1Surely one of the most significant contributions of transfer studies has been its challenge to critically re-think the intra-imperial and inter-imperial relations of Eurasian history. Initiated by fruitful debates on German-French ‘transferts culturels’ in the 1980s and 1990s (e.g. Michel Espagne and others), the interdisciplinary and international field of transfer studies has been gradually ‘expanding’ to encompass other regions in Europe over subsequent decades (D’Aprile, Pufelska 2009). Recently, regions outside of Europe ‑ or at least those at its margins ‑ have been included in research. In many of these research projects, the primary focus of investigation has centred on cultural transfers from (Western) Europe to Eastern Europe (Giaro 2006), and from Western Europe to the Balkans or the Middle East (Dogramaci 2008; Ozil et al. 2011; Gächter 2012). Until recently, however, the (inter)relations, mutual influences, and cultural transfers between two or more non-European countries or Eurasian societies has been less investigated.
2Geographically located in Europe and Asia and sharing a common border in the Black Sea and Caspian region, Russia and Turkey have been neighbouring countries for centuries with a long history of mutual interactions. Yet, researching the political history of Ottoman-Tsarist and Turkish-Russian relations and transfers between Russia and Turkey, not only requires a consideration of ‘between-peripheries’ contacts, but also the recognition of the inter- and intra-borderlands. During the 1920s, numerous emigrants, mostly from the Azerbaijani, Crimean and Kazan Tatar, and Turkestani communities, left for Turkey following the Bolshevik conquest of Central Asia and the Caucasus. These individuals embodied the process of cultural, scientific, and knowledge transfer from the former Russian Empire to Turkey.
3The transnational biographies and lives of these intellectuals can be better analyzed using the theoretical approach of science transfer elaborated by Mitchell Ash. Ash stressed the importance of the role of the migration ‑ or simply the transboundary movement ‑ of scientists and academicians to science and knowledge transfer. In addition, he pointed out that science transfer functions through the circulation of distinct subjects, academic correspondences and communications, and the perception of scientific texts (Ash 2006).
4The focus of this study is based on my research of the Azerbaijani exile activist, Germany-educated linguist, and professor of the History of the Turkish Language, Ahmet Caferoğlu (1895/9–1975). In this paper I will elucidate the most important milestones in his intellectual and academic life while re-thinking the circulation of ideas and the transfer of science, academic culture, and knowledge from the Tsardom-Soviet Union to Kemalist Turkey. The paper will move on to explore his activities in European and Turkish academia and the Azerbaijani émigré community. It is noteworthy that these activities were quite often interwoven and entangled. A polyglot and acquainted with several academic cultures, Caferoğlu contributed extensively to the emergence and development of Turkish linguistics and Turkology, engaging with Turkish, European, and Soviet-Russian academic communities. One of the key aims of this article is to analyze Caferoğlu’s professional and intellectual activities between academia and politics and to re-think his contribution to the development of Turkish linguistics through the prism of transfer studies.
- 1 Although his date of birth year is given as 1899 in the majority of sources, the year 1895 is the d (...)
- 2 I would very much like to thank the daughter of Ahmet Caferoğlu, Dr. Nazan Ölçer, for her assistanc (...)
5Born into a wealthy Shi’i family in Gandja in 18951, Ahmet Caferoğlu attended Russian schools in Samarkand and Gandja before going on to read economics in Kiev and oriental linguistics in Baku, Istanbul, Berlin, and Breslau. Caferoğlu’s diplomas, certificates, and other kinds of personal documents used in the writing of this article are held in the family archives of the art historian Dr. Nazan Ölçer, Caferoğlu’s daughter.2 It is a private collection, and will be referred to throughout this article as the Nazan Ölçer Collection. Along with numerous personal photographs, the collection includes an enormous number of business cards and postcards, which were presented to Caferoğlu by his international colleagues from the1920s. His correspondences with several prominent leaders of the Azerbaijani political emigrant community in Paris, Ankara, and Istanbul, such as M. A. Rasulzade, are also preserved in the collection.
- 3 Promethean Movement was a geopolitical project launched by the political and intellectual elites cl (...)
6Fluent in Russian and German, Caferoğlu held the position of the Chair of Turkish Language History at Istanbul University for several decades. Interrelated with leading European orientalists, Caferoğlu co-launched the modernisation of Turkish linguistics and humanities by shaping the master narrative of the history of the Turkish language and delivering fundamental monographs on Turkish and Turkic linguistics. Therefore, alongside the use of primary archival sources, academic reviews of Caferoğlu’s monographs in addition to the reviews authored by Caferoğlu himself are an important secondary source of information and have been used extensively in this article. Closely entangled with the Azerbaijani and other (Crimean Tatar, Kazan Tatar, and Ukrainian) anti-communist emigrant communities in Istanbul, Caferoğlu made a considerable contribution to the development of anti-communist thought in Kemalist Turkey. His prolific writings for the journals of the Poland-backed Promethean Movement3 in the 1920-1930s, provide an essential source of information for investigating his political engagements.
- 4 I would also like to extend my thanks to the Azerbaijani ambassador to Hungary and literature histo (...)
7As mentioned above, this paper aims to analyze the role played by Caferoğlu in the transfer of linguistics and Turkology to Turkey between the 1930s and 1970s. This paper also seeks to re-think Ahmet Caferoğlu as a public intellectual in the exile Azerbaijani and Turkish context.4
- 5 Turkological research in Tsarist Russia was conducted in several universities. The universities of (...)
8I will argue that Caferoğlu was both a distinguished Turkish linguist and an active Azerbaijani emigrant, responsible for producing numerous fundamental publications across different fields of Turkish linguistics, comprehensively translating from Russian, and regularly reviewing Soviet and European research literature for Turkish periodicals.5 Through his activities, Caferoğlu co-shaped Turkish linguistics and Turkology by authoring a number of publications, including his multi-volume History of the Turkish Language, thereby transferring academic knowledge from Soviet and European Oriental Studies to Turkey. The multiple realms of his activities correspond with the dimensions and fields of science transfer to linguistics in Turkey.
