Karpat, Kemal H. 1925- (Kemal Hasim Karpat)

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Karpat, Kemal H. 1925- (Kemal Hasim Karpat)


Born February 15, 1925, in Tulca, Romania; immigrated to the United States, 1951; naturalized U.S. citizen; son of Hashim H. (in business) and Zubeyda (a homemaker) Omer; married, 1962 (divorced, 1967). Ethnicity: "Turkish." Education: Attended Teacher's College, Mejidie, Romania, 1942; University of Istanbul, LL.B., 1948; University of Washington, Seattle, M.A., 1950; New York University, Ph.D., 1957.


Home—Madison, WI. Office—Department of History, 3211 Humanities Bldg., University of Wisconsin—Madison, 455 N. Park St., Madison, WI 53706. E-mail—[email protected]


Attorney in Istanbul, Turkey, 1948; United Nations Secretariat, New York, NY, staff member of social research department, 1952-53; Montana State University, Missoula, assistant professor, 1957-58, associate professor of history, 1959-62; New York University, New York, NY, assistant professor, 1962-64, associate professor of history, 1964-67, area director of Peace Corps training program, 1966; University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, professor of history, 1967-79, Distinguished Professor of History, 1979—, chair of Middle East studies program, 1967—. Middle East Technical University, chair of public administration, 1958-59, visiting professor, 1968-72; visiting associate professor at Robert College, Istanbul, and School of Political Science, Ankara, Turkey, 1962; Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, visiting lecturer, 1967; Princeton University, research associate at Center for International Studies, 1972. Institute of Mediterranean Affairs, trustee, 1967-71; Institute of Turkish Studies, member of board of governors. Organizer and director of Social Science Research Council conference in Turkey, 1965; consultant to National Endowment for the Humanities, 1975-80. Military service: Turkish Armed Forces, 1953-55; became second lieutenant.


International Political Science Association, Middle East Studies Association of North America (founding member; fellow; member of board of directors, 1970-72), American Historical Association, American Political Science Association, American Oriental Society, American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, American Association for South European Studies, Bulgarian Studies Association, Romanian Studies Association, Turkish Studies Association (president, 1971-74), American-Turkish Society (vice-president, 1967-71), Middle East Institute (fellow), Royal Asiatic Society.


Rockefeller Foundation grant, 1960; fellow at Harvard University, 1960; grants from Social Science Research Council, 1961 and 1980, State of Wisconsin, 1968, 1975, 1978, and American Association of Learned Societies, 1974, 1980, 1982.


Turkey's Politics: The Transition to a Multi-Party System, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1959.

Turk demokrasi tarihi (title means "History of Turkish Democracy"), [Istanbul, Turkey], 1967.

(Editor) Political and Social Thought in the Contemporary Middle East, Praeger (New York, NY), 1968, revised edition, 1982.

The Middle East and North Africa, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1969.

Cagdas Turk edebiyatinda sesyal konular (title means "Social Topics in Turkish Literature"), Varlik Yayinevi (Istanbul, Turkey), 1971.

Social Change and Politics in Turkey: A Structural-Historical Analysis, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1973.

An Inquiry into the Social Foundations of Nationalism in the Ottoman State: From Social Estates to Classes, from Millets to Nations, Center for International Studies, Princeton University (Princeton, NJ), 1973.

Gecekondu uzerine (title means "On the Squatter Settlements"), Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey), 1973.

(Editor and contributor) The Ottoman State and Its Place in World History, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1974.

(Editor and contributor) Turkey's Foreign Policy in Transition 1950-1974, E.J. Brill (Leiden, Netherlands), 1975.

The Gecekondu: Rural Migration and Urbanization in Turkey, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1976.

Ottoman Population in 1830-1914: Demographic and Social Characteristics, University of Wisconsin Press (Madison, WI), 1984.

(Editor) Turkish Foreign Policy—Recent Developments, [Madison, WI], 1996.

(Editor) Ottoman Past and Today's Turkey, E.J. Brill (Boston, MA), 2000.

