Panel 6K

The Far-Reaching Influences of the Ottoman State

15.00 – 17.00
Chair: Anthony Gorman, The University of Edinburgh

Insulator or Conveyor of Security Threats?: The Ottoman Origins of Contemporary Terrorism and Nationalism in Europe and the Middle East

Marc Sinan Winrow, London School of Economics and Political Science

This paper aims to challenge the argument that Turkey has historically acted as an insulator of security threats emanating from European and Middle Eastern regional security complexes. Notwithstanding the extent to which the concept of a regional security complex, or indeed the demarcation of geographies into Europe and the Middle East can be considered useful, this paper aims to challenge one of the assumptions of this perspective by showing how the Ottoman Empire and Turkey have acted as conveyors of security threats.  In order to develop this argument, the paper draws upon the examples of terrorism and nationalism as two contemporary security threats that have had a disruptive effect on Middle Eastern and European societies. In doing so, the paper revisits the literature on the development of nationalism in the Middle East and its emergence more generally, as well as the historical and sociological literature on terrorism and warfare. It suggests that terrorism emerged as a part of the repertoire of insurgency amongst nationalist and other insurgent political groups within the Ottoman Empire and particularly the Balkans. Nationalism, similarly, became a significant force in the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century amongst its Balkan populations. The political movement of the Committee of Union and Progress and its affiliates played a role in the spread of these two practices during its gradual slide towards authoritarianism and political violence in the aftermath of the attempted counterrevolution of 1909, throughout the course of the Balkan Wars (1912 – 1913) and the First World War.

Networks for Heritage: Athens, Constantinople, Egypt, Samos and Smyrna in late Ottoman History

Artemis Papatheodorou, University of Oxford

The 19th and early 20th centuries saw the emergence of the concept of archaeological heritage protection in the Ottoman empire and in the Eastern Mediterranean more broadly. This paper explores how Athens, Constantinople, Egypt, the Aegean island of Samos and Smyrna influenced one another in this respect through networks of knowledge and know-how exchange. For example, when at the governmental and administrative level, these networks accounted for legal exchanges and, to a lesser extent, enriching museums. When studied in the context of organised civil society, they show how knowledge could be disseminated from one place to another. In particular, this paper studies the influence of Greek law on Ottoman and Samian legislation on antiquities. Also, it looks at how a a considerable donation of antiquities from the Egyptian government to the museum of Samos was achieved, and discusses how the Evangelical School at Smyrna supported the Samian administration and a major voluntary organisation in the Ottoman capital, the Hellenic Literary Society at Constantinople, in their efforts to improve their heritage-related activities. The analysis is based on primary sources in Ottoman Turkish and Greek.

Hamidian Caliphatism in the Wilsonian Moment

Melis Hafez, Virginia Commonwealth University

The second half of the nineteenth century is dubbed as the first age of globalization by social scientists. Steam-powered transportation and fast printing technology of this period brought distant populations closer to each other, a phenomenon that the Muslims of the world were not an exception. This paper presents the international activities and publications of Mushir Hosain Kidwai (1878-1938), an Indian Muslim activist/intellectual who devoted his life to the cause of “Pan-Islam.” Along with his other works and archival documents, I examined his treatise  titled The Future of the Muslim Empire, Turkey, published in the fateful year of 1919. It was published in London both in English and in Turkish. In it, Kidwai makes a case for the political independence of the Ottoman Caliphate. What historical processes provided the conceptual background of a treatise that was written by a colonial subject from India in the metropole of the British Empire about the independence, not of his own homeland, but of a polity that he was not a citizen of? I argue that Kidwai’s work in the aftermath of the war should be read at the conjunction of two processes. The first and longer process we must situate the treatise in is Sultan Abdul Hamid II’s quarter-century long Caliphate politics during the first age of globalization, which is directly connected to Kidwai’s own process of politicization. In 1906, he was invited to Istanbul at the age of 28 and presented with an Ottoman medal by the Sultan. The second historical process requires us to do a synchronic reading of the post-war period. Even a cursory reading of Kidwai’s treatise reveals the deep impact Woodrow Wilson’s self-determinism law had on his arguments. Both processes read in conjunction makes Kidwai’s activities and work culturally and politically legible to us. By connecting this treatise to the quarter-century caliphate politics emanating from the Ottoman center and to what historians call the “Wilsonian Moment,” we can see how an Indian anti-imperialist, in his attempt to restructure the post-war world, used the contemporary international ideologies selectively and differently for each geopolitical case.