Global waves, local actors: What the young turks knew about other revolutions and why it mattered

Nader Sohrabi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Here I concentrate on one event within the early twentieth-century wave-the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 in the Ottoman Empire-to investigate the following questions: How is a global wave constructed at the local level, and how do actors link their local upheavals to global waves ideologically, in action, and in timing? Simultaneous commitment of revolutionary elites to a single grand doctrine across an array of countries is certainly puzzling. After all, problems are by nature local, and they vary tremendously from one national context to another. How can a single solution satisfy all? A careful answer would require identifying principal problems from the point of view of actors, and taking note of the linkages they make to global models as a way of solving those problems. Furthermore, it requires taking note of the language they use to legitimate their proposed solutions in light of local traditions. Finally, an argument that global waves affect the form and timing of revolutions requires a demonstration that actors intentionally modify their strategies to make them more effective and hasten the upheaval in light of contemporary examples. These are tasks that I turn to in what follows. I show that the Young Turks linked all major problems within the Empire to the constitutional solution, and justified this doctrine by drawing on the language of religion and the "invented" constitutional "tradition" of Islam. Furthermore, I demonstrate that in light of contemporary upheavals they modified their original strategy of "revolution from above" in favor of a more populist uprising to lead a revolution that made them part of the early twentieth-century constitutional wave.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-79
Number of pages35
JournalComparative Studies in Society and History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 6 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Global waves, local actors: What the young turks knew about other revolutions and why it mattered'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this