9Although Caferoğlu published a tremendous amount of research literature on Turkology, literature, and the Turkish language, comparatively less has been written on his life and work in Turkey. After the collapse of Communism, Azerbaijani linguists and historians investigated the role of Caferoğlu within the context of Azerbaijani emigration (Әbülhәsәnli 2006). His Azerbaijan-related works were first published in Azerbaijani in Baku. The historian of literature, Vilayәt Quliyev, translated and published Caferoğlu’s collected works (Quliyev 2008). These publications, however, only serve to elucidate our understanding of Caferoğlu in his capacity as an exile and generally ignore his wider contributions to other topics such as his essays and articles on Turkish dialectology.
- 6 Founded in 1975, Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı (Türkiye Diyanet Foundation) is a state-run Foundation of Re (...)
10A well-structured overview of Caferoğlu’s academic publications can be found in an article written by his colleague János Eckmann (1905-1971) (Eckmann 1959), and in an article by Caferoğlu’s former student and assistant Osman Fikri Sertkaya (Sertkaya 1969). Sertkaya also authored a short biographical entry on Caferoğlu for the Turkish Encyclopaedia of the TDV6 (Sertkaya 1993). For a personal account of Caferoğlu, the memoirs of his daughter Nazan Ölçer are particularly insightful (Ölçer 2015).
11Born in the Russian Caucasus, Ahmet Caferoğlu was registered under the names Akhmed Dzhafarov and Dzhaferogly in Russian documents. His business card from his period of study in Kiev reads: “Ahmed Djafaroff. Etudiant en Economie de l’Université Commercial à Kiew” (fig. 1). When using Arabic script for Ottoman and Azerbaijani publications, he preferred to express his name as Ahmad Ğa’faroqlu and Ğa’farzadeh in the Persian context. These ‘slight’ name changes mirrored his transnational biography as situated between the Russian, Persian and Turkic worlds. Both Caferoğlu and Ahmet are in fact Turkified variants of Dzhafarov / Ğa’farzadeh and of Ahmad. For the purposes of simplification the Turkish version Ahmet Caferoğlu will be used throughout this paper.
a. Caferoğlu ’s student card, Kiev School of Commerce.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)
b. Caferoğlu’s business card.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)
12The city of Gandja in the Western Caucasus was renamed Elisabethpol (Elisavetpol’) by the authorities after the region became Russian in the aftermath of the Russian-Persian wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Under Russia rule, the establishment of the city’s first mixed Russian-Azerbaijani (so-called Russian-Tatar) primary and secondary schools coincided with important demographic changes. Following its integration into the Russian Empire, Gandja’s composition became increasingly multi-ethnic: Russian and German colonists settled in the city’s neighborhoods and started to interact with the local Azerbaijani and Armenian populations. In the late nineteenth century, St. Petersburg directed its Russification strategies towards the local populations in the non-Russian peripheries. By the turn of the century, the offspring of Muslim families received a Russian education and were given Russified surname forms when applying for documents.
- 7 Certificate in school records, ‘Attestat zrelosti, Dublikat’, 1928 (A duplicate from 1928), Nazan Ö (...)
13Due to personal reasons, Caferoğlu’s family moved from the Caucasus to Central Asia when Ahmet was a young boy. They settled close to their relatives in the cultural center of Russian Turkestan and the Turkic-Persianate bilingual space of the city of Samarkand. The years Caferoğlu spent in the core of Central Asia obviously left a deep impression on him, the traces of which are perceptible in his later expression of vivid interest in Central Asian culture. Ahmet enrolled in the local Russian school and when the family moved back to Gandja, he continued his education at the Russian Boys Grammar school (Elizavetpol’skaia muzhskaia gimnaziia). Having completed his primary school education in Samarkand in 1908, he graduated from his grammar school in Elisabethpol in 1916. In the same year, Caferoğlu left for Kiev to read economics at the Kiev Institute of Commerce (Kievskii Kommercheskii Institut). Initially founded in 1906, the institute became the first higher education institution in the Russian Empire to specialize in economics with two academic faculties, an economic and a commercial-technical faculty. The curriculum at the institute’s economic faculty not only included economics and law-related disciplines, but also offered its students an impressive range of European and Oriental languages. Caferoğlu’s interest in languages seems to have been stimulated by his trans-imperial wanderings, particularly during his years in Elisabethpol, Samarkand, and later Kiev. According to the certificate issued by Elisabethpol grammar school, for example, Caferoğlu received compulsory education in Latin, Russian, French, and German.7
- 8 Certificate signed on 20 August 1918 ‘Udostoverenie No. 338’, Nazan Ölçer Collection.
14Particularly during the last two years of the First World War, the non-Russian peripheries of the Russian Tsardom became a place of political turmoil. At least from 1916-1917, the urban centers of Tiflis, Kiev, and Baku witnessed the origins of the national liberation movement. In 1917-1918, numerous independent states appeared in the Baltics, the Ukraine, and in the Crimea and the Caucasus. The elites of these states desired international recognition and launched a process of nation-building, state-building, and army-building. On the eve of the Russian Revolution in 1917, Caferoğlu completed his education in Kiev, returned to Gandja, and was recruited into the Azerbaijani army. The certificate he obtained from the commander of the rifle battalion in August 1918, shows that within six months of entry Caferoğlu was promoted from the position of soldier to a shooter (gun-layer). According to the military certificate, the commander praised his discipline and sense of responsibility.8
- 9 For further information on the history of German settlements in Azerbaijan, see (Auch 2008).
- 10 For further information, see the autobiographical novel “Studentlәr” by Yusif Vәzirov (Çәmәnzәminli (...)
