Educating Masses: The Committee of Union and Progress Clubs and Schools in the Late Ottoman Empire


Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, vol.24, no.4, pp.614-639, 2022 (SSCI) identifier identifier


© 2022 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.This article examines the social and architectural context of an extensive building campaign in Turkey in the early twentieth century. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), one of the Second Constitutional Period’s prominent political and cultural actors (1908–18), commissioned club and school buildings for social outreach operations. Influenced by their European counterparts, the Committee’s protagonists believed that a social revolution could be accomplished by employing the education of the masses. Moreover, education was also essential to create a national identity for an Empire in a struggle. In this context, many clubs (for adults) and schools (for the youngsters) mushroomed in many cities simultaneously. Accordingly, the architecture of new club and school buildings reflected societal concerns and provided remarkable examples of their kinds. The education of the masses and the use of social propaganda by state agents in Republican Turkey have been scrutinized so far. Still the origins of the social engineering projects should be examined to contextualize Republican period developments. Thus, this article examines the building and impact of the clubs and schools of the CUP in the provinces and constitutes a contextual frame for their formative role in Turkish modernization.