||BAD TIMES AND BETTER SELF. DEFINITIONS OF IDENTITY AND STRATEGIES FOR DEVELOPMENT IN LATE OTTOMAN HISTORIOGRAPHY (18501900)
CHRISTOPH K. NEUMANN
Military and economic weakness, territorial losses and the growing
influence of the European powers in Ottoman domestic politics have
induced many historians of the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire
to describe this phase in the latter's existence as an era of "decline".
The main function of this "decline" concept has been to explain the
final breakup of the empire. From the middle of the 1970s on, however,
another paradigm has been gaining ground: seeing nineteenthcentury
Ottoman history as an era of reform has become current
among specialists. 1 Today the focus of interest has shifted towards
the centralization and rationalization of the state apparatus, the
* This is a revised and enlarged version of a paper entitled "Strategien zur Bewaltigung
des schlechten Jetzt: Beitrage der Historiographie zur spatosmanischen Identitatsfindung",
read at the Thirty-ninth Deutscher Historikertag in Hannover on
23.-26.9.1992 . Work on the text was completed in autumn, 1995. The main points
of my text were outlined before the current debate on identity began to gather momentum
in Turkey. Therefore, this article does not reflect that debate. On this "identity"
discussion, see Bozkurt Guvenc, Turk kimligi: Ktiltur tarihinin kaynaklari (Ankara,
1993), and Sabahattin §en (ed.), Turk aydini ve kimlik sorunu (Istanbul, 1995). A starting
point was provided by Niliifer Gole in her Modern mahrem: Medeniyet ve ortiinme
(Istanbul, 1991). The fora for this discussion are the intellectual periodicals of Turkey
which have now and then published special issues concerned with this theme, e. g.
Bilgi ve hikmet 4 (Guz 1993) [Islam ve modern kimlikler] or Tiirkiye gunliigii 33 (MartNisan
1995) [Kimlik tarti§ malan ve etnik mesele].— I thank Suraiya Faroqhi, of
Munich, and Fariba Zarinebaf-Shahr, of Chicago, who have read this paper, and
also the colleagues who participated in the panel in which it was presented at the
Thirty-ninth Deutscher Historikertag. I am indebted to Charles Brown, of Istanbul,
who helped me to find the right ways to express my thoughts in English.
1 Characteristically, the chapter on the nineteenth century in the recent handbook
An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300^1914, ed. by Halil
Inalcik and Donald Quataert (Cambridge, 1994) is entitled "The Age of Reforms,
(author Donald Quataert). The paradigm is furthermore the central
focus of widely read collective works such as Modernization in the Middle East: The
Ottoman Empire and its Successors, ed. by Cyril E. Black and L. Carl Brown (Princeton,
N. J., 1992).
Sonraki Sayfa (2/15)
[ Geri Dön ]