15In the autumn of 1919, a twenty (-four) year-old Ahmet Caferoğlu enrolled at the Faculty of Philology at the newly established University of Baku. At that time, the language of instruction, and the lingua franca of the oil capital of the former Tsardom, was Russian. For Caferoğlu, Russian became his second mother tongue after Azerbaijani. The multi-ethnic composition of the staff at the university, which included professors and lecturers of Russian, Jewish, Georgian, Tatar, and German origin, mirrored the cultural diversity of the Empire. The curriculum of the Philology Department resembled most other Russian universities of the time in many respects: German, Latin, Logics and Medieval History were all compulsory subjects. With a large Muslim and Jewish minority population, Baku and the composition of the student body of the university were highly heterogeneous spaces. Caferoğlu had already encountered imperial diversity during his primary years of socialization in Gandja, an Azeri-Armenian city that included German neighborhoods comprised of the two town-like villages of Helenendorf and Ahnenfeld.9 Gandja was not far from Georgia and, therefore, much closer to the cultural and political center of the Caucasus, Tbilisi, than to Baku. During the First World War, Caferoğlu completed his school education in Kiev. Both Baku and Kiev were important cultural and economic urban spaces located on the non-Russian borderlands. As mentioned above, during World War One these cities had become significant places of activity, not only in terms of political turmoil, but also as a result of the articulation of nationalist wills and ethnic clashes. Since the foundation of the nationalist party Musavat (Equality) in 1911, several groups of Azerbaijani socialists and nationalists organized themselves in Baku and Kiev, which hosted numerous communities of Azerbaijani, Tatar, and North Caucasian Muslim students.10 Both in the cities of Kiev and Baku during the war years, Caferoğlu witnessed quite exciting processes of post-colonial and post-imperial identity-building and linguistic nationalism.
16In September 1918, a month following the successful completion of his eight-month period of military service in the Shamakha region, a borderland between Dagestan and Azerbaijan, Baku was re-conquered by Ottoman and Azerbaijani forces. The decree issued by the Azerbaijani government to establish a university in Baku could explain Caferoğlu’s decision to move from Gandja to the newly proclaimed Azerbaijani capital on the Caspian shoreline. Although regular teaching at the university formally started in November 1919, the Republic had ceased to exist by April 1920. In May, at the latest possible moment, Caferoğlu left for Istanbul via Batumi and entered the diplomatic service of the former republic.
- 11 ‘Il est certifié que le porteur du present Ahmed bey Djaffaroglou se trouve en qualité de Secrétair (...)
17In Istanbul, Caferoğlu became affiliated with the Azerbaijani consulate. According to the official travel document issued by the Azerbaijani consulate in Constantinople, Caferoğlu held the position of Secretary of the General Consulate.11 The consulate was headed by the Azerbaijani writer and diplomat Yusif Çәmәnzәminli (1887-1943). It is of note that Çәmәnzәminli, also a Kiev University graduate, in all probability knew Caferoğlu prior to his arrival in Istanbul. As the newly appointed consulate secretary, Caferoğlu enjoyed improved mobility in Istanbul, which remained under Allied occupation. The eased restrictions on movement made life easier, if only for a relatively short period of time. Çәmәnzәminli openly supported the Ottomans and maintained almost no contact with the Allies: he was more preoccupied with literature than with diplomacy (Ağaoğlu 2003: 94-95). At the same time, Çәmәnzәminli maintained close relationships with Istanbul-based Turkish intellectuals, such as Fuat Köprülüzade (1890-1966), and Azeri exiles like the family of the intellectual Ahmet Ağaoğlu (1869-1939). Çәmәnzәminli introduced Caferoğlu to Köprülüzade in 1920, and Fuat Bey recommended his continuation to study at the Faculty of Literature, Istanbul University (Caferoğlu 1966: 943-945).
- 12 Russian as a taught language did not start until a year after the foundation of the University of T (...)
18Comparable to the situation of thousands of other Russian emigrants living in the city at the time, the future remained an unclear prospect and Caferoğlu needed to secure his position. The uncertainty coincided with the Bolsheviks successful re-conquering of Armenia and Georgia just a few months after the occupation of Azerbaijan. Caferoğlu had left all of his relatives behind in Azerbaijan and thus Istanbul became his first city of asylum. Concerned with the legality of his status in the Bosporus and anxious to secure his future educational and professional prospects, Caferoğlu directly addressed the Persian diplomatic mission in Istanbul. From 24 October 1921, Caferoğlu possessed the Passeport de séjour issued by the Persian consulate (fig. 2). Caferoğlu’s measure to procure a passport was nothing short of exceptional given that until the late 1930s, there was neither any institutional provider of regular diplomatic training, nor an official programme of Slavonic Studies in Persia (Khandzhani 2014).12 Recruited by the Persian embassies, Azerbaijani students supported Tehran’s diplomatic and trade activities in East European cities. Their fluency in Persian and belonging to Shi’i Islam made such cooperation possible. In his autobiographical novel Studentlәr (Students), Çәmәnzәminli described the analogous practices of Azerbaijani students in Kiev. Caferoğlu seems to have applied the same approach in Istanbul. Having improved his legal status, Caferoğlu was able to enrol at the Department of Literature, Istanbul University.
Caferoğlu ’s Persian passport.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)
- 13 Such developments correspond with the second level of science and knowledge transfer proposed by As (...)
