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The eighteenth century in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire: perspectives for a global history

Abstract : In his 1954 address to the American Philosophical Society on the role of the Ottoman Empire in world history, Arnold Toynbee emphasized the importance of the year 1453. The subsequent centuries he envisioned as merely a series of splendours and failures leading inevitably to the collapse of the Empire and the creation of the modern Turkish state. For many years, the process was seen as follows: the Ottoman Empire was a counterpoint to great global frescoes which had little to do with the methodological progress to be accomplished later in the field of history, now tackled from a global perspective. Even in this framework, as will be seen, the place of the eighteenth century cannot be taken for granted. The Ottoman Empire’s important position is recognized, of course, in valuations of the interlaced cultural and institutional spheres which have shaped the world; it is conceded that the Empire incarnated certain crucial aspects of the evolution of these spheres and their interstices at the moment when modernity emerged, the fundamentals of which are to be discussed on a solid base, beyond cumbersome ideological wreckage. Nevertheless, in the field of Ottoman studies, the common era eighteenth century is rarely considered as a key period. Work has tended to focus on Ottoman expansion in earlier period, as well as on the decline, portrayed as irremediable, of the nineteenth century. Nevertheless, for the Ottoman Empire – and in particular for its Arab provinces, the eighteenth century represents a crucial moment. (This is not to ignore other aspects of the Empire nor non-Ottoman areas of the Arabic cultural domain). From a global historical perspective, the study of these provinces is a crucial area for current research.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 8:53:23 PM
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Nora Lafi. The eighteenth century in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire: perspectives for a global history. Matthias Middell. Cultural Transfers, Encounters and Connections in the Global 18th Century, Leipziger Universitätsverlag, pp.231-260, 2014, 3865837549. ⟨halshs-01111229⟩



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