One reading of modern Turkish history focuses on the country’s perpetual race to catch up with Europe. Yet, as Charles King argued in this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, in the interwar period Europeans came to Turkey not as bearers of civilization but as refugees: White Russians defeated by the Bolsheviks, German professors dismissed by the Nazis, Jews seeking safe passage to Palestine, and many others. In the often forgotten world of interwar Istanbul, Muslims were the powerful hosts and Europeans the unwanted migrants.
Charles King is Professor of International Affairs and Government at Georgetown University. He is the author of Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams (2011), which received a National Jewish Book Award, as well as histories of the Black Sea and the Caucasus. His current project, to be published by W. W. Norton in 2014, is on the rise of Turkey and the transformation of Istanbul.
An audio recording of the talk is available here.