19He read Ottoman literature and language and attended the lectures of the key savant of the early Turkish Republic and later Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Fuat Köprülüzade. In the early 1920s, Turkish philology became one of the key strategic fields in Turkey’s post-Ottoman search for identity. Mustafa Kemal and his entourage promoted secularism and the Turkish nation-state by supporting the linguistic purification of Ottoman Turkish and Turkology as an academic discipline. Seemingly translated from French into Turkish as Türkoloji, Turkology was required to deliver a scientific and ideological framework for the post-Ottoman Turkish state. In 1924, the Türkiyat Enstitüsü, a Turkological Research Institute, was founded in Istanbul in accordance with an earlier decree issued by Kemal in 1923. Its library was almost entirely based on the collection of the Russian orientalist Nikolai Katanov (1862-1922). This collection, comprising approximately 7325 volumes, was purchased in 1922 (Istanbul Üniversitesi 2015).13 Köprülüzade was appointed the head of the Türkiyat Enstitüsü, and it was the figure of Köprülüzade who attracted a large number of Turkic exiles from the former Russian Empire, mostly emigrants from Kazan, the Crimea, Central Asia and the Caucasus. Caferoğlu was among them. By joining Turkish academia in the early 1920s, Caferoğlu was in a position to witness and finally co-shape the Turkology-building project in Turkey alongside other post-Ottoman state-building and nation-building processes.
- 14 Türkiyat Mecmuası is considered to be the most prominent and oldest Turkological and linguistic aca (...)
20By the early 1920s, and after passing many years in different cities on the peripheries of the Russian Empire, Caferoğlu found himself in Istanbul among a broad community of other emigrants from Russia and the Balkans. In contrast to the achievements of his fellow Turkish students, and even to the lecturers and professors of philology, Caferoğlu was fluent in several Turkic languages as well as in Russian, which was of paramount importance for any scholar willing to discover Katanov’s collection. In 1925, his first articles were published in the very first issue of Türkiyat Mecmuası, the linguistic periodical of Istanbul University14 It is noteworthy that these articles were entirely devoted to the description and analysis of the Turkological research conducted in Soviet Russia (Caferoğlu 1925b) and Soviet Azerbaijan (Caferoğlu 1925a).
21Caferoğlu successfully completed his education at Istanbul University in 1925, subsequently obtaining a scholarship from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pursue his PhD studies in Germany.
- 15 Anmeldungs-Buch (Registration book) from Breslau University, Nazan Ölçer Collection.
22The Department of Oriental Studies at the University of Berlin was Caferoğlu’s first destination. Spending only one semester in the German capital, he frequented the lectures given by scholars such as the renowned expert of Old Turkic scripts, Professor Johann Wilhelm Max Julius Bang Kaup (1869-1934), the Africanist Diedrich Hermann Westermann (1875-1956), and the Russian-German Slavist Max Julius Friedrich Vasmer (1886-1962). According to his diploma transcript, Caferoğlu took courses in the Uighur language, vocalism, and general phonology. Caferoğlu was able to benefit from the profitable opportunity afforded by the expertise of these famous specialists to develop his knowledge in these otherwise unavailable areas at the University of Istanbul. After a semester in Berlin, Caferoğlu enrolled at the Schlesische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Breslau in November 1926. He spent three years in the Prussian metropolis, writing his PhD thesis on Azerbaijani dialectology and folklore. During his Breslau years, he regularly attended the courses given by Professor Brockelmann on the Yakut language and Orkhon script and Professor Giese on modern Persian. Under Professor Winkler and Diels, Caferoğlu studied the Church Slavonic language and the historical grammar of Polish.15 This knowledge would help to foreground his later academic pursuits, including his preparation of the Turkish-Uighur dictionary, his comparative works on Turkic linguistics, and his engagement with the research literature emerging from Poland and the Ukraine.
23When Fuat Köprülüzade published the second issue of Türkiyat Mecmuası in 1928, Ahmet Caferoğlu’s work was represented in six research papers. He authored an article on the Azerbaijani poet Mirza Şafi Vazeh and reviewed contemporary publications on Turkology from the Soviet Union and Belgium. It was Caferoğlu who first introduced the linguistic research results of leading Soviet linguists, such as Nikolai Marr, Alexander Samoilovich, and Kozmin, to the Turkish readership. In general, Caferoğlu’s scientific and intellectual activities were aimed in several directions. He published extensively on the different themes in Turkic linguistics for the exile Azerbaijani media in Istanbul (e.g. Azeri-Türk, Odlu Yur”, and others) and for the Turkish academic periodical Türkiyat Mecmuası. Additionally, Caferoğlu popularized knowledge of Soviet, Russian, and European research to a Turkish audience.
24By publishing the article Die türkische Sprachforschung und Prof. Dr. Mehmed Fuad Köprülü (The Linguistic Research in Turkey and Prof. Dr. Mehemed Fuad Köprülü) in the influential Berlin-based journal Der Neue Orient in 1929, Caferoğlu ‘enabled’ the head of the Turkological Institute, Fuat Köprülüzade, to speak German. Caferoğlu, therefore, popularized Turkish research results among European linguists. Fluent in German himself, he facilitated contacts with the German editors of the Der Neue Orient, Eugen Mittwoch and Max von Oppenheim.
25In 1929, he defended his dissertation at the University of Breslau, which was published the following year under the title “75 Azärbajganische Lieder “Bajaty” in der Mundart von Gändschä nebst einer sprachlichen Erklärung” (75 Azerbaijani songs “Bajaty” in the dialect of Gandja along with the linguistics explanation) (fig. 3). Having completed his PhD program, Caferoğlu decided to apply for Turkish citizenship, thereby connecting his future career to Turkish academia. The rationale behind his decision was based on a number of reasons. Firstly, he was familiar with Istanbul and had a lot of colleagues at the Türkiyat Enstitüsü. Secondly, Istanbul had become an important center of Azeri political emigration and, as an active participant within the community, Caferoğlu was eager to return to Turkey. In 1929, Caferoğlu returned to Turkey with a Turkish passport, a German PhD title, and a personal network that boasted prestigious contacts with other eminent European orientalists.
Caferoğlu’s diploma from Breslau University, 18.01.1930.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)
26Caferoğlu was of Shiite background, but a secularist-minded intellectual. This eased his integration into the predominantly Sunni Turkish society while simultaneously enabling him to fit in with the nationalist ideology of the Kemalist Republic. Up until his death in 1975, he maintained close ties with Azerbaijani emigrants in Paris, Berlin, and Turkey. As a political emigrant and active member of the community, Caferoğlu produced several publications for the exile media from the 1930s.
