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Predictably, this has led to contradictory, if not ultimately confusing, narratives with as much left out of the story as imposed by the historian. What these contradictory stories ultimately suggest is that any attempt to study the animating factors leading to, and resulting from, violence in any specific moment will suffer from a fundamental flaw: The fact that a composite narrative misrepresents the reality of disparate and geographically scattered events.

As such, any reference to bloodshed must account for the fact that any number of things can potentially contribute to different processes taking place at the same time and even place , processes that cannot be neatly explained by reference to violence alone.

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However, as we learn from looking at events in such settings more closely, the long assumed sources of violence within the Ottoman Balkans—a resilient local culture of resistance—proved to have important, often forgotten, implications. These implications both transformed Ottoman state practices and the competing imperial ambitions in the region. Earlier generations of social scientists had an equally utilitarian notion of culture and folklore, one that both neatly confined the object of study to a unit of analysis and enabled the observer to anticipate ways to influence these disparate constituencies in the affairs of state.

For example, to agents of external powers—especially the Habsburgs and Britain—flirting with indigenous practices seemingly helped them offer insight into how to best manipulate the affairs of Northern Albanians.

As such, this is not only an exploration of honor politics in an Ottoman context, but also an exercise in revisiting neglected cases of indigenous sources of change initiated by Albanian officers of state that are otherwise obscured in the literature by the violence of the First World War. Because of the disproportionate number of natives of the western Balkans region making up the cadre of Young Ottomans, many expected to help administer their often volatile homelands faced the awkward task of claiming authority on the basis of their direct association to a society that many Ottoman elites believed was in desperate need of state rule.

This diversity impacted how reforms were actually implemented. This suggests a manner of applying state power that was always mitigated by a combination of local conditions and personal connections to the communities slotted for reform. In almost absolute ubiquity, when analyzing the conditions in the western Balkans, these native-born reformers put emphasis on the special role of the state in changing the region from being entrenched in old customs to becoming part of the modern world.


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This incongruence is possible to identify, however, only if we disaggregate the bureaucracy, breaking apart the generic into more detailed units of observation. Scholars of many disciplines, especially those trained in national academies in the region, learn to draw explanations for events from a lexicon largely constructed as part of post-WWI narrative.

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What ends up untold are the complex intermediate factors that often undermine the explanatory value of references to, for our purposes here, highland Albanian traditions of honor Galaty These factions, often changing in composition over even very short periods of time, catered to very different constituencies, be they in Austrian-administered Bosnia and Sanjak Sancak in Modern Turkish , rural Macedonia, or the various coastal trading towns of the Adriatic and its hinterland. Rather than trying to clarify these complications, I wish to add to them by considering some of the conflicting agendas among those fluid clusters of actors straddling the political and commercial frontiers of the western Balkan provinces of the Ottoman Empire.

In fact, it will be the intersections of multiple interests that prove especially useful to reconsidering what role implicit local violence as opposed to actual violence played in informing state and group actions. Crucially, just how such officials and the objects of official reports—in our case here, Northern Albanians—cater to the reductive and misrepresentative tropes of the mountainous regions of the Balkans thus potentially becomes part of a dynamic that shapes a discourse of governance both in Istanbul and locally. In other words, the occasional reference to besa in Ottoman documentation and among indigenous actors may reflect a strategic attempt at harnessing Albanian honor in order to assure stability by way of threatening or warning of violence if certain measures are not taken.

These associations invariably conflicted directly with some evolving state-building projects as appeared in modified form after the Balkan Wars of In the first part of this intervention, I wish to highlight how ambiguous and inarticulate forces afflicting the larger post-empire regimes since misleadingly suggest important causal factors to the collapse of internal relations crucial to maintaining regional stability. The apparent failure to adapt approaches to resolving potentially or not always violent conflicts along the borderlands of the former Ottoman provinces led to the series of contingencies that animated new kinds of political forces.

Frequently in reports, the stereotype about Albanian stubbornness, bravery, backwardness, and hot-bloodedness seemed to determine policy decisions. My question here is just who was promoting these themes in the larger cultural context? Answering this in more complicated ways may provoke new suspicions about just what is at work in the Balkans during and after the Ottoman period.


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With this considerable potential for power, they then often projected back to the region their personal and collective prejudices, which translated into exploitative, arrogant, and even violently hostile policies toward select groups. Such a marked transformation of roles for the Ottoman Albanian highlander poses, however, crucial ethical as well as methodological problems for us trying to historicize such policies today.

