The scope of the Western world's Eastern Question in the nineteenth century loomed large, encompassing issues from the threat posed by the 'Russian bear' to the interests of other Great Powers in the Eastern Mediterranean, to the conditions, or rather 'oppression' of non-Muslims, especially Christians, under the Ottoman 'yoke'. But the most important question of all, one that summarized the Eastern Question, was published in an anonymous pamphlet from 1850, which asked, 'what to do with the Turk?'. He was the 'sick man of Europe' since his heydays came to an end in the late eighteenth century, and his possible untimely death spelled a nightmare for the crowned heads of Europe. In this book Nazan iek narrates and analyses some salient features of the Eastern Question, or the Ottoman Empire's 'Western Question', through the lenses of the Young Ottomans, the newly-rising semi-autonomous Ottoman Muslim Turkish intelligentsia. The Young Ottomans, although inwardly divided among themselves, were representative of a generation who shared a common framework of experiences and concerns that were mostly generated by the encounter of the Ottoman Empire with its 'other', the West. This encounter, intrinsically linked to the Eastern Question, compelled the Ottoman Empire to re-interpret its historical self-conception, to discover the qualities that rendered her different and vulnerable with regard to the West, and to seek a formula for survival in an increasingly hostile atmosphere. The intellectual discussions offered by the Young Ottomans took a polemical stance not only on the way the Eastern Question unfolded and how it was received by the Ottomans as well as Western ruling elites and intelligentsias but also on the very legitimacy of the modernisation project initiated, manipulated and implemented by the Tanzimat regime between 1839 and 1876 and its Western backers. By considering the appearance of the Young Ottoman opposition as a site of struggle over the definition of civilisation, modernity, reform and citizenship, a struggle that was by and large engendered by the dynamics of the Ottoman Empire's Western Question, this book narrates an alternative story of the Eastern Question as experienced by its Eastern observers and provides a fresh and original perspective on the political and intellectual history of the Ottoman Empire.
Young Ottomans, The
Turkish Critics of the Eastern Question in the Late Nineteenth Century