As the Ottoman Empire was collapsing after the First World War, Turks, Kurds, and Armenian vied to create their own nation-state, claiming the same terrain of Eastern Anatolia. The proclamation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 signaled only a precarious triumph for the Turkish nationalist movement under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Contentions over Eastern Anatolia continue. Kurds have waged guerilla warfare to seek an independent state. Armenians have demanded the return of their “historical homeland” from which they were spatially cleansed after en masse deportations and large-scale massacres in 1915. Understanding the current competing claims to Eastern Anatolia requires rethinking the assumption that Turkey simply inherited the Ottoman Empire. Instead, we must consider Turkey as a historically contingent outcome of the radical developments between 1908and 1938, when the political, cultural and demographic map of the region was redrawn. At the intersection of anthropology political geography and history, and grounded in multi-sited archival, library and ethnographic research, I will examine the tensions among these three rival geographical imaginations and the actual policies of state formation that breathed life into Turkey.