A Friendship Forged in Wartime: Ukrainian-Turkish Encounters on the Galician Front in WWI


Friday, March 6, 2020, 2:00pm to 4:00pm


CMES, Rm 102, 38 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

The Center for Middle Eastern Studies presents

Hüseyin OylupinarUkrainian & Ottoman soldiers WWI
Postdoctoral Fellow in Turkish-Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

In the fall of 1914, the Ottoman Empire joined forces with the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary and Germany against the Entente Powers of Britain, France and Russia in the Great War. Of numerous battlegrounds, the war on the Eastern [European] Front extended for 900 miles from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and stood among the most important in determining the fate of the belligerents.

The Ottoman elite 15th Corps was sent to Galicia (an Austrian province with a partly Polish but more heavily Ukrainian population) in response to urgent German requests for assistance in early summer. Ukrainians and Turks had for centuries interacted closely in complex historical contexts. In the modern period, the service of Ottoman soldiers on the Eastern Front provided an opportunity for renewed contacts between Turks and Ukrainians. 

Hüseyin Oylupinar was born and raised in Turkey. He gained his BA degree in the field of International Relations. He completed his MA in European Studies upon defending his MA thesis titled “Ukraine on the Border of Two Worlds: Foreign Policy Amidst Painstaking Transition.” While he was following his PhD in International Relations in one of the prestigious Turkish universities (Middle East Technical University) he was encouraged to follow an interdisciplinary PhD degree at the University Alberta (Canada).

His PhD studies in Canada allowed him to travel Ukraine to conduct his research in the field every summer starting from 2008. In the meantime, he developed his Ukrainian which he started to learn as a Harvard Summer School Student (two times in 2006 and 2007). During his stays in Ukraine, Hüseyin was a guest researcher at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and travelled major former towns of the Hetmanate and Zaporozhian Kozaks. Participant observations, interviews and library work he conducted in towns such as Baturyn, Konotop, Bakhmach, Poltava, Zaprozhia, Nikopol, etc. formed the basis for his dissertation titled “Remaking Terra Cossacorum: Kozak Revival and Kozak Collective Identity in Independent Ukraine.” The dissertation, which Hüseyin will defend in August 20, 2014, tracks the historical travel of the images of Kozakdom and examines the ways it is used in negotiation of Ukrainian identity in the post-Soviet era.

Coming close to his dissertation work Hüseyin has been offered a fellowship in 2013 at the New Europe College (Bucharest) to conduct a research on interethnic relations of Crimean Russians and Crimean Tatars in Crimea. In his research Hüseyin paid particular attention to Crimean Russian Kozaks’ role as a factor in defense of Russian interests in the peninsula. Not long after Hüseyin's fieldwork, Crimea was occupied and annexed by the Russian Federation and the Kozaks groups Hüseyin worked on (Hüseyin interviewed main Kozak figures) have taken active part on the side of occupants. Hüseyin has been a researcher at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute with the support of Ukrainian Studies Fund and under supervision of Dr. Lubomyr Hajda in 2014 and later in 2015 as the Mihaychuk Fellow. During his time at HURI, Huseyin focused producing scholarly articles devoted to Ukrainian-Turkish relations since 1991 which was published by the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine). Hüseyin's other research involved study of current Ukrainian-Russian relations, Ukrainian-Turkish Relations and state of Crimean Tatars after Russian annexation. Hüseyin also works on a larger project which will address Ottoman-Ukrainian interactions during the First World War.

As a research fellow at CMES, Hüseyin is working on development of a platform on which Ukrainian and Turkish scholars will communicate and coordinate scholarly cooperation towards examination of issues in relation to both countries. Hüseyin also plans to contribute to the development of Crimean Tatar studies as a sub-branch of Ukrainian Studies.

Co-sponsor: Ukrainian Research Institute at Harvard University (HURI)
Contact: Liz Flanagan