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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Age of Trans-Imperial Vernacularisms: The Iranian Dissident Community of the Late Ottoman Empire
by Lawrence, Tanya Elal, Ph.D., Yale University, 2018, 283; 13851897
Abstract (Summary)

In the mid-to-late nineteenth-century, the Ottoman Empire, and specifically its capital Istanbul, became the home and socio-intellectual base of some of the most renowned Iranian intellectuals and dissidents of Qajar Iran (1785-1925). These émigrés and scholars, from sites across the Ottoman Empire, produced much of the literature of reform and dissent that decades later would be regarded as some of the most important texts circulated in Iran prior to and during the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905 - 1911). Despite the fact that these Iranian émigrés spent considerable proportions of their careers in the Ottoman Empire, remarkably little information on their "Ottoman lives" is available. Drawing on the archives of the Ottoman Empire, Republican Turkey, Iran, Britain and France, this dissertation attempts to address this gap in the literature by examining the lives and careers of Iranian émigré-scholars and intellectuals in the late Ottoman Empire. It weaves together previously untapped resources in Persian, modern and Ottoman Turkish, French and English, and argues that late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century Iranian émigrés in the Ottoman Empire were mediating agents who facilitated the circulation of ideas in Iran, the Ottoman Empire and the Caucuses. The consideration of the formation of expansive sociointellectual networks within and across a region which spanned Iran, the Ottoman Empire and Caucuses thereby offers avenues for putting inter-imperial politics in the frame of writing Ottoman and Iranian history.

Taken as a whole, the dissertation has two major goals. First, it asks how the consideration of Iranian émigré-intellectuals and dissidents in the Ottoman Empire can help develop our understanding of the social history of ideas in Iran in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It calls attention to the fact that in their consideration of prominent Iranian dissidents and émigrés in the late Ottoman Empire, historians of modern Iran have not appreciated the full influence of the larger Ottoman socio-historical milieu and the intellectual discourses which shaped the circumstances and ideas of these actors. It has therefore not been possible to contextualize their writings and productivity. As a corrective to this historiography, the approach in this dissertation has been to study the networks of alliance, modes of interaction and hierarchies of interest that determined the literary and intellectual output of these Iranian actors in the Ottoman Empire.

Secondly, the dissertation argues that the study of these Iranian émigrés and intellectuals in the Ottoman Empire provides alternative contexts and sites of discourse through which late Ottoman society can be understood. The assessment of the alternative contexts occupied by the Iranian scholars, intellectuals and statesmen under consideration in this dissertation is an attempt to de-center nationalist readings of the late Ottoman Empire and evaluations relating to the output of these trans-regional actors. Set against this backdrop, it argues that although Ottoman and Turkish historiographies tend to treat Perso-Iranian actors as marginal if not virtually invisible figures in histories of the late Ottoman and early Republican periods, the stories of these émigrés are inseparable from larger narratives of late Ottoman state policies, Ottoman institutions, and the intellectual and cultural formulation of questions relating to religious identity, language reform, scientific progress and Turkish nationalism in the period under study.

The dissertation is organized such that each chapter deals with a different aspect and figure within this group of Iranian émigrés and scholars. This approach exposes that the "Iranian community" of the Ottoman Empire was not a homogenous or organized group of intelligentsia abroad, but one in which there existed overlapping – and often competing – identities, and that networks of kinship were often undercut by other professional associations, interest groups and religious affiliations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Amanat, Abbas
School: Yale University
School Location: United States -- Connecticut
Source: DAI-A 80/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Middle Eastern history, Middle Eastern Studies, History
Keywords: DIasporic communities in the Ottoman Empire, Intellectual History, Iranian Constitutional Revolution, Iranian Emigres, Late Ottoman Empire, Qatar Iran
Publication Number: 13851897
ISBN: 978-0-438-98345-8
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