The “Gardening States”: Comparing State Repression of Ethnic Minority Groups in Turkey and the Soviet Union, 1908-1945
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This thesis asks the question what the similarities and differences were in the state repression of ethnic minority groups in the Soviet Union and Republican Turkey during the first half of the twentieth century. It places this question in the recent development in the historiographies of these countries in which the concepts and approaches of political modernization, population policy, and social engineering are used as explanatory factors for state violence. Despite the comparative outlook inherent in this historiographic development, research comparing the policies of these two particular states is lacking in the debate. Hence, comparing the repressive policies of these two states can shed new light on our understanding of twentieth century political violence towards ethnic minority groups in Europe. The similarities and differences between the two respective regimes are addressed on three levels of analysis. On a formative level, the thesis discusses the way state repression and the forced settlement of population groups emerged and were institutionalized in the context of regime change during and after the First World War. On a strategic level of analysis, the thesis discusses political strategies that were formulated by political leaders in the new regimes in the first decades after their establishment, and demonstrates how alternating tendencies of inclusion and exclusion were present in these policies. On the empirical level, the thesis compares deportations and massacres that were deployed towards the Chechen-Ingush in the Soviet Union, and towards the Zaza Kurds in Republican Turkey. These two instances of mass state violence consisted of large-scale operations that were implemented by the state with a tremendous display of military or police power, occurring within a relatively limited timespan in a well-defined geographic area. Together, the research of the thesis shows that, in pursuit of very different ideological ends, both states exhibited a large degree of similarities in the ways they portrayed ethnic diversity in relation to the new political order, as well as in the political techniques they used to pursue forced internal population settlements in practice.