Bureaucratic Writing as Autobiographical Practice: Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Pasha as Ottoman Extraordinary Commissioner in Egypt, 1885–1908
Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Maurus Reinkowski, Universität Basel
Duration (visiting scholar at the Institute): September-December 2015
Maurus Reinkowski explores in his research project the self-understanding of the late Ottoman state on the example of Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, who worked as an Ottoman High Commissioner in Egypt from 1885 to 1908. The Ottoman Empire, which had been thrust by the European imperialist powers into semi-colonial status, insisted until the beginning of the First World War on its suzerainty over Egypt, even though it had been under de facto British rule since 1882. The project deals with the question of how Ahmed Muhtar Pasha, who had no real means of power in Egypt, expressed and defended the imperial self-representation of the Ottoman Empire. Ahmed Muhtar, who lived in a kind of exile and whose return to Istanbul was barred for more than twenty years, combined the role of an ambassador and expatriate with that of an unemployed bureaucrat and, in some way, that of a phantom. During his long stay Egypt, he produced a vast amount of official correspondence. After many years of fruitless diplomatic and political endeavor, it increasingly became a means of not just imperial, but also personal self-assurance.
“Turks” of Crete and “Hellenes” of Smyrna: A Comparative Analysis of the 1923 Greco-Turkish Population Exchange (1860–1960)
Aytek Alpan (University of California, San Diego)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 1 Oct. 2013–31 Mar. 2014)
Through a consideration of Karamanlı sources previously neglected in Ottoman historiography, the dissertation by Aytek Alpan attempts to reevaluate the history of Istanbul in the late 19th century, specifically from the perspective of the Karamanlis, the Turkophone Greek Orthodox population. The investigation of the Karamanlı newspaper Anatoli in the 1880s and 1890s, one of the oldest newspapers in Istanbul, not only provides a basis for assessing the Karamanlı community as an important population group in the Empire’s capital. It is also possible to determine the relations between the different social identities of the city from the perspective of the Karamanlis. Since there is no extant memoir literature of the Karamanlıs, Anatoli, the most enduring Karamanlı newspaper will be used instead within the context of the larger “Istanbul Memories” project. Critical factors here include not only its long survival and its rich context, but also the role of Evangelinos Misailidis, who with his personal commitment and dedication was the driving force behind the newspaper.
Transforming Erzurum/Karin: The Social and Economic History of a Multi-Ethnic Ottoman City in the Nineteenth Century
Yaşar Tolga Cora (University of Chicago)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 17 Oct. 2013–17 Apr. 2014)
In this work, the social and economic history of the 19th century in the province of Erzurum is analyzed, especially in its central district. Not least because of its geographical location on the border with Russia and Iran, Erzurum was the most important Ottoman province in the east. The aim of this study is to illuminate the links between political change, social and economic development, and escalating ethnic conflict in this region, above all in the last quarter of the 19th century. The project is a regional historical study. At same time, it seeks to understand the relationships between regional, trans-regional, and pan-Ottoman developments, as well as the connections and interactions between the relevant stakeholders. As a result, the present research on the Tanzimat period will be expanded to include a local perspective. A contribution will be made to recent historiography of the east of the Ottoman Empire, which integrates Kurds and Armenians into Ottoman history. Besides Ottoman documents and sources from libraries and archives, Armenian diaries, travel reports, newspapers, and similar primary sources will also be evaluated.
Between White Eagle and Crescent—Polish Narratives of the Late Ottoman Empire (1830–1918)
Paulina Dominik (University of Oxford)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 1 Sept. 2013–31 Aug. 2014)
With the partition of Poland in 1795, the Ottoman Empire became one of the most important places of refuge for Polish emigrants. Thousands of Poles fled to Istanbul, hoping for Ottoman support in their struggle for independence. Nevertheless, the presence of the Polish minority is often neglected in discussions about the multicultural and multiethnic character of Istanbul. The names of some streets in Beyoğlu attest to the rich Polish heritage of the 19th century, however. Indeed, still in existence today is the emigrant-founded Polish village Adampol/Polonezköy, some of whose current inhabitants even speak Polish. The research project takes a holistic approach to understanding the participation of the Polish political emigrants in the public sphere of the late Ottoman Empire. The political aspirations of the emigrants were not only oriented toward the independence of Poland, but in many cases also the modernization projects of the Ottoman state. The focus of the research is to trace and disentangle the diverse personal and communal narratives of the Polish-Ottoman past. This approach will offer insight into aspects such as the “dual national interest,” overlapping senses of belonging and loyalties, religious conversions, and identity problems. Overall, the research project attempts to classify the Polish emigrants and their activities in the multicultural and multi-ethnic mosaic of the late Ottoman Empire.
Publication: Paulina Dominik: “A Young Turk from Lehistan: Tadeusz Gasztowtt aka Seyfeddin Bey (1881–1936) and his Activities during the Second Constitutional Period (1908–1918),” in: Occasional Papers in Ottoman Biographies (ed. Christoph Herzog/University of Bamberg), Vol. 2, 2014.
Ahmet Rasim’s Şehir Mektupları and Fin-de-Siècle Istanbul
Melih Egemen (Harvard University)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 1 Sept. 2013–28 Feb. 2014)
This dissertation examines cosmopolitanism and multiculturalism in the late Ottoman and early Republican Istanbul. Three interconnected themes are emphasized: 1. Literary and everyday metaphors for describing Istanbul and its multiculturalism; 2. Ottoman, Islamist and Turkic discourses; 3. the capital Istanbul as a lens for examining the transition from an imperial to a national political system and the impact of this transition on a multicultural society.
