacement in the late Ottoman Empire, Island and Empire reveals the pitfalls of sectarian and state-centric interpretations of civil strife. Uğur Peçe offers a compelling revisionist history of refugee agency in collective action,the perils of foreign tutelage for communal peace, and the enduring legacies of violence."

—Hasan Kayali, University of California, San Diego