Neither the Ottoman Empire nor the states like Turkey that succeeded it have interests or personalities of their own; they are collections of institutions forged by human beings. It is these human beings who have interests, ambitions, and dreams of what “the state” should look like. Their efforts to realize these visions are shaped by their relationships, personal histories, social obligations, and individual quirks. Focusing on such individuals helps us appreciate the contingency at the heart of state-building projects.
The essays contained in Borderline Personalities look at the lives of individuals who shaped and challenged state institutions as much as they were shaped by them. In many cases, these people lived at the literal and figurate edges of the emerging Turkish nation-state. In considering their stories, this book reveals some of the diversity at the heart of Turkey and the wider post-Ottoman world.