27In 1932, Caferoğlu still held the position of lecturer of the history of the Turkish language at the University of Istanbul (Darülfünun Türk lisani tarihi müderris muavini). Many Azerbaijani political emigrants in Turkey, such as Mammad Amin Rasulzade (1884-1955), had been organizing anti-Soviet activities in Turkey since the early 1920s (fig. 4). Financially backed by the Polish government, which was eager to forge a broad-based anti-Soviet bloc, Rasulzade and others published extensively on the shortcomings of the Soviet system and criticized Moscow’s domestic and foreign policy. At the same time, Rasulzade created an Azerbaijani political organization in Istanbul aimed at the re-formation of an independent Azerbaijani state. Istanbul and Paris became important centers of Azerbaijani political activities in Europe. Both ideas clashed with Turkey’s raison d’état. Ankara had forged economic ties with Moscow in the hope of modernizing the country with Russian assistance. Additionally, Azerbaijani, Crimean Tatar, and other different Turkic national projects did not cohere with the Kemalist concept of Turkishness and national identity. The publishing houses of the political journals Odlu Yurt and Yeni Kafkasya were consequently shut down and the prominent Azerbaijani exile politician, Mammad Amin Rasulzade, was forced to leave for Poland in 1929, his last journal Azeri-Türk failing to reach print in 1931. In January 1932, Caferoğlu founded a new journal Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi (AYB), with an emphasis on linguistics, history, and culture. The journal existed until 1934, and became an important medium of Turkology. Contrary to Türkiyat Mecmuası, the AYB was published monthly. The renowned Italian orientalist, Ettore Rossi, strikingly described it as a monthly “con intenti scientifici e patriottici” (Rossi 1934: 442).
Caferoğlu with Rasulzade and other Azerbaijani political emigrants in Istanbul, ca. 1920s.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)
- 16 He referred in particular to the multi-volume collection of diplomatic documents issued in 1890, St (...)
28The publication of the periodical coincided with the release of a short monograph of Caferoğlu in 1932, which emerged as the second volume in the series, Azerbaycan Yurt Bilgisi Tetkikleri (Research of the AYB). Appearing under the title Azeri edebiyatında istiklal mücadelesi (The Struggle for Independence in Azerbaijani Literature), the volume was based on a lecture given by Caferoğlu that had obviously been intended for delivery in front of the Azerbaijani exile audience in Istanbul. Actually, the monograph was a forty-page essay on Azerbaijani literature and its linguistic and cultural emancipation from Persian culture. It was an academic text supported by plenty of scientific citations. Caferoğlu criticized the Russian historiography of the Caucasus, particularly the works of Nikolai Ivanovich Veselovskii (1848-1918 such as Zavoevanie Kavkaza (The Conquest of the Caucasus) on the Russian conquest of the region.16 According to Caferoğlu, historians such as Veselovskii misinterpreted Caucasian and Azerbaijani history. He stressed the fact that local history had been “unrepresented”. This subalternist argumentation was quite characteristically written for Azerbaijani exile intellectuals who pointed out the necessity of their ‘own’ history-writing.
- 17 The Azerbaijani historian, journalist and public intellectual Rәşid İsmaylov (1877-1941) published (...)
29Criticizing the Russian historiography represented by Veselovskii, Caferoğlu reflected on Soviet Azerbaijani philological works, particularly the academic writings of Soviet Azerbaijani Turkologists like Firidun Köçәrli (1863-1920) and Salman Mümtaz (1884-1941), the author of the fundamental monograph Azәrbaycan әdәbiyyatı (Azerbaijani Literature 1925-1927), and the historian Rәşid İsmaylov (1923).17 At the same time, Caferoğlu utilized his previously published articles on the different periods in Azerbaijani literature that had originally appeared in the Istanbul-based emigrant journal Azeri-Türk (1929-1931). Ahmet Caferoğlu was one of the most active members of the Azerbaijani exile community in Istanbul. His vocation was mirrored in the epigraph of the monograph: “Sabur sana ey aziz vatan” (Be patient my lovely Motherland).
30Throughout the 1930s, Caferoğlu articulated his ideas in three ways. He started to publish extensively on Turkish and Azerbaijani linguistics for German and Italian scholarly journals, he wrote in Turkish on Western Oriental Studies and aspects of Azerbaijani and Turkish linguistics, and he published in the Azerbaijani exile media by organizing regular presentations for different émigré circles.
- 18 ‘Antisovetskaia vylazka beloemigranta na lingvisticheskom kongresse v Turcii’, Krasnyi Krym, 22.08. (...)
- 19 ‘Dil Kurultayının ikinci günü’, Cumhuriyet, 02.08.1934.
- 20 Ibid.
- 21 During World War Two, Caferoğlu founded and edited the monthly journal Türk Amacı (The Turkish Targ (...)
