My research focuses on the intellectual connections between the Ottoman Empire and the world around it. More broadly, I’m interested in deepening our understanding of how ideas are transformed in the course of their movement across space and time.
My dissertation, “No Empire for Old Men: The Young Ottomans and the World, 1856-1878,” explores the rapid growth of the connections between Europe and the Ottoman Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century and its transformative consequences for Ottoman political thought. The Young Ottomans who form the object of my study got their start in 1860s Istanbul, in the wake of the Crimean War, yet their movement quickly spilled over the borders of the empire it was trying to save. My dissertation aims to show how the Young Ottoman movement was a transnational project from its inception, a product of the same newly globalized political sphere that now threatened Ottoman sovereignty. My study traces the transnational roots of Young Ottoman thought through the writings of three of its leading thinkers: Namık Kemal (1840-1888), Teodor Kasap (1835-1897), and Ali Suavi (1839-1878).
In a series of chapters dedicated to each of these thinkers, I compare their divergent conceptions of political legitimacy, while exploring the global circumstances that gave shape and meaning to their ideas. I argue that the chief legacy of the Young Ottoman movement was a robust conception of Ottoman nationhood that came to be known as Ottomanism, a synthesis of Greek and Islamic as well as Western European understandings of state and society. My analyses of these three thinkers are framed by a pair of chapters that aim to situate the Young Ottoman movement within the broader spectrum of modern political thought. By stressing Ottomanism’s international origins and scope, my project makes a case for the centrality of the global in shaping Ottoman political knowledge, and for the place of Ottoman thinkers within the global history of ideas in the modern era.