The publication of Alan Fisher's book, Between Russians, Ottomans and
Turks, in 1998 somehow escaped our attention. While doing research at the
Library of Congress in Washington, DC, I happened to notice it in the online
catalog, and subsequently contacted the publisher, Isis Press. Alan Fisher, a
professor of history at Michigan State University (USA), is best known for his
classic study, The Crimean Tatars (Hoover Institution Press, 1978), which
is still available in paperback edition. Between Russians, Ottomans and Turks
is an anthology of his selected writings published in various sources over a 20-year
period, from 1967 to 1988.
The anthology includes ten journal articles and book chapters, and an
interesting and useful introduction in which Professor Fisher traces the
progress of his research relating to the history of Tatars. The introduction
also provides a good survey of historical literature on the topic. While a
graduate student at Columbia University in New York in the mid 1960s, he became
interested in Kazan Tatars, but was advised by his mentors that it would be very
difficult to receive permission from the USSR authorities to do research in
Kazan. Instead, he went to Istanbul to use the archives there, still hoping to
find documentary evidence for any interraction between the Ottomans and Kazan
Tatars. When he realized that there was no evidence for such close relations and
that he had been misled by Russian and Soviet historians, he turned his
attention to the Crimean Tatars. His doctoral dissertation resulted from the
initial research conducted there on 18th-century Crimea, and was later published
as a book, The Russian Annexation of the Crimea, 1772-1783 (Cambridge
University Press, 1970). The article on Shahin Giray included in this volume of
anthology is based on his dissertation. (See the Table of Contents below.)
Alan Fisher returned to Istanbul several times to use the Ottoman archives.
His articles on 16th- and 17th-century Crimea included here are based on careful
analysis and evaluation of Ottoman records. He also became interested in
historical issues from the Crimean perspective at a time when focusing on "small
nations" or ethnic minorities was not fashionable as it is today. "Crimean
Separatism in the Ottoman Empire" was an outgrowth of this approach. His
study showed that the Crimean Tatars saw themselves as independent people and
maintained their identity even after the annexation by Russia.
A conference at Columbia University provided an opportunity for Professor
Fisher to review the life of Ismail Gaspirali and his role in the intellectual
history of Crimean Tatars and the Turkic world. His "Ismail Gaspirali,
Model Leader for Asia," a chapter in Tatars of the Crimea: Their
Struggle for Survival (Duke University Press, 1988), is an excellent review
of Gaspirali's accomplishments. A second chapter in the same volume, which is
also reproduced here, is the English translation by Alan Fisher of a long
obituary of Gaspirali that appeared in the November and December 1914 issues of Shura
published in Orenburg.
Between Russians, Ottomans and Turks: Crimea and Crimean Tatars will
be a valuable addition to the library of anyone interested in the Crimean Tatars.
This volume does not contain all of Fisher's journal articles pertinent to the
topic, and one hopes that the rest may someday be published as a separate volume.
In the last decade, Professor Fisher has turned his attention to other topics in
Ottoman history, including a biography of Suleyman the Magnificent (still in
Between Russians, Ottomans and Turks: Crimea and Crimean Tatars can be
ordered directly from the publisher. In the US, you may contact Evergreen Books
in Los Angeles, California. It may also be available at certain bookstores in
Istanbul and Ankara.
The Isis Press
Semsibey Sokak, No. 10
Beylerbeyi, 81210 Istanbul
Phone: 90 216 321 3851
FAX: 90 216 321 8666
TABLE OF CONTENTS
"Ottoman Sources for a Study of Kefe Vilayet: The Maliyeden Mudevver
Fond in the Basbakanlik Arsivi in Istanbul," Cahiers du Monde Russe
et Soviétique, XIX/102, 1978, pp. 191-205.
"Les rapports entre L’Empire Ottoman et La Crimée: L’aspect
financier," Cahiers du Monde Russe et Sovietique, XIII/3, 1972,
"The Ottoman Crimea in the Sixteenth Century," Harvard
Ukrainian Studies, V/1, 1981, pp. 135-170.
"The Ottoman Crimea in the Mid-Seventeenth Century: Some Problems
and Preliminary Considerations," Harvard Ukrainian Studies, III/IV,
1979-1980, pp. 215-226.
"Crimean Separatism in the Ottoman Empire," William W. Haddad
and William Ochsenwald (eds). Nationalism in a Non-National State: The
Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, Ohio State University Press, Columbus,
1977, pp. 57-76.
"Sahin Giray, the Reformer Khan, and the Russian Annexation of the
Crimea," Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas, XV/3, 1967, pp.
"Social and Legal Aspects of Russian-Muslim Relations in the
Nineteenth Century: The Case of the Crimean Tatars," Abraham Ascher,
Tibor Halasi-Kun, Bela K. Kiräly (eds.), The Mutual Effects of the
Islamic and Judeo-Christian Worlds: The East European Pattern, Brooklyn
College Press, Brooklyn, 1979, pp. 77-92.
"lsmail Gaspirali, Model Leader for Asia," Edward Allworth (ed),
Tatars of the Crimea: Their Struggle for Survival, Duke University
Press, Chapel Hill, 1988, pp. 11-26.
"Ismail Bey Gasprinski, 1851-1914," Shura, nos. 21 (1
November 1914); 22 (15 November 1914); 23 (1 December 1914); 24 (15 December
1914), pp. 641-44, 673-75, 705-8, 737-41, respectively; translated by Alan
Fisher. In Edward Allworth (ed), Tatars of the Crimea: Their Struggle for
Survival, Duke University Press, Chapel Hill, 1988, pp. 72-99.
"The Crimean Tatars, the USSR, and Turkey," William 0. McCagg,
Jr., Brian D. Silver (eds), Soviet Asian Ethnic Frontiers, Pergamon
Press, New York, 1979, pp. 1-24.
Posted: 18 May 2013
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