Congrès Mondial des Études sur le Moyen-Orient et l'Afrique du Nord

Barcelone du 19 au 24 Juillet 2010


Ottoman Legacies and Modern Identities (239) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of Toronto (Canada)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: James A. Reilly

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: An enduring polity that encompassed diverse lands and peoples, the Ottoman Empire left a complex and varied range of legacies. Representations of the Ottoman era in the various successor states have been dynamic, evolving and often discordant. The multifaceted Ottoman legacy is a kind of mirror that reflects issues, struggles and self-understandings in successor states and societies. This panel explores various facets of Ottoman memory in the historiography and public memory of selected successor states: Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Albania and Lebanon.

Chair: Rossitsa Gradeva (American University in Bulgaria)

Discussant: Virginia H. Aksan (McMaster University)

Paper presenter:James A. Reilly (University of Toronto), Tripoli in Representations of Lebanon’s Ottoman Coast. Abstract: Efforts to develop a hegemonic Lebanese national narrative have foundered on the different readings of the past offered by Lebanese historians. The country’s competing confessional communities have given rise to a number of disparate narratives. In the Ottoman era the country’s major coastal centers (Tripoli, Beirut, Saida) lay outside the heart of the Ottoman-era polity identified by nationalists as Lebanese (starting with the Mountain Emirate, and culminating in the Mutasarrifiyya). Ottoman cultural and administrative practices marked these coastal centers in ways that distinguished them from their rural and mountain hinterlands. Thus modern Lebanese representations of these Ottoman-era coastal centers offer important clues to Lebanese authors’ understandings of collective identity, state and nation in Lebanon; and of the country’s relationship to the Ottoman imperial heritage. This paper explores these points with special reference to Tripoli, an Ottoman-Syrian port city that became Lebanese by colonial fiat in 1920. It builds on the author’s earlier work that looked at historians of Beirut and Saida.

Paper presenter:Ali Yaycioglu (Eastern Illinois University), Old Ottomans of the New Nation: Memories of the Provincial Elite from the Empire to the Turkish Republic. Abstract: This paper discusses how several provincial elite families in Turkey represented their experience in the late Ottoman and early Republican Turkey. All of these families were politically and economically influential actors in the late Ottoman era. While some were established leaders of the local communities and politics, others were connected to Istanbul and involved in imperial politics. Some of them specialized in trade, others on commercial agriculture, and some in tax-collection. In the agitated years of revolutions and regime change (1908-1925), these families had different experiences. During the radical transformation from empire to republic, some of these notable households kept up with the process, and mutated from provincial elite of the empire into national elite of the republic. They were involved in the war of independence, the provisional parliament, and party-politics. Gradually, they became the carriers of the nation building and national economy of the new regime in the provinces. Some others, however, were either eliminated or marginalized in the new regime because they were deeply connected to the imperial establishment, or they were not able adjust to the new ways, such as party politics, or they confronted the new bureaucratic elite. After presenting a comprehensive depiction of the transformation of notable politics during the regime change in Turkey, the paper focuses on several family accounts, memoirs, and family and local histories. In light of these sources, it analyzes how different families, both the winners and losers, presented their experiences in the empire and the new republic. It particularly scrutinizes how the families dealt with tensions during the transformation of their identity from notables of the empire to national elite of the republic in their family discourses. At the end, the paper includes a short discussion on how the Turkish nation-state and national historiography responded to these local family discourses.By examining different facets of the Ottoman legacy, panelists will demonstrate that the Empire remains very much implicated in debates around politics, identities, and policies in its successor states, some 90 years after the Empire’s political demise.

Paper presenter:Damla Isik (Western Connecticut State University), Refashioning a “Just” Turkish Republic: Remembering Ottoman Charity and Generosity in Contemporary Poor Relief
Social scientists have effectively theorized the importance of nostalgia for the political, social, and cultural future(s) of contemporary states and citizenry. As nostalgia changes the meanings of contemporary state for its citizens, it also refashions ideal pasts where hopes for different political futures are located. This is especially pertinent in contemporary Turkey where Ottoman past has resurfaced as a legitimate and rich reservoir for crafting a morally and ideologically “just” and “fair” Republic. Based on ethnographic and archival research at several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that focus on poor relief and charitable donations, this paper documents how nostalgia for a beneficent Ottoman past and a suspicion toward current state institutions provides an important paradigm for understanding the relevance of charitable giving and charity, both in the governance of poverty and in the formation of new communities of belonging for volunteers, donors, and employees of contemporary charitable associations and waqfs in Turkey. The paper will situate such nostalgia for an idealized Ottoman rule within the current political economy of Turkey, as both a response to and a result of corrupt governance and the decline of the welfare state.