Remnants of empires: Russian refugees and citizenship regime in Turkey, 1923–1938
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In the early 1920s, Turkey hosted thousands Russian refugees, commonly known as White Russians, who fled from the Bolshevik regime and the Russian Civil War (1918–1922). Although most of these refugees continued their journeys towards Western Europe or North America, some of them opted to stay in Turkey and tried to integrate to the new republican regime that was established in 1923. This article examines the conditions in which refugees were given or denied Turkish citizenship to understand how inclusive the citizenship regime was in the interwar period. The temporal framework of the article spans from 1923 to the outbreak of the Second World War. This research suggests that most Russian refugees who became Turkish citizens throughout the 1920s and 1930s converted to Islam. This tendency proves the importance of religion in defining citizenship, despite the proclaimed secularity of the new regime.