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Periodization, dividing the past into periods that can be clearly iden-
tified and that differ from one another in a recognizable way, is a
subject for interminable discussion. The same goes for the identifica-
tion of the landmarks and turning points that are supposed to separate
the periods. What makes this activity such a debatable issue for the his-
torian is the obvious fact that each turning point and each landmark is
both the start of a new development and the culmination of an earlier one.
Nevertheless, periodization, however arbitrary and subject to the
personal preferences of the historian, is an unavoidable and even indis-
pensable tool to give shape to the past, which would otherwise consist
of an undifferentiated mass of facts and figures. The very title of this
book implies that there is such a thing as modern history (or even
modern Turkey) and hence is the result of periodization.
For periodization to be a valid instrument, it has to comply with two
separate demands. First, it must have explanatory value. Like com-
parisons, periodizations in principle are unlimited in number, but they
only serve a purpose if they allow us to partition the stream of events in
such a way that important developments become visible. Second,
periodization should reflect the actual developments of the period under
description. It cannot be a wholly inductive process. This begs the
question of which developments the historian sees as important enough
to warrant basing his periodization on, or in other words, which among
the great mass of facts he recognizes as ‘historical facts’.
Of course, in any given field there are traditional divisions that have
become so widespread that the innocent reader tends to accept them as
historical facts in themselves, not to say natural phenomena. It is not
surprising that this tendency is especially strong among students using a
textbook. Such a book, after all, is all too often supposed not to argue
but to give indisputable facts.
In some ways this book follows the traditional periodization of
Turkish history; in some ways it does not. It is better therefore that I


Original text

Periodization, dividing the past into periods that can be clearly iden-
tified and that differ from one another in a recognizable way, is a
subject for interminable discussion. The same goes for the identifica-
tion of the landmarks and turning points that are supposed to separate
the periods. What makes this activity such a debatable issue for the his-
torian is the obvious fact that each turning point and each landmark is
both the start of a new development and the culmination of an earlier one.
Nevertheless, periodization, however arbitrary and subject to the
personal preferences of the historian, is an unavoidable and even indis-
pensable tool to give shape to the past, which would otherwise consist
of an undifferentiated mass of facts and figures. The very title of this
book implies that there is such a thing as modern history (or even
modern Turkey) and hence is the result of periodization.
For periodization to be a valid instrument, it has to comply with two
separate demands. First, it must have explanatory value. Like com-
parisons, periodizations in principle are unlimited in number, but they
only serve a purpose if they allow us to partition the stream of events in
such a way that important developments become visible. Second,
periodization should reflect the actual developments of the period under
description. It cannot be a wholly inductive process. This begs the
question of which developments the historian sees as important enough
to warrant basing his periodization on, or in other words, which among
the great mass of facts he recognizes as ‘historical facts’.
Of course, in any given field there are traditional divisions that have
become so widespread that the innocent reader tends to accept them as
historical facts in themselves, not to say natural phenomena. It is not
surprising that this tendency is especially strong among students using a
textbook. Such a book, after all, is all too often supposed not to argue
but to give indisputable facts.
In some ways this book follows the traditional periodization of
Turkish history; in some ways it does not. It is better therefore that I


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