Mary Seeger O’Boyle Postdoctoral Fellow, 2018-2019
Berke Torunoglu is a post-doctoral research fellow, specializing in the social and political history of the modern Middle East, with a particular focus on the history of the Ottoman Empire.
His first book, Murder in Salonika 1876: A Tale of Apostasy and International Crisis (Gorgias Press, 2012) was a study focusing on the events surrounding the murder of French and German consuls at Salonika in May 1876, and the following international crisis.
His current book project, tentatively titled Estranged Subjects of the State Neo-Hellenes and Neo-Russians in the Ottoman Empire 1830-1876, examines the formation of Ottoman nationality during the Tanzimat era. It argues that Ottoman nationality developed through an iterative process aimed at the containment and retention of individual subjects of the state, whose adopted nationalities posed a problem to the state’s control.
He holds a PhD in Modern Middle East History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At Wisconsin, he taught courses on Ottoman, Middle Eastern, and Islamic history.
This project seeks to trace the process in which half a million estranged Ottoman subjects emerged as neo-Hellenes. These former Ottoman subjects chose to be ‘foreigners’ in their native land while simultaneously maintained all other ties (confessional, commercial, judicial) with other Ottoman-Greeks. The emergence of neo-Hellenes is the quintessential element that forced the Ottoman state to form and codify communal frameworks, i.e. millets, to attract and hold Ottoman people who were assuming mercurial identities. Recent scholarship has touched on these tensions arising from the availability of multiple collective identities to the subjects of the Ottoman Empire as individuals, and not only as part of a community, but the time frame of this scholarship almost exclusively focuses on the Young Turk Revolution of the early twentieth century. In those studies that concentrate on the revolution and how different groups negotiated with the new state using a discourse based on the extant ideologies, the formative years of 1830–76 are still “imagined,” or read through the lens of the post-1908 context and sources. My proposed research joins these studies in challenging the monolithic nature of Ottoman communities but aims to extend and contribute to this scholarship by tracing it to the 1830s, and introduces new archival sources to address this gap in the chronology.