AHC: The Ottoman Identity Question

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Antonio the Komnenoi, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. Antonio the Komnenoi Emperor of America

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    As the 19th and 20th centuries arrived, the Ottomans started facing the growing problem of nationalism and identity. With the age of multicultural Empires united by the legitimacy of the monarchy was ending, Nationalism tore the Empire apart and put them in the precarious position of OTL.

    While Tanzimat and other reforms started bringing the Empire into the modern age, the National identity was necessary to keep it united into the coming era.

    One of the options was to emphasize the Sultan’s role as Caliph, uniting the Empire by the force of Islam. But such option would dump fuel into the fire of the Balkans (except some exceptions like Albania and Bosnia that couldn’t be kept either way if the rest of Rumelia seceded), and would further provoke Russia, especially since it would bring discrimination and even genocide to Christian communities of the Sublime Porte.

    Then, there was the path focusing on cultural diversity and unity under the House of Osman. The problem with this is the Empire forced to spread its attention and resources trying to keep rival groups from tearing each other apart inside the Empire.

    Then there is the obvious no no of Pan-Turanism. Restricting the privileges and identity of the Empire in Anatolia is not a wise choice as was proven IOTL by the Young Turks, as that would alienate both the Balkans and the Arabs.

    The challenge here is: Find an national identity for the Sublime Porte. What does it mean to be “Ottoman” instead of Turkish or Serb ? With an PoD set on the First Serbian Rebellion, create something that could keep an massive multicultural Empire with rival religions and ethnicities united into the 20th century. Territorial losses are acceptable only in Northern Africa, Caucasus, and Romanian Principalities.
     
  2. Crying Your ideology is shit, SHIIIIIIIIT

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    Drawing upon Benedict Anderson's theory of nations as 'imagined communities' - imagined in the sense that no single individual will ever actually know all the members of their nation, but every member of the nation still feels a sense of belonging in a national community - then what you need is for the Ottoman Empire to adopt a single, universal and standardized 'print-language' across the empire - a national identity will begin forming around it naturally after a while.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
  3. Tyrann Philip II Olympias killed me you morons!

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    Get rid of the Young Turks and other extremists and put the Young Ottomans in power. They have their problems, but they're the best reformist party around, encouraging an actual Ottoman identity regardless of race or creed. Another helpful act could be putting Serbs, Greeks, and other Non-Turks in the government to continue to encourage a strong national identity.
     
  4. Atterdag Well-Known Member

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    Jun 19, 2018
    This challenge assumes there was no Ottoman identity in otl which I would not agree with.

    Ottoman was a language and many people, especially in the core of the Empire, identified as Ottoman whether or not their language technically was closer to Turkish, Greek or Serbian.

    We simply need this identity to survive, periphirary regions like Greece and Northern Bulgaria are probably lost, but something like the 1912 borders at least should be managable in Europe.
     
  5. Alexander the Average Anti-lion tamer

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    Neo-Roman? They occupied the territory of the Eastern Empire, everyone in the region had some sort of connection to it and it was sufficiently Cosmopolitan to fit everyone in. The Ottomans already claimed to be the inheritors of Rome so it would just be a case of prioritising that more over time. Could also make a transition to Republicanism if needs be.
     
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  6. Socrates Well-Known Member

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    Mar 13, 2011
    I agree that both religion and ethnicity are out, for the reasons you mentioned. What you can instead do is focus identity around a sense of geography, a sense of political rights or a sense of common habits and culture. With geography, I don't think you can include the whole of the Ottoman Empire, but you could focus it around the Black Sea/Eastern Med. Alternatively, you could have it as base it around straddling the East and West with a Middle Eastern identity. For political rights, you can see them be the most liberal power outside Western Europe and tell their citizens they will be forced into serfdom by the Romanovs or Habsburgs or Islamists. For culture, you can do it around things like Ottoman baths and hookah, that sort of thing.
     
  7. Antonio the Komnenoi Emperor of America

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    The Geography one sounds too exclusive and would cause problems if you center your Empire in the Middle East while trying to hold Europe.

    I don’t think it is possible to have the ottomans be more liberal than its European counterparts, Islam is a conservative religion and attempts of pushing too far into liberalization would backfire, like to Ahmed III and Selim III.
     
  8. TyranicusMaximus Irrational Statist

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    If the Christian world is strong, and by the time of the likely PoD it would certainly be so, it's doubtful their Christian subjects would want to live in what's still foundationally an Islamic empire. Which of course isn't to say they'd actively take up arms, but they're a convenient wedge for the European powers to interfere with Ottoman rulership.