The Ottoman Empire and its Rivals

History 280F

Spring 2016
Day & Time: 
F 1200-200

In this research seminar we will consider the “early modern” and “modernizing” Ottoman Empire in light of two kinds of rivals: rival empires, such as Iran, Russia, Britain and France, and rival movements that arose within Ottoman domains, one of which ultimately supplanted the empire itself. We will proceed chronologically and examine the relationships between internal and external rivalries and their effects on the workings of Ottoman governance. Major sets of issues include: methods and frameworks for comparing empires; political participation and allegiances of borderland populations between Ottoman and rival empires; 19th-century movements for reform and nationalism that linked external and internal rivals; and analogous mechanisms of governance that arose in rival empires such as Russia and Iran. Along with weekly readings students are expected to develop a prospectus for a research project of their own, presenting it to the class in the closing weeks of the semester.  

The Ottoman Empire will serve as a touchstone for our ongoing comparative discussion of empires. Consequently, while the emphasis will be on the Ottoman Empire and its geographically contiguous rivals such as Russia and Iran, I welcome students’ expertise and comments on other empires such as those in South Asia, East Asia, central/western Europe, etc. and hope that student presentations of weekly readings will include such perspectives.