In June, Central European University Press will release Muslim Land, Christian Labor: Transforming Ottoman Imperial Subjects into Bulgarian National Citizens c. 1878-1939 by Anna M. Mirkova (Old Dominion University). The publisher’s description follows:
Focusing upon a region in Southern Bulgaria, a region that has been the crossroads between Europe and Asia for many centuries, this book describes how former Ottoman Empire Muslims were transformed into citizens of Balkan nation-states. This is a region marked by shifting borders, competing Turkish and Bulgarian sovereignties, rival nationalisms, and migration. Problems such as these were ultimately responsible for the disintegration of the dynastic empires into nation-states.
Land that had traditionally belonged to Muslims—individually or communally—became a symbolic and material resource for Bulgarian state building and was the terrain upon which rival Bulgarian and Turkish nationalisms developed in the wake of the dissolution of the late Ottoman Empire and the birth of early republican Turkey and the introduction of capitalism.
By the outbreak of World War II, Turkish Muslims had become a polarized national minority. Their conflicting efforts to adapt to post-Ottoman Bulgaria brought attention to the increasingly limited availability of citizenship rights, not only to Turkish Muslims, but to Bulgarian Christians as well.
In May, Oxford University Press will release The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575-1610 by Tobias P. Graf (Heidelberg University). The publisher’s description follows:
The figure of the renegade – a European Christian or Jew who had converted to Islam and was now serving the Ottoman sultan – is omnipresent in all genres produced by those early modern Christian Europeans who wrote about the Ottoman Empire. As few contemporaries failed to remark, converts were disproportionately represented among those who governed, administered, and fought for the sultan. Unsurprisingly, therefore, renegades have attracted considerable attention from historians of Europe as well as students of European literature. Until very recently, however, Ottomanists have been surprisingly silent on the presence of Christian-European converts in the Ottoman military-administrative elite.
The Sultan’s Renegades inserts these ‘foreign’ converts into the context of Ottoman elite life to reorient the discussion of these individuals away from the present focus on their exceptionality, towards a qualified appreciation of their place in the Ottoman imperial enterprise and the Empire’s relations with its neighbours in Christian Europe. Drawing heavily on Central European sources, this study highlights the deep political, religious, and cultural entanglements between the Ottoman Empire and Christian Europe beyond the Mediterranean Basin as the ‘shared world’ par excellence. The existence of such trans-imperial subjects is not only symptomatic of the Empire’s ability to attract and integrate people of a great diversity of backgrounds, it also illustrates the extent to which the Ottomans participated in processes of religious polarization usually considered typical of Christian Europe in this period. Nevertheless, Christian Europeans remained ambivalent about those they dismissed as apostates and traitors, frequently relying on them for support in the pursuit of familial and political interests.
In March, Brill Publishers will release Ibrahim-i Gulshani and the Khalwati-Gulshani Order: Power Brokers in Ottoman Egypt by Side Emre (University of Chicago). The publisher’s description follows:
In Power Brokers in Ottoman Egypt, Side Emre documents the biography of Ibrahim-i Gulshani and the history of the Khalwati-Gulshani order of dervishes (c. 1440-1600). Set mainly in Mamluk-Egypt, and in the century following the region’s conquest by the Ottomans, this book analyzes sociopolitical dialogues at the geographic peripheries of an empire through the actions of and official responses to the Gulshaniyya network.
Emre argues that the members of this Sufi order exerted social and political leverage and contributed significantly to the political culture of the empire and Egypt. The Gulshanis are uncovered as unexpected figures among the roster of influential players, in contrast with empire-centered historiographies that depict Ottoman ruling and learned elites as the primary shapers and narrators of the fates of conquered provinces and peoples. The Gulshanis’ political and cultural legacy is situated within an analysis of perceptions of Sufism in the early modern Ottoman world.
In August, the Oxford University Press will release “Containing Balkan Nationalism: Imperial Russia and Ottoman Christians, 1856-1914,” by Denis Vovchenko (Northeastern State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Containing Balkan Nationalism focuses on the implications of the Bulgarian national movement that developed in the context of Ottoman modernization and of European imperialism in the Near East. The movement aimed to achieve the status of an independent Bulgarian Orthodox church, removing ethnic Bulgarians from the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. This independent church status meant legal and cultural autonomy within the Islamic structure of the Ottoman Empire, which recognized religious minorities rather than ethnic ones.
