This year marks the centenary of the outbreak of World War I. Within a few weeks in August of 1914 most of Europe’s great powers entered into a conflict that fundamentally reshaped world politics, economics and societies. By the time the war ended, millions had died, empires had collapsed, revolutions had broken out, colonial systems were fraying, nationalist movements were trying to create new states, and new powers, notably the United States, had come to the fore.
But did the “Great War” really begin in 1914? According to Lisa Adeli, outreach coordinator of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona, if one looks at the Ottoman Empire the war had begun at least as early as 1910 and didn’t end until 1923.
In a presentation entitled “World War I in the Middle East: Roots of Contemporary Conflict” at the Arizona Senior Academy next Thursday (June 12) at 3:30 p.m., Adeli will examine the course of the war in this region, beyond the familiar episodes such as Lawrence of Arabia. She is particularly interested in the impact of the war on local society. And she will discuss the linkage between that era and the current situation in the region.
For example, during the war the British government promised to establish a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine (Balfour Declaration, 1917) and pledged British support for Arab independence in return for an Arab uprising against the Ottomans (the Hussein-McMahon pledge). In fact the British and French were already planning to split these territories once the Ottomans were defeated, and neither of these promises was honored. The ensuing Arab/Jewish conflict has been going on ever since.
Adeli has specialized in Ottoman and Balkan history with a special interest in World War I, with academic degrees from Georgetown, Indiana University and the University of Arizona, where she received her Ph.D. During her studies she lived a year and a half in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
In addition to university teaching, she has spent many years as a high school World History, English, and ESL teacher. She has been heavily involved in national and international programs for high school students, including a special, State Department-sponsored program at a school in Armenia.
Her Arizona Senior Academy presentation is made possible, in part, by a grant from Arizona Humanities.
Submitted by Dennis Anderson, Academy Village Volunteer