My research focuses on the intellectual connections between the Ottoman Empire and the world around it. I’m especially interested in the new conceptions of sovereignty, race, and religion that emerged alongside a newly internationalized political order.
My dissertation, “No Empire for Old Men: The Young Ottomans and the World, 1856-1878,” traces the transnational roots of Young Ottoman thought through a study of three of its leading thinkers. Drawing on archival research conducted in Istanbul, Paris, and London, it begins by charting the influence on the Young Ottoman movement of two parallel networks that emerged in the course of the nineteenth century: a formal network of diplomats and other state actors responsible for shaping a new global order, and an international web of dissidents that formed to demand dramatic changes to that world order. Both networks, I argue, made their presence increasingly felt in Ottoman public life in the wake of the Crimean War, with the the Ottoman state’s formal incorporation into the Concert of Europe. I explore how the Young Ottomans responded to this transformation of both Ottoman public life and international diplomacy by developing a new rhetoric of Ottoman sovereignty grounded in democratic principles. The core of the dissertation is a set of chapters that take up three of the Ottomanism’s leading thinkers—Namık Kemal (1840–1888), Teodor Kasap (1835–1897), and Ali Suavi (1839–1878)—whose diverse religious, social, and ideological backgrounds and commitments converged on a common desire to see the Ottoman state re-founded on a radically new set of terms. Through a close study of their writings, I 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 current book project, “The Assembly Hall of the World: Ottomanism and the Birth of Global Politics,” aims to situate Ottomanism within the histories of both European liberalism and modern Islamic political thought.