Denis Vovchenko shows how Russian policymakers, intellectuals, and prelates worked together with the Ottoman government, Balkan and other diplomats, and rival churches, to contain and defuse ethnic conflict among Ottoman Christians through the promotion of supraethnic religious institutions and identities. The envisioned arrangements were often inspired by modern visions of a political and cultural union of Orthodox Slavs and Greeks. Whether realized or not, they demonstrated the strength and flexibility of supranational identities and institutions on the eve of the First World War. The book encourages contemporary analysts and policymakers to explore the potential of such traditional loyalties to defuse current ethnic tensions and serve as organic alternatives to generic models of power-sharing and federation.
In March, Cambridge University Press released “Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East,” by John Chalcraft (London School of Economics). The publisher’s description follows:
The waves of protest ignited by the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi in Tunisia in late 2010 highlighted for an international audience the importance of contentious politics in the Middle East and North Africa. John Chalcraft’s ground-breaking account of popular protest emphasizes the revolutionary modern history of the entire region. Challenging top-down views of Middle Eastern politics, he looks at how commoners, subjects and citizens have long mobilised in defiance of authorities. Chalcraft takes examples from a wide variety of protest movements from Morocco to Iran. He forges a new narrative of change over time, creating a truly comparative framework rooted in the dynamics of hegemonic contestation. Beginning with movements under the Ottomans, which challenged corruption and oppression under the banners of religion, justice, rights and custom, this book goes on to discuss the impact of constitutional movements, armed struggles, nationalism and independence, revolution and Islamism. A work of unprecedented range and depth, this volume will be welcomed by undergraduates and graduates studying protest in the region and beyond.
- Surveys protest movements from Morocco to Iran, from the eighteenth century to the present
- Based on an original conceptual framework that challenges both socioeconomic determinism and power-lite theories of contentious politics
- Challenges top-down views of politics in the modern Middle East, giving a narrative of overall transformation that includes popular politics
Last month, Springer released “Muslim-Christian Relations in Late-Ottoman Palestine: Where Nationalism and Religion Intersect,” by Erik Freas (Manhattan Community College, CUNY). The publisher’s description follows:
Numerous factors underlie the dynamic shaping of present day Muslim-Christian Arab relations as well as the formulation of Arab national identity. In Muslim- Christian Relations in Late-Ottoman Palestine, Erik Freas argues that paramount among these were three developments that transpired in the late-Ottoman period, of which Palestine provides a microcosm. One is that non-Arabic-speaking Christian communities began to define identity in nationalistic terms on the basis of faith. Second, with their transformation into politically equal Ottoman citizens, Christians were generally more intent on taking advantage of their new rights rather than with fulfilling civil obligations. Finally, for most Muslim Arabs, the transition from identifying primarily as ‘Muslim’ to ‘Arab’ in terms of their broader communal affiliation often entailed little change in how they experienced communal identity in the day-to-day. Taken together, the analysis of these developments provides an in-depth examination of Muslim-Christian Arab relations in Palestine during the nineteenth century as well as the long-term implications of these changes on the manner of Arab national identity’s formulation.
In December, I.B. Tauris published “Imagined Communities in Greece and Turkey: Trauma and the Population Exchanges under Ataturk,” edited by Emine Yesim Bedlek (Bingol University). The publisher’s description follows:
In 1923 the Turkish government, under its new leader Kemal Ataturk, signed a renegotiated Balkan Wars treaty with the major powers of the day and Greece. This treaty provided for the forced exchange of 1.3 million Christians from Anatolia to Greece, in return for 30,000 Greek Muslims. The mass migration that ensued was a humanitarian catastrophe – of the 1.3 million Christians relocated it is estimated only 150,000 were successfully integrated into the Greek state. Furthermore, because the treaty was ethnicity-blind, tens of thousands of Muslim Greeks (ethnically and linguistically) were forced into Turkey against their will. Both the Greek and Turkish leadership saw this exchange as crucial to the state-strengthening projects both powers were engaged in after the First World War. Here, Emine Bedlek approaches this enormous shift in national thinking through literary texts – addressing the themes of loss, identity, memory and trauma which both populations experienced. The result is a new understanding of the tensions between religious and ethnic identity in modern Turkey.
