Ramazan Hakki Öztan: Naum Tufekchiev and the Networks of Revolutionary Violence

Abstract
The Chemist of revolution: Naum Tufekchiev and the networks of revolutionary violence in late Ottoman Europe (1864-1916)

This study charts the life of Naum A. Tufekchiev, a chemist who hailed from the Macedonian town of Resen, then under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Educated in Belgium, Tufekchiev participated in multiple assassination plots since the early 1890s against figures such as the Bulgarian prime minister and cabinet members, the Bulgarian ambassador to Istanbul, the Ottoman sultan, and Iranian Shah. A skillful chemist-turned-revolutionary, he not only designed his own hand grenades but also secured illicit transfer of weapons for a range of revolutionary organizations such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Young Turks, Macedonian revolutionaries, and the Bolsheviks. While Tufekchiev became an asset for various intelligence agencies at different times, he had also cultivated an ideological and materialist agenda of his own. By reconstructing his life story which had thus far remained largely anonymous, I hope to utilize Tufekchiev as a lens to understand the late trans-imperial politics from the late 1880s to the First World War. The goal is to reconstruct the life of a turn-of-the-century revolutionary figure that is layered, complex, and resistant to simple historical categorizations. In doing so, I would not only be challenging nationalist histories which had dominated the study of Balkan revolutionaries, but also re-assert the central roles played by such entrepreneurs of violence in the construction of identities in Southeastern Europe.

 


Dr. Ramazan Hakki Öztan, is a lecturer at the Istanbul Medipol University.

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