Sultan Abdülhamid II: Founding Father of the Turkish State?

A lecture by Edhem Eldem (Collège de France)

Comparing the present political situation in Turkey today with the legendary autocracy of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876-1908) is an understandingly tempting, if risky, exercise. Despite the risks inherent to such comparisons, it may be interesting to take up this challenge by adopting a somewhat broader perspective and try to explore the possibility of a much greater overlap and continuity between the Hamidian regime and the Turkish Republic. Many of the country’s nationalist and Islamist political actors have often claimed Abdülhamid’s heritage as an alternative to the secularist and nationalist legacy of Kemalism. Ironically, they may have in fact underestimated the real extent of the Hamidian regime’s impact on the future of Ottoman and Turkish politics, well beyond any assumed divide between Islam and secularism.

Edhem Eldem is a professor at the Department of History of Boğaziçi University and holds the International Chair of Turkish and Ottoman History at the Collège de France. He has also taught at Berkeley, Harvard, Columbia, EHESS, EPHE, ENS, and was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He has worked and published extensively on the Levant trade, funerary epigraphy, Istanbul, the Imperial Ottoman Bank, the history of Ottoman archaeology and collections, Ottoman first-person narratives, and photography in the Ottoman Empire.
Cost : Free and open to the public

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Published: Friday, March 23, 2018