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Deriving from natural virtues long associated with the backwardness of uncivilized peoples, the Noble Savage serves as a positive contrast to the coercive norms of European civilization that unleashes such violent power. The indigenous guardian of local tradition thus can offer a resistance that in the right moment, reflects not only wildness, but functions equally as a valorization of those values lost to Modernity. Another admirer of the outsider, Lord Byron, penned tropes to flesh out poetically what others sought to identify when challenging the Enlightenment and its inherent violence.

Albania, the domain of the savage men that offered a sublime alpine topography with a culture that is an amalgam of the Islamic faith and traditions of the warrior tribe is captured by Baron thus:. If the Wild Man remained a shadowy nocturnal menace, the Noble Savage allowed for the emergence of the North Albanian highlander as a central protagonist in the shaping of modern, post-Ottoman, polities. Importantly, these criteria of prejudice were never fixed, and they were constantly changed as the world transformed around them.

As a category of practice, it was used increasingly but not always! The reification of different identity associations proved to be a social process, not just an intellectual practice. As I constantly wish to iterate in my larger body of work, we must be careful not to assume that these periodic claims to broader associations mean what most post-Ottoman historians claim them to mean. More importantly, these witnesses were particularly certain that the animating factors behind the occasional outbreak of violence were not linked to what we today call nationalism, but a primitivism that needed modernist intervention.

This proves crucial when considering the impact that contingencies had on how prominent Ottoman Balkan natives responded to the forces pushing and pulling the empire during the course of the middle years of the nineteenth century. Writing poems and plays, these men would serve as the foundation of the next phase of adaptation starting from , when the world in which they emerged again threatened to crumble. They operated within a set of fluid social roles and thus had often contradictory expectations. The divergent careers of many can be appreciated, therefore, only by considering their individual ambitions, the impact reform efforts of the Ottoman state had on their particular set of networks, and the growing presence of outside powers whose money and promises of new kinds of opportunities successfully disrupted temporary alliances.

At times, the overwhelming shift in strategies seemed to follow a clear trajectory toward a monopoly of coercive power in the hands of the state. Local despots linked to various ministries and parliamentarian bodies alike entertained absolutist ambitions as outsiders invested resources into a new vehicle—the state—to maximize the capacity of private capital to extract surplus from the world.

Scholars in the twentieth century often unquestionably treat these confrontations in the Ottoman Balkans as representations of an indigenous effort of separation on the basis of a language, religion, sect, or historically fixed geographic terms. This is especially clear in regard to the misrepresentation of the drive to create a single mega province such as Syria in the Middle East, Tuna Danube , Prizren, and then Arnavutluk Albania by key members of the Young Ottoman generation.

What is conveniently forgotten is the context in which reformers such as Pomok Midhat Pasha initiated the last phase of reforms that created these mega provinces Petrov These policies coincided with the larger civilization-building project found throughout Europe at the time and mirrored the sentiments already discussed above among other native Balkan members of the Ottoman government. Such overtures initiated a process of regional integration that would open the door for greater direct state rule in these previously isolated regions. They were also forged on the assumption certain hierarchies existed and entire regions could be best administered by co-opting members at the top of these pyramids forged by honor or besa pledges Rira Of course, to do this effectively, they sometimes needed to manipulatively exaggerate the threat of violence to those holding the purse-strings, knowing full well that the stereotypes about the violent nature of the highland Albanians would be persuasive justification for the delivery of even more state resources.

This tension distorted an otherwise straightforward example of state centralization that confounds the simplistic nationalist paradigms in vogue today. As a result, Tosk Ottoman reformers were selective when evoking the expansion of direct state control of the western Balkans. Among other things, these reformers felt that unless these autonomous mountainous regions were formally incorporated into the larger Ottoman society, it would be through these areas that Russia or Austria-Hungary would be able to penetrate the empire.

Events further to the north in Bosnia during the s and s proved these fears to be justified. The idea then was to promote an aggressive campaign of civilization building at the expense of local autonomy, and often at the end of a gun. In lieu of using force, new strategies to bring the region some stability included the strengthening of a religious presence by building more churches and mosques and a greater investment in direct government involvement in the area by building police stations, courthouses, and schools.

The essays contain critical inquiries into the diverse and interconnected processes of social, economic, and political exchange that escalated into conflict. The wars represented a pivotal moment that had a long-lasting impact on the regional state system and fundamentally transformed the beleaguered Ottoman Empire in the process. This interdisciplinary volume stands as a critique of the standard discourse regarding the Balkan Wars and effectively questions many of the assumptions of prevailing modern nation-state histories, which have long privileged the ethno-religious dimensions present in the Balkans.

The authors go to great lengths in demonstrating the fluidity of social, geographical, and cultural boundaries before and call into question the "nationalist watershed" notion that was artificially imposed by manipulative historiography and political machinations following the end of fighting in War and Nationalism will be of interest to scholars looking to enrich their own understanding of an overshadowed historical event and will serve as a valuable contribution to courses on Ottoman and European history.