In January, the Indiana University Press will release “Living in the Ottoman Realm: Empire and Identity, 13th to 20th Centuries,” edited by Christine Isom-Verhaaren (Brigham Young University) and Kent F. Schull (SUNY Binghamton). The publisher’s description follows:
Living in the Ottoman Realm brings the Ottoman Empire to life in all of its ethnic, religious, linguistic, and geographic diversity. The contributors explore the development and transformation of identity over the long span of the empire’s existence. They offer engaging accounts of individuals, groups, and communities by drawing on a rich array of primary sources, some available in English translation for the first time. These materials are examined with new methodological approaches to gain a deeper understanding of what it meant to be Ottoman. Designed for use as a course text, each chapter includes study questions and suggestions for further reading.
This April, Oxford University Press will release “Render unto the Sultan: Power, Authority, and the Greek Orthodox Church in the Early Ottoman Centuries” by Tom Papademetriou (Richard Stockton College, New Jersey). The publisher’s description follows:
The received wisdom about the nature of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Ottoman Empire is that Sultan Mehmed II reestablished the Patriarchate of Constantinople as both a political and a religious authority to govern the post-Byzantine Greek community. However, relations between the Church hierarchy and Turkish masters extend further back in history, and closer scrutiny of these relations reveals that the Church hierarchy in Anatolia had long experience dealing with Turkish emirs by focusing on economic arrangements. Decried as scandalous, these arrangements became the modus vivendi for bishops in the Turkish emirates.
Primarily concerned with the economic arrangements between the Ottoman state and the institution of the Greek Orthodox Church from the mid-fifteenth to the sixteenth century,Render Unto the Sultan argues that the Ottoman state considered the Greek Orthodox ecclesiastical hierarchy primarily as tax farmers (multezim) for cash income derived from the church’s widespread holdings. The Ottoman state granted individuals the right to take their positions as hierarchs in return for yearly payments to the state. Relying on members of the Greek economic elite (archons) to purchase the ecclesiastical tax farm (iltizam), hierarchical positions became subject to the same forces of competition that other Ottoman administrative offices faced. This led to colorful episodes and multiple challenges to ecclesiastical authority throughout Ottoman lands.
Tom Papademetriou demonstrates that minority communities and institutions in the Ottoman Empire, up to now, have been considered either from within the community, or from outside, from the Ottoman perspective. This new approach allows us to consider internal Greek Orthodox communal concerns, but from within the larger Ottoman social and economic context.
Render Unto the Sultan challenges the long established concept of the ‘Millet System’, the historical model in which the religious leader served both a civil as well as a religious authority. From the Ottoman state’s perspective, the hierarchy was there to serve the religious and economic function rather than the political one.
Next month, Stanford University Press will release “Shattered Dreams of Revolution: From Liberty to Violence in the Late Ottoman Empire” by Bedross Der Matossian (University of Nebraska-Lincoln). The publisher’s description follows:
The Ottoman revolution of 1908 is a study in contradictions—a positive manifestation of modernity intended to reinstate constitutional rule, yet ultimately a negative event that shook the fundamental structures of the empire, opening up ethnic, religious, and political conflicts. Shattered Dreams of Revolution considers this revolutionary event to tell the stories of three important groups: Arabs, Armenians, and Jews. The revolution raised these groups’ expectations for new opportunities of inclusion and citizenship. But as post-revolutionary festivities ended, these euphoric feelings soon turned to pessimism and a dramatic rise in ethnic tensions.
The undoing of the revolutionary dreams could be found in the very foundations of the revolution itself. Inherent ambiguities and contradictions in the revolution’s goals and the reluctance of both the authors of the revolution and the empire’s ethnic groups to come to a compromise regarding the new political framework of the empire ultimately proved untenable. The revolutionaries had never been wholeheartedly committed to constitutionalism, thus constitutionalism failed to create a new understanding of Ottoman citizenship, grant equal rights to all citizens, and bring them under one roof in a legislative assembly. Today as the Middle East experiences another set of revolutions, these early lessons of the Ottoman Empire, of unfulfilled expectations and ensuing discontent, still provide important insights into the contradictions of hope and disillusion seemingly inherent in revolution.