The Feasibility of Ottomanism as a Nationalist Project: The View of Albanian Young Turk İsmail Kemal

In: Die Welt des Islams
Stefano TagliaOriental Institute – Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague

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This article surveys the appeal of Ottomanism for non-dominant group members of the Young Turk organisation. It focuses on a specific reading of Ottomanism as a nationalist discourse articulated by Young Turk intellectuals in exile. The article analyses the actions, thoughts and writings of Ottoman Albanian İsmail Kemal who, in 1900, after an influential career in Ottoman officialdom, escaped to Europe and affiliated himself with the leaders of the organisation in exile. What emerges from this study is that Ottomanism was, until the Committee of Union and Progress adopted an authoritarian and pro-Turkist stance, a feasible discourse for Young Turk activists from both a dominant and non-dominant background. The article also suggests that an assessment of the role of Young Turks from a non-Muslim or non-Turkish background needs to include a consideration of a simultaneous and compatible role of such members as working for imperial reform and for the improvement and protection of their own particular community.

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