31Between 18 and 23 August 1934, the Second International Turkology Congress (Ikinci Türk Dili Kurultayı) was held at the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul. The event was attended by a delegation of Soviet Turkologists and other international guests, including the linguist Ivan Meshchaninov (1883-1967) and the Turkologist from Leningrad State University, Alexander Samoilovich (1880-1938). On the second day of the congress, Caferoğlu seized the opportunity afforded by the framework of his speech “Rus dilinde ilk Türk dili yadigârları” (The souvenirs of the Turkish Language in the Russian Language) to discuss the cultural influence of the Turkic peoples on Russia, depicting Russian culture as less developed. Mustafa Kemal left the panel as a sign of protest against Caferoğlu’s critique of Russia and the Soviet delegation called the speech an assault. The case was not only the subject of press scrutiny in the Soviet and Turkish media, but it also appeared in international Turkological periodicals. On 22 August 1934, the Simferopol-based daily Krasnyi Krym (Red Crimea) wrote about the “Anti-Soviet act of the white emigrant on the linguistic congress in Turkey”.18 The leading Turkish daily newspaper Cumhuriyet wrote on 20 August 1934, “Kurultayda mevzu haricine çıkan bir hatip” (Off-topic presentation at the congress).19 In fact, Cumhuriyet provided very in-depth coverage of the panels at the congress. Concerning Caferoğlu’s presentation, the daily newspaper informed its readers that the talk had literally nothing in common with science. Furthermore, Cumhuriyet reported that “Caferoğlu has been dismissed from the University and banned from his preoccupation with linguistics”.20 On 29 September 1934, a month later, Caferoğlu was indeed informed that his position as lecturer of the Russian language at the Faculty of Literature had been terminated. The Rector decreed that Caferoğlu was to be transferred to the Faculty of Theology to work as the librarian. The scandal consequently resulted in the shut-down of the AYB in 1934.21
32However, two years after the dismissal precipitated by his anti-Soviet speech, Caferoğlu was reinstated as a member of the faculty’s staff. In 1938, he was finally promoted to professor at the University of Istanbul. From the time of his congress speech onwards, Caferoğlu was simultaneously marked and isolated within Turkish academia. However, he utilized the opportunity to complete his translation of Eduard Pekarskii’s Slovar’ Iakutskogo Iazyka (Dictionary of the Yakut Language). Pekarskii (1858-1934), a Russian ethnologist and linguist of Polish origin, had been conducting research on the Yakut language since the 1880s. The dictionary, published in separate volumes between 1907 and 1930, had been favourably reviewed by the famous Russian orientalist Radloff. Caferoğlu translated the dictionary of the Iakut language from Russian into Turkish, introducing the translated edition with a detailed review of current research on Iakut linguistics. The volume was published by Türk Dili Kurumu (Turkish Language Association) under the title Yakut Dili Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Iakut Language) in 1935. This became a core publication in the realization of the broader project to translate the entire thirteen volume series of Pekarskii’s masterpiece, which was eventually completed in 1945. Aside from Caferoğlu’s contribution, the publication project was a collaborative effort that involved Abdülkadir İnan and other exiles from the former Tsardom.
33From the 1920s, Caferoğlu reviewed a large body of research literature on Turkology for Türkiyat Mecmuası and other periodicals. Based in Istanbul, he was able to gain regular access to new publications from Europe and the Soviet Union, mostly emerging from Turkological centres of research such as Moscow, Leningrad, Baku and Tashkent. His reviews enabled the readers of Türkiyat Mecmuası to access current research on Turkic linguistics from other counties, for example, Germany, Russia, Italy, and Poland.
34The geographical scope covered in Caferoğlu’s reviews was very broad. In 1938 and 1939, he published reviews on the linguistic research authored by the Italian orientalists Ettore Rossi (Rossi 1937) and Alessio Bombaci, and the monographs of Tadeusz Kowalski and Ananiasz Zajączkowskis.
- 22 Karl Koy (1856-1907) was a prominent German Turkologist.
- 23 Hellmut Ritter (1892-1971) was a German Orientalist and the founder of Iranian Studies at Istanbul (...)
- 24 Türkiyat Mecmuası, 1936, pp. 353-355.
35Caferoğlu reviewed the book by the prominent Polish-Lithuanian orientalist and Karaite religious authority Sureja Szapszal (1873-1961). Szapszal (or Shapshal in the English variation of the name), authored a monograph (published in Cracow, 1935) on examples of Azerbaijani literature in Iran drawn from his extensive travels through the predominantly Azerbaijani populated territories of northern Persia. In his review, Caferoğlu referenced previous research that had been conducted on Azerbaijani language and literature in northern Persia, notably the articles written by the German orientalists Karl Foy (1903-1904)22 and Hellmut Ritter (1921).23 Szapszal’s monograph, however, was ground-breaking. Szapszal had succeeded in collecting numerous fairy tales, folksongs, and anecdotes from across the different cities, towns, and villages of the Persian Azerbaijan region. Caferoğlu praised the importance of Szapszal’s work for Turkology and comparative linguistics.24
36In 1949, the leading Turkish linguistic periodical Türk Dili ve Edebiyat Dergisi (Journal of Turkish Language and Literature) offered Caferoğlu the opportunity to review the monograph authored by Ananiasz Zajączkowski (Caferoğlu 1949). Zajączkowski’s book was devoted to Khazar history, linguistics, and culture and was initially published in Polish in Cracow, 1947 (Zajączkowski 1947). Caferoğlu pointed out that the Polish Turkologist had used a tremendous variety of sources to produce an account of Khazar history. Caferoğlu’s review was favourable and it appeared under the category “Türkolojiyi ilgilendiren yayınlar arasında” (Among the Publications of common interest for Turkology).
- 25 For a more detailed study on the relations and contacts between Caferoğlu and the Polish orientalis (...)
37It is worthwhile mentioning that Hellmut Ritter, Sureja Szapszal, and Zajączkowski were all Caferoğlu’s colleagues. Szapszal lived in Istanbul between 1920 and 1927, and joined Zajączkowski at the Turkology Congress of 1932. Moreover, Caferoğlu’s anti-Soviet attitude was shared by many Polish intellectuals and orientalists, including his aforementioned colleagues.25
38Throughout his research career, Caferoğlu continued to review extensively for both academic and exile periodicals. These reviews offered an opportunity for generations of Turkish linguists to supersede language barriers and access current Turkological research from the Soviet Union and Europe. The review process was an important field of science transfer broadly used by Caferoğu during his career.
- 26 After the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, all inhabitants residing within the terri (...)