The Politicization of Islam: Reconstructing Identity, State, Faith, and Community in the Late Ottoman State, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

Studies on Ottoman Social and Political History: Selected Articles and Essays, E.J. Brill (Boston, MA), 2002.

(Editor, with Robert W. Zens) Ottoman Borderlands: Issues, Personalities, and Political Changes, Center of Turkish Studies, University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI), 2003.

Studies on Turkish Politics and Society: Selected Articles and Essays, E.J. Brill (Boston, MA), 2004.

Contributor to books, including Political Modernization in Japan and Turkey, edited by Robert E. Ward and Dankwart A. Rustow, Princeton University Press, 1964; The Cambridge History of Islam, edited by P.M. Holt, Ann K. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, Cambridge University Press, 1970; Soviet Asian Ethnic Frontiers, edited by William O. McCagg, Jr., and Brian D. Silver, Pergamon, 1979; and Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society, edited by Benjamin Braude and Lewis, Holmes & Meier, 1982. Contributor of numerous articles and reviews to political science and international studies journals, including Western Political Quarterly, World Politics, Journal of Contemporary History, Middle East Journal, Middle East Forum, American Historical Review, International Journal of Middle East Studies, and Reviews in European History. Editor, International Journal of Turkish Studies.


Kemal H. Karpat once told CA: "My interest in literature and in writing has been nourished basically by my direct contact, in my childhood days, with Turkish and Romanian folklore and the literature written in these languages. However, from the very start I developed a critical attitude toward literature. The society in which I was growing up regarded literature as a means of self-expression and amusement, whereas I was trained by my Muslim culture to regard society as a whole, with all its parts and activities well integrated and functioning around certain societal goals. In other words, I found the segmented and almost contradictory relationship between society and literature, advocated by some writers, unacceptable.

"The search for understanding society led me to the study of politics and social science, with history acquiring increasing importance as the record of total human experience. However, my studies led to a very painful and personal experience. I discovered that the West had placed me in a special category on the basis of my ethnic origin, religion, and background. In the eyes of the Western people, I belonged to a different world, which had been condemned in advance as uncreative and even inferior. I discovered to my great chagrin that my beloved writers—with whom I became emotionally identified and to whom I owed much for my development as a sensitive, socially and politically alert human being—were used as symbols of Western superiority rather than the common heritage of all mankind. Thus, Dickens appeared as an Englishman who could see the social evils in his society as no others, especially non-Westerners, could. Balzac and Hugo became the symbols of French uniqueness, while Tolstoy was the symbol of Russian genius and messianism. In these circumstances I, the Turk, appeared as the bete noire of history, on whom all the ‘civilized’ nations discharged their prejudice. My Muslim culture was depicted as stemming from a non-revealed religion (Islam), while the West drew the essence of its culture from a revealed, and by implication divine and superior, source.

"Events in the non-Western societies, including the one to which I was identified by origin and background, were described to occur under the whimsical impulse of oppressive and corrupt tyrants. In the West, decisions were supposedly made rationally by humanitarian, civic-minded, well-educated leaders.

"I read all this, first with interest and amusement and then with growing indignation. The memories of beautiful folktales of humanity, tenderness, and compassion I had read in my childhood and which lay dormant in my subconscious began to awaken and arise to a new level. I began thinking that the literary masterpieces of the West which helped to nature my intellect defended the idea that all people were born equal—that differences in education, living standards, etc., resulted from objective conditions rather than inherent superior or inferior human characteristics. In this light I began to look into the history and culture of the Middle East people. There I discovered literary figures, thinkers, and artists whose depth of feeling and sharpness of intellect were equal, if not superior, to the West's.

"I have devoted considerable time and energy to the history and cultures of the Middle East in order to bring forth the value of their contribution to the civilization of all mankind. Although the forms of Western and non-Western culture and history differ, their human essence is the same. I believe that the Western idea of inherent superiority was artificially contrived in order to justify colonialism and imperialism and that this ugly period in history is rapidly approaching its end. The message of my work is to point out the originality and importance of the periphery, so that we can build, in common, a strong center belonging to all of us regardless of our ethnic, linguistic, racial, and religious differences."

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Karpat, Kemal H. 1925- (Kemal Hasim Karpat)

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