From decline to progress : Ottoman concepts of reform 1600-1876
Topal, Alp Eren
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This dissertation aims to analyse the transformation of Ottoman reform debates from the late sixteenth century to 1876 when the first Ottoman constitution was promulgated, by tracing various concepts of reform used in different periods of. In chronological order these concepts are ıslah (reform) in seventeenth century, tecdîd (renewal) at the turn of nineteenth century, tanzîmât (reordering) in the period leading up to the Tanzimat and terakki (progress) during the late Tanzimat. Using the political writing produced by Ottoman bureaucrats (memoranda, treatises, chronicles, essays) and scribes, in each era I question how order is understood, how Ottoman decline is conceptualized, how tradition is reinvented and how innovation is justified. Through such questions, I seek to understand the logic of transformation in Ottoman political vocabulary accompanying the state transformation process and challenge some basic assumptions in the literature regarding Ottoman political language, Westernization and secularization. In my analysis I employ various revisionist approaches to the history of political thought mainly including Reinhart Koselleck’s conceptual history and contextualism of Cambridge School.