39In a memoir article dedicated to Köprülüzade, Caferoğlu recalled their meeting in the Azerbaijani-Turkish intellectual milieu of the 1920s, shaped by Ahmet Ağaoğlu, Ali Bey Hüseyinzade, Mehmet Ağaoğlu and others (Caferoğlu 1966). He pointed out that the Turanist dimension of thinking among Turkish intellectuals (for example, Köprülüzade) was very attractive for “dış Türkler” (Turks from outside) (Caferoğlu 1966). Although the article was written retrospectively in 1966, almost forty years after the event, it remains apparent that Caferoğlu’s understanding of Turkishness was broader than the official rhetoric of the Turkish Republic.26
40In 1933, Caferoğlu published the Report on Turkey’s transition to the Latin script for the Société des Nations, Institut international de coopération intellectuelle in Paris (Caferoğlu 1933c), and two essays for the AYB, including a quite emotional essay on Azerbaijan’s lost statehood (Caferoğlu 1933a), and an essay on Ismail Gasprinskii’s journal Tercüman (Translator) (Caferoğlu 1933b). While the essay on Gasprinskii appeared under Caferoğlu’s name, his article on the Soviet occupation of Azerbaijan was published anonymously (Eckmann 1959: 5). Caferoğlu remained cautious of publicly articulating his political opinions concerning the Soviet Union, mindful of the broader political context of blossoming Soviet-Turkish relations in the 1920-1930s.
- 27 See Marc Toutant’s contribution in this issue.
41Particularly after the Second World War, however, Soviet-Turkish relations changed dramatically. The situation for the different Turkic communities living in Turkey was correspondingly altered after Moscow initiated its territorial claims against Turkey and Ankara joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in 1952. The changing political environment opened-up a space for Azerbaijani emigrant associations to more freely pursue their activities. Already in 1947, the political emigrant and anti-communist Rasulzade had been allowed to return to Turkey. In early 1949, the Azerbaycan Kültür Derneği, AKD (Azerbaijani Cultural Society) was created in Ankara. Caferoğlu delivered a talk, which was published the following year, titled “Azerbaycan dil ve edebiyatının dönüm noktaları” (the initiative of the AKD on 5 April 1952) (Caferoğlu 1953). Interestingly, his narrative on Azerbaijani literature did not significantly depart from the dominant narrative circulated by the Soviet Azerbaijani linguists. For example, Caferoğlu opened his argumentation with a fervent critique of Iranian linguists and historians, largely orientated towards Ahmed Kasravi (1890-1946), and differentiated between the historical terms Arran and Azerbaijan (Caferoğlu 1953: 3). His critique moved on to discuss Nizami’s identity in the context of the “Persian-language Azeri culture”, pointing out that: “Nizami […] always cared for a very close relationship with his nation, his Motherland and he always felt like an Azeri” (Caferoğlu 1953: 7). And indeed, Caferoğlu was much like Nizami himself, emerged from similar origins as the Gandja-born poet. Yet, writing in Persian, Nizami was primarily considered an Iran-based Persian poet by the international orientalist community. In the Soviet Union throughout the 1940s, however, Soviet Russian and Soviet Azerbaijani orientalists, despite some internal contradictions (Yilmaz 2015a), continued to define Nizami solely as an “Azerbaijani poet” (Yilmaz 2015b).27
- 28 The Azerbaijani exile media in Turkey, mostly İstanbul and Ankara-based, emerged in the aftermath o (...)
- 29 The journal Türk Kültürü was issued by the Ankara-based Türk Kültürü Araştırma Enstitüsü (Institute (...)
42Until his death in 1975, Caferoğlu regularly contributed to the Azerbaijani exile media28 and to the local Turkish media.29 During the same period, he concurrently published on Azerbaijani language and literature for leading European Turkological journals. An activist in the Azerbaijani emigrant political community, and a passionate critic of Soviet policy towards the non-Russian peripheries, Caferoğlu promoted the ‘Azerbaijani cause’ through his academic activities. The essay “Sağol Mustafa Kemal” exemplifies the way in which his essays for the Turkish media often delivered broader messages than the content of their titles initially implied. Published in 1965 for the journal Türk Kültürü (Turkish Culture), the text was actually structured into several parts. Caferoğlu started with a description of “Almanakh”, the Russian account of White Russian emigration to Constantinople at the end of the First World War. Caferoğlu wrote a narrative account of Russian gratitude towards the Turks for granting asylum during the post-revolutionary civil war in Russia, while simultaneously commenting on “Rusya mahkûmu dış Türk âlemi” (The Turkic world imprisoned by Russia) (Caferoğlu 1965: 80). He provided a detailed description of the way in which appreciation of Turkish hospitality was recalled and personalized all positive with Atatürk. A discussion of Atatürk’s popularity was subsequently continued in combination with a description of the political developments in the Caucasus between 1918 and 1921, a crucial period in the history of the region that also coincided with an important moment in Caferoğlu’s personal past as well. It may be useful to explain what was sudden about this (i.e. was it a break in the continuity of the narrative, or was it because he had never written on this subject before, or because he linked Kemal’s Turkey to statehood in the region?). Finally, he postulated:
“Atatürk was the real founder of the Republican regime and of statehood in the East. The states founded earlier were, unfortunately, not long living. The North Caucasian and Azerbaijani Turkic-Islamic Republics were proclaimed in 1918 and ceased to exist long before the proclamation of Mustafa Kemal’s Republic…[and] afterwards they became Soviet and lost their value and dignity” (Caferoğlu 1965: 83).
- 30 Almost eighty years after the publication of Caferoğlu’s Uygur Sözlüğü, the Turkish Turkologist Meh (...)
