Ottoman Imperial Diplomacy: A Political, Social and Cultural History

By Ortega, Stephen | The Historian, Winter 2015 | Go to article overview

Ottoman Imperial Diplomacy: A Political, Social and Cultural History


Ortega, Stephen, The Historian


Ottoman Imperial Diplomacy: A Political, Social and Cultural History. By Dogan Gurpinar. (London, England: I. B. Taurus, 2013. Pp. vii, 350. $99.00.)

The rise of nationalism and the introduction of modernity are topics to which historians have given a significant amount of attention in recent decades. Trying to identify the nature of nationalist beliefs and trying to pin down the origins of modern thought have led to a variety of studies on different places. Serving as a synthetic work, Dogan Gurpinar's study examines issues related to nationalism and to modernity within the framework of the late Ottoman Empire. Questioning the perceived rupture between Ottoman and Turkish political culture, Gurpinar argues that the roots of Turkish nationalism and accompanying Turkish ideas about modernity initially occurred not during the rule of the Young Turks (the precursor to the modern Turkish state) but instead during the Ottoman ancien regime, the period of Tanzimat (a period of reform and reorganization between 1839 and 1876), and the Hamidian regime that followed it.

One of Gurpinar's major arguments is that both Ottoman nationalism and ideas about modernity relate to the social and political sensibilities of individuals who were part of an Ottoman state that was challenged by Europe and by non-Muslim Ottoman subjects' desire for independence. Underscoring his choice of the title, Gurpinar focuses most of his attention on the social and cultural world of the diplomatic service. In three chapters, he examines the rise of "modern" Turkish diplomacy and its relationship to nation building and statecraft. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs not only had intimate knowledge of European political developments, but they also trained Tanzimat leaders and established many of the different ministries in the Ottoman government. …

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