By A.Holly Shissler
World-shaking revolutions in Russia in 1905 and 1917, in Ottoman Turkey in 1908, global struggle I, the defeat of the imperative Powers and triumph of the Entente, the Turkish warfare of Independence and the institution of the hot Turkish country kingdom below Atatürk, and the institution of Azerbaijan: those occasions shape the backdrop to Ahmet Agaoglu’s existence, which spanned the momentous interval from 1869-1939. This highbrow biography of this significant participant is a remarkable access aspect in which those turbulent occasions are introduced sharply into reduction.
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Folk traditions, generally lacking any ‘high culture’ account of their origins and past, are easily put to such use. Religion, among the most powerful and widespread varieties of social glue, becomes a set of eternal truths, denied an independent history. The truths are unchanging, but religion in history becomes the history of nations in their interaction with religion, not the history of religion. 42 As for language, ethnic revival movements very often include language reforms that touch on vocabulary, literary styles and sometimes grammar and constitute a substantial break with tradition, that is, with recent history.
In the first instance, we may attribute the son’s condition to his broader exposure to the wide world and, in particular, to his time spent in FAM FAMILY LIFE AND EARLY EDUCATION 45 the very alien culture of Western Europe. The quotation seems to encourage this view, talking as it does of the appreciation of Eastern and Western cultural productions and describing a torn feeling of alienation in both societies. The broader question, however, is what brought all this on? Men like Ağaoğlu’s father did not seem to feel the need to travel and to obtain Western educations and even men of his father’s generation with broad exposure to Russia and the West, with modernizing zeal, like Mirza Fethali Ahundzâde,4 do not seem to have experienced this sense of loss of self.
His father’s family came from the Kurteli, a tribe which, Akçura speculates, emigrated to Karabagh from the Erzurum region in the eighteenth century. His mother, Taze Hanım, was of the seminomadic Sarıcı Ali tribe. Both families were powerful, educated families, respected in ua. On the paternal side, his grandfather Mirza Ibrahim had been a locally known poet and âlim, or doctor of Islamic knowledge. The head of the family was the father’s older brother Hajji Mirza Mehmet. This man lorded it over the extended family household of 40 or 50odd souls in ua.
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