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Title: Feeling Like a State: Anxiety and Optimism in the late-Ottoman Empire
Authors: Pelling, Jamie Heather
Advisors: ReynoldsElyachar, MichaelJulia
Contributors: Near Eastern Studies Department
Keywords: Affect Theory
Ottoman Empire
Subjects: Middle Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2023
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: “Feeling Like a State: Anxiety and Optimism in the late-Ottoman Empire” follows the collective optimism, shared hopes, and common aspirations that gave shape to the late-Ottoman public and bound it to the state. I explore the rise of this optimism against the backdrop of a system of international law that consistently undermined the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire, provoking anxieties among Ottoman statesmen and intellectuals as they sought international recognition and validation. I argue that this interplay between optimism and anxiety was a defining feature of late-Ottoman politics, underpinning nation-building projects and religious reforms, changing gendered expectations and shifting the rules of moral behaviour. I trace the hope for an Ottoman future and the fears of its dissolution through the flux of late-Ottoman history. My research fills a gap in existing literature, the hitherto un-studied thread of public feeling, and places it at the centre of this history. In this approach, I evade the teleological traps associated with the birth of an explicitly modernising, nationalist republic. The collective hopes and fears clustered around the state in this period are tied to some of the biggest questions of the twentieth century: colonialism, modernity, nationalism, and state legitimacy. The Ottoman Empire, as a semi-colonial, semi-colonised state, pursuing modernity and fraught with competing national visions, is well-placed to trouble narratives which seek to pull these four themes into a single stream. In my dissertation, I focus on the collective feeling emerging from the tensions between these themes. I address questions such as how it is that states become affectively charged, how they become the repository for the optimisms and anxieties of individuals, and how this changes our understanding of what a state is. States are abstractions and yet they have the power to kill, to make life, to punish, and to shape human behaviour, if not our consciousness. Do they also have the ability to feel?
Type of Material: Thesis
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Near Eastern Studies

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