Chaos in Yemen : societal collapse and the new authoritarianism by Isa Blumi 13 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide Chaos in Yemen challenges recent interpretations of Yemen's complex social, political and economic transformations since unification in By offering a new perspective to the violence afflicting the larger region, it explains why the 'Abdullah 'Ali Salih regime has become the principal beneficiary of these conflicts.

Adopting an inter-disciplinary approach, the author offers an alternative understanding of what is creating discord in the Red Sea region by integrating the region's history to an interpretation of current events.

The History of the Balkans : Every Year

In turn, by refusing to solely link Yemen to the "global struggle against Islamists, " this work sheds new light on the issues policy-makers are facing in the larger Middle East. As such, this study offers an alternative perspective to Yemen's complex domestic affairs that challenge the over-emphasis on the tribe and sectarianism.

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Offering an alternative set of approaches to studying societies facing new forms of state authoritarianism, this timely contribution will be of great relevance to students and scholars of the Middle East and the larger Islamic world, Conflict Resolution, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Destroying Yemen : what chaos in Arabia tells us about the world by Isa Blumi Book 12 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "Since March , a Saudi-led international coalition of forces--supported by Britain and the United States--has waged devastating war in Yemen.

Largely ignored by the world's media, the resulting humanitarian disaster and full-scale famine threatens millions. Destroying Yemen offers the first in-depth historical account of the transnational origins of this war, placing it in the illuminating context of Yemen's relationship with major powers since the Cold War.

Bringing new sources and a deep understanding to bear on Yemen's profound, unwitting imbrication in international affairs, this explosive book ultimately tells an even larger shock-doctrine story of today's political economy of global capitalism, development, and the war on terror as disparate actors intersect in Arabia. Reinstating the Ottomans : alternative Balkan modernities, by Isa Blumi Book 20 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "This book is inspired by recent scholarship that reexamines the dramatic changes affecting heterogeneous societies in late nineteenth century empires.

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The issues specific to the western Balkans constituted in a confluence of autonomous, ever-shifting polities that constantly interacted with each other and the larger world in varying degrees through the filter of an Ottoman administration. Unlike other areas of southeastern Europe or the Mediterranean, though, the western Balkans in much of the last quarter of the nineteenth century were characterized by a unique administrative, cultural, and economic setting that led to a distinctive regional experience of modernity. This is partly why it would take the many competing interests in the post-Ottoman years to finally establish respective administrative regimes; this "delayed" incorporation into the nation state left most of the regions inhabitants in a kind of developmental black hole with respect to ethnonational and sectarian claims" Ottoman refugees, : migration in a post-imperial world by Isa Blumi Book 11 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "In the first half of the 20th century, throughout the Balkans and Middle East, a familiar story unfolded of destroyed communities forced to flee war or economic crisis.

Often, these refugees of the Ottoman Empire--Christians, Muslims and Jews--found their way to new continents, forming an Ottoman diaspora that had a remarkable ability to reconstitute, and even expand, the ethnic, religious, and ideological diversity of their homelands. Ottoman Refugees, offers a unique study of a transitional period in world history experienced through these refugees living in the Middle East, the Americas, South-East Asia, East Africa and Europe.

Isa Blumi explores the tensions emerging between those trying to preserve a world almost entirely destroyed by both the nation-state and global capitalism and the agents of the so-called Modern era. Foundations of modernity : human agency and the imperial state by Isa Blumi Book 12 editions published between and in English and held by WorldCat member libraries worldwide "Investigating how a number of modern empires transform over the long century as a consequence of their struggle for ascendancy in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, Foundations of Modernity: Human Agency and the Imperial State moves the study of the modern empire towards a comparative, trans-regional analysis of events along the Ottoman frontiers: Western Balkans, the Persian Gulf and Yemen.

This inter-disciplinary approach of studying events at different ends of the Ottoman Empire challenges previous emphasis on Europe as the only source of change and highlights the progression of modern imperial states. The book introduces an entirely new analytical approach to the study of modern state power and the social consequences to the interaction between long-ignored "historical agents" like pirates, smugglers, refugees, and the rural poor.

In this respect, the roots of the most fundamental institutions and bureaucratic practices associated with the modern state prove to be the by-products of certain kinds of productive exchange long categorized in negative terms in post-colonial and mainstream scholarship. Such a challenge to conventional methods of historical and social scientific analysis is reinforced by the novel use of the work of Louis Althusser, Talal Asad, William Connolly and Frederick Cooper, whose challenges to scholarly conventions will prove helpful in changing how we understand the origins of our modern world and thus talk about Modernity.