43In 1968, Türk Dil Kurumu published the Eski Uygur Türkçesi Sözlüğü (Dictionary of the Old Uighur Turkic Language). The dictionary was undoubtedly one of Caferoğlu’s masterpieces (Caferoğlu 1968). Caferoğlu studied Uighur linguistics in Breslau and Berlin in the 1920s, and worked on the Uighur language in his earlier publications. Following his return to Istanbul, Caferoğlu mainly focused on French, Russian, and German research literature. The Uygur Sözlüğü (Dictionary of Uighur) was eventually published in 1934, and the original edition was considerably expanded over the course of subsequent decades. Caferoğlu’s dictionary of Old Uighur (published as a revised edition in 1968) was ground-breaking for Turkish Turkology and linguistics. Comprising around 7,500 Uygur concepts, it is still regarded as an unsurpassed achievement in Turkey today. The Türk Dil Kurumu has republished it several times since its first release.30
44In addition to the Dictionary of Old Uighur Language, his multi-volume publication on the history of the Turkish language, Türk Dili Tarihi (Caferoğlu 2015), is considered among his more notable oeuvres. The monograph Türk Dili Tarihi was first published in four volumes in 1969. It sheds light on the historical development of the Turkic languages and constitutes a sort of grand narrative of Turkish. Both his work on the linguistics of the Uighur, and his History of the Turkish Language, is reflective of Caferoğlu’s decades-long elaboration of the Uighur language and his field work in Anatolia.
- 31 Caferoğlu and Sadri Maksudi met each other for the first time in Samarkand. Sadri Maksudi visited t (...)
- 32 Spuler, B. (ed.) (1963) Handbuch der Orientalistik, Leiden, Brill. The book was published as a seco (...)
- 33 Akdes Nimet Kurat and Zeki Velidi Togan represented Turkish academia at the panel on Turkology orga (...)
45Caferoğlu and other leading intellectuals, including émigré linguists at the Türkiyat Enstitüsü, Abdülkadir İnan and Muharrem Ergin, the historians Zeki Velidi Togan and Reşit Rahmeti Aras, and the prominent early-Republican lawyer Sadri Maksudi Arsal (1880-1957)31, were responsible for co-fashioning Turkish Turkology, Oriental Studies, and history-writing. For decades they represented Turkish academia in dynamic interaction with other European Turkologists. The publication of Altai Studies (Altaistik) within the Handbuch der Orientalistik (Handbook of Oriental Studies)32 was prepared by Bertold Spuler in cooperation with other prominent Orientalists such as Annemarie von Gabain, Omeljan Pritsak, Johannes Benzing and others. All four of the contributions sent from Turkey were authored by Ahmet Caferoğlu, Zeki Velidi Toğan, Abdullah Battal-Taymas, and Ahmet Temir; and all four of its contributors were emigrants based in Istanbul and Ankara. Fluent in several languages and rooted in different academic traditions, they forged contacts with European and international scholars outside of Turkey. For decades, these emigrants represented and established Turkish linguistics as a well-integrated part of international academia.33 During the Cold War, when the majority of Turkic societies lived within the Socialist Bloc, Caferoğlu and İnan regularly described and analyzed new publications on Central Asian and Siberian languages. Closely connected with orientalists like Omelian Pritsak, Brockelmann, and the Polish Turkologists Tadeusz Kowalski and Ananiasz Zajączkowski, Caferoğlu not only became a bridge connecting Turkish academia to the East, but also to the West.
46An ardent anti-communist, Caferoğlu belonged to an intellectual critical community in Turkey that was fervently opposed to the Soviet Union. Born and raised on the peripheries of the former Tsardom, Caferoğlu had been forced to permanently leave Azerbaijan after the Bolshevik intervention in 1920. Despite any residual resentment he may have felt towards the Soviets, Caferoğlu remained vividly interested in Soviet linguistic research and did not allow his personal convictions to stand in the way of establishing contact with Soviet and Russian scientists. Among the postcards held in his private collection, several document his communications with the Leningrad Turkologist Alexander Samoilovich and the Soviet diplomat Michel Mikhailov. The latter even contains a personal message. The correspondences between Mikhailov and Caferoğlu suggests that with Mikhailov’s assistance Caferoğlu regularly delivered publications on Turkology to the Soviet Union, and in return received Soviet research literature. Therefore, by reviewing Soviet linguistics-related research for Turkish periodicals, Caferoğlu contributed to the transfer of knowledge from the Soviet Union to Turkey in spite of the Iron Curtain.
47Caferoğlu’s intellectual life had numerous and highly interwoven dimensions. Well-integrated into Turkish academia, international linguistics, and Turkology, Caferoğlu was an active member of the Azerbaijani exile community. Educated in the Romanov Empire and Germany, Caferoğlu contributed to the development of international Azerbaijani and Turkish studies and co-shaped Turkish linguistics in Turkey. Despite remaining a committed opponent of the Soviet Union, Caferoğlu became one of its most active and engaged observers in Istanbul. A polyglot, Caferoğlu studied in Samarkand, Kiev, Baku, Istanbul, Berlin, and Breslau. Although changing citizenship several times, Caferoğlu went on to spend more than half of his life in Istanbul.
48Caferoğlu embodied the academic and intellectual transfer of Turkology as a discipline to Turkey. Educated in the European tradition of Oriental Studies, Caferoğlu migrated to Turkey and published extensively across different fields of Turkic linguistics and regularly reviewed international, particularly Soviet, publications on Turkology for Turkish Turkological periodicals. By doing so, Caferoğlu facilitated the transfer of academic knowledge from Germany, the Tsarist Empire, and later from the Soviet Union to Turkey. He organised several research excursions to Eastern Anatolia, often involving the students and young linguists from Istanbul University into his field research (Feldforschung) (fig. 5). Caferoğlu applied the study methods that he had witnessed during his own research in Breslau and Berlin. The transfer of science in the field of linguistics, however, was not a closed nexus between Russia and Turkey. Caferoğlu, therefore, embodied the transfer of science within a broader framework that extended to other countries, including Germany, Poland, Soviet Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Russia.
Caferoğlu with his students at Istanbul University, ca. 1930s.
(Nazan Ölçer Collection)