This threefold approach to the reconstruction of the everyday life of Istanbul in an unusually turbulent period—almost a half century of autocratic rule under Abdul Hamid II, the authoritarian quasi-modernism of the Unionists, a world war followed by foreign occupation, and, finally, the creation of an anti-imperial Republican regime—will not only help to reconstruct fin-de-siècle Istanbul, but also to deal with the impact of policy changes on an individual and everyday level.
Ottoman Diplomats and the Culture of Diplomacy (1761–1821): Ottoman Ambassadors, Chargés d’affairs and Dragomans Between the Ottoman Empire and Prussia
Irina Fliter, MA (Tel Aviv University)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 15 June–15 Dec. 2013)
Diplomacy brought together Ottoman citizens of different religions, educational backgrounds, and social backgrounds. Ottoman envoys that were sent to the European capitals, however, were exclusively educated Muslims from the central administration; chargés d’affaires or ministers, on the other hand, could be Muslim but also Christian. Dragomen or translators, finally, were almost exclusively Christian, with strong links to the Phanariot networks (Istanbul Greeks) from the second half of the 18th century. In this dissertation, this division of labor between Christian and Muslim diplomats is not the point of departure, but rather the Ottoman culture of diplomacy as a whole. The case of the Ottoman diplomats who traveled to Prussia from 1761 to 1821 or worked for the Prussian Embassy in Istanbul demonstrates both the networks where the diplomats operated and the intellectual tensions that existed with enlightened Europe. Unlike traditional diplomatic history, which only considers diplomats in their role as political mediators, the lives of Ottoman diplomats and their relationship towards the Sublime Porte will be treated with particular emphasis on the cultural-historical point of view.
The Emerging Bourgeoisie of Istanbul at the Turn of the 20th Century: Memory and (Self-) Representation
Ece Zerman (Paris-Sorbonne)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, October 2009–March 2010)
This project examines the self-narratives and photos of an emerging bourgeoisie in Istanbul from the late Ottoman Empire to the early Turkish Republic. How did they represent themselves and their internal “others”? How did they construct their memories? The new elite created their own past; they constructed, collected, and preserved their memories. To some extent, this past is linked to the construction of national memory and national heritage. The main elements of this culture of remembrance were records in the form of diaries or memoirs, preserved family letters, family photos that were displayed at home, or collected memorabilia. The artifacts that people deemed worthy of being collected, recorded, preserved, and exhibited will be analyzed as primary sources in order to understand the changing and complex relationships between the bourgeoisie in Istanbul and the surrounding visual and material world.
Scholars’ Knowledge Traditions. The “Fabled Orient” in Travelogues of the Early Modern Period
Kornelia Kaschke-Kısaarslan (FU-Berlin)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, October 2009–March 2010)
Today’s Neighbor—Yesterday’s Subject. The Balkans as an Intersection between the Ottoman Empire and Europe from the Perspective of Ottoman Travelers, 1870–1918
Leyla von Mende (Freie Universität Berlin)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 1 Oct.–23 Dec. 2010)
The dissertation was supervised by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freitag.
Intellectual Trajectories From Ottomanism to Nationalism: The Cases of Mustafa Satı Bey, Tunalı Hilmi, and Abraham Galante
Kerem Tinaz, MA (University of Oxford, 15 June 2014–15 Sept. 2014)
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship)
The dissertation of Kerem Tınaz examines the views on the topics of education and language of Mustafa Satı Bey (1880–1968), Tunalı Hilmi (1871–1928) and Abraham Galante (1873–1961) in the context of their intellectual reorientation from Ottomanism to nationalism in the successor states of the Ottoman Empire. Here, the substance and motivation behind their ideas are comparatively analyzed, especially with regard to the ethnic, religious and socio-historical background and the intellectual milieu in which they moved. The dissertation aims to make a contribution to the revisionist direction in Ottoman historiography. It undertakes a comprehensive approach by including thinkers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds in order to investigate the pluralistic nature of the late Ottoman Empire and also to work out the intellectual continuities and discontinuities between the Ottoman Empire and its successor states.
Autobiography at the End of Empire: Modernity and Change in Self-Narratives during the Late Ottoman Empire, 1880s–1920s
Philip Wirtz, MA (SOAS, London).
Sponsored by: OII (doctoral scholarship, 16 Aug. 2010–10 Sept. 2010)
The dissertation examines the representation of the Ottoman Empire over the last fifty years in Turkish autobiographies. Autobiographies are read less here as literary works than as historical accounts of Ottoman cultural and social history from a personal point of view. This project explores the reasons for autobiographical writing, enquires into the treated themes, and tries to show how the authors assess historical change in the broadest sense and how newly developing national identities are articulated. The dissertation was supervised by Prof. Benjamin Fortna and is published in the project-based publication series “Individual and Empire in the Near East” (Routledge):
Philipp Wirtz: Depicting the Late Ottoman Empire in Turkish Autobiographies. Images of a Past World (Life Narratives of the Ottoman Realm 1). Abingdon: Routledge, 2017.
World War I and the Armenian Catastrophe: The Politics of the Archive, Fiction and Auto-/Biographies in Turkey
Dr. Hülya Adak (Sabanci University Istanbul)
Sponsored by: OII (postdoctoral fellowship, 1 Oct. 2011–30 May 2012)
As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Hülya Adak (Sabancı University Istanbul) worked on the First World War and the genocide of the Armenians on the basis of Ottoman Turkish self-narratives.