Hi! I’m Pelin Helvacı, a graduate student at Galatasaray University Political Science Department and Turkish history instructor at Istanbul Technical University, in Istanbul, Turkey. I am currently conducting research towards my PhD, which focuses on the Turkish journalist and a politician, Cihad Baban (1911-1984). As a journalist and a newspaper owner in 1940s, Baban was a member of the small group of the elite who played a crucial role in Turkey’s affairs between the 1940s and 1980s. The objective of my work is to highlight the interplay between Turkish political history and Cihad Baban’s political biography with the changing understanding of democracy in Turkey.
The American Press and the Ottoman Revolution
While engaging in research in Turkey, I came across with Dr. Djene Bajalan’s work of Kurdish notables, who gave a detailed background of notable Kurdish families in late nineteenth century in his various articles and book chapters. Late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were important periods for Ottoman history due to the Westernization attempts which paved the way for constitutionalism and opening of the parliament. Benefiting from Dr. Bajalan’s studies, I came to question how the Ottoman Revolution of 1908, taken up by ‘Young Turks’, was perceived in foreign newspapers, more specifically in American press.
Researching in Springfield
The best way to pursue primary and secondary sources of this remarkable era is university libraries and I was fortunate enough to see that Missouri State University Duane G. Meyer Library has access to these newspapers and rich secondary sources. When Dr. Bajalan kindly accepted to supervise this project, my Missouri State experience started right away with an official invitation from Dean Matthews. From June to September 2017, I had the chance to experience Missouri State’s unique environment. In addition to do research in the library regularly, I enjoyed the inclusive and lively academic environment in History Department. I also had an opportunity to make use other university facilities and experience the wonderful campus. Thanks to the department head Prof. Kathleen Kennedy, I presented part of my work in her historiography class and experienced teaching in English, which was a challenging task for me.
Making my Missouri Statement
Last, but not least, Missouri State University’s motto “Make Your Missouri Statement” which focuses on ‘to go after your dreams’ inspired me to reassess my future academic goals. Now my future plans include pursuing post-doc and contributing to the diversity in Turkish and Middle Eastern studies in the US. This short period helped me to develop critical thinking, to improve my research and writing skills and to gain a comparative perspective. Also, Springfield provided the best opportunities in a small town charm with a big city vibe, which make it convenient for both studying and having fun. I will not forget the delicious Hertz Donuts and Black Sheep hamburger that helped me gain a few pounds!
Ms. Pelin Helvacı