Position title: Kingdon Fellow (2020-2021)
History, University of Southern California
Unravelings: Non-Muslims and Political Islam in the Ottoman Age of Empire
This book explains why the late Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic developed authoritarian state practices and, despite putative secularization, also became violently intolerant of non-Muslim communities. The removal of religion from aspects of imperial governance in the nineteenth century transformed a politics of difference that had organized society and legitimized social and political action. It also denied non-Muslims the ability to use their religious institutions to make claims on the empire’s politics and participate in its governance. The marginalization of non-Muslims by secularization supported the centralization efforts of the state, which now occupied a stronger position vis-à-vis Muslim notables throughout the empire who had relied on non-Muslim ecclesiastical and commercial networks to reinforce their own bases of power. Through the mediation of Sufi orders, Muslim notables and the state established their own arrangements that prioritized Muslim political identity in secularized space. The state’s increasingly violent response to interrogations of an emergent status quo by non-Muslims culminated in the massacres and genocide of Anatolia’s indigenous Christian communities.
Richard Antaramian is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern California. His first book, Brokers of Faith, Brokers of Empire: Armenians and the Politics of Reform in the Ottoman Empire, was published in 2020 by Stanford University Press. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.